Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/514/3558

From The Socialist newspaper, 13 December 2007

Tommy Sheridan: End Murdoch's vendetta

No more public money for billionaire's campaign

[Editor's Note: Since this article was written former MSP Tommy Sheridan has been charged with perjury]
Tommy Sheridan, photo Paul Mattsson

Tommy Sheridan, photo Paul Mattsson

Tommy Sheridan's sensational defamation victory over the News of the World (NotW) in July 2006 sent shock waves through Rupert Murdoch's global media empire. Murdoch himself was reported to have been enraged by the outcome of the case in which a jury decided that Tommy Sheridan had been a victim of untrue and defamatory stories about his personal life printed in the NotW in 2004 and 2005.

Philip Stott, International Socialists, Scotland

The jury awarded Tommy Sheridan 200,000 - a record amount for a civil defamation case in Scotland. In a discussion with News International executives following the verdict, Murdoch apparently declared that no matter what it cost he wanted that "commie bastard" brought down.

On trial during the 'July Days' of 2006 were the specific stories by the NotW, a paper that has a long and despicable track record of attempting to destroy the lives and reputations of socialists, trade unionists and working-class people generally.

Murdoch's papers in Britain, including The Sun and the NotW, have acted as big business's attack dogs whenever working people have had the temerity to stand up and defend their rights. The Murdoch press described the miners during the 1984/85 strike as being "scum." Striking firefighters were abused as being "Saddam's stooges."

Notoriously, The Sun reported the Liverpool Hillsborough stadium disaster, under the headline "The Truth", claiming that survivors were stealing money from the dead and urinating on the emergency services; allegations that were later confirmed as a pack of lies and which resulted in a mass boycott of The Sun in Merseyside.

What was also held up for public scrutiny and examination during the defamation case was the reactionary cynical propaganda machine of the Murdoch empire and right-wing tabloid journalism in general.

Iain McWhirter, writing in the Sunday Herald, summed up the significance of the result: "It was a rebuke to an industry that preys on human misery and disclosure; that uses chequebook journalism, spin, sensation, distortion. This has been a long time coming."

Appeal

An appeal by the NotW against the outcome was, of course, to be expected. They claimed the jury's verdict was "perverse" and are seeking a re-trial. However, in effect what they want is a re-run with the same evidence being presented hoping they can get a different result. In footballing terms it is the equivalent of France seeking to have their game against Scotland replayed because they lost 1-0 in Paris.

Rather than wait for a re-trial, the wounded beast of the NotW continued a vicious campaign of attacks and personal denigration against Tommy Sheridan following the end of the court case. Its vendetta was aided and abetted by the leadership of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), many of whom had given evidence in court for the NotW.

The Murdoch press in Scotland seemed prepared to print every utterance of prominent SSP members who were given free rein in The Sun and the NotW to denounce Sheridan as a liar, demand a police investigation and perjury charges and call for the resignation of Tommy Sheridan as an MSP. The SSP's nadir was the selling of a dodgy videotape by an SSP member for a reported 20,000 to the NotW which purported to have Tommy Sheridan admitting to activities he later denied in court.

It is almost unbelievable that a party purporting to be socialist can end up consciously assisting an organisation that sought to destroy the print unions during the Wapping strike of 1987. Moreover, an organisation whose newspapers promote horrendous levels of sexism and racism - which socialists stand resolutely opposed to.

Police inquiry

The Scottish Crown Office took a decision in October 2006 to order Lothian and Borders police to carry out a criminal investigation into allegations of perjury made during Tommy Sheridan's court case.

Since then Lothian and Borders police have been involved in one of the most expensive and intensive perjury investigations in the history of the Scottish legal system. And this over the outcome of a civil defamation case - not even a criminal trial.

Thousands of hours have now been spent by police officers interviewing people up and down the length and breadth of Scotland. An unbelievable 500,000 has been spent on this investigation so far and that cost is almost certainly an underestimate.

To give a comparison, the recent police investigation into the very serious cash for peerages allegations cost 750,000 and involved interviews with the former prime minister, Tony Blair, downwards.

It is certain that the police investigation into possible perjury in the Tommy Sheridan defamation case will now exceed this. There is a growing anger at this phenomenal waste of resources, as well as increasing concern that Lothian and Borders Police and the legal establishment are in danger of becoming, in effect, a private arm of the Murdoch vendetta against Tommy Sheridan.

This anger has been fuelled by the shocking figures released recently that showed that in Lothian and Borders police area only 1.4% of rape allegations led to a successful prosecution. This is while dozens of police officers are engaged in a pointless and expensive investigation into Tommy Sheridan's case against the NotW.

Questions need to be answered. Why was there a decision to launch a police investigation into this case in the first place and how was that decision arrived at? It is extremely unusual for perjury investigations to be ordered in Scotland following a criminal trial, never mind a civil case.

