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.  

Mr McCombes told the court that he had told Ms Kane about the affidavit "some weeks before the trial'"at a party in her flat. Mr Sheridan then pointed to the evidence of Kevin McVey that he had been told about the affidavit in the witness room by Mr McCombes. The witness responded that he did not regard the affidavit as an "evidential matter" as it had not been in evidence then. Mr Prentice then objected to this line of questioning and the jury retired while legal argument took place.

When the jury returned Mr McCombes informed the court that he had been in possession of the afidavit as the Sunday Herald had returned the original to him. He stated he could have destroyed it but had not. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that he had kept the affidavit secret for six years to which Mr McCombes said he had never have been asked about it. The witness added that he had planned to inform party members about it, but had been advised that due to the "hysteria" in the party at the time had decided not to. Mr Sheridan then asked if this showed the witness could be "duplicitous when he wanted to be." Mr McCombes responded that he had been "confidential about it" but agreed he had kept the affidavit from the SSP generally.

Mr Sheridan then pressed Mr McCombes further on the affidivit, Mr McCombes made a long statement that he had done "whatever he had to do to protect the party, the members didn't have to know." He added that he thought Mr Sheridan was a "pathological liar" who was "reinventing a whole fantastical sequence of events" Mr Sheridan then produced a 11 Nov 2004 edition of the Scottish Daily Record and displayed an article titled "The Rise and Fall of Comrade Tommy" which contained a time-line of his career. Mr Sheridan pointed out the number of times he had been to prison for his political activities and this was not "very Daniel O'Donnell" Mr McCombes replied that showing the article was a "good way to show your track record to the jury" 

Mr Sheridan then returned to the text message he received in error from Mr McCombes and suggested to the witness that it showed there were political tensions between the two before the 9th November executive meeting. Mr McCombes responded that he had reacted to the "utter contempt and venom" Mr Sheridan had showed to other party members, and added "if this is all the evidence you have of a plot it's pretty threadbare." Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that he "didn't spend time at demonstrations" and instead worked in the "background organising smears and plots," a statement Mr McCombes called "character assassination." Mr Sheridan stated that far from the Rose Gentle demonstration being "secret" he had announced it a SSP public meeting after a demonstration, and added that Mr McCombes didn't like him "hogging the limelight" and "taking all the credit." To this Mr McCombes responded "JK Rowling couldn't make up stories like you it's like a combination of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings."

Mr Sheridan then accused the witness of "lying" about writing all his newspaper articles for him, asserting that Mr McCombes had only been asked to  write a few when "I was on holiday" Mr McCombes stated that "I wrote every one of your columns in the Sunday Herald and the majority of the Record's". Mr McCombes added that there was "no particle of disagreement before the 31st October 2004." Mr Sheridan replied that "you and I fell out in 2000 when you told me about your affair." a statement Mr McCombes called a "lie"

Mr Sheridan then put to Mr McCombes a statement he had made that Mr Sheridan's role in the SSP was that of a "mouthpiece" and said this was a derogatory term. Mr McCombed denied this and stated it was not meant that way. With that the court rose for the day with Mr McCombes returning tomorrow to continue his testimony.


Ghost of Gramsci said...
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Pussy Galore said...
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James Doleman said...

Sorry chaps but you can understand

Ghost of Gramsci said...

@Pussy - not what I thought at all - just persistent rumours about the largesse of the Parlyhoose in Embra - allegedly.

Anonymous said...

Why do the SSP witnesses think that its a good idea to make political points and personal attacks instead of answering questions?

Gohost of Gramsci said...

James - think my original statement stands as just commenting on how McCombes felt the membership were not worthy of knowing what was going on?

James Doleman said...

Sorry Ghost, was all fine until the last line, if you want to edit that I'll be happy to post it.

jim mclean said...

Our glorious leaders -: IMAGINE

Anonymous said...

This is a shameful finale for the Scottish far left. What was left of the SSP now have to take on board what they have heard from McCombes. He is happy to admit to being more centralist (just him and 2 others) than anything he accuses Sheridan of. He doesnt even inform the party leaders or the national executive

I think the whole SSP and Solidarity projects need to start again after this. there are not enough people left for the SSP to fragment even further. And you cant imagine McCombes and his supporters surviving in the SSP now.

The SSP members won't rally round Fox or Curran or return to Sheridan.

Time for a new formation of younger people, not tarnished by this nightmare. Are there any of the main players in either party untainted?

Shug said...

AFAIK the SSP held 'information' meetings to explain the situation as they saw it to members, so the idea that they totally covered everything up from members is a bit misleading IMO.

I think consulting people you trust and know well is perfectly understandable when you're in what would be a unique, stressful and fraught situation.

jim mclean said...

Anon 2:02
Time for a new formation of younger people, not tarnished by this nightmare.

You know it makes sense,I have said this elsewhere but usually get blown out of the water.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous November 2, 2010 2:02 AM

Two thinks strike me about all of this.
1.Just how infantile and petty ALL the protagonists are.
2. Just how parochial it all is.

Which makes me wonder if this whole train crash would have happened if people had been members of a UK wide political organisation.That might suggest where the left in Scotland should go from here.

Anonimouse said...

What are you talking about "more centralist than Sheridan". He wasnt accusing Sheridan of being centralist, but of being reckless.

The contents of the affidavit (ie that information had transpired in the course of the 9.11 meeting that had led the exec to ask for Sheridan's resignation) were made known to SSP members within days of the meeting through (primarily) regional organisers.

Steve said...

Hi Anon,

You write: "Two thinks strike me about all of this.
1.Just how infantile and petty ALL the protagonists are.
2. Just how parochial it all is."

Another that strikes me, following on your point 2, is how much publicity it is getting in the "parish", not all of it bad. It's be a shame to throw that away, either on "untarnished" (= inexperienced) young folk or others in thrall to them down South.

kupata said...

A friend put me onto this James and all power to you, my friend, a good job well done

Anonymous said...

The SSP were tasked at Conference to investigate who in their ranks provided the affidavit to the Herald.
As a former SSP member at no time did anyone within the SSP let it be known that it was Mr.McCombes.
It was this type of action that the rank and file should be kept in the dark of this information to allow them form their own democratic opinion, thatthis info. to be known only to a few? I dont know exactly the required number to form a cabal? however as a kept in the dark former member it was a loss of trust too great for me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 2.02.

You guys just don't get it!

It's not the specifics of this "split" that's the key problem - it's the amalgam approach to party organisation that's at fault. I mean, setting this debacle apart, what about Respect, the Socialist Alliance etc. All failures. It's no suprise that the media promote these type of organisations - factional based organisation is a disaster waiting to happen.

How many times must this horse kick you before you realise it's sore!