Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 20 July 2006

Tommy Sheridan court case

Serious crisis for Scottish Socialist Party

THE PRESS in Scotland have dubbed it the libel trial of the decade. A case that has already resulted in saturation coverage in the Scottish media. Tommy Sheridan, Scottish Socialist Party MSP and former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) versus the News of the World (NoW) - part of Rupert Murdoch's News International empire.

Philip Stott, International Socialists

Tommy Sheridan took a libel action following a story printed in the NoW in November 2004 that claimed he had a five year affair with a woman who was a SSP member.

It was the issue of Tommy Sheridan's private life that led the SSP executive committee to call for his resignation in November 2004. A decision that the International Socialists (the Socialist Party's sister organisation in Scotland) opposed and which has now split the SSP and has done the party great public damage since then. (see the socialist, 442)

In defending its story NoW is aiming to prove their claims were not true but "substantially true." Their strategy has been to throw as much mud at Tommy Sheridan regarding his personal life, thereby hoping then to convince the jury that at least enough of it can be believed to undermine the libel action.

We have heard claims that Tommy Sheridan took drugs and alcohol at sex parties, visited a swingers' club in Manchester, took part in group sex as well as having an affair with Fiona McGuire, the woman in the original NoW story. Most of the 'witnesses', so far, have either been current or former NoW journalists or have been paid money by the paper for their stories. In the case of Fiona McGuire, 20,000.

These claims have been reprinted in lurid and sensational detail in all the Scottish media. It will be interesting to see if the press report as extensively when Tommy Sheridan puts his side of the case.

The stakes were heightened last Thursday when Tommy Sheridan sacked his legal counsel. This followed a major blunder by one of his legal team who accused a witness of having spent 18 months in jail for fraud, which was not true.

Tommy Sheridan has now decided to represent himself and will cross-examine witnesses as well as making a statement.

Role of SSP witnesses

So far there have been three SSP members who have been called to give evidence by the NoW. National Treasurer Allison Kane, Alan McCombes, and SSP councillor Keith Baldassara.

Both Alan McCombes and Keith Baldassara gave testimony that Tommy Sheridan had admitted in a private discussion attending a swingers club in Manchester.

The EC minutes of 9 November 2004, at which a vote was taken to ask Tommy Sheridan to resign, have also been handed to the court. Many SSP members have been outraged to discover that these 'minutes' contained personal information about Tommy Sheridan which is now being used by the NoW.

This has meant that some leading figures in the SSP are forming a crucial plank of the NoW's defence against the libel action. Many SSP members and supporters are disgusted by their actions.

The consequences of this are extremely serious for the SSP. The national conference of the party has now been brought forward from early 2007 to October 2006 and will be dominated by the case, the actions of leading SSP EC members and the impact of this on the SSP as a whole. The conference will also re-elect a leadership for the party.

Of course the personal conduct of a leading figure of the socialist movement is important. We would never defend behaviour, for example, that involved the coercion of women or anything other than consensual personal relationships. However, we don't believe that someone's personal life can justify the hypocritical attacks of the sexist tabloid media, or the actions of those in the SSP who are seeking to undermine Tommy Sheridan

The best possible outcome for the socialist movement in Scotland would be for Tommy Sheridan to inflict a defeat on the NoW - a brutal anti-working class and anti-socialist rag. Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the view of some sections of the SSP, especially those grouped around the so-called 'United Left' platform.

This grouping has defended the carrying out of unacceptable methods that have included; the keeping of personal information in SSP documents, the leaking of such material to the press and a personal campaign against Tommy Sheridan inside the SSP. It is these methods and conduct that the International Socialists is standing against. Despite our ongoing political differences with him, if Tommy Sheridan wins his libel case and continues to play a leading role in the SSP it may be possible for the SSP to recover from this crisis.

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

In The Socialist 20 July 2006:

War and occupation

Stop the carnage

Lebanon: Israel's air war threatens regional war

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Fighting for the future of the NHS

Hundreds march to stop Labour's 'leeches'

West Mids march builds links

No to cuts, no to privatisation

Activists organise for action

What the Socialist Party says

Socialist Party campaigns

Low pay, no way!

Police not to face charges

Arrested on suspicion

Bury campaign SOCs it to the council

International socialist news and analysis

Anger in St Petersburg as the 'Big Eight' arrive

Kazakhstan: Shanyrak shanty town in revolt

Scottish Socialist Party

Serious crisis for Scottish Socialist Party

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Sea of sleaze rises around Blair

RMT rejects move back to New Labour...

Can the Left reclaim Labour?

Gordon Brown steps up attacks on the public sector

New Labour's attack on the sick and disabled


Home   |   The Socialist 20 July 2006   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate  

Related links:

Scottish Socialist Party:

triangleThe left unions and the Labour Party affiliation debate

triangleShould trade unions be re-affiliating to the Labour Party?

triangleWill Scottish 'Rise' alliance offer a way forward?

triangleCollapse of Stalinism and the 1990s

Socialist Party:

triangleWalkout from undercover policing inquiry

trianglePast fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism

triangleWhy I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


triangleJeremy Corbyn and Brexit

triangleSouthampton Socialist Party: The refugee rights campaign

triangleBirmingham Central Socialist Party: France in May 1968

Tommy Sheridan:

triangleCoulson case collapses amid stench of hypocrisy

triangleA parting of the ways with Solidarity


triangleUndercover policing legal challenge

Reports and campaigns

Reports and campaigns



Hands Off HRI campaign granted judicial review



Refugee Rights to be launched in Manchester



Over 1,000 on Newcastle NHS march


Socialist Party

Why I joined: 'The Socialist Party is at the forefront of defending Corbyn's anti-austerity leadership'


Socialist Party

Past fund-raising campaigns show dedication to the fight for socialism


May Day

Ideas matter: help us fight to win with May Day greetings



Refugees march against racism and to demand rights



Unions condemn 'culture of bullying' at Merseyside hospital



Hull college workers ballot for action against mass redundancies



Strikers and parents rally again in Newham against academies



Hinkley workers win back unpaid wages after sit-in protest



UCU strike: staff and students unite to continue pensions fight after magnificent 14 days of action



Walkout from undercover policing inquiry



Hated Blairite mayor ousted: now fight for a no-cuts Newham!



NSSN conference moves

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



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


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



Alphabetical listing

March 2018

February 2018

January 2018