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Crown drops charges relating to alleged sex party in hotel

The Crown has dropped a number of allegations against Tommy and Gail Sheridan after a key chapter of evidence collapsed at their perjury trial at the High Court in Glasgow.

Four allegations in total -- two against each of the accused -- were deleted in relation to an alleged sex party at the Moat House Hotel in Glasgow on the eve of the wedding of Andrew McFarlane, Tommy Sheridan’s brother- in-law.

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The development came following evidence from businessman Matthew McColl, 50, who the court heard gave four separate statements to the police that Sheridan was not at the hotel that night, before changing his story at the trial.

Paul McBride, QC, representing Gail Sheridan, also put it to Mr McColl that he had sex at the party with a woman called Beverly Dixon, who had flown up from Birmingham for the occasion, an allegation that the witness denied several times in court.

After an adjournment in proceedings, at the request of advocate depute Alex Prentice, QC, the prosecutor told the court: “I am grateful for the opportunity for rising slightly earlier. As a consequence I have been able to review matters and I move to delete some parts of the indictment.”

The jury was told the allegation against Tommy Sheridan that he attended an event organised by Mr McColl, on June 14, 2002 at the Moat House Hotel in Glasgow with his brother-in-law and had sex with Ms Dixon was to be deleted.

Also removed from the indictment was the Crown allegation that Sheridan falsely accused two women, Helen Allison and Anne Colvin, of lying in court when they said that he was at the hotel with Mr McFarlane.

With regards to Gail Sheridan, the allegation that she lied when claiming that her husband was with her that night from 10pm that night was also deleted.

Lord Bracadale advised the jury: “These particular paragraphs are no longer before you.”

Mr Prentice then concluded: “My lord, it is obvious the Crown is not seeking to lead evidence in relation to the Moat House.”

Following the developments, the case was adjourned shortly after 2pm to allow Sheridan to prepare for the next witness, Douglas Wight. The court has heard he was the news editor of the Scottish News of the World in 2004, when the paper printed a series of stories about the former MSP’s private life.

Sheridan continues to face 14 separate allegations relating to one charge of perjury, plus a second charge that accuses him of trying to persuade a former friend to commit perjury on his behalf.

It is alleged that he lied under oath during his successful action against the News of the World when he claimed that he had not visited Cupid’s swingers’ club in Manchester, had not had a sexual relationship with Katrine Trolle and had not had a lengthy sexual relationship with journalist Anvar Khan.

It has been claimed in court that Sheridan told a meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party that he had visited a swingers’ club on two occasions.

A secretly recorded video captures the confession, the prosecution claims.

Sheridan has told the court the video is a fake and his former political colleagues were part of a plot to bring him down.

Five separate allegations remain against Gail Sheridan, namely that she made false statements at the defamation trial. Both deny all of the allegations against them.

The trial, before Lord Bracadale, continues.


The charges

The Sheridans, both 46, from Glasgow, are accused of lying under oath during his successful 2006 defamation action against the News of the World. The indictment contains three charges in total, two of which are broken down into a number of sub-sections.

Tommy 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 another charge of attempting to persuade a witness to commit perjury shortly before the 23-day legal action got under way.

Gail 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 Crown has deleted four allegations in total against the couple that related to an alleged event at a Glasgow hotel in June 2002.

The charge against Gail now contains five allegations. Tommy Sheridan faces one charge of trying to persuade a friend to commit perjury and another perjury charge that contains 14 separate allegations.

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