Thursday, December 2, 2010

Detective Sergeant Gerald Fraser

When court reconvened this morning the first witness for the Crown was Detective Sergeant Gerald Fraser of Lothian and Borders police. DS Fraser told the court that he had 28 years service with the police and had played an "extensive role" on the case of Tommy and Gail Sheridan.

Alex Prentice QC, the Advocate Depute began by presenting to the witness telephone records obtained from the Scottish Parliament for Tommy Sheridan's mobile telephone. The witness was shown a record that Mr Sheridan's telephone was used to call a particular telephone number on two  occasions on the 18th November 2006. These calls were timed at 18:43 and 19: 28. There was then a record of a call to voicemail at 20:44.

DS Fraser was then shown a portion of the "McNeilage tape" and the witnesses attention was drawn to the "timestamp" at the  beginning of the video, 19:32 on 18/11/0. DS Fraser was then shown the tape's transcript and agreed this stated the time of the tape's conclusion as 20:32. The witness agreed that in the tape no use of a telephone is shown and further agreed that this fitted with the times of calls shown on  the bill. With that the Advocate Depute concluded his evidence in chief and Mr Sheridan left his seat in the dock to begin his cross examination.

Mr Sheridan began by asking DS Fraser if it was correct that the telephone bill presented to the court would only show outgoing calls not incoming calls, the witness agreed that was correct. DS Fraser was then asked about the "HOMES" computer system used by the investigation team and what type of cases this was normally used in. DS Fraser told the court the "HOMES" system was normally used in complex cases such as "Murder , rape and protracted drug cases." 

After discussing DS Fraser's role in the case Mr Sheridan asked the witness about the status of various people interviewed in the course of police inquiries." The witness explained that people could be "witnesses" "suspects" or "defendants" and confirmed that various people named, Colin Fox, Bob Bird, Alan Green remained witnesses while both Gail and Tommy Sheridan had their status changed to "suspect' in the course of the investigation. DS Fraser was then asked about what Mr Sheridan claimed were "inconsistencies" in the evidence of Crown witness Colin Fox, however at this point the Advocate Depute objected, arguing that DS Fraser could not speak to that subject, Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge agreed and Mr Sheridan moved on.

Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser if he would be "surprised" if a police officer would interview a witness in the presence of a journalist, the witness confirmed he would. Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser if he was aware that a member of the inquiry team, DC Wilson had spoken to Katrine Trolle at the home of Lorna Martin with Ms Martin present, the witness said he was not aware of that. Mr Sheridan then produced an email from Katrine Trolle to DC Wilson where she thanks him for bringing "Coffee and muffins this morning" and goes on to give the details of her Danish bank account. Mr Sheridan told the court that the defence had not been given any statement from DC Wilson about this meeting and asked if meeting a witness at a jounalists home was "improper" DS Fraser answered that it was "not normal" The court then adjourned for a short break.

When the court reconvened Mr Sheridan asked DS Fraser if he was aware that an inquiry had taken place into leaks of information to the media during the investigation. The witness confirmed there had been and that four officers, but not himself, had been interviewed. Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser if he was aware that Lorna Martin's partner was another journalist, Tom Gordon, and that Mr Gordon had written "lots of stories" about the case. DS Fraser told the court he was not aware of that.

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness about emails between various officers allocated to the case where the defence had recovered the headings of the mails but not the content and suggested that these may have been deleted as they were "embarrassing" The witness said he had no knowledge of that and believed that the emails should have been stored at Lothian and Borders police HQ and that individual deleting a mail should still leave a copy on the server. Mr Sheridan said "thats what we thought" yet they had not recieved any emails, DS Fraser said he was not an expert on these issues but was aware that an inquiry had been undertaken into this issue by the Complaints and Conduct division of Lothian and Borders police. 

Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser about Katrine Trolle's testimony to the 2006 libel trial where she had stated that the alleged visit by her, Mr Sheridan and others to the Cupid's club in Manchester had been in 2001 not 2002 as the she had stated at this trial. DS Fraser said that the witness had not told a lie but had been "unsure." The witness denied a suggestion that this amounted to perjury as it was "our belief that it was not malicious so was not perjury" Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser about the testimony in 2006 by Fiona McGuire, the witness told the court that after investigation it "appeared she was not telling the truth" 

Finally Mr Sheridan put it to DS Fraser that he, and the other members of the team, had approached the case with the intention of "going after Gail and Tommy Sheridan" and had a "pre-determined view." The witness disagreed with this stating that he had looked at the information gathered before coming to a conclusion. With that Mr Sheridan returned to teh dock and the Advocate Depute rose to re-examine DS Fraser.

