Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 34, case adjourned until Thursday

Lord Bracadale
When court reconvened this morning the presiding judge, Lord Bracadale, addressed the jury. He informed them that one of their colleagues had been taken ill and that he was adjourning the case for the rest of today and tomorrow to allow the juror to recover. Lord Bracadale went on to say "as it happens we are close to the end of the prosecution case which should be finished in about a day" and  went on to tell the jury that if all went to schedule the defence would begin it's case on Friday. The court then rose and is scheduled to resume at 10am on Thursday.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Douglas Wight Pt 3

In the final section of his examination of Mr Wight, (see Here and Here for his earlier testimony) Mr Sheridan returned to payments Ms McGuire received from News of the World. Mr Wight commented that “cash was irrelevant to her”, to which Mr Sheridan responded “So you offered her £20,000”, and then accused the witness of lying, and that Ms McGuire had been offered £10,000, and that this was not a person to whom cash was irrelevant as she was negotiating with the NoW for money. Mr Wight stated that this was not how it was at all. Mr Wight then denied that more cash had been offered to Ms McGuire if she phoned Mr Sheridan. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness in “newspapers like yours that when you start waving wads of cash”, people would do all kinds of things. Mr Wight responded “You would know”, stating Mr Sheridan had been paid £30,000 for a Daily Record story. Mr Sheridan denied this, stating that "SSP witnesses said exactly the same thing, and it's not true" adding that "you just repeated a lie" Mr Wight  responded that this was the rumour in the newspaper trade.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Douglas Wight Pt 2

The second part of Tommy Sheridan's examination of News of the World journalist Douglas Wight (a report on the first part can be found Here ) began with questions about Mr Wight and Fiona McGuire, who as a witness in the 2004 libel trial, testified she had a sexual relationship with Mr Sheridan.  Mr Wight confirmed the newspaper had paid Ms McGuire £20,000 for her story. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he would be surprised that the Scottish editor of the NotW had described Ms McGuire as "barking" to which Mr Wight replied that he would have to know the "context" under which he had did so, and described Ms McGuire as "stable."

Mr Sheridan then asked if Ms McGuire was "stable" why had she apparently attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose of prescription drugs? Mr Wight told the court that he believed this had occurred as Ms McGuire was "under pressure from people in the Scottish Socialist Party" (SSP) denying Mr Sheridan's assertion that it was the NotW that was putting her under pressure. Mr Wight then told the court of an incident in a hotel in Edinburgh just before the 2006 libel case when Ms McGuire had "taken a handful of pills and put them in her mouth" and described how he had taken her to the bathroom and "made her empty her mouth." adding that he was with her as the newspaper had a "duty of care" for Ms Mcguire.

Douglas Wight Pt 1

After explaining to the court that the next witness was being called by the Crown as a courtesy to  Mr Sheridan, and therefore would not be seeking any evidence in chief from the witness, Alex Prentice QC called Douglas Wight as a witness, confirmed his name, his age of 37, occupation as a News Of The World (NoW) journalist and residence as London, then returned to his seat.

Mr Sheridan left the dock and began his cross examination from the lectern next to the jury.

Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Wight “Would it be fair to describe you as gatekeeper for the dark side?”. Mr Wight disagreed, and asked whether Mr Sheridan mean the question literally, and was enquiring into his status as a Jedi Knight.

Friday Morning Update

The sole witness this morning has been Douglas Wight, a journalist from the News of the World who was News Editor of the Scottish edition until 2006, and a key figure in the newspaper's coverage of the Fiona McGuire and Moat House hotel stories. Mr Wight has testified on his relationship with Fiona McGuire, including denying a suggestion from the defence that she attempted to "do a bunk" to New Zealand before the 2006 libel case. He has also told the court about his involvement in an apparent attempt by Ms McGuire to take an overdose of medicine in a Glasgow hotel

Mr Wight has also been asked about his relationship with Steve Whitamore, a private investigator who was later convicted of illegally breaching police databases on behalf of newspapers, including the News of the World. Mr Wight has admitted using the services of Mr Whitamore but denied that this was for anything illegal or that he was, according to the defence, third on a "league table" of journalists using his services.

The court has now risen for lunch with Mr Wight due to continue to give evidence this afternoon.

Full report to follow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Deleted Sections of the Indictment.

Today's events (see posts below) will have a major impact on the course of the trial.

The original Indictment against the Sheridans can be found Here, the first sections that have been deleted are those charging that Tommy Sheridan had committed perjury by stating at the 2006 libel trial that there was "no event" at the Moathouse hotel in June 2002, and that he had also committed perjury when he stated that Anne Colvin and Helen Allison had lied about seeing  him and Andrew Mcfarlane there

The second section that has been deleted is part of the Indictment against Gail Sheridan. This charged that Mrs Sheridan  had committed perjury when she told the jury in the 2006 civil case that she had been with her husband and Andrew McFarlane between 10am on the 14th June 2002 and 1am on the 15th June,  the night of the alleged visit to the Moathouse. 

These deletions mean these charges are, in Lord Bracadale's words to the jury, "no longer before you" and no further evidence will be presented. We will therefore not be hearing from Anne Colvin, Helen Allison, Beverley Dixon or any other witnesses the Crown planned to call in regard to the Moathouse. The Advocate Depute also indicated that this change would influence the length of the trial, presumably making it more probable that it will be concluded earlier than expected.

"Moathouse" Charges Dropped

At 2.15 today Alex Prentice QC announced to the court that all charges relating to Tommy and Gail Sheridan and  alleged events at the Moathouse hotel in 2002 have been deleted from indictment.

Full report to follow.

