Monday, December 20, 2010

The Crown Summing Up, The November 9th Meeting

After concluding his introduction (see previous report), Alex Prentice QC, the Advocate Depute, moved on to the first of what he had termed the "key areas" of the case, the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) Executive meeting held in the 9th November 2004. He reminded the jury that Barbara Scott had produced "handwritten notes" that the witness had said before them were "contemporaneous notes." Mr Prentice then had the notes in question displayed on the screens set around the court and in front of the jury and pointed to both an entry that appeared to be from a previous meeting and what appeared to be an exchange of notes between Barbara Scott and Catriona Grant. The Advocate Depute asked the jury to consider the proposal. made to them by the defence, that these notes were "fabricated", asking the jury if there was really "so sophisticated  a conspiracy." He instead suggested to the jury that these notes had "the ring of truth" 

Mr Prentice then turned to the issue of minutes, an issue that he said the jury had "heard a lot about." He suggested the jury consider that the issue in question was not the minutes themselves but the "recollection of those people at the meeting." If the jury believed the minutes "could assist them" they were free to do so,  however Mr Prentice also asked the jury to consider that if the notes and minutes were a "complete fabrication" and part of an "elaborate conspiracy" then "why on earth would you take them to the police?" The Advocate Depute then asked the jury to consider  that when Barbara Scott had said that she had taken the documents to the police as she was "indignant about being called a liar" she may have been telling the truth. If this was not true then she must have been part of an "sophisticated conspiracy to defeat the ends of justice."

The Advocate depute then turned to the evidence of witnesses who had attended the 9th November 2004 SSP executive. He quoted the testimony of Colin Fox, who had said he was "hanging on every word," and of Kevin McVey who said "his whole world had fallen in on him" Mr Prentice said there was "no issue of confusion" from these witnesses on what was said.  He then reminded  the jury of the testimony of  Alan Green who said Tommy Sheridan was a "tremendous ambassador for the party" and that of Colin Fox who had stated he had not given testimony through malice. Mr Prentice  then suggested to the jury that there was no great split over policy or principles in the SSP, and that the jury might wonder if the rifts had been so severe would people just not have left and formed another party "which would have been easy to do."

Mr Prentice then turned to the testimony of five other witnesses who attended the 9th November meeting, reminding the jury that" 
  • Carolyn Leckie had stated she had seen Catriona Grant and Barbara Scott exchange notes
  • Jo Harvie had called it "the most devastating day of her life"
  • Rosie Kane had stated that she "hoped it was a mistake"
  • Frances Curran had said she was "Sad"
  • Kevin McVey had "been tearful"
The Advocate Depute then  asked the jury to consider the idea that the proposal made by the defence that all of these people conspired may be a "fanciful claim." 

Mr Prentice then turned to the situation of the SSP in 2004. He described the party as being created through the hard work of a group of "committed socialists" that had put left wing politics in Scotland on a "different plane" through the work of Mr Sheridan in the Scottish Parliament and the election of six members of parliament in 2003. He asked the jury to consider why any group of the party would conspire to remove Tommy Sheridan and if they had "why on earth they would choose a sex scandal involving a club." He called this a "potential disaster" for the party adding that "there would be no survivors from that sort of disaster." He then asked why any of the witnesses in the case would want to "destroy the party?" 

Mr Prentice then turned to telephone records, that have been agreed by both parties to be those of Mr Sheridan. He asked the jury to consider why the accused, having left the 9th November  meeting early, would have then phoned Gary Clark and Katrine Trolle, saying that the "ladies and gentlemen of jury may draw an inference" on why Mr Sheridan had phoned two of the people alleged to have been involved in the "Cupids visit," he then invited the jury to "consider this." 

Mr Prentice then moved on to the question of the accusations, made against Mr Sheridan by the News of the World, that he had an affair with Fiona McGuire. The Advocate Depute then said that Mr Sheridan had "consistently denied" these allegations and had "never faltered from that." He then asked the jury to consider why, if there was a "conspiracy"  had that denial been accepted and why it had not been "suggested by the conspirators" that he had not denied the Fiona McGuire story. The court then adjourned for lunch.

