Former MSP Tommy Sheridan is entitled to around £176,000 interest on top of the £200,000 damages he was awarded in his defamation action against the publishers of the News of the World, a court has ruled.
Mr Sheridan won the high-profile case against the now-defunct newspaper after it printed allegations about the then-Socialist MSP’s sex life.
The paper was ordered to pay £200,000 in damages but weeks later a police investigation was launched into allegations of perjury and Mr Sheridan was charged.
He was jailed after being found guilty in December 2010 of lying under oath during the successful defamation action and was freed from prison after serving just over a year of his sentence.
News Group Newspapers (NGN) wanted to have the 2006 civil jury verdict set aside but a number of appeals were refused and the £200,000 was paid out last year.
The Court of Session has now overturned an earlier ruling on interest payments and said Mr Sheridan is entitled to interest on the £200,000 at a rate of 8% a year from the date of the jury’s verdict in August 2006 until the principal sum was paid in May 2017.
In the latest decision the Lord President, Lord Carloway, said there were “significant flaws” in the previous ruling.
In a written judgment, he said: “The reasons special to the cause which the Lord Ordinary found relevant were, first, that the defenders had not caused any unreasonable delay (and thus had not wrongfully withheld payment) given that the grounds for a new trial were ‘anything but frivolous’.
“He held that the defenders were not responsible for the time taken to resolve the appeal and payment of the principal sum.
“The reasons for these matters, according to the Lord Ordinary, lay in the criminal prosecution, which arose out of the pursuer’s own conduct.
“This analysis contains significant flaws.
“First, it was the defenders who initiated a motion for a new trial, in the knowledge that this could delay payment, and secondly, and most important, they failed in their attempt to have the jury’s verdict overturned.
“The fact that they were unsuccessful ought to have been the central feature of the Lord Ordinary’s thinking rather than the fact that the defenders had had arguable grounds to pursue.
“It is not possible either to agree with the Lord Ordinary’s view that many would find it difficult to comprehend the inclusion in the verdict of a further £200,637 or £173,159.
“There is no difficulty at all in understanding that a person who is defamed, and to whom a jury awarded £200,000 as damages for the effect on his reputation, such as it may have been, should be entitled to interest on that sum from on or about the date of the award until payment as compensation for the loss of use of that money.”
The written judgement concluded: “Interest will run on the jury’s verdict at the
judicial rate of 8% per annum from August 11 2006 (the date when the verdict could have been applied) until May 30 2017, the date when the defenders paid the principal sum.”