Rupert Murdoch’s witchhunt against Scottish socialist Tommy Sheridan

This video from PBS in the USA is ‘A Bill Moyers essay on Rupert Murdoch and The Wall Street Journal‘.

From a statement by the Socialist Equality Party (Britain):

The Socialist Equality Party condemns the arrest and perjury charges levelled against Tommy Sheridan, convenor of the Solidarity-Scotland’s Socialist Movement.

Sheridan, a former Member for the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for the Scottish Socialist Party, from which his organisation split last year, was arrested on Sunday December 16 in Edinburgh by plain-clothes officers just moments after he had finished his regular weekly show, on Talk107 radio station.

After six hours of questioning, he was charged with perjury relating to his successful libel action against Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World in July 2006. In a major upset, Sheridan was awarded a record £200,000 in damages after the jury found the News of the World had libelled him as a swinger, who took part in orgies, snorted cocaine and cheated on his wife.

According to reports, charges could also follow against family and comrades of Sheridan, including his wife Gail and his father-in-law, who testified on his behalf during the trial. On Sunday, Gail Sheridan was cautioned as some nine police officers searched the family home in Glasgow. Several bags and a computer were reportedly seized.

Speaking after his arrest, Sheridan said, “It’s nine days before Christmas. My house has been ransacked, my wife has been traumatised, and my 2½-year-old child has been reduced to tears by the presence of nine police officers.”

He told the Herald, “Gail can’t believe the level of police activity. They spent seven hours in our home.”

Sheridan denounced the charges as a “political witch-hunt”, stating that, “I believe this whole farcical inquiry, which has usurped an incredible amount of public resources, has been orchestrated and influenced by the powerful reach of the Murdoch empire and I believe that I am the victim of a witch-hunt from the Murdoch empire.”

“I will prove my innocence in the fullness of time.” …

Notwithstanding our significant political differences with Sheridan, there is no doubt that the News of the World’s salacious series of articles alleging his infidelities were politically motivated. At a time of deepening hostility to the Labour government under Tony Blair and its illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq, the objective was to discredit Sheridan, who was most publicly associated with the populist brand of “left” Scottish nationalism that had led to six SSP members being elected to the Scottish parliament, along with two local councillors.

With elections to the Scottish parliament due in 2007, in which Labour was expected to suffer further heavy losses, the SSP could have anticipated winning a greater numbers of seats.

Update 1 March 2008: here.

Update September 2010: here.

Update December 2010: here.

Tommy Sheridan has revealed he was kept under surveillance by the Consulting Association blacklisting company for 14 years: here.

Andy Coulson charged with perjury in Tommy Sheridan case. Former News of the World editor accused of lying in evidence he gave about phone hacking at trial of ex-Scottish Socialist MSP: here.