Matthew McColl Cross-Examination

When court resumed this morning Lord Bracadale began by addressing the witness. He reminded Mr McColl that yesterday he had refused to answer a question put to him and that this action had put him at risk of being in contempt of court. Mr McColl responded by apologizing for his behavior yesterday, saying it was "uncharacteristic." and confirmed he was ready to answer the question. With that Paul McBride QC, for Gail Sheridan, moved to the lectern to continue his cross-examination.

Mr McBride began by asking the witness, as he did yesterday, if he had been at Andrew McFarlane's wedding with a partner, and if that person later became his wife. The witness confirmed that he had. Mr McBride then asked the witness about his relationship with Beverley Dixon. Mr McColl confirmed that he had known Ms Dixon for around 18 months before the alleged visit to the Moathouse hotel and that he had initially met her in a bar. The witness denied however being a "swinger" or being involved in the "swinging scene."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Matthew McColl

The first, and only witness heard from today was Matthrew McColl. Mr McColl told the court that he was  "acquaintance" of Andrew McFarlane's and as such had attended his wedding in June 2002. Alex Prentice QC, The Advocate Depute, asked Mr McColl about the night before Mr McFarlane's wedding. The witness told the court he had met Tommy Sheridan, Andrew McFarlane and others at the Baby Grand (a Glasgow public house) before driving to the Moathouse hotel. The court was shown a diary, which Mr Prentice told the court was the 2002 diary of Tommy Sheridan which contained an entry "9pm Baby Grand-carry out" and "stay with Andy scrabble till 3pm."

Mr McColl then told the court that he had arranged to meet Jaqueline White at the hotel, describing Ms White as "someone he had known for a number of years." The witness also told the court that he had also met Beverley Dixon, who had flown up from Birmingham as "she fancied a night out in Glasgow." Mr McColl added that after three quarters of an hour or so in the bar he went to a suite in the hotel with Ms White and "her friends" Anne Colvin and Helen Allison. Mr McColl then stated  then left the hotel room for half an hour, to retrieve his credit card, and that when he returned Tommy Sheridan, Andrew McFarlane and Beverley Dixon had joined the group in the suite. 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Lord Bracadale

As mentioned briefly below, before the Cross-Examination of Mr Baldassara the presiding judge, Lord Bracadale, spoke to the jury. He told them that the Crown was about to move on to a new "chapter" of evidence and that they might recall when Mr Sheridan took over the conduct of his own defence that he had told them that time would be given to him to prepare for each chapter.  Therefore the court would not be sitting on Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Lord Bracadale also told the jury that this would be the last chapter of the prosecution and since that was expected to only last three days or so, the trial should  be moving on to the defence case the week after next.

Keith Baldassara Cross-Examination.

When court resumed at 2pm the presiding judge, Lord Bracadale, made an announcement  to the jury about the course of the trial, and the proposed timetable for the next "chapters" of evidence. We will cover this in a separate post later this evening. Keith Baldassara then returned to the witness stand and Tommy Sheridan left the dock to begin his cross-examination. 

Mr Sheridan opened his questioning by asking the witness about the name Mathew McColl, which he had remembered when asked by the Advocate Depute, but had not recalled in his testimony at the 2006 libel trial. Mr Baldassara replied that he had learned it at some point since, but not recall where. He denied however that anyone had "suggested it to him." The witness then agreed that although he did not have access to Mr Sheridan's diary who would have an "idea" of his engagements and meetings schedule, especially if it was a political rally or a conference.

Keith Baldassara's testimony.

The last witness of today was Keith Baldassara. Mr Baldassara  told the court he had known Tommy Sheridan since 1984 and had worked closely with him as his election agent from 1992 to 2003 and as his parliamentary caseworker from 1999 to 2006. The witness also told the court he was one of three best men at Tommy Sheridan's wedding, along with Andrew McFarlane and George McNeilage. The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, asked Mr Baldassara if he had been present at the 9th November 2004 Scottish Socialist Party executive meeting and what had occured. The witness said he had been at the meeting and that Tommy Sheridan had admitted he had been present at Cupids ( a "sex club in Manchester) on two occasions. Mr Baldassara said he was in "no doubt" that was what was said.

Mr Prentice then asked the witness if he was "surprised" at this admission, to which Mr Baldassara said he was not. The witness told the court that he had discussed this issue on a "number of occasions" with Tommy Sheridan, including at a meeting between the two at Glasgow city Chambers in 2001. Mr Baldassara also told the court of another incident in which he had been in a car when Mr Sheridan had raised the possibility of the story about "the sex club coming out in the press" Mr Baldassara told the court this led to a "furious row" between them with the witness telling Tommy Sheridan this could "put all our gains at risk" to which Mr Sheridan had responded that "nobody could prove it."

Paul Sinclair

The second witness in court number 4 this morning was Paul Sinclair. Mr Sinclair told the court that he had been the political editor of the Scottish Daily Record from 2000 to December 2005 and in that capacity had called Tommy Sheridan on the 10th November 2004 to ask about rumours he was to step down as Scottish Socialist Party convener. Mr Sinclair stated that Mr Sheridan had not returned his call, which was unusual, so he had went to the Scottish parliment building to try and find Mr Sheridan. The witness said he had met Mr Sheridan and they had walked together to Waverly train station. 

Mr Sinclair told the court he had asked Mr Sheridan if he was being forced to step down as it was alleged he was the unnamed MSP from the News of the World story the previous Sunday. Mr Sheridan said this was untrue, although he admitted to a sexual relationship with Anvar Khan in the early 1990's. Mr Sinclair then testified that Mr Sheridan had told him he was "planning to resign" as the SSP was not a "one man band." Alex Prentice QC asked the witness if Mr Sheridan had mentioned any "plot against him" to which Mr Sinclair replied "no plot." Mr Sinclair was then shown a story from the Daily Record from the 11th November 2004 headlines "Sheridan quits as convener of SSP, denies sex scandal" and agreed that he had written the piece as a result of this conversation.

