Sheridan claims to be 'victim of MI5 plot'

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Key quote "The state has a fine history of trying to destabilise and undermine socialist movements or trade union struggles. When the history of this whole episode is written about, I think you'll find that MI5 was involved." - Tommy Sheridan

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AS CONSPIRACY theories go, it has to be one of the more bizarre: MI5 and Rupert Murdoch had conspired to concoct a videotape to overthrow his crusade for an independent socialist Scotland.

In a political rally that quickly turned into a personal attack on one of the most powerful media moguls of modern times, Tommy Sheridan claimed that a video allegedly showing him admitting to visiting a swingers club was "utterly untrue".

The tape, released by the Murdoch-owned News of the World, was forged by "splicing" extracts of his own voice with other voices, Mr Sheridan claimed.

In trademark tan, Mr Sheridan went so far as to suggest that it was a personal vendetta by Mr Murdoch to put down that "two-bit Commie b*****d" after his successful defamation case against the Sunday tabloid.

Mr Sheridan used a meeting organised to promote his new party, Solidarity, in Dundee to launch his counter attack.

Although held in the genteel surroundings of the Queen's Hotel, the rally had all the markings of a typical socialist rally, with posters and banners proclaiming the fight against "illegal wars and racism" plastering the Claverhouse Suite.

This time, however, the meagre audience of students and "Trots" was swelled by the national press, including members of Mr Murdoch's employees masquerading as "freelancers".

Joking that everyone had come along to hear about his new member's bill to renationalise the railways, Mr Sheridan did not take long to get to the point. "I said I was the victim of the mother of all stitch-ups," he said. "I don't think there is anyone in Scotland who can doubt that this has been an attempted stitch-up from day one.

"But it's a stitch-up that has unravelled. I say here today that the News of the World have tried to produce, in collusion with others, dodgy minutes, dodgy tapes and dodgy geezers to make allegations against me.

"They are completely and utterly untrue. We beat them in court and that is what they can't stand - because they were humiliated."

Mr Sheridan likened his own case to other well-known headlines that proved to be untrue: "Just as Freddie Starr did not eat his hamster, then the video has been concocted, manufactured and presented," he said.

Asked how his wife Gail had reacted to the tape, Mr Sheridan laughed. "She was angry," he admitted, but at the News of the World not him. "Gail feels the News of the World are the scum of the earth and the biggest losers on the planet."

However, Mr Sheridan did not stop at the Murdoch press, but cited "sinister forces" at work. "I would not be surprised if the state is involved," he said.

"The state has a fine history of trying to destabilise and undermine socialist movements or trade union struggles. When the history of this whole episode is written about, I think you'll find that MI5 was involved."

But former comrade Colin Fox, the leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, described the comments as "bizarre". He said that Mr Sheridan's

most recent claims to be a victim of an MI5 and CIA plot are utterly fantastic".

The Home Office refused to comment on MI5 operations.

Teflon Tommy highlights tricks of video

TOMMY SHERIDAN yesterday claimed a video tape released by the News of the World was as genuine as footage of Elvis Presley jamming with Noel Gallagher.

The tape allegedly shows Mr Sheridan admitting to a former friend that he visited a swingers club. But yesterday, "Teflon Tommy" claimed he had never been in the house where the video was filmed. He said there was more than one voice on the tape, proving it had "clearly" been spliced "on several occasions".

As an example of the ease with which modern graphics can be used to fake videos he used a recent BBC Radio 2 advert showing the musical legends performing together. He added: "If you were to believe everything you see or hear then you really would think Elvis Presley recently introduced Noel Gallagher in a concert."

The News of the World insists the tape is genuine.

Perjury: a serious crime

Q) What is perjury?

A) It is lying under oath in court - one of the most serious crimes.

Q) Why are police investigating?

A) On Tuesday, the Crown Office ordered police to investigate after having considered the conflicting evidence given during the trial and deciding there were grounds for allegations of perjury.

Q) How will the inquiry work?

A) The Crown Office has refused to divulge possible lines of inquiry. However, this is likely to include interviews with witnesses. A videotape allegedly showing Tommy Sheridan admitting to visiting a swingers' club, is expected to be included.

Q) Who is in the frame?

A) Anyone and everyone, including five MSPs.

Q) What happens next?

A) Police will pass all evidence to the Crown Office and if it believes there is sufficient evidence and it is in the public interest, it will prosecute.

Q) What happens in a perjury trial?

A) The Crown has to prove "beyond reasonable doubt" that the accused gave false evidence on oath in a courtroom and did so wilfully.

Q) What is the punishment?

A) Up to ten years' imprisonment.

Q) Have any politicians been found guilty of perjury in the past?

A) Tories Jeffrey Archer and Jonathan Aitken.