Labour MP Tom Watson, who helped uncover
the News of the World phone hacking scandal, is to write to Mr Salmond asking
him to order the Scottish Government's law officers to investigate why the case
against Mr Sheridan came to court.
Mr Watson said Mr Sheridan's perjury
conviction was a "travesty of justice" as he claimed that the
allegations about the News of the World's phone-hacking operation cast doubt on
the credibility of key trial witnesses from the defunct newspaper who were
called to give evidence by the Crown Office.
Bob Bird, former editor of the News of the
World's Scottish edition, and former news editor Douglas Wight were both called
by the Crown Office as witnesses in Mr Sheridan's trial, which led to the
former MSP being handed a three-year jail term. Both men deny being part of any
phone-tapping activities. (...)
Mr Watson will argue that the Crown Office
was wrong to pursue the case against Mr Sheridan and in particular should not
have relied on evidence from News of the
He said: "It's now absolutely certain
that the judgment is unsound and if Alex Salmond had a shred of decency he
would use all the power he has to ensure that this is urgently dealt with.
A Crown Office spokeswoman said: "The
majority of the evidence led by the Crown against Tommy Sheridan was from
witnesses who were his former friends and colleagues and who had no relationship
whatsoever with the News of the World.
"Any appeal against conviction or
sentence would be a matter for Mr Sheridan and his legal team."
The Scottish Government said ministers
would not personally intervene over Mr Sheridan's conviction, but added that
any concerns about a case could be taken up with the administration's top law
officer, Lord Advocate Frank Mulholland.
[Much more urgent, of course, is an inquiry
into the prosecution and conviction of Abdelbaset Megrahi. The SCCRC
found six grounds for concluding that his conviction might have amounted to
a miscarriage of justice, one of them being that, on a matter absolutely
central to conviction, no reasonable court on the evidence led could have
reached the conclusion that the trial court arrived at. Since the SCCRC
reported, much more evidence has become available -- much of it relating to misconduct
in the conduct of the investigation and the prosecution -- and is set out in
detail in John Ashton's Megrahi: You are my Jury and
elsewhere. For the Scottish Government to suggest to
concerned citizens that their remedy is to ask the Crown Office to conduct an
investigation into misconduct in a criminal investigation and prosecution when
the Crown Office is now headed, not by independent lawyers brought in from
private practice, but by career civil servants from that very office, is
nothing short of risible. Scottish lawyers' magazine The Firm's account of this issue can be seen here.]