ALEX Salmond is facing a call from a senior UK politician to investigate Scotland’s prosecutors over their handling of the case against Tommy Sheridan that saw the former Scottish Socialist leader jailed for perjury.
Labour MP Tom Watson, who helped uncover the News of the World phone hacking scandal, is to write to Mr Salmond asking him to order the Scottish Government’s law officers to investigate why the case against Mr Sheridan came to court.
Mr Watson said Mr Sheridan’s perjury conviction was a “travesty of justice” as he claimed that the allegations about the News of the World’s phone-hacking operation cast doubt on the credibility of key trial witnesses from the defunct newspaper who were called to give evidence by the Crown Office.
Bob Bird, former editor of the News of the World’s Scottish edition, and former news editor Douglas Wight were both called by the Crown Office as witnesses in Mr Sheridan’s trial, which led to the former MSP being handed a three-year jail term. Both men deny being part of any phone-tapping activities.
Deputy UK Labour Party chairman Mr Watson will use his letter to Mr Salmond to argue that the jury, which convicted Mr Sheridan by a margin of eight to six, would have reached a different verdict if it knew about the alleged phone-hacking activities of News of the World operatives.
Mr Sheridan was convicted of five counts of perjury relating to evidence he gave in his civil court battle against the Scottish News of The World, in which the former Glasgow MSP was awarded £200,000 in damages from the News International-owned Sunday tabloid following the publication of allegations about his private life.
Mr Watson will argue that the Crown Office was wrong to pursue the case against Mr Sheridan and in particular should not have relied on evidence from News of the World employees.
He said: “It’s now absolutely certain that the judgment is unsound and if Alex Salmond had a shred of decency he would use all the power he has to ensure that this is urgently dealt with.
“There have been key revelations about the inadequacies of the original revelations and the methodology used by the executives working for Rupert Murdoch in the Sheridan case.
“It’s certain the jury would have reached another verdict if in possession of all the facts and Alex Salmond has to ask the Crown Office to investigate how on earth this case was even brought and why it went to trial.”
A Crown Office spokeswoman said: “The majority of the evidence led by the Crown against Tommy Sheridan was from witnesses who were his former friends and colleagues and who had no relationship whatsoever with the News of the World.
“Any appeal against conviction or sentence would be a matter for Mr Sheridan and his legal team.”
The Scottish Government said ministers would not personally intervene over Mr Sheridan’s conviction, but added that any concerns about a case could be taken up with the administration’s top law officer, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland.