Revelations about the illegal activities of News International have given new hope to supporters of jailed Scottish Socialist leader Tommy Sheridan.
Tommy was jailed in January for three years after being convicted of perjury. During his trial Tommy argued that he had been a victim of a politically motivated vendetta carried out by News of the World with the help of the Scottish police.
Tommy’s name and mobile phone details appeared in the notes of convicted phone hacker Glen Mulcaire. Yet a succession of News International executives trooped into court and denied the newspaper would ever do such a thing. They claimed that emails relating to the case had been “lost”.
Both now appear to be untrue. On his imprisonment Tommy remained defiant. “I have fought News International all my political life,” he proclaimed, “and I make no apologies for taking on the might of Rupert Murdoch.”
One key witness against Tommy was Andy Coulson, ex-editor of the News of the World. Coulson denied under oath that he had any knowledge of phone hacking or of payments to corrupt police officers.
With Coulson’s arrest this week, public pressure grew for an investigation into his testimony, leading to Strathclyde police launching an inquiry into his evidence.
Coulson has engaged the services of one of Scotland’s top defence lawyers to deal with any future court case. We may yet see Coulson in the dock charged with perjuring himself to put a socialist campaigner in jail.
Two Labour MPs have now raised the issue of Tommy’s conviction in parliament. Tom Watson called it “unsafe” as the jury did not have all of the facts to make their judgement adding, “Tommy Sheridan may be an innocent man.”
Supporters of Tommy held a demonstration on Saturday at the offices of News International. They called for the case to be reopened and asked people to keep the pressure on News International until justice is done.
After the verdict in January, the right wing tabloids were jubilant. They thought that a tireless fighter for peace, workers and the poor had been discredited and destroyed.
Sadly even some sections of the Scottish left joined that chorus of condemnation.
But with the scandal at the News of the World the mood is changing—and people are beginning to ask questions about the guilty verdict. As Tommy’s wife Gail said of News International this week, “We have been aware of the depravity and criminality of these people for many years and we are glad that the public’s eyes have been opened to the way that they have behaved.”