Kenneth Lang - Cross-Examination

Court began this morning with Tommy Sheridan's cross examination of Kenneth Lang (for a report on Mr Lang's evidence in chief see Here ) Mr Lang confirmed he was a partner at Mellick's solicitors and had been for 13 years. He also agreed that the News of The World (NotW) did not use any other firm of solicitors in Scotland and that he worked with it's editor, Bob Bird, and other editorial staff on regular basis. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Lang about his work in the July/August 2006 defamation case between Tommy Sheridan and the News of the World, Mr Lang told the court that from May 2006 to the end of that case it was his "full time occupation."

Mr Sheridan then turned to Mr Lang's role in this case, specifically over the discovery of documents by the defence. Mr Lang agreed that "90%" of the material given to the defence had came from "our office." and 10% from the "havers" (Havers is the legal term for the person or institution that has the documents) Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that this represented a conflict of interest as Mr Lang was both a Crown witness in the trial and in charge of producing documents required by the defence. Mr Lang denied this. Mr Sheridan then questioned Mr Lang about the steps he had taken to find documents required for the case, Mr Lang admitted that he had relied on Mr Bird to ask his staff about offers of payment to Crown witnesses and had not questioned any of the journalists himself.

Friday Morning Update

This morning the court has heard from three witnesses, Kenneth Lang, a Glasgow solicitor who acts for the News of the World, Paul Sinclair a journalist who was political editor of the Scottish Daily Record on 2004 and Keith Baldessera an SSP member and a former close colleague of Tommy Sheridan.

Mr Lang was questioned closely about his actions in producing documents for the trial, his contacts with Crown witnesses Katrine Trolle and Fiona McGuire and the costs of putting up witnesses Anne Colvin and Helen Allison in an Edinburgh hotel during the 2006 trial.

Mr Sinclair has told the court about a conversation he had with Mr Sheridan in Edinburgh in November 2004, in which Mr Sheridan alledgedly told the journalist there was no "plot against him"

Mr Baldessera is still testifying, however he has already told the court that he believes Mr Sheridan made admissions of sexual misconduct to him before the 9th November SSP executive meeting and at that meeting.

Full report to follow.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Kenneth Lang - Testimony

Kenneth Lang's testimony began with Mr Prentice establishing that the witness is a solicitor with Mellicks, a law firm in Glasgow used by News of the World Scotland, and that he specialises in civil litigation.
Mr Prentice asked the witness to help describe the basic principles and activities of civil litigation, such as the preparation of a defender's case for court in a civil trial  when a client is sued for defamation. Mr Prentice then asked whether it would be normal for someone representing the other party in such a case to be given full or unrestricted access to view all the documents they wanted. Mr Lang stated that this would not be normal.

Mr Prentice  put it to the witness that in these cases  a commissioner is often involved to deal with the documents lodged from both sides. This commission is called on in disputes about what can be produced in evidence and what can not.  Mr Lang agreed with this description of a commissions work. Mr Prentice then asked the witness about the   process of redaction and Mr Lang described how the commissioner would "redact" (blank out) certain portions of documentation that were not to be presented as evidence. Mr lang also agreed that the commissioner is independent and does not  act for either side in a legal dispute.  Mr Prentice asked whether this process had occurred during preparation for this case, and whether the commissioner had viewed the full, unredacted documents, Mr Lang confirmed it had.

Nicholas McKerrell

The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, began by establishing with Mr McKerrell that he has been a law lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University for 14 years, asked the witness to identify Mr Sheridan in the courtroom, and asked him to confirm how long he had known Mr Sheridan, to which Mr McKerrell pointed at the defendant, Mr Sheridan, sitting in the dock of the court, and then stated he had know Mr Sheridan since he was 16 years old.

Mr Prentice asked the witness to recall a hustings meeting on the 7th or 8th February 2005 at The Edge bar, Glasgow, where Colin Fox and Alan McCombes were speaking and canvassing for vote for the election to replace Mr Sheridan as convener of the SSP. Dr McKerrell confirmed that Mr Sheridan was present at that meeting, and that the witness & Mr Sheridan had arranged to meet later that week outside the Hamish Wood building on the campus of Glasgow Caledonian University. When they met Mr Sheridan's sister, Lynn, was also at the meeting point and met the witness before Mr Sheridan himself arrived. The witness then told the court that Ms Sheridan had then left, and the Dr McKerrell and Mr Sheridan moved  to the staff canteen where they had coffee

Ian Johnstone

The next witness for the Crown was Ian Johnstone. The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC , began by confirming that  Mr Johnstone, a warehouse worker from the Manchester area, is a  member of the trade unions  USDAW and also the  CWU (Communications Workers Union) The witness also stated that he does not know the defendant Mr Thomas Sheridan, and that his telephone number began with the code 0161.

Mr Prentice then produced a diary which he told the court was the 2001 diary of Mr Sheridan. He then drew attention to an entry in the I/J section of the index, where there was a note of an  "Ian Johnstone, CWU Organiser," and  an address in Sutherland Street, Swinton, as well as a telephone number beginning 0161 telephone number. Mr Johnstone denied this was his address or telephone number.
Mr Prentice then presented a page from a telephone directory which showed a banner advert for “Cupid's Health Club” and an address of Sutherland St, Swinton, and a telephone number starting 0161. Mr Johnstone confirmed that this was not his telephone number. With that, Mr Prentice thanked the witness and returned to his seat.

