Former MSP Tommy Sheridan “panicked” when he was recognised visiting a swingers’ club in Manchester, a court heard yesterday.
Anvar Khan, a former News of the World columnist, told the High Court in Glasgow she was at Cupid’s club with the former Scottish Socialist MSP, his brother-in-law Andrew McFarlane, Gary Clark and Katrine Trolle in September 2002.
But she said Sheridan was recognised by someone from Glasgow after they entered the club situated on a “broken down industrial estate” in Manchester.
She said she thought it happened on Friday, 27 September, 2002. She said there was a large central area and screens on the wall showing pornography and smaller areas.
Khan told the court: “He panicked as soon as we went in because there were a couple of people from Glasgow who recognised him immediately.”
The group was introduced to the couple from Glasgow later that evening at a party in a house in Manchester, the court heard.
She said they spent three to four hours at the house, leaving in the early hours of Saturday morning, adding she was “pretty pissed”. She said she arrived back in Glasgow as dawn was breaking.
The politician is on trial accused of lying under oath during his successful defamation action against the News of the World newspaper in 2006.
Sheridan denies lying to the courts during the action, which followed the newspaper’s claims that he was an adulterer who visited swingers’ clubs.
He and his wife Gail, both 46, and from Glasgow, are accused of lying under oath. They deny the charges.
Sheridan won £200,000 in damages after the newspapers printed the allegations.
But Khan today told the trial the encounter in Manchester was one of several sexual experiences she had with Sheridan since meeting him.
She said that she “believed” that Sheridan had been married when some of the liaisons took place.
They included a “snog” in Glasgow City Chambers soon after they met and having sex beneath a Che Guevara picture in Sheridan’s bedroom.
She also told the court he visited her at her flat in Glasgow and had brought friends, including his brother-in-law Andrew McFarlane, with him.
But Khan said she later advised the politician to clean up his private life after rumours about his sexual activities surfaced around 2003.
She said she phoned Sheridan when she was making a television programme called Wham Bam Married Man and told him to “keep it in his pants”.
She said: “I said if he continued he would squander his ability to help people politically.
“He could no longer count on me to accompany him to any sex clubs or swingers’ clubs.
“I said to him that he had been voted for as a man of integrity, if there was any suspicion of him leading any kind of double life he would lose his ability to help people.
“He said: ‘Don’t talk about my business. MI5 are listening to me on the phone right now.'”
Khan said she included a fictionalised account of the visit to the swingers’ club in her 2004 book “Pretty Wild”.
She said the book was supposed to be a “Scottish version of Sex in the City” but she had used “artistic licence” and changed the names of people she spoke about.
But she told the court she had revealed that “the book contained a very clouded reference to an MSP” during a publicity interview with the Scotland on Sunday newspaper.
But she said: “I have never spoken publicly about my relationship with Mr Sheridan unless I am under oath and have been forced to do so.”
Under cross-examination from Sheridan, who is representing himself, Khan was asked if she had benefited from the allegations about him appearing in the press.
She said: “I think it would be the opposite. I have been box-office poison. I certainly have not had much work in Scotland.”
Khan told the court she had a meeting with the editor of the Scottish News of the World, Bob Bird, in which she said she felt “blackmailed” into cooperating with the newspaper’s lawyers in Sheridan’s defamation action.
She said she had felt her job had been under threat but she “stuck to her guns” and hadn’t worked with either side in the action, but had given evidence only because she had to.
Khan also said she had been “pursued for weeks” by the Daily Mail, who also wanted her to give them an expose on Sheridan, but had never been paid for the story, or benefited from it in any way.
Sheridan said: “The mask you have brought with you to this court is beginning to fall off.
‘You are here to bolster your friends at the News of the World and bolster their stories and their lies about me.”
She replied: “Your assessment is neither realistic, nor is it fair.”
Sheridan asked her about alleged inconsistencies between her testimony in 2006 and the account she had given in court today.
He said in 2006, she had said Sheridan had arranged for his brother-in-law Andrew McFarlane to meet her at Glasgow airport before the visit to Cupid’s, and she had been concerned about how he would recognise her.
But she had told the court today he had been to her house before the trip was arranged.
Khan said Sheridan had told her at the time it would either be McFarlane or another friend whom she had not yet met who would pick her up.
She also said she had not been able to go through her evidence before the case, or “scientifically” work out the dates or exact sequence events as she had done for the perjury case.
She also said she had been “hoping” she would not be called to give evidence in the 2006 case.
He also asked about an affidavit she had given the News of the World about the visit to Cupid’s in which she said the trip had taken place in 2001, not 2002.
She said the document had been “signed in haste” and she hadn’t given it “due respect”, and hoped if she had spent more time on it, she would have noticed the error.
She said her sexual relationship with Sheridan had ended when she noticed condoms were not being used in the club – but they went on to have a further encounter in 2003, without having “full sex”.
She said: “I realised at the sex club that although I had brought condoms with me, no one was using them.
‘I thought you were possibly carrying some sort of sexually-transmitted disease. I said at the libel trial I didn’t want anything more to do with you sexually after that.”
She said she met Sheridan at a friend’s flat in Glasgow in 2003 and “had a snog, maybe a bit of foreplay, but we did not have full sex”.
She told the court she thought Sheridan had been “hugely fond” of Katrine Trolle, who has previously told the trial she had had a four-year affair with Sheridan and also claims to have visited Cupid’s with him.
She told him: “I remember when Katrine said that she wanted a veggie burger and you said you would have one too, it was very obvious you were hugely fond of her and that you wanted to participate in her vegetarianism.
“I have never seen you so emotionally involved with anyone.”
She also said she had seen Sheridan remove cash from a “brown envelope” to pay for the burgers.
She also recalled asking him if anyone in Manchester would “want paying” for any aspect of the evening. She told him: “You said: ‘Don’t worry, I’ve got cash’.”
The trial at the High Court in Glasgow was adjourned until later today.