Sheridan axes top lawyer in run-up to perjury trial

FORMER MSP Tommy Sheridan has ditched one of Scotland's most respected legal figures from his defence team, just months before his perjury trial is due to get under way.

The former Scottish Socialist Party leader and his wife Gail are facing perjury charges which allege they lied their way to victory and a record 200,000 damages payment in a defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

But the case will go ahead without QC Donald Findlay, who was due to lead Tommy Sheridan's defence. He will be replaced by Margaret Scott, who had been leading Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi's defence until his recent release.

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During the original trial, the politician sacked his lawyers and became his own counsel. The next trial will have about 180 witnesses and is expected to last three months, which would make Scotland's longest perjury case.