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Posted by Alec Macpherson

Gail Sheridan has now been charged with theft after the discovery of miniature bottles of spirits in a police search of the Sheridan family home in Cardonald during December 2007 in connexion with the perjury investigation following her husbands defamation victory against News International.

The alleged victim of this theft is British Airways, for whom she has worked as a air-stewardess for 23 years and which has now suspended her. Tommy Sheridan has declared that this is further proof that Lothian and Borders Police “is conducting a vendetta” against his family. Is that fair comment?

It is possible, I suppose, that the investigating police informed British Airways of the discovery of only a small number of miniatures. Purloining goods from work, whilst technically still theft, is pretty commonplace, and to inform British Airways would, I concede, strike some as bordering on the vindictive – especially if there was little evidence of where the bottles came from.

But the fact that Gail Sheridan has been suspended by British Airways makes me question if we’re talking about larger quantities of bottles. Scotland – much as certain commenters in HP comments boxes may wish – is not a police state, and the decision to charge her is clearly separate of any perjury investigation.

I’m also beginning to wonder why Tommy Sheridan is being permitted to continue discussing the perjury investigation on his Sunday radio programme on Talk 107, particularly as the Scottish Socialist Party website has removed related documents “on legal advice”. He has elsewhere declared that “It seems to be the most one-sided inquiry in history”.

I don’t think it is (and that’s not a expression of my belief in his guilt). Further recourse was made to the Scottish judiciary after allegations of impropriety during the trial. That is anyone’s right.

Various statement made by Tommy Sheridan and others during the trial were obviously at odds with testimony from other witnesses. To knowingly lie in any Court is to commit the crime of perjury, which is a very serious offence.

I don’t object so much to protestations of innocence as to the implication that perjury is a less than serious offence, particularly where it brought the plaintiff £200,000 of personal wealth, or the ease with which Sheridan accuses the Lothian and Borders Police of conducting a vendetta. I wonder if Sheridan will now accuse British Airways, not connected with the investigation and able to sue Sheridan for defamation, in such clear terms.

If we are to believe that Lothian and Borders Police, News International and now British Airways are in each other’s pockets, what about Scotsman Publications Ltd. which in the link above allows Sheridan to say how much he is “outraged” and “raging” and which suggests that “it all seems to be getting too much for his wife who appears to be tired and withdrawn”?

I caught part of a news report on STV (owned by SMG plc) which was sympathetic to Sheridan. I’m working from memory, but we were informed by a lawyer that of the approximately 40,000 cases reported to the Procurator Fiscal in an average year, less than one hundred involved perjury and only a handful resulted in a conviction. The interviewee said, had he never heard of so many people being charged with relation to one investigation. Of course, he may have said more, but he and other interviewees were being edited mid-breath at points. But where does that lead us?

Like trying to follow the plane of a Moebius ring, I found myself asking where reasonable comment about the number of perjury cases brought has ended and a sleight of hand been offered. Can anyone else see what I mean?

UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments box, Gail Sheridan has not been charged with theft, as the original BBC link stated, but has merely been suspended from her job at BA pending further investigations. Boy am I glad I attached doubt to the suitability of a criminal charge!