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A serious matter

Brian Taylor | 14:32 UK time, Monday, 17 December 2007

This blog is styled Blether with Brian - and, customarily, I am more than happy to indulge.

However, the big story in Scottish politics today is one that does not lend itself to blether, whatever the temptations.

A 43-year-old man was first detained and then charged with perjury, a criminal offence which, upon conviction, can attract a prison sentence.

That bald statement is not altered by the fact that the 43-year-old male in question is Tommy Sheridan, erstwhile Socialist MSP.

Reaction there has been, of varying content. Mr Sheridan himself is expressing outrage at the manner of his detention and vowing to clear his name.

The party he founded, Solidarity, say they are behind him.

The party he left, the Scottish Socialist Party, say they are focused upon other matters.

The newspaper he successfully sued, the News of the World, declined to comment.


  • 1.
  • At 03:03 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Gillon Johnstone wrote:

I am not a fan of Tommy Sheridan, simply I do not like his retoric or his political views.

However in saying that it seems to me the way the police acted was excessive, However it would be interesting to find out how in other cases like this the police act, Is it the norm or was this treated differently.

I would also be very dissapointed to see anyone use this as reason to attack him prior to any trial, the innocent till proven guilty scenario. Nor should Tommy Sheridan use this as a political platform

I guess I am saying two things no-one is above the law Nor should anyone be exploited by the law for other purposes

  • 2.
  • At 03:14 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Scamp wrote:

I have a sneeky admiration for Tommy. Whilst wholly unelectable he still says many things most of us would agree with.

I sincerely hope this all remains "unproven".

  • 3.
  • At 03:14 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Ross wrote:

Tommy is a man of the people.

One of the few decent politicians around today. I have no doubts he will clear his name.

  • 4.
  • At 03:16 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Colin wrote:

"However, the big story in Scottish politics today is one that does not lend itself to blether, whatever the temptations."

No. The big story in Scottish politics today is how the illegal Labour funding activities have been allowed to disappear off the radar, with neither the Police nor the press following it up. How useful that there's now something else to divert their attention eh?

  • 5.
  • At 04:06 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • djmac wrote:

Surely 'the serious matter' for Brian to be commenting on is the quite unbelievable hypocrisy of the 'Flying Pig-Dem Party' in their pathetic attempts to bring discredit to the Scottish Government on their attempts to secure (rightly or wrongly) a £1 billion investment for this country which opportunity the FPDM have previously supported in alliance with their failed masters in the previous Executive!!

It's an over-used caption I know, but you just could not make this up!! Is S Nicol preparing a new university materclass on 'Hypocrisy in Politics'?? He certainly could take out a patent on the theme.

There may be many arguments about the pros and cons of the proposed Trump development - especially about its economic structure - but S Nicol and the 'Flying Pig-Dem Party' are showing once again for all electors to see that they are the masters in political sleaze opportunity whilst they have been so obviously hypocritical in their (silent, but strong) support for their so-called partners in government - the Bendy Party - during their recent troubles!!

You couldnae make this up??

Oh yes you could - this is the 'Flying Pig-Dem Party' at work!!

  • 6.
  • At 04:32 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • karin wrote:

2. Colin I agree I want to know when the electoral commision is going to pass everything regarding donorgate to the police. Tommy sheridan while he may have formed a political party is not actually an msp or an mp and as far as i am aware correct me if i am wrong nor does his previous or recent poltical party have any msps in the parliament. So it really does make you ask why is it being discussed on a poltics page. As far as i know he is at the moment a radio presenter. I take it the media have now decided to drop the whole trump thing now that Mr trump has warned that the development is in jeopardy. Now that i wouldnt mind talking about how nicol stephen has jeopardised major investment in scotland with his gutter politics.

  • 7.
  • At 04:43 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Conway wrote:

Come on Brian this is from the Sunday Times...
WENDY ALEXANDER, the Scottish Labour leader, faces a new crisis after it emerged that she and senior colleagues have given thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to a company that helps with campaigns for the party.

Alexander is already under pressure to resign after she admitted receiving an illegal donation for her leadership campaign from Paul Green, a businessman based in Jersey who is not a UK voter.

Now it has emerged that she, along with eight senior colleagues, used parliamentary allowances to pay £5,000 to Computing for Labour (CfL), a company owned by the party and based at its London headquarters. It provides IT services that are offered free by the Scottish parliament.

CfL provides software which helps politicians to organise files on individual constituents.

It is used not only by 13 Labour members of the Scottish parliament (MSPs) but also by 260 Labour MPs and 16 Welsh assembly members. Between them, they pay the organisation an estimated £68,000 a year from their parliamentary allowances.