When the court reconvened the Advocate Depute turned to the question of the SSP executive meeting of the 24th November 2004. He asked the jury to consider the question of why documents distributed at that meeting had been numbered, signed for and then returned. Stating that this process had never been used "before or since." He asked the jury to use "common sense" on interpreting this, suggesting that it may have occurred due to the minute of the 9th November meeting been distributed. Mr Prentice stressed again that the issue of admissions on the 9th November "did not hinge" on the question of the minute being "ratified" but on the jury's interpretation of the witness testimony they had heard.

Alex Prentice QC then asked the jury to consider that in relation to the alternative minute of the 9th of November meeting that had been presented to them, which Maggie Scott QC had called the "mystery minute", the jury had never heard "where it came from" and suggested that they "pay it little regard." The Advocate Depute then suggested to the jury that they might find it "surprising" that Mr Sheridan had circulated by email a motion by the Cardonald branch of the SSP that "any minutes or other documents referring to Tommy Sheridan's private life be immediately destroyed." Mr Prentice then ended this chapter of his summing up by asking the jury to consider that "if it was all a conspiracy" why had the conspirators not "never told anyone about it publicly" until the 2006 defamation trial.

The Advocate Depute then moved on to the question of the alleged visit to Cupids, which we will cover in our next report.


Anonymous said...

Excellent reporting guys, thanks very much

Some good questions from Prentice, only the jury can decide if it's enough though

Anonymous said...

good work James!

Smokey the Avenger said...

Seems like a good performance by Prentice. I think the title of the piece needs to be changed from '11th September' to '9th November' though.

James Doleman said...

Thanks Smokey, good point


Denizen said...

Prentice has told his story and he has anticipated Tommy's story. But Prentice's art is to say that Tommy's story is absurd. In the parallel universe of Prentice the News of the World have never hacked anyone's phone???? The Lothian Police never got rid of any e-mails and were not helping the News of the World by using unparalleled resources.

Oh well.

The trouble for Prentice is that he has not understood the nature of conspiracy. It is not made by people sitting around writing lengthy documents, it is made by people going ape when the shit hits the fan.

I think Prentice has lost the plot.

Go, Tommy, go!

GlasgowX said...

Excellent, accurate report - as throughout this trial. Thank you!

Smokey the Avenger said...

I'm going to be a complete dick and say the title needs to be changed again: from November 11th to November 9th.

I will balance this out by praising the fantastic contributions of this blog's authors, including the Herculean task of comment moderation.

Anonymous said...

Sounds good by Prentice, but of course Tommy gets to sum up tomorrow and will be able to deal with the issues raised without getting cross-examined.

James Doleman said...

Thanks Smokey. If I may say it is people like yourself catching my mistakes that have allowed this blog to be as accurate is it is.

newspapers have sub editors, I have you guys keeping me right.

Thanks again


Mister Mister said...

This from Denizen made me chuckle;
"The trouble for Prentice is that he has not understood the nature of conspiracy".
Oh really?

Anonymous said...

Denizen, we are not holding a "public inquiry" into "phone-tapping" allegations. We are having a criminal trial in a court of law.

Anonymous said...


I think Mr Prentice knows exactly the nature of conspiracy.

Campbell McGregor said...

I don't think Alex Prentice has ever claimed that the News of the World has never hacked anyone's phone.

James Doleman said...

Hello Campbell, we will hopefully be coming to Mr Prentice's comments on "phone hacking" presently.

All the best


Anonymous said...


Anything coming on Mr Prentice's remarks about Thomas Montgomery?


James Doleman said...

Hello anon, that was part of the conclusion of Mr Prentice's testimony, about two posts away.

Best Regards


Anonymous said...

Thanks - I await, breath fully baited.

Anonymous said...

He means in 2004, obv.

Anonymous said...

Aye,AP has dropped a monumental clanger here. He has totally undermined a central plank of his summation.He has obviously never heard of or been a member of Solidarity.The jury will hopefully be more converscant with vicious rancour within the SSP which resulted in the split. They most certainly will do once TS puts that into the back of the ADs net.

Anonymous said...


Lol, as the young folk say, just Lol.