NotW Sheridan witnesses ‘had no effect on guilty verdict’ claims leading QC

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by G.A.Ponsonby

QC Paul McBride has claimed that the testimony of News of the World executives who gave evidence at the perjury trial of Tommy Sheridan did not influence the jury’s guilty verdict

Mr McBride, who represented Mr Sheridan’s wife Gail throughout the proceedings, said that Mr Sheridan’s appeal “would go nowhere” if it was based on testimony from NotW witnesses, even if those executives had committed perjury.

Speaking on the Politics Show Scotland the leading QC said: “It [the appeal] will go nowhere.

“Tommy Sheridan was convicted of perjury by telling a civil jury that he hadn’t been to a swinger’s club and he hadn’t told members of his own party about it.

“The evidence at the trial was from members of his own party that he had told them that he had been to a swingers club and the jury accepted that evidence and he was convicted of perjury.

Mr McBride added: “The News of the World had no input whatsoever in relation to that perjury conviction.”

There has been speculation that Mr McBride has been approached to represent former NotW Editor Andy Coulson in any Scottish proceedings, but when questioned on the programme the leading QC declined to comment saying only that as things stood there were as yet no criminal allegations against Mr Coulson in Scotland.

The crown office in Scotland have already confirmed that there is to be a preliminary assessment of evidence given by witnesses at Mr Sheridan’s perjury trial where Mr Coulson denied any knowledge of payments to corrupt police officers.

However emails released by News International appear to cast doubt on these claims and Mr Coulson was subsequently arrested on Friday by London’s Metropolitan police, he was later released on bail.

Mr McBride acknowledged that emails said to be missing at the time of the trial, but have subsequently emerged, could be used by Mr Sheridan’s team in his appeal but insisted that it was unlikely the emails would contain any information relevant to Mr Sheridan’s defence.

The QC added: “He could try and use it, but as I have said already the conviction of perjury against Mr Sheridan relate to him attending at a swinger’s club, nothing about the News of the World at all.”

Yesterday saw the last ever edition of the Sunday tabloid.  Its former editor Rebekah Brooks is under increasing pressure to resign following the scandal of phone hacking that included allegations that the mobile phone of murdered teenager Milly Dowler was hacked along with the phones of relatives of soldiers killed in action.

The scandal has also thrown the spotlight onto the Press Complaints Commission amidst concerns that the body has no real teeth and is powerless to curb the worst excesses of some newspapers.

Meanwhile:

An internal report uncovered ‘smoking gun’ evidence of criminal behaviour at the News of the World four years ago, however, it was not handed to Scotland Yard until June of this year.

The report showed hacking was widespread and journalists were paying police. Sources said 300 emails show clear proof of criminal offences with a group of six journalists acting as ‘gatekeepers’ to private investigator Glen Mulcaire, who carried out hacking for the paper on a huge scale.

Some emails seem to suggest there was clearly evidence of serious crime with senior journalists paying substantial sums of money to police officers for information.  The police officers are not named, but the company’s cash records correlate to four-figure sums mentioned in the emails totalling approximately £120,000.

James Murdoch, son of Rupert, could face criminal charges since he approved out of court hush money settlements to hacking victims, which could now be considered a cover-up viewed in the light of the latest email revelations.

A further 2,200 News of the World emails, which may contain evidence of criminal behaviour by the paper’s staff, have apparently gone missing.