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Sheridan frozen out of Yes campaign

THREE pro-independence groups are refusing to take part in debates involving disgraced politician Tommy Sheridan.

Pro-independence figures believe Tommy Sheridan is using the campaign to gain publicity for an appeal against his perjury convictions Photograph:  Jamie Simpson
Pro-independence figures believe Tommy Sheridan is using the campaign to gain publicity for an appeal against his perjury convictions Photograph: Jamie Simpson

Yes ­organisations for women, young people and Labour sympathisers have all backed a "no platform" policy in response to the perjurer's presence in the campaign.

In 2006, the then Scottish ­Socialist Party (SSP) convener defeated the publishers of the News of the World newspaper in a defamation case over allegations he was an adulterer and swinger. However, five years later Sheridan received a three-year jail sentence for perjuring himself in the initial trial.

His conviction was largely based on testimony from former SSP colleagues, who said Sheridan had confessed to visiting a swingers' club in Manchester.

Sheridan, who left the SSP and is now the leader of Solidarity, accused his former comrades of being liars, an allegation they fervently denied.

He has never apologised for events of the last 10 years.

Despite the lingering bitterness, the SSP and Solidarity are both campaigning for a Yes vote.

Sheridan has popped up at Yes meetings around the country, even appearing alongside SNP MSP Christina McKelvie. However, his appearance has alarmed senior figures in the pro-independence movement, who believe he is toxic.

The Sunday Herald can reveal that Women for Independence, a legally registered campaign group, has a "no platform" stance. A source close to the group said: "He's a liability. Given his behaviour towards women, it would be irresponsible for us as a women's organisation to share a platform with him."

Labour for Independence, set up to persuade party members of the merits of independence, has done likewise. An insider said: "We are not going to share a platform with him. He's too divisive."

It is understood that members of Generation Yes, a group for young voters, agreed the same policy last week. A spokesman for the body said: "We have no comment to make at this time regarding the issue."

A fourth organisation, the ­Radical Independence Campaign, does not allow Sheridan to share its platform.

Pro-independence figures believe Sheridan is piggy-backing on the independence campaign to gain publicity for an appeal against his conviction. The former Glasgow MSP last week invited the media to watch him lodging appeal papers with the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

He also appeared to have a dig at his former SSP colleagues during a pro-independence speech in Oban.

Speaking of his battle against News International, he said: "It was very difficult to find friends who, in times of adversity, would stand beside me. Real friends are those who come towards you when the bullets start to fire, not the ones who start to desert you."

The Sunday Herald attempted to contact Sheridan yesterday for comment, but he failed to reply.

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