Tommy Sheridan asked party colleague to lie to lawyer - court told

Former MSP Tommy Sheridan asked a colleague to lie to a lawyer about minutes of a meeting where he allegedly admitted visiting a swingers' club, a court heard today.

• Tommy Sheridan and wife Gail arrive at court in Glasgow

Colin Fox, 51, said Mr Sheridan asked him to send a statement to his solicitor saying that the minutes of the meeting were false, and that people who said he had admitted going to the club were mistaken.

Mr Fox refused, saying it was a "train wreck" strategy.

The trial at the High Court in Glasgow has heard that at a meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) executive committee, on November 9 2004, Mr Sheridan admitted twice visiting a swingers' club.

Mr Sheridan and his wife Gail, both 46, are accused of lying under oath during his successful 2006 defamation action against the News of the World. They deny the allegations against them.

He won 200,000 in damages after the newspaper printed allegations about his private life.

One of the charges he faces is that he attempted to persuade Mr Fox to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day legal action got under way.

The SSP had not wanted to hand the minutes to the courts and one member was jailed for contempt of court over the issue, after which the party handed over the minutes.

Mr Fox, former Lothians MSP, said he met Mr Sheridan at the Beanscene cafe near the Scottish Parliament on June 18 2006, where Mr Sheridan made the request.

He said: "The minutes had already been handed in by this stage and Mr Sheridan asked me to send a statement to his solicitor saying that the minutes, in effect, were false, that he had not admitted to attending a swingers' club and that those people who had said he had admitted to it were mistaken."

Advocate depute Alex Prentice QC asked whether he was prepared to do what Mr Sheridan asked.

He replied: "No. I told him it was a train wreck of a strategy. He was asking me to send a statement to his solicitor disowning my party, disowning those minutes. I told him I was not prepared to do it."

Mr Fox told the court that he and party colleague Allan Green met Mr Sheridan at the Golden Pheasant pub in Lenzie on May 12 2006 and tried to persuade him to drop the action against the News of the World.

They were not successful.

The indictment against the Sheridans contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into a number of sub-sections.

Mr Sheridan denies lying to the courts during his case, which followed the newspaper's claims that he was an adulterer who had visited a swingers' club.

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

He also denies a charge of attempting to persuade a witness to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day legal action 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 at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.

The trial, before Lord Bracadale, is in its fourth day.