Publisher bids to overturn Tommy Sheridan’s defamation win

Tommy Sheridan. Picture: John Devlin
Tommy Sheridan. Picture: John Devlin
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A LAWYER has urged appeal judges to overturn a jury’s decision to award £200,000 to Tommy Sheridan following his defamation victory over the News of the World.

Alastair Duncan QC told judges Lady Paton, Lord Drummond Young and Lord McGhie that it was “essential to justice” that the August 2006 award be “set aside”.

The senior advocate was speaking on the first day of proceedings at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

Mr Duncan represents News Group Newspapers, the former publishers of the now defunct Sunday newspaper. His clients wants the court to overturn the decision. The former Scottish Socialist Party MSP wants the judges to refuse the media group’s request.

Mr Sheridan was awarded the sum after a jury took three hours to dismiss the newspaper’s claims that Mr Sheridan was a serial adulterer and “swinger” who used drugs.

Mr Sheridan represented himself in the case, which was heard over five weeks in the Court of Session.

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Speaking after the verdict he said: “We have over the last five weeks taken on one of the biggest organisations on the planet with the biggest amount of resources to pay for the most expensive legal teams to throw nothing but muck against me, my wife and my family.

“Today’s verdict proves working-class people can differentiate the truth from the muck. The working-class people on the jury have done a service to the people of Scotland and delivered a message to the standard of journalism the News of the World represents.”

In December 2010, Sheridan, of Cardonald, Glasgow, was convicted of perjury.

He was jailed for three years after a jury found him guilty of telling lies during his evidence in the defamation case.

Yesterday, Mr Duncan told the court that, because Mr Sheridan was convicted of perjury, the decision of the defamation jury should be set aside.

He told the court that evidence had emerged which would have made it impossible for the original jury to say that Sheridan was the victim of defamation.

He added: “The verdict is unsafe because of the conviction. It is essential to the cause of justice for it to be set aside.

“We say that the verdict be set aside because its basis is contrary to the evidence which is before the court.”

Mr Duncan was speaking on the first day of proceedings.

Mr Sheridan is representing himself and expected to address the court today.

The hearing continues and is expected to take three days.