Why an inquiry?

Alistair Bonnington, the BBC's solicitor, commented following the trial: "Traditionally, we have very few perjury persecutions in Scotland - despite the fact that an application of elementary logic tells you that perjury must be committed every day in almost every court in Scotland in criminal trials. So, setting all special factors aside, it is highly unlikely that there will be a perjury prosecution following on the civil jury trial in the Court of Session."

In a very telling point in the light of the decision by the Crown to launch a perjury investigation, Bonnington says: "The prospect of a lengthy, complicated and inevitably useless investigation into the possibility of perjury having been committed in the Sheridan case should fill the Scottish taxpayer with horror. Why should precious resources be wasted on such a stupid exercise?"

Good question. Why indeed? Bonnington, interviewed on Newsnight Scotland following the decision to launch a police inquiry shed some light on this: "The Faculty of Advocates was severely embarrassed by the fact that its two leading QCs in Scotland were involved in this case. Tommy Sheridan sacked one and beat the other. There is something very odd about this."

It is almost without precedent for such an inquiry to be launched after a civil defamation case. There are almost never perjury cases into criminal trials even where a sheriff or a judge openly says he or she does not believe a witness or the accused.

So why has this unprecedented action been taken?

The massive resources, at least 500,000 of public money and the way the police have conducted the inquiry - clearly having only one target in mind - all point to a strenuous effort to try and implicate Tommy Sheridan in a perjury investigation.

This is becoming a major scandal and there is a need to bring this to the attention of socialists and trade unionists in Scotland, across Britain and internationally.

We demand:

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.


In The Socialist 13 December 2007:


Scotland

Defend Tommy Sheridan: End Murdoch's witch-hunt

Tommy Sheridan: End Murdoch's vendetta

Tommy Sheridan perjury charge


Socialist Party NHS campaign

Warning: NHS cuts seriously damage your health

Manchester: Karen Reissmann sacked - and cuts still loom


Post Office dispute

Fight to save post offices


What we think

Interest rate cut will bring no reprieve

Charity begins at the bank

Every fiddle helps

Government's lying statistics


Global Warming

Thousands march against climate change


Socialist Party news and analysis

Sefton's first citizen "cheating the system"

Unite Cardiff schools campaigns

Your new police terror chief


Socialist Students

National Union of Students: Right wing force through undemocratic changes

Leicester students debate tuition fees


International socialist news and analysis

Beijing Olympics under a cloud

China: Mass protests erupt in Shenyang

Extraordinary tape destruction at CIA torture camp


Workplace news and analysis

DWP strike: Fighting the pay cuts

Birmingham city council: Workers boo 'lead balloon' councillors

Action can beat Cadbury closure threat

Newham council sack Unison chair


 

Home   |   The Socialist 13 December 2007   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  




Related links:

Tommy Sheridan:

triangleCoulson case collapses amid stench of hypocrisy

triangleA parting of the ways with Solidarity

triangle'Political awakening' continues in Scotland

triangleScotland's referendum: A working-class revolt

Police:

triangleUndercover policing legal challenge

triangleIrish capitalist state: rotten to the core

triangleOrgreave campaigners' Halloween 'Death of Justice' march

triangleThe "club no-one wants to be part of" - march by families of those killed in police custody

Scotland:

triangleWhat does the left victory in Scottish Labour mean?

triangleScotland: BiFab workers' occupation and march secures jobs and pay guarantee

triangleCardiff East Socialist Party: Catalonia, Scotland and Wales

Rupert Murdoch:

triangleFight the Sun's bigoted lies

triangleBosses' pay goes up by 82% for nothing

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns

19/2/18

Walthamstow

Building the campaign against clearances of the working class

16/2/18

Haringey

No fudge with the right wing

15/2/18

TUSC

TUSC statement on sentencing of Derby TUSC agent

14/2/18

Haringey

Haringey protests HDV - but Labour fails to kill it off completely

14/2/18

UCU

Uni strike: coordinate public sector fightback

14/2/18

Cardiff

Enjoyable and successful Cardiff Refugee Rights gig

14/2/18

Carlisle

Carlisle debate - socialism or social democracy?

14/2/18

Firefighters

Staines fire services saved

14/2/18

Surrey

Threat of action defeats pay cut at Surrey council

14/2/18

Woolwich

Woolwich Crossrail walkouts to demand promised bonuses

14/2/18

London

Sadiq Khan's bus drivers' London licence doesn't go far enough

14/2/18

Mansfield

Stop press: victory - campaign saves NHS rehab ward

8/2/18

Newham

Teachers strike again as anti-academy pressure mounts

7/2/18

Unison

Unison national women's conference

7/2/18

Royal Mail

Royal Mail forced back under threat of action

triangleMore Reports and campaigns articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0191 421 6230

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2018

January 2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999