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Sheridan trial judge lodges complaint

15 August 2006

Lord Turnbull, the judge who presided over Tommy Sheridan's defamation case against the News of the World, has formally complained to the Faculty of Advocates about Graeme Henderson, the advocate who initially represented Mr Sheridan.

Mr Henderson was sacked by Mr Sheridan after he questioned witness Anne Colvin about an alleged credit-card fraud for which he claimed she had served an 18-month jail term.

Ms Colvin, who had claimed she had seen Mr Sheridan, the former Scottish Socialist Party leader, taking part in group sex at a Glasgow hotel, said the fraud suggestion made by Mr Henderson was "ridiculous".

Mr Henderson then issued an apology, saying there was no grounds for his allegation. He was subsequently fired by Mr Sheridan.

Under the Faculty of Advocates' code of conduct an advocate must personally satisfy himself that there is evidence to support an allegation of criminal conduct before putting the allegation to a witness.

Ms Colvin's lawyer, Martha Rafferty of Glasgow firm Anthony Mahon, has separately lodged a formal complaint on Ms Colvin's behalf against Mr Henderson, and also against solicitors Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co who then acted for Mr Sheridan.

The accusation made in court is protected by rules of privilege from any proceedings for defamation against Mr Henderson.

The Faculty's complaints committee has the power to order advocates to pay up to £5,000 in compensation to the complainer or suspend them from practice.