The longest perjury trial in Scottish criminal history has concluded today. The jury in the case of Her Majesty’s Advocate v Sheridan returned this afternoon to convict the former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party and former MSP Tommy Sheridan of perjury.
Sentence has been deferred until 26 January 2011 at the High Court of Justiciary at Edinburgh.
Much debate has taken place, and will take place, as to whether this prosecution should ever have been brought in the first place. Debate as to the motivation of this porscution will also continue. In his address to the jury His Lordship, Lord Bracadale, told jurors that “this was not a political court”, but many people have expressed an opinion that the entire case was a political one, brought by the Lord Advocate under pressure from the Murdoch empire.
The jury (and for our system to retain any credibility we must believe this) were not employees of the Murdoch empire. They were charged with a difficult and almost impossible duty: to try Tommy Sheridan fairly and impartially. Few cases gather as much meida interest as this one has, we have seen daily updates on news websites, on the TV and in newspapers as to what was happening. As ever with Mr Sheridan there was drama: the sacking of his legal team, heated exchanges in court with witnesses and his emotional plea to the jury in his summation, and the media loved to report all of it. This made the responsibilities of the jury a lot harder.
Mr Sheridan didn’t want to break his promise to his daughter to spend Christmas with her, and he will for sentencing has been deferred and bail continued until sentencing. It is not for me (or indeed anyone) to try and predict what sentence His Lordship will pass, but it is likley to be one of custody.
The story does not end here though. We have the sentencing to look forward to in January and the inevitable appeal against conviction. There is also still the News of the World’s appeal against the initial civil case which has bene on hold pending the outcome of the criminal allegations against Mr Sheridan. This, I suspect, will be on hold even longer and we could well see this saga continuing on into 2012 (and beyond with the potential for appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom in respect of the civil matters), a whole six years after it began. The wheels of the justice system turn very slowly indeed.
This is all that I will say on the Sheridan matter for now. I shall formulate a more detailed post to be published between Christmas and New Year.
Last updated: 16:27 23 December 2010