Monday, 17 December 2007

Tommy comes out gunning

Yesterday's news that colourful (in more ways than one) former MSP Tommy Sheridan has been charged with perjury over evidence he gave in his libel trial with the News of the World might not come as a surprise to some people.

Some might say that it couldn't happen to a nicer chap, but I certainly wouldn't want to denigrate such a fine, upstanding (and litigious) man as Mr Sheridan.

As legal proceedings are active, I can't comment on the substance of the allegations. However, I was intrigued by the statement he gave to the media on leaving the police station after being charged. In this, he said that he was the victim of a witch-hunt orchestrated by the Murdoch Empire.

I have no idea whether or not this is true, but if it is, I'm certainly impressed by the scale of the conspiracy launched by Rupert Murdoch, encompassing as it does four out of six of Tommy's then SSP colleagues in the Scottish Parliament who gave evidence against him, several other Scottish Socialist Party members who also testified, the judge at the libel trial who requested the investigation into perjury at the trial (into all witnesses, not just Tommy), the Lothian and Borders police who carried out the probe, and presumably the voters of Glasgow who failed to re-elect Tommy to the Scottish Parliament. Even by the Dirty Digger's standards, this is very good going.

But can someone supply me with a credible reason why Murdoch should go to such lengths? I can't actually work out why he would go to such trouble. Tommy Sheridan was the leader of a group of just six members of the 129-member Scottish Parliament. Even on the most optimistic scenario for the SSP in the 2007 elections, they would barely have scraped into double figures (as it was, in reality they lost all their seats at Holyrood). And, lest we forget, the Scottish Parliament has absolutely no powers over broadcasting or newspaper regulation. As far as I'm aware, Sheridan wasn't proposing to nationalise Sky Sports or ban the Scottish Sun, neither of which I suspect would have gone down terribly well in Shettleston. So what did Murdoch have to gain from destroying Tommy Sheridan?

I also note that Tommy complained about the waste of resources involved in the perjury investigation. However, try as I might, I can find no record of his impassioned protest against such waste when Tory figures such as Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken faced similar allegations.

Tommy Sheridan, you're incredible.

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