Pamela Tucker, Cross-examination

After a brief adjournment to allow Mr Sheridan to discuss legal matters with his solicitor regarding the witness, Mr Sheridan moved from the dock to the lectern and began his cross examination.
Mr Sheridan began by explaining that “I am going to suggest you are either confused, very confused, or you are lying, as I have never met you and have never been in Cupid's club. Do you understand?”, to which the witness confirmed she understood.

Mr Sheridan then stated that Ms Tucker had said in evidence that “you met me in 2003 to 2004”, to which Ms Tucker replied that that is when she thought it was. Mr Sheridan then asked if Ms Tucker had had a relationship with Ian Leiper, to which she replied “No, I stayed with him.”, to which Mr Sheridan confirmed with the witness “He was your flatmate”.

Pamela Stella Tucker Testimony

The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC opened his evidence in chief by asking Ms Tucker whether she was familiar with Cupid's Health Club, the swingers' club that it is alleged Mr Sheridan  has lied about not having visited,.The witness agreed she was familiar with Cupid's and that she had spoken to the police regarding having visited it. Mr Prentice enquired when she had visited the club, the witness replying “when it was cold”, then the Advocate Depute prompted the witness for a year, to which she replied that it had “been so long ago”. Mr Prentice then asked the witness if she knew a George Wallace, to which she replied that she did, but that he was known as “Robbie” and was 5'6” with blond hair and blue eyes. The witness confirmed that she had visited Cupid's with him, and that she used her middle name “Stella” when there. The witness then stated that she and Robbie had had an argument and he had left, leaving her to enter Cupid's alone.

Summary - Sheridan Trial, Thursday 18th November

Today saw testimony from:

Pamela Stella Tucker - a customer of Cupid's Health Club and a witness to one of Mr Sheridan's alleged visits there.
Ian Johnston - a Union Representative from the Manchester area.
Dr Nicholas McKerrell - law lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University and SSP member, and a witness to alleged confessions by Mr Sheridan of having visited Cupid's Health Club.
Kenneth Lang - solicitor with Mellicks, the firm used by News of the World Scotland.

The court rose for the day at 12:20, with Lord Bracadale explaining to the jury that the trial would resume tomorrow morning with the cross-examination of Mr Lang, allowing time today for some preparation.

More details to follow.

By Whatsy

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bob Bird, conclusion of cross-examination

This morning the court was dealing with legal arguments so it was not until 2pm that evidence was heard in front of the jury with Tommy Sheridan continuing his cross-examination of Bob Bird, the Scottish editor of the News of the World.

Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Bird about his role in a police investigation into the discovery of a "listening device" in his car. Mr Bird again denied he had any role in this and told the court that he had been spoken to about this by a police officer in Lothian and Borders police.  Mr Sheridan produced the official report on the case in which the investigating officer states he had decided not to speak to anyone from the News of the World. However Mr Bird insisted he had spoken to an officer about the issue, but could not recall the name of the person.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bob Bird, Cross-examination Day 3

Court resumed after the lunch interval with Tommy Sheridan continuing his cross-examination of Bob Bird, Scottish editor of the News of the World (NotW) Mr Sheridan began the afternoon session by turning to evidence given at the 2006 libel trial between Mr Sheridan and the NotW with particular reference to two Crown witnesses Anne Colvin and Helen Allison. 

Mr Sheridan put to Mr Bird that one of his journalists, Douglas Wight had testified in 2006 that neither Ms Colvin or Ms Allison had been offered or received any payment for their story. Mr Bird replied that "Doug said they weren't paid, I think he got that wrong." Mr Sheridan then turned to Mr Bird's evidence in the same case where when asked about Mr Wight's testimony. Mr Bird had stated then that Mr Wight "perhaps he had not been aware" of the payments and "may not have known" about them.  Mr Sheridan queried this answer and Mr Bird stated that he may have been "just speculating" and "perhaps waffling at that point" Mr Sheridan responded with  "you waffle a lot" Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that, as Mr Wight had signed the contract with Ms Colvin and Ms Allison, he must have known that they had been paid and was "lying" at the 2006 trial and accused Mr Bird of also being aware of that.  Mr Bird replied that he should have just said "I don't know" rather than "making up an answer for him." [Mr Wight]

"News of the World Phone Hacker" To Testify for the Defence.

In the last hour the Sheridan trial has  been shown pages from the Notebook of Glen Mulcaire that appear to show that he was in possession of the telephone details, including PIN numbers of Mr Sheridan's mobile phone. The defence has also claimed that  that Mr Mulcaire worked exclusively for the News of the World.

Bob Bird, Cross-examination Tuesday 16th November Morning.

This morning the court has continued to hear  Bob Bird, the Scottish editor of the News of the World (NotW) being cross-examined by Tommy Sheridan. Mr Sheridan has continued to concentrate on the payment of witnesses in this case by the NotW producing at one point a heavily redacted document from the newspaper titled "Sheridan costs" which contains various entries of witness payments, including payments to Anne Colvin, George McNeilage and others.

Mr Bird was also asked about a payment made to George McNeilage to, in Mr Sheridan's words, "disappear." Mr Bird stated that Mr McNeilage was concerned about possible "retribution people might take on him" and he was given a thousand pounds by the newspaper to go on holiday. 

 Mr Sheridan has also called Mr Bird's story that he visited the Pollok housing estate alone and that he stripped to his underwear when viewing the "McNeilage tape" as "made up for dramatic effect." Mr Sheridan has also put it to Mr Bird that he was "embarrassed" at evidence revealed yesterday that the NotW had allegedly spent $2 million to "destroy TS."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bob Bird, Cross-examination Pt 3

I was unable to be at court today, however regular commentator Whatsy had been kind enough to give us this report of Today's proceedings.

