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Inquiry into police conduct at Gail Sheridan’s interview welcomed

Gail Sheridan had her rosary beads taken away at a police station in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

Gail Sheridan had her rosary beads taken away at a police station in Edinburgh. Picture: TSPL

  • by Gareth Rose
 

SUPPORTERS of the former Scottish Socialist Party MSP Tommy Sheridan have welcomed a decision to refer police who questioned his wife Gail to the procurator-fiscal.

The officers are facing possible religious hatred charges over the way the 48-year-old was treated at Gayfield Police Station in Edinburgh in Feb-ruary 2008.

The allegation centres on claims that officers took Mrs Sheridan’s rosary beads from her and asked if she had been schooled in IRA terrorist interview techniques.

Prosecutors will also look at the alleged leaking of footage of the interview, which later

appeared on a BBC documentary.

Mr Sheridan is planning to appeal his conviction for perjury, for which he served 12 months of a three-year sentence.

His supporters hope any action taken against police who investigated the couple will bolster Mr Sheridan’s claims of being the victim of a conspiracy.

Kenny Ross, chairman of the Defend Tommy Sheridan Campaign, said: “They are planning for the appeal.

“The main thing from their point of view is, back in Tommy’s trial in 2010, he argued that he was subject to a conspiracy, that people were conspiring against him and the treatment [he received] was unbalanced to say the least. As the days go by and events unfold, those arguments are holding water.

He added: “It’s part of the overall picture. I don’t know what relevance it will have in terms of the appeal itself, but it strengthens his argument.”

Mrs Sheridan was interviewed by police in February 2008.

She was later charged with perjury but acquitted when prosecutors dropped the case. She declined to answer questions during a six-hour grilling.

Superintendent John McKenzie, head of Lothian and Borders Police’s standards and values division, wrote to the couple saying: “Criminal allegations have been presented for consideration.”

Mrs Sheridan welcomed the decision. She told a news-

paper: “The officer referred to my ‘beads’ and took them from me, before accusing me of being a trained terrorist and not just a

terrorist, but an IRA terrorist.

“I was shocked. How could a serving police officer be so insensitive to my religious beliefs? He didn’t have to accept my beliefs, but to equate possession of rosary beads with association with the IRA is simply insulting and offensive.

“I followed the legal advice I was given prior to the

interview.

“I co-operated with the process. For using my right to remain silent, I was insulted and accused of being a terrorist. My religion was insulted and I was intimidated. If similar action took place in public someone would be charged. Are the police above the law?”

Lothian and Borders Police confirmed that a file had been referred to the procurator-fiscal, who will now consider whether to press charges.

The force declined to name the officers implicated or say how many there were.

A police spokesman said: “Following a complaint made against Lothian and Borders Police, a report has been sent to the procurator-fiscal and we are currently awaiting further instruction.”

 

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