Scotland: Stop the witch-hunt – Defend the ‘Sheridan 7′

Might of Establishment and Murdoch media-empire against socialists

The ongoing police investigation into possible perjury during the Tommy Sheridan defamation case against the News of the World, in 2006, has become an out-and out witch-hunt against not only Tommy Sheridan but anyone who supported him during the trial.

As part of the most expensive perjury inquiry in Scottish history, Tommy Sheridan was charged by Lothian and Borders police, December, last year. Over the last ten days, a further 6 people, including leading members of the left party Solidarity, who gave evidence for Tommy during the court case, have now also been charged with perjury. They are Solidarity National Secretary, Graeme McIver, Co-convener and former MSP (member of the Scottish Parliament) Rosemary Byrne, Jock Penman and Pat Smith.

Gail Sheridan and her father were also charged. No-one on the News of the World side has been charged despite the fact that the jury found in Tommy Sheridan’s favour.

It is becoming increasingly evident that the police, in conjunction with the Scottish Crown office and with unlimited public resources at their disposal, have mounted a monumental campaign to try and implicate Tommy Sheridan. 

A senior Lothian and Borders police officer admitted that they were putting the type of resources in to this investigation that would normally be assigned to a murder case.

At least 20 officers have been working full-time on the investigation for almost 18 months. More than £500,000 has been squandered and the final cost will exceed the £750,000 police investigation into the recent ‘cash for honours inquiry’.

Never before in Scottish legal history has a perjury inquiry been conducted after a civil case. On the very rare occasions that perjury has been investigated, it only ever followed criminal trials.

The difference, this time, is that a leading socialist – Tommy Sheridan – is involved and unprecedented measures have been taken to try and ensure his conviction.

Cold hearted revenge

This is an attempt to extract cold-hearted revenge for Tommy’s role as a leader of the anti-poll tax campaign that finished the career of Margaret Thatcher, the former right wing British prime minister. Tommy also was sent to jail for defying a court order during that campaign and was elected to Glasgow City Council from his prison cell in 1992. Much to the outrage of the political and legal establishment in Scotland, who have never forgiven him, Tommy also served 8 years as a Socialist MSP in the Scottish parliament. 

In addition, the powerful reach of Rupert Murdoch, who was reportedly incandescent with rage following Tommy Sheridan’s victory over his News of the World, in 2006, is a factor in this case. Iain McWirter a leading Scottish political journalist wrote, following Tommy Sheridan’s arrest, last December: “It is hard not to conclude that the police’s diligence has been inspired by Rupert Murdoch’s News International."

We demand that all charges be dropped and for an open, democratic public inquiry into the actions of the police, the Scottish Crown office and any possible collusion with the Murdoch media empire.

Show your support for the Sheridan 7! Visit the campaign website.

An appeal fund has been set up, and details of how to donate can be found on the website.

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February 2008