Glasgow & West Scotland

Appeal judges refuse to overturn Sheridan defamation verdict

Tommy Sheridan
Image caption Tommy Sheridan won the defamation case in 2006 but was later found guilty of perjury

Appeal judges have refused to overturn the defamation verdict which saw Tommy Sheridan awarded £200,000 in damages.

The former MSP was awarded the sum after winning a case against the now defunct News of The World in 2006.

The paper's owner, News Group, wanted the verdict "struck down" following Mr Sheridan's conviction in 2010 for perjury and subsequent imprisonment.

Judges have now ruled jurors in the 2006 case were justified in concluding that the paper had defamed Mr Sheridan.

Mr Sheridan has always denied the paper's allegations that he was a swinger and cheated on his wife, Gail.

Following the ruling, he tweeted: "Beat criminal cancer which Murdoch's NGN represents. Their spurious appeal defeated."

He added that his priority, however, was the health of his father, who had survived a heart attack on Thursday night.

Prison sentence

The socialist politician, who was a Glasgow regional list MSP for eight years from 1999, was awarded compensation after winning the defamation trial in 2006.

It is understood that Mr Sheridan was not paid the money at the time of the original defamation judgement.

In 2010, he was found guilty of perjury while giving evidence during the earlier case and jailed for three years.

He was freed from prison after serving just over a year of his sentence.

In May, News Group raised an action at the Court of Session in Edinburgh in a bid to have the 2006 verdict overturned.

The case was heard by judges Lady Paton, Lord Drummond Young and Lord McGhie.

In submissions, Alastair Duncan QC, representing the newspaper group, said that because Mr Sheridan was convicted of perjury in 2010, the decision of the 2006 defamation jury should be set aside.

He told the court that evidence had emerged which would have made it impossible for the original jury to say that the politician was the victim of defamation.

Mr Sheridan, who represented himself, said the motion for a new trial should be dismissed as evidence against him had been "illegally and criminally obtained" and was inadmissible.

The three appeal judges ruled that the supposed new evidence was not enough to allow them to overturn the verdict.

'Unusual case'

In their judgement, Lady Paton wrote: "The jury award appears to us to demonstrate a discriminating verdict on the evidence before them.

"In all the circumstances we are not persuaded that a new trial in this complicated and unusual case is essential to the justice of the cause between these two parties."

In regards to Mr Sheridan's assertion that evidence against him had been illegally obtained Lady Paton wrote: "We can reach no concluded view on such matters. A proof or a criminal trial would be necessary to enable facts to be explored and submissions made.

"We accept that the documents lodged by the pursuer in his appendix raise serious questions about the conduct of senior members of staff of the defenders.

"We were urged to report matters to the Crown Office. However, it seems to us that a formal report is not appropriate as the activities of certain members of the defenders staff are, or have been, the subject of investigation by the police, the Crown Office and the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

"The pursuer's assertions are already in the public domain.

"In the result, we refuse the defenders motion for a new trial. We reserve meantime any question of expenses."

A spokeswoman for News UK, which NGN is part of, said: "We are disappointed by today's outcome of our appeal given Mr Sheridan's criminal conviction for perjury in giving his evidence to the court in the original libel trial.

"We are now considering all our options."

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