Friday, November 19, 2010

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.

Mr Prentice then asked the witness about the 2006 libel case between Tommy Sheridan and the News of the World and Mr Sinclair confirmed he had been cited as a witness by the defence. Mr Sinclair told the court that after Mr Sheridan had sacked his legal team Mr Sinclair had texted Mr Sheridan and asked "if and when he wanted me to appear" The witness stated that Mr Sheridan had replied that he was going to call him as "I could say there was a conspiracy against him." Mr Prentice asked the witness if he "could say that" to which Mr Sinclair replied "no that's the opposite of what he told me" adding that he had called Mr Sheridan to tell him that, and Mr Sheridan had responded that he "didn't need him."

The Advocate Depute then ended his evidence in chief, thanked the witness and returned to his seat and Tommy Sheridan left the dock to begin his cross-examination.

Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Sinclair if him not returning his calls was "unusual" Mr Sinclair repeated that is was. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that when the Daily Record changed editors, with Peter Cox taking over, he had been sacked from writing his column in the paper. Mr Sheridan also stated that he had a dispute with the Daily Record over it's "Scotland against Drugs" campaign, which he claimed was hypocritical when the newspaper was also giving vouchers away for cheap lager. Mr Sinclair stated that the campaign was not aimed at "legal drugs"

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he recalled a Daily Record headline that called him a "Working Class Zero" and another that had called him the"lowest form of human life" He also asked Mr Sinclair if he had seen an editorial in the paper that had said there would be "no future coverage of the SSP." The witness said he vaguely recalled them. Mr Sheridan then asked why he would have given an exclusive story to the paper given this history, and denied Mr Sinclair;s assertion that they had a "convivial relationship."

Mr Sheridan then told the witness that he agreed they did indeed have a meeting on the 10th November and the discussions had been "along the lines" that Mr Sinclair had stated. Indeed he had no reason to contradict him. 

Mr Sheridan then asked how Mr Sinclair had found out so quickly about the internal SSP meeting of the 9th November to which Mr Sinclair responded that one of his fellow journalists had a "friend" in the party that had told him. Mr Sheridan asked the witness if there was no "plot" against him why were people "tipping off the papers" adding that "Plots and skullduggery are part of the life of political parties." Finally Mr Sheridan asked the witness where Mr Cox, the then Daily Record editor, worked now. The witness was not sure and Mr Sheridan suggested he was now deputy editor of the Sun newspaper. With that Mr Sheridan ended his cross-examination and, as the Advocate Depute had no further questions, Mr Sinclair was allowed to leave the witness box.


James Doleman said...

Hello anon, could we avoid words like "damming" please, tends to upset the authorities as that is a matter for the jury.

Anonymous said...

No problem James. Apologies. I'll try again.

From the blog what I find interesting from Mr. Sheridan's cross examination of Paul Sinclair is that (i) he apparently didn't deny (or indeed challenge in any way) that he cited this journalist as a defence witness for the Edinburgh trial (ii) neither did he apparently deny or challenge Mr. Sinclair as to the alleged conversation as to what evidence he might wish of the journalist for his defence, and (iii) nor did he apparently challenge or deny that it was on being told that the journalist would be providing evidence as to their having been no conspiracy against Mr. Sheridan by his colleagues that he was dropped and his services no longer required.

Anonymous said...

Anon 5.57
Perhaps as this coversation with Paul Sinclair took place at a time when the alleged conspiracy was as yet unknown.
For instance it was as yet unknown at that time Mr.McCombes had provided info to another media group.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry Anon 5.57 but I honestly can't see what that has to do with the cross examination of Mr. Sinclair.

Either, as what was apparently stated in court today, Mr. Sinclair was cited as a witness for the defence in 2006 or wasn't; did discuss his proposed evidence with Mr. Sheridan or didn't; and was dropped as a consequence of that conversation or wasn't.

These assertions appeared to form the greater majority of the crowns evidence with this witness and I'm just somewhat surprised that they were not each dealt with by Mr. Sheridan when he had the opportunity to do so.

Sceptic said...

Anon, its hardly a big deal, he sacks his legal team, asks a witness they have cited what their testimony will be, it's not helpful to his case (although its hardly hurtful either) so he doesn't call him,

The prosecution don't call every witness they can, neither do the defence. It's a trial you call your best witnesses.

Give it up.... said...

