At a public meeting in Glasgow last night Tommy Sheridan’s solicitor Aamer Anwar took issue with “Armchair legal experts” who have been arguing that the current News International phone hacking scandal would have no impact on on his client’s appeal.
Mr Anwar informed the audience that it was his and Tom Watson MP’s complaint to the information commissioner about emails supposedly “lost” by News International that led to the discovery of the data at the company’s Wapping HQ. The data found he claimed had been responsible for setting off the “avalanche” of revelations now dominating the media. He also stated that while the News International employees who testified in court that the data had been lost in Mumbai India were “entitled to the presumption of innocence” if they had knowingly lied they should be charged with perjury. Mr Anwar reminded the meeting that allegations of perjury against Mr Sheridan had led to an inquiry costing over two million pounds and taking up 52,000 hours of police time, and demanded a similar “transparent and robust investigation” into the testimony given at the Sheridan trial by Bob Bird.
Mr Anwar then turned to recent commentary that the News of the World scandal had no bearing on the Tommy Sheridan trial stating “How do you know unless you had seen the emails? how do you know the News of the World did not bribe witnesses? how do you know they did not hack their phones?” further describing this as a “desperate attempt to downplay Tommy Sheridan’s appeal.”
Mr Anwar also revealed that just after the conclusion of the trial, on Christmas eve, his laptop had gone missing from his office The lawyer asked the audience to consider that no money or other items were stolen and asked who could have been interested in the contents of a laptop containing all of his files relating to Tommy Sheridan? The computer has never been recovered.
Mr Anwar concluded by criticising much of the media coverage of the perjury trial of Tommy Sheridan, saying that the decline of court reporting had led to the public only receiving a partial and one sided view of high profile cases that highlighted prosecution evidence but generally ignored the defence case. He also pointed to the fact that “every political party in Scotland had been silent” on the growing News International scandal, a silence he attributed to the continuing “power of News International in Scotland.” He called on Strathclyde police to “cross-reference” their investigation into phone hacking in Scotland with the Metropolitan police in London and for the Glasgow based force to urgently contact those in Scotland whose voicemail may have been intercepted.