The money is paid even though similar software has been available free to MSPs of all parties through the Scottish parliament’s IT department since 2003. Westminster politicians said the only other systems available to them had to be paid for.

CfL helps Labour to campaign during elections, designing candidates’ websites and software that allows them to send text messages directly to voters. Its website states that it is “a membership organisation set up to encourage and support the use of computers so that they contribute to achieving the party’s aims”.

Parliamentary authorities prohibit the use of office equipment paid out of allowances to be used for party purposes but have permitted payments to CfL on the grounds that MSPs require support to help to deal with constituents’ problems.

However, a former CfL employee said that income from elected representatives made the company’s election campaigning work possible. “Basically it pays for the salaries of the same employees who help out with political support at the time of election campaigns ? so in that sense it is all the same. It cross-subsidises it.”

Murdo Fraser, deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives, said it was “astonishing” that taxpayers’ money appeared to be used to subsidise Labour campaigns.

He is demanding an investigation by the parliamentary authorities and calling for the practice to be banned, adding that Alexander has made “another serious misjudgment”.

  • 8.
  • At 05:01 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

I agree with Colin, the illegal Labour activities have well and truly been brushed under the carpet.

Can we expect Wendy Alexander and co to recieve the same excessive police numbers when their homes are raided.

I'm with Colin!
Perhaps the BBC political pundits should read the Sunday Times headlines.
Most educational!

  • 10.
  • At 05:26 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Dunc McPhail wrote:

Makes you wonder if the powers to be in UK labour have directed the Police at poor old Tommy's door to get themselves of a somewhat precarious hook. Co-incidence?

You never know, possibly Tommy and Wendy could be in court at same time?


  • 11.
  • At 06:31 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Robin Leslie wrote:

Why does there have to be only ONE BIG STORY at a time? But that aside, it is surely troubling that someone so prominent as Tommy Sheridan and especially his wife and child were dealt with by the police in the manner that has been reported. Shouldn't this at least raise the question how less prominent people may be being dealt with every day?

  • 12.
  • At 06:31 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • iain morrison wrote:

Seems to me the police have their priorities wrong. Chase Tommy to protect Reputation (?) of NOTW. Leave Bendy and her gang of bandits alone.

  • 13.
  • At 06:57 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Gregor Addison wrote:

#4, Well said Colin. Who's running the Labour Party while Wendy's in hiding? I don't suspect we'll see her till the New Year.

  • 14.
  • At 07:36 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Nick wrote:

I agree with Colin that the illegal donations to Labour have well and truly been swept under the carpet by the media and this has been helped by other unionists trying to accuse the First Minister of Sleaze.

Can we expect Wendy Alexander and co to have their houses raided by the same amount of police officers?

  • 15.
  • At 07:59 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • MB wrote:

4. Colin: "No. The big story in Scottish politics today is how the illegal Labour funding activities have been allowed to disappear off the radar, with neither the Police nor the press following it up. How useful that there's now something else to divert their attention eh?"

Spot on. Have to get The Times to get this story. All in all, another bit of tinkering with the propaganda by the BBC et al. Interesting that the greatest and most effective opponent of rational, educated political thought, or the Scottish Independence movement as it's often called, is now the media rather than any political party.

  • 16.
  • At 08:55 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • David wrote:

I think the Police should be looking for a female, 44, mousey brown hair and a shifty look!

Possibly also for a set of, so called, journalists who are responsible for propoganda and deceit on the level of Lord Haw Haw!

  • 17.
  • At 08:55 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Julian wrote:

To the poster querying if Mr Sheridan has been subjected to standard police operating procedures in relation to an offence of this nature I would simply say; Nine officers?

I would imagine it is rare for the police to be able to muster nine officers for anything less than a murder enquiry. Disproportionate and politicised are two words that spring to mind.

A FOI query to the police regarding the resources allocated to this enquiry might prove interesting reading. Particularly if viewed in comparison to an FOI query in relation to the police resources dedicated to the recent activities of the Labour party.

In addition to the last poster, I await your blog entry on Mr Stephen jeopardising massive investment in Scotland with interest!

  • 18.
  • At 09:25 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Ayrshireman wrote:

Very few people know what the truth is about Tommy and the allegations. But I suspect many potential jurors will have plenty of sympathy with him when it comes to a contest against the "News of the World" and their brand of journalism

  • 19.
  • At 10:04 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Ross McLean wrote:

Hey djmac. Do you have to use the term "Flying Pig Dem Party" no less than THREE times in one message? I mean it is so very funny, so intrinsically hilarious, that surely it should only be used once at a time, I mean out of common decency for the protection of our rib cages. Have mercy on us please and use it sparingly in future, OK?