Monday, 15th November 2010
After comments from Lord Bracadale to the court that due to a medical appointment for Mr Sheridan, the court would rise for the day at lunchtime and they would make an effort to continue through to lunch without a break, Tommy Sheridan resumed his cross-examination of Crown Witness Robert (Bob) Bird, Scottish Editor of the News of the World (NotW)

Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Bird if he had discussed the case or his evidence over the weekend, to which Mr Bird replied No.

Mr Sheridan asked whether, in light of dramatic new evidence that was revealed over the weekend in the press of a new file from Metropolitan Police pertaining to News of the World phone tapping activities, would Mr Bird like to change his evidence. Mr Bird replied no, and that he didn't know what evidence Mr Sheridan meant. Mr Sheridan specified that Mr Bird may want to change his evidence regarding use of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in the Sheridan case. Mr Bird declined to do so.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Bob Bird, Cross-examination Pt 2

When court resumed after lunch Mr Sheridan opened by asking Mr Bird if he recalled when he became aware that there was a criminal investigation into alleged perjury at the 2006 libel case between Tommy Sheridan and the News of the World (NotW) Mr Bird replied that the judge at the end of that case had called for a police investigation into the contrary evidence given, but that he had heard nothing more until his paper had published their story on the McNeilage Tape (in October 2006)  Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he was aware of the contents of his paper, to which Mr Bird replied "most of the time"  Mr Sheridan then produced a copy of the NotW from the 20th August 2006 and asked the witness to turn to the story headed "Minutes."

Bob Bird, Cross-examination Pt 1

Friday morning in court number four continued with Tommy Sheridan leaving his seat in the dock to cross-examine Bob Bird, Scottish editor of the News of the World (NotW) Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Bird if his newspaper "always told the truth" The witness replied that it "did it's best. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Bird if he had ever met Rupert Murdoch (the chairman of News International) The witness replied they had met "half a dozen times" but had never discussed this case with Mr Murdoch or any of his family. Mr Sheridan then asked what Mr Bird's salary was, to which the witness responded "six figures' Mr Sheridan then asked exactly how much he earned and at that point Mr Prentice for the crown objected to the question as irrelevant , an objection that Lord Bracadale upheld.

Bob Bird's Testimony

The next witness for the Crown on Friday morning was Robert (Bob) Bird, the Scottish editor of the News of the World (NotW) for the last 10 years. The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, began by asking Mr Bird about the relationship between the Scottish edition of the newspaper and the UK edition. Mr Bird told the court that the Scottish paper had a "fair degree of autonomy" and could "pick and choose" which London stories to run and produce their own content geared to the Scottish readership. Mr Bird was then shown three copies of the News of the World  dated 31st October, 14 November and 21 November 2004, and asked if he edited those. The witness stated he had.

William Moore

Court resumed this morning with the first witness for the Crown,  William Moore. Mr Moore told the court he had been helping George McNeilage with some house renovation and he had been shown a video by him allegedly of Tommy Sheridan. When asked the witness stated that this had been after the civil trial, some time in 2006. He also stated that he had seen Mr McNeilage conceal the video camera allegedly used to tape Mr Sheridan in November 2004  and agreed with Mr McNeilage's actions as "something had to be done about the wee man, he is losing the plot" and he wanted to hear "what the bastard had to say." Mr Moore added that the tape was about 45 minutes long.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Defence so far

Yesterday we had a look at the prosecution case so far, so it seems only fair that we use today to look at the defence. It is important to note that we do not fully know the what the defence case is as it has not begun or have any defence witnesses been called. However it is possible to discuss what has been put to Crown witnesses so far and get an idea of what that case will be when the defence proper begins (in three to four weeks or so) As with yesterday's report we will start with the full indictment against Mr Sheridan which we summarised thus;

Thomas Sheridan did commit perjury by denying:
  1. He had been to the Cupids club in Manchester.
  2. He had admitted this at the SSP executive of 9/11/06 and on various other occasions.
  3. He was in a "sexual relationship with Katrine Trolle and Anvar Khan
  4. He had been given the minutes of the "9/11" meeting by Alan Green at the Golden Pheasant
  5.  He had attended an event at the Moathouse hotel in Glasgow on 14/06/2002 (and various charges relating to that)

    Wednesday, November 10, 2010

    The Crown Case so far.

    As court is not sitting until Friday I thought this might be a good opportunity to take a step back from the day to day reports and try and discuss what point the trial has reached, starting with the prosecution case so far.

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Trial adjourned until Friday

    This morning as the court commenced Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge  addressed the jury to tell them no more evidence would be heard today.

    Start Quote

    In these circumstances, there is nothing else to do, but adjourn the case until Friday morning”
    Lord BracadaleJudge
    Lord Bracadale said  "I have to tell you that Mr Sheridan is unwell. You will see that he is not in court  Yesterday afternoon he went to see his doctor who certified that he is unfit to attend court at present."
    The judge then added " "The doctor will review the position on Thursday. Mr Sheridan himself wishes, if at all possible, to continue the trial on Friday." before concluding  "In these circumstances, there is nothing else to do, but adjourn the case until Friday morning."

    Monday, November 8, 2010

    George McNeilage Cross-examination by Tommy Sheridan, Day 2

    Court today continued with  Tommy Sheridan's cross-examination of Mr George McNeilage (for an account of the first part of the cross-examination see Here )

    Mr Sheridan opened by asking Mr McNeilage if he had "concocted the tape' (the disputed video Mr McNeilage sold to the News of the World) with Keith Baldessera and Alan McCombes. The witness denied this. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr McNeilage about a cash payment he had received from the paper of 1,500 pounds. The witness told the court that this money was so he could take his family away when the initial story was released and added he had spent a week at "Flamingoland" in a caravan. 