Mr Prentice asked the witness that while it was true that incoming calls would not appear on the bill,  that in his viewing of the tape did he see or hear a telephone ringing. DS Fraser confirmed he did not. Under questioning DS Fraser told the court that he had not approached the case with a "blinkered view" and had not taken instructions from the News of the World or anyone else. With that the Advocate Depute thanked DS Fraser for his evidence and the witness was allowed to step down.

The court is now hearing from Detective Sergeant Stuart Harkness, who we understand will be the final crown witness in the case. A full report on his evidence will follow later today.


Anonymous said...

totaly amazed that there is no expert witness to say the tape is genuine .Does AP think its a fake?

Anonymous said...

particular telephone? GMcN?

Anonymous said...

No calls from TS's phone between 19: 28 and 20:44 on a Saturday night!? And just so (coincidentally fits in with the timings on the tape)... hmm.
Best leave that for the jury to make what of it they will.

Danny G said...

What's the big deal about the time of the calls? The calls were made at 1843 and 1928 that is prior to the video which did not start till 1932. The voicemail call was at 2044 and the video had ended at 2032. Thnerefore the calls were made prior to and after the video. Were these calls made to Cupids?

Bunc said...

Am I understanding correctly what Prentice was trying to do here?

He establishes that TS used his phone both immediately before and after the timing of the tape
(according to the time stamp).

In effect he is trying to establish that TS's phone record shows no conflict with the timing of the tape? And, circumstantially, that the fact that TS checks his voicemail at the end of that period would indicate that during the intervening time he has been unavailable for calls - ie that it might be inferred he was unavailable because he was allegedly in the meeting that was being taped?

Sir Brian Hine said...

So DC Fraser kindly points out that Tommy made two calls at the very time the "McNeilage Tape" shows him to be doing something very different.

Of course someone else could have made those calls precisely for that purpose, but that will of course, be a matter for the jury to decide.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, TS's continual theme of everyone being out to get the Sheridans, "endangering" this and that, and oh,look what a nasty rag the NotW can only lead a reasonable person to one conclusion.

Anonymous said...

James, the phone records show one call made from TS's mobile at 19:28. This would have been made in the period of the video (19:32 to 20:32). So why was the call not on the video?

Anonymous said...

Anyone with any experience of Criminal Law can see what is going on, it will be very interesting which way the verdict goes.

Anonymous said...

Has there been any evidence against Gail Sheridan?

I don't recall any.

Bunc said...

Anonymous said:
"James, the phone records show one call made from TS's mobile at 19:28. This would have been made in the period of the video (19:32 to 20:32). So why was the call not on the video?"

Correct me if I am wrong anon but 19:28 ( TS phone call) comes BEFORE 19:32 ( start of the tape)
and 20:44 ( check of voicemail) comes AFTER 20:32 ( end of tape).
At least that's how the clocks work in my universe.

So the reason the call was not on the video was because the call was made (and finished presumably ) before the video started.

Clive said...


19.28 is before 19.32, assuming that time was moving forward in its usual chronological way that day.

Bunc said...

Re your report;
you say the court was shown "a portion" of the tape timestamped between 19:32 and 20;32.

Thats a one hour section of tape. the court according to your earlier report was shown 40 mins of tape. You dont give actual timestamps in that earlier report though.

Why then do you use the phrase " a portion" - the tape duration being referred to in this session is actually longer than the section shown to the court is it not? Are you implying that there is longer than an hour?

Are you implying that the court was actually shown one hour of the tape today?

Great care needs to be taken reporting these aspects as it may give a misleading impression.

James Doleman said...

Thank's for that Bunc, I agree the way I have put it could be confusing, I've edited that portion to try and make it clearer.

Sir Brian Hine said...

Mobile phone data can also be used to (quite) precisely determine a person (or more accurately) a person's mobile phone location.

It would be quite possible to triangulate the data to prove where TS was at 19.28 or 20.44.

What of course we don't know is how many calls per day TS made, and therefore how typical it would be for him not to be making calls during this period.

Of course anyone with experience of Criminal Law can see what AP is doing here. Fascinating... (for the Jury).

Peter said...

Wot still no forensics?

I am shocked, shocked I tell you.

Let’s look at the supposedly incriminating evidence regarding the timing of the mobile phone calls.

There is supposedly no record of OUTGOING phone calls on one particular mobile phone, supposedly registered and in the possession of Sheridan, for a short period of time, on a particular Saturday night in a particular year.