  • 20.
  • At 10:13 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Noli Me Tangere wrote:

Well done no. 4.

The real big story has been buried. Why why why have we not heard from the electoral commission?

You can almost hear the cogs grinding... how do we make this just a slap on the wrist... when will another big story break so that we can safely announce our decision in the background...

... enough to make you think that Tommy was picked up to provide a diversion... Hmmm...

The law regarding donations has been broken yet no action is being taken. Try telling the police this Christmas you didn't 'intentionally' mean to speed, get drunk, etc.

  • 21.
  • At 10:19 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Ian Sansom wrote:

Can someone please explain what the police are doing getting involved in what was a CIVIL case that was decided upon by a jury?
Even if there is a case for bringing CRIMINAL charges what chance is there of finding a totally unbiased jury who know nothing about what's been a long-running and well-hyped situation?

  • 22.
  • At 10:24 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Andrew Davidson wrote:

Big story today is a non-elected politician being charged with perjury?

C'mon Brian, are you seriously joining the press choir to try and distract attention from the illegal donations and funding using taxpayers money of a party machine by Wendy Alexander and her cohorts?

  • 23.
  • At 11:54 PM on 17 Dec 2007,
  • Bruce wrote:

now perjury is a serious charge but the shenanigans or should that be sheridanigans are not as important as other issues. Why bother mentioning it when there is no comment. Far better to comment on Nicol Stephen's sleaze accusations, just what is sleazy about a constituency MSP meeting a potential developer and just where is the story in John Swinney attending a visit scotland function. The real story is the failure of the opposition. Labour completely sleazy and the Liberals trying to help them out. We now have a labour arty which is systemically corrupt, a Tory party too lazy to move and the liberals have trapped themselves into losing Trumptown. If Trump goes Nicol Stephen is going to get the blame and Aberdeen won't forget. All three opposition parties need new leadership and that is more of a blog subject than an ex-msp who has been charged with an offence. After all there could be at least one present labour MSP if not two who are going to be charged with electoral offences or is that going to be suppressed by the totalitarian labour regime and not reported by the labour run BBC.

  • 24.
  • At 12:09 AM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Catherine Perrie wrote:

9 policemen to do the job of 2. No wonder we do not have enough police to cover Scotland. They are all at Tommy Sheridans frightening his women and wain. Notice they knew he was at work.

What a shame they could not spare some to go to Wendy and co and lift the lot of them.

And Nicol Steven, heave him in the back of the paddy wagon, "what for
said you" I do not need a reason. I learned that from the slithering Nicol himself.
The only man in Holyrood who can get
down a small spiral staircase no problem.

Remember Wendy this Xmas Mr Plod

It would appear that the GB ruling Party has the police, press and worse still the BBC, nicely tucked up in their pockets, to do their bidding.

Tommy is still innocent until proven guilty.

Obviously the police have nothing better to do with their time.

How's about them paying wee Wendy and her cronies a visit.

They have an open and shut case there.

It's a case of different priorities.

The timing of this stinks.

The excessive number of police used stinks.

The diversionary tactics stinks.

When my car was vandalised and wrecked last month I couldn't get even one policeman to come out and do anything, not even to write a report.

Do the policemen deserve their pay rise ?.

I don't think so, but I'm kinda glad that they're getting it, even if it's only to wind up oor Gordon, who's incompetence is just coming to light.

All the pits and factories of any National significance have now been shut down, and that was what the police got their massive pay rises for. Job done.


  • 26.
  • At 07:43 AM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Uncle wrote:

The Scottish police answer to the Scottish executive, not London.

It is tragic to hear SNP activists try and turn this into another hate filled, anti-English conspiracy theory.

With each passing day, Scotland is becoming more and more like Northern Ireland, impaired by sectarian ignorance. This too is tragic.

Scottish nationalism has not made Scotland proud, it has made it ugly.

  • 27.
  • At 10:06 AM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • david miller wrote:

Brian, thought this was supposed to be a blog ! more like a news bulletin without any comment...... if that your point, then why bother

  • 28.
  • At 10:54 AM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

Not being a fan of Mr Sheridan, I still feel it is only fair and proper that we await the outcome of due process; with that continued aim of achieving fairness we should not accept a single sided expression of events, the police act in the full knowledge that they may well be held to account for their actions.

