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Briefing: Tommy Sheridan

Tuesday is porridge-looming day for the Scottish Socialist MSP.

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If he fails to pay a #250 fine for committing a breach of the peace at Faslane naval base on the Clyde by then, a warrant will be issued for his arrest and it is expected that he will shortly thereafter be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure for 14 days. Q: Why did Mr Sheridan break the law? A: He has argued that he was, in fact, trying to uphold the law when he and about 150 other protesters blocked the road outside the gates of Faslane naval base on the Clyde in February this year.

Q: Uphold the law? A: Yes. He said he was merely abiding by a ruling of the International Court of Justice, which had said that the threat posed by nuclear weapons was in itself illegal. Argyll and Bute District Court took a different view and, on November 15, he was given 28 days to pay the fine.

Q: Can't he afford it? A: Yes, but Mr Sheridan says his is a principled stance and, unless nuclear weapons are abolished by Tuesday, he'll go to jail.

Q: What are the chances of the world being nuclear weapons-free in four days? A: As likely as Rangers winning the Champions League.

Q: So will it be Christmas in prison for Mr Sheridan? A: Unlikely. If he doesn't pay up he will either be arrested and taken to prison to serve his sentence, or he will give himself up to police, who will then convey him to jail, probably Barlinnie in Glasgow. With good behaviour, he should be out in time to enjoy the turkey and trimmings at home on Christmas day. Q: How much of an ordeal will prison be? A: Not much. Mr Sheridan is a disciplined, focused character. Anyway, he's been banged up before, in connection with a warrant-sale protest. Paradoxically, poindings are to be abolished by the democratically-elected Scottish Parliament, of which Mr Sheridan is a fully paid-up member. He willingly and vigorously adhered to the democratic process to lead the successful campaign for legislation outlawing warrant sales. That process has achieved much more than any illegal protest did. It would be another sign of political maturity on his part if he paid the fine.

Q: Will he be able to remain an MSP if he goes to jail? A: Yes. Mr Sheridan is a law-maker so he must surely be aware that his offence is insufficiently serious to warrant expulsion.

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