Tommy Sheridan in Christmas plea to jury

THE jury in the Tommy Sheridan perjury trial has retired to consider its verdict.

• Tommy Sheridan and his wife Gail arrive at court this morning

The 14 men and women were told by the judge, Lord Bracadale, to consider six remaining allegations against the former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) leader at the end of a 12-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

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Lord Bracadale said there was a "conflict" between the evidence of some witnesses and Sheridan's account.

During about 90 minutes of legal directions to the jury, he told them the trial was not a court of politics or sexual morality.

"Put out of your minds any views you may have," he said.

Sheridan denies lying under oath during his defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

He was awarded 200,000 after winning the case at the Court of Session in 2006.

Earlier today the former Scottish Socialist Party MSP made an emotional plea for a jury.

Sheridan struggled to control his voice as he gave his final comments in the 12-week trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

The politician denies lying under oath during his defamation action against the News of the World in 2006.

The paper claimed in an article that he was an adulterer who visited swingers' clubs.

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At the close of his almost five-hour speech, he said he was not afraid of the tabloid.

Addressing the jury, he said: "I'm frightened of you because you can do something that the News of the World will never be able to do.

"You could separate me from my wife, you could make me break my promise to my daughter that I'd spend Christmas with her.

"Never mind the emotion, given what you've heard I ask you to believe you've heard more than enough reasonable doubt to convince you that I'm innocent of the charges that remain."

Sheridan was awarded 200,000 following his successful case against the News of the World in July 2006.

The perjury trial has heard from more than a dozen witnesses who said he admitted visiting a sex club at a meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) on November 9 2004.

He accused his former colleagues today of "spewing bile" against him as part of a "political civil war" within the left of the party.

He said: "A political civil war which, quite frankly, I couldn't expect you to care a jot for."

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He said that the left fought a lot and "sometimes that fight gets bitter".

Sheridan said the SSP Executive had openly admitted discussing the defiance of a court order in relation to the minutes of the November 9 meeting.

He said: "Is it too big a leap of the imagination, if a group of people are willing to get together and defy a court order - would they get together and decide to lie in court?

"It's not too big a leap of the imagination."

Mr Sheridan contrasted the "unreliable and inconsistent" evidence of some of his former SSP colleagues to that of Rosemary Byrne, Graham McIver and others who said he denied swingers' club visits at the gathering.

Their testimony, he said, was "honest and straightforward".