  • 29.
  • At 12:16 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

If you are reading these posts,please now go for the jugular and investigate Wendy and her parties money problems.Maybe then we would have a little more faith in jounalists.Do not go for the easy story which is given you on a plate but the big one which is more important for democracy and the country.Expose the wrongdoers !!!!!

  • 30.
  • At 01:17 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • iain morrison wrote:

I am no fan of Tommy, but what kind of justice system have we got when the police are used to investigate a civil case already settled in court.

This story really does belong in the tabloids and as other commenters have mentioned it is not a political story, even if he is the leader of his own party (which has never had an elected member anywhere).

What is happening with Wendy and when will her pal Nicol Stephens stop mouthing off over other non issues ...

... come on Brian your better than this!

"When my car was vandalised and wrecked last month I couldn't get even one policeman to come out and do anything, not even to write a report." - slightly OT, however, I've known similar when a lassie had her window shot at with an air rifle. the police wouldn't look into it but provided a case number for insurance ... over the phone!

  • 32.
  • At 02:01 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Badger wrote:

Have to say I agree with most of the other posters.

The REAL scandal is Wendy Alexanders confessed criminality, compounded by further revelations today and completely ignored by the Scottish Press.

  • 33.
  • At 02:19 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Dunc McPhail wrote:

It's a bit ironic that on the day statistics are published that show Scotland has the highest murder rate in Europe, two days earlier 20 odd police where arresting TS and his missus.

What are the police's priorities?

  • 34.
  • At 02:26 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • J Stevenson wrote:

How could they accuse ME? Don't wait for due legal process, attack your accusers with some good PR. I think it's called the Orcadian Gambit. Press reporting of the Sheridan affair is restricted supposedly (but what has happened to the Law of Contempt?} Meanwhile TS struts his stuff, accusing everyone of being out to get him.
This guy has conned some very dim, workshy people into believing that he has easy answers to getting their hands on other people's hard-earned money. They should know that if the top 5% of wealth owners were totally dispossessed and their cash divided among the rest, every man woman and child in the UK would get about £600 each. Meanwhile the businesses run by these "profiteers" would crash, we'd have 20 million on the dole and troops on the streets. Nobody earning, so no wages and no taxes to pay for benefits. Tommy the Commie would be ecstatic... until "the People" he talks about twigged and "did a Mussolini" on him at the nearest lamp post.
But Donorgate IS more important in the real world, as Colin says.

  • 35.
  • At 03:00 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Malcolm wrote:


I am amazed that so many people seem to feel that an allegation (no more at this time I agree) of perjury should not be investigated by the police. Did they complain when Jonathan Aitken was sent to prison for the same offence, and in similar circumstances? I doubt it, because he was a "sleezy Tory".

Politics and politicians are not above the law of the land, even though some of them (and apparently their supporters) think they are. I agree that Labour are probably very happy to have the spotlight shining somewhere else, but surely the authorities and the media have more than one torch?

  • 36.
  • At 03:58 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • steveh wrote:

I hope the police are as keen to investigate the Wendy Alexander illeagal donations scandel as strongly as they have persued Tommy Sheridan.
Or do the police believe that the great democrate Rubert Murdoch is more important than the Scotish electorate.
Investigations such as these should be targeting real issues, not news of the world gutter trivia.
I wonder if the police will raid the homes of some labour MSPs.
Merry Xmas

  • 37.
  • At 06:05 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • djmac wrote:

No 19 Ross,
The B Taylor Editorial team has caught up with me (regrettably) and some editing has been evidenced on another blog.
However, undaunted, with poetic licence, we can offer this observation on the Lib Dems today:


  • 38.
  • At 09:24 PM on 18 Dec 2007,
  • Peter Forsyth wrote:

Uncle no.26:I am not anti English and indeed have gone out with several English women and work with a few at work. You use the term sectarian but that poison is only associated with the cess pit that is politics in the Central belt and especially the west coast. Is this the next avenue of attack for the increasingly desperate unionists?
All the negativity and vitriol seems to be from the unionists directed against the SNP, this tactic failed before and will continue to do so as more people see through it.

  • 39.
  • At 06:32 AM on 19 Dec 2007,
  • Wansanshoo wrote:

Just to clarify the current situation,Tommy Sheridan's case against the 'Murdoch Empire' was a civil matter and was settled in the Court of Session.

Tommy Sheridan latest arrest and subsequent chargingis for perjury, he stands accused of lying in court during the same trial.

It is not a civil matter,Tommy Sheridan is facing serious charges brought by the CPS and if found guilty may even spend time in Saughton again.

Perhaps 2008 will not be all gloom and doom then?


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