    Friday, November 5, 2010

    George McNeilage Cross-examination by Tommy Sheridan, Day 1

    There was not a single unoccupied seat in  court number 4 when Tommy Sheridan left the dock to cross-examine George McNeilage. Mr Sheridan began by putting it to Mr McNeilage that he was a "man of poor character" and  that he had lied to the police, in an article in the News of the World (NotW) and on television when he had said he had "been asked by people" to make his video tape. Mr McNeilage said he had lied on that occasion but denied being of poor character.

    Mr Sheridan then asked the witness that out of his "long list" of criminal convictions which he thought was the "worst one." Mr McNeilage replied "you tell me Tommy?" at which point the presiding judge, Lord Bracadale intervened to instruct the witness to answer questions put to him. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he been a "housebreaker" to which Mr McNeilage replied he had two convictions for that offence from when he was a 'boy of 16." Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that he had "Robbed the poor when they were asleep in their beds." Mr Sheridan then asked Mr McNeilage if he had robbed "his own political party" and "stolen the proceeds of paper sales and collection to buy drugs" The witness responded that this was in 1986 and he had since organised rally's against drugs at some risk to himself.  was  then asked if he had taken any of the proceeds of Mr Sheridan's column in the Daily Record for himself. The witness denied this and stated that he "no money ended up in my pocket." Mr Sheridan then accused Mr McNeilage of fraud, the witness replied "You are the fraud" and  "You dont have real feelings" At this point Lord Bracadale again intervened and instructed the witness to answer questions and not make additional statements.

    George McNeilage Testimony Part Two

    After the Video tape, allegedly of Mr Sheridan and Mr McNeilage was shown to the court, Mr Prentice, the Advocate Depute, continued his examination of the witness. The video tape shown to the court breaks off in mid-sentence and Mr Prentice asked if this represented the end of the conversation? Mr McNeilage stated that in fact the discussion had continued on "for a few minutes" and added  that he had given Mr Sheridan "Dog's abuse." Mr McNeilage said he had taped over this section of the recording as it "didn't look to clever and "I was like a  bear with sore head." The witness then told the court that he left his house with Mr Sheridan, making an excuse that he had to pick up his daughter from a dance class, however he had only driven round the block then returned to the house and retrieved the video camera. Mr McNeilage then told the court he had only shown the tape to one person, Willie Moore, and had decided that it was too "horrific" for anyone else to see it. 

    George McNeilage

    The court is now (Friday morning) hearing from George McNeilage. Mr McNeilage has testified that he has known Mr Sheridan for 34 years, since they were at school together. The witness has stated he is the person who made a video tape of Mr Sheridan that was later passed to the News of the World. (for information about the tape see account Here )

    Thursday, November 4, 2010

    Jack Ferguson

    The last witness of the day was Jack Ferguson, a 26 year old student and a member of the SSP and a former organiser of it's youth wing the SSY.  After taking the oath he told the court that he had spoken to Jock Penman at a SSP meeting after the 9th November executive. He stated that Mr Penman had told him that Mr Sheridan had admitted the allegations against him at that meeting and that is why he had been asked to resign. Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, asked the witness if he was sure of that, Mr Ferguson said he was. With that Mr Prentice ended his evidence in chief and Mr Sheridan began his cross-examination.

    William Young

    The next Crown witness on Wednesday afternoon was William (Liam) Young, a branch organiser for the SSP. After taking the oath Mr Young told the court about a meeting he had with Mr Sheridan around January 2005 in the Rat and Parrot public house. The witness testified that during this meeting the defendant said told him that he admitted attending the Manchester Cupids club at the SSP executive meeting on the 9th November 2004. Mr Young stated that he then asked Mr Sheridan "why are you telling me" to which Mr Sheridan had responded that the party had been damaged by the actions of the executive, which had "panicked"  and he wanted to organise to "hold them to account." 

    James McVicar

    The next witness for the Crown on Wednesday afternoon was James (Jim) McVicar, current National treasurer of the  SSP. After taking the oath Mr McVicar told the court about a car journey he took with the defendant on the 22nd February 2006.  The witness  testified that during that journey Mr Sheridan had asked him why "Alan [McCombes] and Keith [Baldessera] were turning against me" and added "going to the club was a mistake." Mr Prentice QC then entered into evidence a statement the witness had made to police where he had reported the above conversation as "he said visiting the sex club was a mistake" Mr McVicar agreed this was "probably" accurate. The witness  then told the court that Mr Sheridan had then added that he was a "working class boy from Pollok" and that that "when it is on a plate for you what would you do?" Mr Prentice then ended his evidence in chief and Mr Sheridan left the dock to begin his cross-examination.

    Charlie McCarthy

    After Ian Campbell the next witness for the Crown was Charles (Charlie)  McCarthy. After taking the oath Mr McCarthy told the court of a conversation he claimed he had with Tommy Sheridan at the Rat and Parrot public house in Glasgow in early 2005. Mr McCarthy stated that Mr Sheridan had said to him "I've made mistakes, mistakes of a sexual nature" Mr McCarthy said he had not been interested in Mr Sheridan's private life and had told Mr Sheridan that he should apologise to Alison Kane for "asking her to lie for you" The witness told the court that Mr Sheridan had "acknowledged it was a mistake" and said he would apologise to her. 

    Mr Prentice QC then presented Mr McCarthy's police statement into evidence. In this statement the witness had said "the conversation moved on to the EC meeting and said he had made a mistake telling Alan McCombes and Keith Baldessera the truth" Mr Prentice then asked the witness if there had been any discussion of the disputed minutes of the "9/11" executive meeting. Mr McCarthy stated that he had suggested the party give the minuted to Mr Sheridan and added that Mr Sheridan had "jumped on that" and said he would produce a "basic minute" that contained only who had attended the meeting and what decisions had been made. 

