Today opened with the continuation of the deputy advocate's examination of Barbara Scott, minute secretary of the SSP at the time of the controversial executive meeting of the 9th November.
Ms Scott was asked how her purported handwritten note of the above meeting had came back into her possession after being given to Alan Green (then National Secretary of the SSP) She informed the court that she had asked for them to be returned to her a week or so before Tommy Sheridan's libel trial in June 2006 where she was due to give evidence. These were handed to her by Alan McCombes in Edinburgh. She also called any suggestion she had fabricated these notes as Laughable"
Margaret Scott QC for Mr Sheridan then cross examined the witness. She began by discussing how many members of the executive committee of the SSP at the 9th November meeting were also paid staff of the party (apparently all but two) and pointed out that after Tommy Sheridan's removal from the position of party convener that these same staff all backed Alan McCombes as Mr Sheridan's replacement.
She also mentioned a faction of the party, the United Left Faction which she described as the "Anti-Tommy Sheridan" grouping.
Ms Scott was closely questioned on the process by which her original handwritten note was turned into the final printed minute which is under dispute. She agreed the procedure used was not "normal" but argued that the whole situation was "abnormal" She accepted that Alan Green had given her "guidance" on what to write. She was then instructed by Alan Green to delete the disc on which she had saved the minute so as to stop any leaks to the press (the disc was produced in court where it appears the deleted file has been recovered)
Ms Scott QC for the defence concentrated on two points, differences in language between the handwritten notes and the final product and differences in the structure of this minutes and the usual format of SSP exec minutes.
The sharpest exchange came after Ms Scott claimed that the phrase from the original handwritten minute "A woman phoned about group sex" had been an error on her part and she had realised later that the phrase was "flew" The defence seized on this point and argued that this alleged phone call had only came to light after the production of the minute and therefore Ms Scott's claim that it was a mistake was an attempt to cover up the minute containing facts not known at the time. Again I expect we will be hearing more about this from other witnesses.
The most heated exchanges of the morning came in the cross examination of Ms Scott by Mr McBride acting for Gail Sheridan. He queried the witness forcefully over her claim yesterday that while testifying at the civil case in Edinburgh she had the handwritten notes in her handbag. He pressed the point repeatedly that it was "inconceivable" that she would allow herself to be called a liar in court while having such vital evidence in her direct possession. Ms Scott repeatedly stated that she had no desire to help the News of the World and was testifying for them against her will. Mr McBride asked if there was anything in her handbag now she should tell the court about.
He also asked the witness of she had mentioned the papers in her bag during her interviews with police, which the witness appeared unclear about, and about her attending court with Carolyn Leckie and Rosie Kane, both of whom are to appear as witnesses. When Ms Scott stated they were her friends Mr McBride asked if she had no other friends she could come to court with who were not witnesses.
After a brief re-examination by the deputy advocate Ms Scott was allowed to stand down and the court rose for lunch.
The case continues.