The Crown consider that must mean it is Tommy in the video as the person in the video also does not make a telephone phone call in that particular hour!

(Mmmmmm. Peter reaches for Rogets to find correct definition of "circumstantial" & "what a load of old pony")

Firstly there may have been INCOMING calls to Tommy in that hour. Lets wait and see what the defence say.

Secondly I didn’t make any calls for an hour last Saturday night either.

That does not mean during that hour I was actually round at me mates house that he is decorating confessing to him that I was banging Angelina Jolie behind the wifes and Brad's back!

It just means I was not using my phone for that hour.

Thirdly I feel I must mention at this point that the NOTW agents have been exposed for bribery including accessing mobile phone records.

Sad to say but our privacy and the times of calls on all our mobile and home phones are available to the highest bidder.

The records could easily have been available to the video creators with a sufficient slush fund and the right contacts.

I was wondering what would appear that would finally wholly convince me the tape was, as the defence imply, a careful concoction (allegedly).

This evidence inadvertently appears to be the smoking gun. It is a huge convenience of evidence that does not stand up to Occams razor.

Finally as the Crown either cannot, or will not show, forensically the date the video was actually created the evidence regarding the mobile phone, which is wholly circumstantial anyway, is now wholly worthless.

The tape needs supportive forensics to make this particular evidence relevant and safe. No?

Lets see what the last copper comes up with but if there are still no forensics then some people here are going to be having humble pie for their tea.

visitor said...

Thanks for report James.

I dont understand the comments saying "anyone with experience of criminal law can see what AP is doing here". Can you explain? Thanks

Anonymous said...

No Sir Brian Hine, mobile phone location data is only kept for at most a few months; in my opinion there never was any location data. Also until recently a lot of call data wasn't recorded either or for only short periods, storing unnecessary and useless data is just an overhead for a company.

Anonymous said...

"telephone records obtained from the Scottish Parliament for Tommy Sheridan's mobile telephone"

scunnered! said...

Yeah thanks for these reports James. The prosecution seems to be trying to implant a seed of doubt as to what TS was doing within that hour. It dont mention however how long these calls were. Particularly the one made before this video. How long was the call as we all know phone records record that sort of data. Plus it dont make sense why they cant access outgoing calls. That info would be easy for them to access vis TS mob no:. Plus what a disgrace with the cops e-mails. Hope the complaints procedure flags up their dishonesty as well. As you say its up to jury to decide. but its all circumstantial isnt it? Oh sorry I just read previous comment...but how are they able to get records of those mysterious calls and a call to voicemail and not access other calls? Dont make sense. Are they clutching at straws do you think?

Clive said...

The video is not circumstantial evidence.

Bobby said...

Re. Peter.

Do hope you will be this critical when it comes to judging the Defence. Or have you already made up your mind?

Anonymous said...

James was the mobile phone TS own or was it Scottish Parliament mobile phone?

Peter said...

Bobby said...

Re. Peter.

Do hope you will be this critical when it comes to judging the Defence. Or have you already made up your mind

Hi Bobby,

If you read my post I clearly said I would reconsider my position if the Crown present forensic evidence to show the tape is genuine.

They have singularly failed to provide any forensics at all - not just about the tape but anything

I can't bring myself to believe the NOTW witnesses exotic stories about trips to Cupids, drug taking etc.

If there was no drug and booze fuelled sex trips to Cupids with then logically there is no confession to the United Left witnesses. Are yer with me.

You will recall all the leaks before the trial that they had all sorts of forensics and GPS tacking devices etc.

It was kids stuff to try and break down the accused and the defence witnesses but it appears a few on this blog fell for it.

Now the lack of forensics has become clear they are shifting there arguments.

Any random selection of people in Glsgow won't fall for little bluffs like that. Me Nan could spot it. Did you?

Anonymous said...

Peter you said '
Any random selection of people in Glsgow won't fall for little bluffs like that. Me Nan could spot it. Did you?

I am not affiliated to any political party, I work and live in Glasgow and come into contact with many 'random Glasgow people' and this trial is a very topical discussion. From what I gather,I would agree that the majority are not falling for bluffs - especially TS's. And if me gran was alive I don't think she would either.

Anonymous said...

It's a minor point but is of interest. The computer system mentioned has acronym HOLMES (as in Sherlock) not HOMES with the L standing for large ie home office large major enquiry system. As I recall, it was conceived after the debacle of the Yorkshire ripper case in order to help such huge cases (hence the Large in the title) that spanned forces and involved cross referencing many different witness statements.