    Ian Campbell

    After the testimony of Anthony and Louise Cumberbirch the next witness was Ian Campbell a member of the SSP. Mr Campbell told the court  that he had discussed the 9th November Scottish Socialist Party meeting with Jock Penman (for an account of Mr Penman's testimony see Here ) and that Mr Penman had told him this was  "fiery" and that "Tommy Sheridan didn't admit anything." The witness added that he had later spoken to Pam Currie and Alison Kane who had informed him that Mr Sheridan had admitted to attending the Cupids club to the executive . Mr Campbell had spoken to Mr Penman again to confirm his account and he told the court   that Mr Penman had said on this occasion that the meeting was "confused" with everyone raising their voices. However he had again said that he had not heard any admissions. The witness added that Mr Penman had also said he would be "prepared to lie for Tommy Sheridan."

    Wednesday, November 3, 2010

    Wednesday Afternoon update

    The court heard from 5 witnesses this afternoon, Ian Campbell, Charlie McCarthy, James McVicar, Liam Young and Jack Ferguson, all of whom are members of the Scottish Socialist Party.

    Mr Campbell testified that Jock Penman (a previous Crown witness) had told him "he would lie for Tommy Sheridan" and also about a conversation he had with Katrine Trolle .

    Mr McCarthy, Mr McVicar and Mr Young told the court about separate occasions when, they claimed, Mr Sheridan had made admissions to them about a visit to the Cupids club. Mr Ferguson testified that Jock Penman had told a meeting at Tayport that Mr Sheridan had admitted the Cupids visit at the 9th November SSP executive meeting. Mr Ferguson was also questioned about an abusive message that was left on Mr Sheridan's phone. 

    It was also announced that the court will not be sitting tomorrow and will resume on Friday

    Full report to follow.

    Anthony Cumberbirch

    The second witness of the day was Anthony Cumberbirch. He also told the court that he was a member, and occasional employee, at the Cupids club which he described as a "swingers club" and a place for "wife swapping" and  "liberated adults." Mr Prentice asked the witness of he recalled a group visiting the club from Scotland which he did stating he believed the visit was in 2002 describing the group as "just drunken Scottish customers." When asked if he could describe the group he said "ish" and added "I know now one was Tommy Sheridan. The Advocate depute then asked when he had realised that one of the alleged visitors that night was Tommy Sheridan, Mr Cumberbirch said he had watched an episode of Big Brother and had seen Mr Sheridan on the show and recognised him.

    Louise Cumberbirch

    The first two witnesses of the day were a married couple Louise and Anthony Cumberbirch. Mrs Cumberbirch testified first and informed the court that she had been a member of Cupids since 1998, a establishment she described as a "private members adult club." When asked by the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, if she would describe Cupids a "sex club" the witness replied "you can get that there." 

    Ms Cumberbirch was then asked to describe two other people she knew from the club, "Robbie and Stella" which she did, and was then asked if the club had ever been visited by people from Scotland, to which she replied that happened "lots of times" Mr Prentice then asked the witness about a specific occasion and described a visit by a group of five, three men and two women. She told the court she remembered the occasion was 2002 as it was the year before she had been married.

    Mrs Cumberbirch was then asked to describe the group which she did and she further identified the house where she claimed they party had visited after the club closed. However  when asked if she would recognise any of the group again she said she could not. Finally the witness denied she had received any money for her story and, with that, Mr Prentice ended his questions and Mr Sheridan informed the court he had no questions for the witness.

    Mrs Cumberbirtch was then allowed to step down from the stand

    Wednesday Morning update

    This morning the court heard from three witnesses. Louise Cumberbirch, her husband Anthony and Ian Campbell, a SSP member.

    Louise Cumberbirch told the court that she had attended the Cupids club in Manchester in 2002 when she met a party of 5 "Scottish people." She stated she had then gone with this group to a party at the house of a friend "Ian" before returning home. However she told the court she could not identify any of these people although she gave descriptions of them. Neither Mr Sheridan or Mr McBride cross-examined.

    Anthony Cumberbirch gave essentially the same account as his wife, however unlike her he did identify Tommy Sheridan as one of the group that visited Cupids. Mr Sheridan brought into evidence Mr Cumberbirch's previous criminal convictions which included, trespass with a firearm, Actual bodily harm, handling of stolen goods and possession of class "B" drugs with intent to supply and put it to the witness he was "not an honest man."

    The third witness of the morning was Ian Campbell, he testified that previous witness John (Jock) Penman had told him he was "prepared to lie for Tommy Sheridan."

    Full report to follow later today.

    Tuesday, November 2, 2010

    John Penman Cross-Examination

    Mr Sheridan began his cross examination of Mr Penman by asking about his background. Mr Penman told the court he had been a shop steward at the Rosyth Dockyard until he had been forced out because of his trade union activities. Mr Sheridan also asked the witness about his role in the 1984 miners strike and Mr Penman told the court that he had organised collections and meetings in support of the miners in Rosyth.

    Mr Sheridan then turned to to the SSP executive meeting on the 9th November 2004 and asked Mr Penman if he had heard any admissions by him that he had visited a sex club. Mr Penman said he had not and agreed that Mr Sheridan had denied the accusations. Mr Sheridan asked the witness that if he had heard him admit the allegations if he would be in the witness box, Mr Penman said he would not. Mr Sheridan further asked the witness if he would risk "going to prison for me" to which Mr Penman said "No. Sorry Tommy."

