Sheridan visited swingers` club, employee tells court - Press Gazette

Sheridan visited swingers` club, employee tells court

Former MSP Tommy Sheridan was identified as being at a swingers’ club for “liberated adults” in court yesterday.

Tony Cumberbirch said he had seen Sheridan in a group of five people from Scotland in Cupid’s club in the Swinton area of Manchester in 2002.

He also told the trial at the High Court in Glasgow he was asked to cross out Sheridan’s name from a book recording who had come to the club.

The 53 year-old, from Manchester, was giving evidence at the former Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) MSP`s perjury trial.

Cumberbirch said Cupid’s was “a swingers` club – wife-swapping for liberated adults” and he had worked there for around 12 years – but was visiting socially on the night he claims to have seen Sheridan there.

He said: “I think it was a Friday night. There were three lads and two ladies. I know now one of them to be Tommy Sheridan. I didn’t know at the time.

“It was Tommy Sheridan, two lads and two lasses in the club. They were drunk. They were drunken Scottish customers as far as we were concerned.”

He added that he hadn’t “played” with the group at the club.

Cumberbirch also described the two women with the man he said was Sheridan.

He said he thought one was Scandinavian and the other was “dark-skinned and a little bit chunky”.

Two witnesses, Anvar Khan and Katrine Trolle, have previously told the trial they went to Cupid’s with Sheridan and a third, Gary Clark, said he had been to a club in Manchester.

He said he saw Sheridan again later at a party in Wigan, hosted by a friend called Ian, but had gone to bed early, saying: “It wasn’t our sort of party. They weren’t our sort of people.”

But he said he had been “as close” to Sheridan at the party as he was now in the courtroom.

The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, asked him how he later concluded that the man he had seen was Sheridan.

Cumberbirch replied: “Everything from this to Big Brother.”

Under cross-examination from Sheridan, Cumberbirch told him: “You were in the club. I remember you. I’m not coming here to tell lies in a case about perjury. Think about it.”

He also said he had removed Sheridan’s name from a ledger as a “favour” for a friend called Robbie.

He said: “I was asked to cross a name out of the book because someone had signed in with your name. I was asked to do it as a favour and I did it.”

Sheridan denies lying to the courts during his successful action against the News of the World in 2006, 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 during the action. They deny the charges.

Sheridan won £200,000 in damages after the newspapers printed the allegations about his private life.

The trial also heard from Cumberbirch’s wife, Louise, who also frequented and worked at Cupid’s. She said it was “a private members’ club for like-minded people”.

She said it was “for whatever you wanted to do”, adding that sex was “something you can get” there.

Mrs Cumberbirch also described seeing a group of five people – three men and two women – from Scotland in the club in 2002, but said it was “very hard to remember” what they looked like.

She also said the group had then gone to the party at “Ian’s” house in Wigan.

The trial also heard from Iain Campbell, the SSP’s regional organiser for Fife.

He said Katrine Trolle had told him at an SSP conference in 2006 that she had had an affair with Sheridan.

He told the court: “She said, and I was quite surprised, she said that she had an affair with Tommy Sheridan and this had been going on during the Perth conference in 2005.”

Trolle previously told the trial her affair with Sheridan had ended in 2004 and she had not been at the 2005 conference.

Paul McBride QC, representing Gail Sheridan, said: “They both can’t be right. That does not sit with what she told you in Glasgow. The account she gave the court about not being in Perth could not be correct.”

Campbell replied: “They are both not compatible”.

Campbell took over his SSP position from Jock Penman, who claimed at the trial yesterday that Sheridan had not told an emergency meeting of the party’s executive committee that he was the unnamed MSP the News of the World said had visited a swingers’ club.

He said Penman had told him the same thing.

But he added that Penman had told him it was a chaotic meeting and “maybe” other members of the committee “heard something I didn’t hear”.

He also told the advocate depute: “He said to me on several occasions that he would be prepared to lie for Tommy Sheridan.”

The trial later heard from SSP member Charlie McCarthy, a nurse from Kirkintilloch, that Mr McCartney was asked about a discussion he had with Sheridan in the Rat and Parrot pub in Glasgow following a party hustings in Blantyre in January 2005.

An attack had been made on Alan McCombes by another member, the court heard.

McCarthy said of Sheridan: “He started apologising for the statement that Hugh Kerr had made.

“Then we got down to talking about the nitty gritty of it. He went on to say ‘I’ve made mistakes, mistakes of a sexual nature.`

“I said I wasn’t interested in his private life.”

The witness, 42, said Sheridan, who he said admitted to affairs with Katrine Trolle and Anvar Khan during the discussion, was confident that the News of the World had nothing they could “pin on him”.

He said he “cautioned him against” the route he was taking.

Cross-examining his former colleague, Sheridan put it to McCarthy that he was in court to support his friends in the SSP.

He said: “If I’m lying here, if I’m committing perjury, I get struck off, I lose everything.”

He added: “When you came across this, you were on a mission of self-destruction, you were suicidal.”

McCarthy compared Sheridan`s actions now to those of a “suicide bomber”.

“You want to take everybody with you,” he told the court.

Sheridan told the witness that the court had heard soundbites from several witnesses, after which McCarthy said quietly: “I’m sorry, I retract it.”

The jury heard from a further three witnesses including James McVicar, 51, an SSP member and former Labour councillor who lives in East Kilbride.

The hotel worker said he accepted a lift to Glasgow from Sheridan following a committee gathering in Edinburgh on February 22, 2006.

Asked about their discussion during the journey, McVicar said: “He asked me what I thought and why Alan and Keith were doing this to me, why were they turning against me.

“(He said) George had been like a brother to me, I can’t understand why he’s turning against me.”

McVicar said he told Sheridan he had made a mistake “going to these clubs”.

The court then heard: “Tommy’s response was along the lines of ‘you’re a working-class boy, you find yourself in these places, it’s all laid on a plate for you, what do you do?'”.

Under cross-examination, McVicar said that he had attended meetings of the United Left – a group which the court has heard suggested was set up “to bring down Tommy Sheridan” and had signed their statement.

The trial before Lord Bracadale was adjourned until Friday.