Sinclair didnt say that he would testify that there was no conspiracy, he said the he wouldnt testify that there was.

This, I think is related to the mcneilage video. The voice on that tape that is alleged to be sheridan mentions meeting sinclair, I think

Anonymous said...

Except, Sceptic, that Mr. Sinclair appears to have been claiming that Mr. Sheridan told him outright that there was no plot/plotting against him - something which, and I think I'm right here, might well have been being alluded to by Mr. Sheridan in his cross examination of other witnesses.

This being the situation as I understand it (and I have to admit to never having been in court and to relying on this blog for information) I have difficulty in understanding why Mr. Sheridan did not probe or challenge the witness as to his account of facts.

Anonymous said...

Sorry 'Give it up' but the blog clearly states...

The witness stated that Mr Sheridan had replied that he was going to call him as "I could say there was a conspiracy against him." Mr Prentice asked the witness if he "could say that" to which Mr Sinclair replied "no that's the opposite of what he told me" adding that he had called Mr Sheridan to tell him that...

These comments would appear to clearly indicate that during the discussion between the two participants a conspiracy had previously been categorically denied.

Sceptic said...

Interestingly there is no mention here of Tommy Sheridan admitting that meeting happened.

Did he?

Anonymous said...

That's precisely my point Sceptic.

I'm surprised that, as the evidence is reported here, Mr. Sheridan appears not to have challenged Mr. Sinclair in any way as to his statements.

It's not so much that Mr. Sheridan apparently appears not to have admitted that these things happened but that he didn't make any attempt to deny that they hadn't when given the opportunity.

Debator said...

The accussed does not have to deny anything, the crown has to prove it.

Anonymous said...


I wholeheartedly support the principle that EVERY person should be considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law and that the burden should be on the prosecution to prove such guilt and not on any defendant, regardless of who they might be, to prove their innocence.

Part of the process, however, is the presentation of evidence before the court by the prosecuting authorities which, quite rightly, the defence should have a right to challenge.

I'm just surprised that in this instance Mr. Sheridan appears not to have challenged the detail of evidence supplied by Mr. Sinclair at the behest of the Crown.

Sceptic said...

He has the whole defence case to challenge it, I'd guess that it could happen then.

Give it up.... said...

Yes but that isnt the same as sinclair being able to testify that there wasnt a conspiracy. All he could do was say that Sheridan didnt mention it to him.

The testimony from Sinclair is nothing other than confirmation of one of the events on the mcneilage tape. The side issue isnt important.

At the time, we have been told by both sides, the press were not supposed to know, Sheridan contacted McCombes about the Record, and they agreed a party line about 'family reasons'. This appears to be what Sinclair is saying Sheridan told him. This is what was being told to press at the time, no coup, no plots, just family reasons.

It would be interesting to know who tipped the Daily Record off.

At the time, I remember some people who were witnesses in this trial point to a certain ex-MSP.

Anonymous said...


Wrong again. Mr Sheridan will not be allowed to challenge Mr Sinclair's - or anyone's - evidence if they are not there to answer back.

If he failed to say Sinclair was lying today, he will not be allowed to say it at a later date.

Anonymous said...

Except that that's not quite the same thing as the Defence challenging the voracity of a prosecution witness Sceptic.

Unless I'm wrong, and I admit I could be, I don't think Mr. Sheridan will get a second bite at the cherry with Mr. Sinclair. He may comment on what was said by Mr. Sinclair but that still won't quite cover why, if he had an issue whatsoever with the evidence as provided, he didn't take the opportunity to challenge it at the time.

As for the Defence Case. I assume that is where the prosecution will have its opportunity to challenge the voracity of the witnesses with whom it might have any 'difficulty'.

James Doleman said...

Sorry I should have made something a bit clearer.

See edit

Whatsy said...

Ah, another bit of light relief has just come back to me from Friday - I think it was during the Sinclair cross.

Mr Sinclair stated "I don't understand the question" in response to something Mr Sheridan had put to him in a fairly impassioned way. Mr Sheridan grinned broadly and stated something like "I can sympathise, as it wasn't really a question at all! Let me rephrase it..."

There have been plenty of moments of levity and humour throughout the trial, but much of it has been of a pointed nature, and it was nice to see the accused show a sense of humour about himself.

Anyway, that's all. Maybe it was funnier at the time. Hope you weren't expecting a side-splitter there.