    John Penman's Testimony

    The next witness called by the Crown was John (Jock) Penman. The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, began by asking about the witnesses political affiliations, and Mr Penman confirmed he was a member of Solidarity (the party Mr Sheridan and others founded after he had left the Scottish Socialist Party) Mr Prentice them moved on to ask Mr Penman about the 9th November 2004 meeting of the SSP executive. 

    John Penman

    Today the court heard from the first witness to testify that Mr Sheridan made no admissions of visiting a "Sex club" at the SSP executive meeting of the 9th November 2004. More to follow.

    Alan McCombes' Cross Examination Pt 2

    Court resumed this morning with the continuation of Tommy Sheridan's cross-examination of Alan McCombes (an account if the yesterday's cross examination can be found Here ) Mr Sheridan opened by returning to the issue of the affidavit Mr McCombes gave to the Sunday Herald newspaper. In this document  the witness had stated that the vote in the "9/11" SSP executive  meeting had been  19-0 that Mr Sheridan stand down as convener of the SSP.  Mr Sheridan asked the witness how many people were at the meeting, and after some discussion Mr McCombes settled on a figure of 21. Mr Sheridan then pointed out that Barbara Scott, as the minute secretary, could not vote and that himself, Kevin McVey and Duncan Rowan had left the meeting before the vote. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that this only left 17 people, not 19. Mr McCombes agreed that this was the case but that he could offer no explanation.

    Monday, November 1, 2010

    Alan McCombes' Cross Examination Pt 1

    After the close of the Advocate Depute's questioning of Alan McCombes Tommy Sheridan left the dock and moved to the court lectern to commence his cross-examination of the witness. He began by asking Mr McCombes if he had discussed his evidence with any other Crown witnesses. When Mr McCombes said he had not Mr Sheridan put it to the him that Rosie Kane had already testified that Mr McCombes had called to inform her that he was the source of the Sunday Herald affidavit. The witness replied "this isn't Newsnight and you're not Jeremy Paxman."  At this point Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge intervened to remind the witness he was there to answer questions and not to make comments. Mr McCombes apologised to the court and Mr Sheridan proceeded.  

    Alan McCombes' Testimony Part 2

    The court sat again after lunch and Alex Prentice QC for the Crown resumed his examination of Alan McCombes (you can find an account of the morning session Here ) Mr Prentice gave the jury copies of the witnesses affidavit to the Sunday Herald newspaper and read it out in full. In the affidavit Mr McCombes states he had "consulted senior members of the party" before giving this legal statement. Mr McCombes told the court he had told Carolyn Leckie about his meeting with the Sunday Herald and that the SSP's press officer Eddie Truman had accompanied him. Mr Prentice then asked about a text Mr McCombes had planned to send to Carolyn Leckie which stated "Tommy will end up joining the Independents' [Independent MSP's in the Scottish Parliament] He said he meant this to be a private text and that he was concerned that Mr Sheridan was "acting independently of the party" and in particular discussed an event organised to support Rose Gentle (an anti-war campaigner) at which he had "excluded" the SSP's other members of parliament. 

    Alan McCombes' Testimony Part 1.

    The next witness to be presented by the Crown was Alan McCombes. Mr McCombes was Press and Policy co-ordinator of the SSP in 2004, a former editor of the party's newspaper the Scottish Socialist voice and a candidate in the election to replace Tommy Sheridan after he resigned as SSP Convener in 2004. Alex Prentice QC, the Advocate Depute, began by asking the witness how long he had known Mr Sheridan. Mr McCombes stated he had known "Tommy" for 26 years. Mr McComes added he had been so close "politically" to Mr Sheridan that he had written his column in the Daily Record as well as "Tommy's" sports articles in the Sunday Herald. At this point Mr Prentice asked the witness that when he referred in future to "Tommy" he would mean Mr Sheridan? the witness said he would.

    Susan Dobbie

    The second witness this morning was Susan Dobbie. Alex Prentice QC, acting for the Crown, asked Ms Dobbie if she had ever met Tommy Sheridan. The witness told the court she had met him twice, the first time in a bar in Glasgow city centre when he had been in the company of "lots of guys" and the second when he met up with her and they had driven to a flat "in the "West end."
    Ms Dobbie further told the court that also at the flat were Andrew McFarlane, whom she told the court was introduced as Mr Sheridan's brother in law, and Anvar Khan. She stated that they had been drinking and chatting. When asked what she was drinking Ms Dobbie said beer and added that the others had been drinking wine from miniature bottles, which she did not recognise at the time as she "hadn't been on a plane." With that Mr Prentice thanked the witness for her evidence and returned to his seat.

    Elizabeth Quinn

    Before the first witness of the morning Alex Prentice QC for the Crown responded to a request by Lord Bracadale (presiding) made on Friday asking how long the prosecution thought it's case would last. Mr Prentice said his best estimate was another 3-4 weeks. 

    The first witness was then called, Elizabeth Quinn a 71 year old retired teacher. Ms Quinn owned the flat next door to Anvar Khan and when asked by the Advocate Depute described meeting Tommy Sheridan in that flat when, she claimed, he was in the company of Anvar Khan. Ms Quinn gave the date as the 11th August 2003, a date she recalled as a painter was due to decorate her flat the next day, as an entry in her diary appeared to confirm.

    Ms Quinn told the court that she had came home and believing herself to be alone in the flat had fetched a ladder to remove some pictures from her wall in preparation for the painters arrival.  The witness told the court that Mr Sheridan had came into the living room from the bedroom in the company of Anvar Khan (Ms Khan  was staying with her as she was only visiting Glasgow for a few days and had rented out her flat next door) .Ms Quinn decribed herself as "stunned" by Mr Sheridan being in her flat an called his behaviour "stupid." The Advocate Depute then sat down and Mr Sheridan left the dock to begin his cross examination.