Man who taped Tommy Sheridan 'feared reprisals'

THE man who sold a video tape which allegedly incriminated Tommy Sheridan feared "retribution" from associates of the politician, a court heard today.

• Gail and Tommy Sheridan

Scottish News of the World editor Bob Bird said George McNeilage, who was a best man at Sheridan's wedding, was frightened his family were at risk and was paid to take them away from Glasgow on the weekend the story was due to be printed.

The tape was secretly recorded by Mr McNeilage in 2004 and appears to show Sheridan discuss "confessing" to the allegations before an emergency meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party, the trial has previously heard.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Mr Bird was giving evidence at the politician's perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow for the third day today.

The former MSP and his wife Gail, both 46, deny lying under oath during his successful defamation action against the News of the World newspaper in 2006.

The action followed the newspaper's claims that he was an adulterer who visited swinger's clubs.

Mr Sheridan won 200,000 in damages after the newspapers printed the allegations about his private life.

The trial has previously heard how Mr McNeilage approached the News of the World following Sheridan's successful action.

Under questioning from Sheridan, who is representing himself in the trial, Mr Bird said Mr McNeilage was paid 1,000 to take his family on a short holiday on the weekend that the story was due to run.

But when the story did not appear in the newspaper, Mr Bird said he thought Mr McNeilage "might" have been given a further 1,000 to leave Glasgow on the weekend it was actually published.

Mr Bird said: "He was very worried about you and retribution that people who knew you might take on him.

"He wanted to go away. We gave him 1,000.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The weekend that we ran the story he might have got another 1,000 to do the same thing for his family so they were safe."

The court heard how Mr McNeilage had originally asked for 250,000 from the News of the World for the tape, but the newspaper eventually negotiated a 200,000 fee.

Mr Bird said: "We thought that was a bit expensive, which kind of blows a hole in your theory that we would spend anything to set you up."

The indictment against the Sheridans contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into subsections.

It is alleged he made false statements as a witness in the defamation action of July 21, 2006.

He also denies a charge of attempting to persuade a witness to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day trial got under way.

Mrs Sheridan denies making false statements on July 31, 2006, after being sworn in as a witness in the civil jury trial.

The trial, before Lord Bracadale, continues.