Monday, January 17, 2011

News of the World "Rogue reporter' defence unravels"

Glenn Mulcaire
The Guardian is Reporting that Glenn Mulcaire, the convicted "phone hacker" who was called as a witness at the trial of HMA vs Tommy Sheridan (but did not appear due to illness)  has submitted a statement to the High Court in London "confirming that Ian Edmondson, the paper's assistant editor (news) asked him to hack into voicemail messages left on a mobile phone belonging to  Sky Andrew, a football agent."   The Guardian piece  continues " It is also understood that Mulcaire said in the court statement that several other executives at the News of the World were aware that phone hacking was taking place, although he does not name them."

Regular readers will be aware that the issue of "phone hacking" played a large role in Mr Sheridan's defence and a number of witnesses were called to give evidence on the issue, including Andrew Coulson, a previous editor of the News of the World and now Director of Communications at 10 Downing Street.

For more background on the evidence presented over this issue during the Sheridan case, including full reports on Mr Coulson's testimony, see Here


Other reports have also emerged today that Mr Coulson has already offered the Prime Minister his resignation over this issue, See Here. Also from the Independent, writer Mathew Norman argues that Mr Coulson could be "The first person in history to offer to resign twice for something of which he knew nothing."


Bunc said...

It's only a matter of time now. Coulson is a dead man walking.

Whatsy said...

If evidence emerges that Mr Coulson lied when giving evidence in a perjury trial, bearing in mind his employment at the time as head of communications at Downing Street, I trust a perjury inquiry will be launched.

Jamesie Cotter Esq. Govan Phoney Unlockers Co-op said...

Let us pretend that the phone of TS was hacked. He stands convicted and will be sentenced. If such new evidence emerges which threatens the safety of his conviction then he has to pursue that on appeal.
But what could he say to persuade an appellate body the conviction was unsafe? Murdoch's men listened into my phone calls? Well that may breach his privacy and very possibly be illegal. But it does not cast any doubt on the evidence from non-employees of the NotW that TS told the executive of the SSP he did attend a swingers' bar and then lied about his confession in his own defamation action.
The fact, if you feel charitable towards TS, that he may obtain evidence of phone tapping is an interesting issue - but not one which had any relevance to the main issue in the perjury trial e.g. did TS lie about Cupids?

Kubla Khan said...

This is significant for News International and could be the start of a house of cards situation for them. Really though Peter I fail to see how any of this could possibly make TS's conviction for lying in court about going to a swinger's club and having extra-marital sex unsafe. 'It's a miscarriage of justice to have convicted me of lying in court, even though I did, because my phone might have been ilegally hacked' is not a convincing argument against a perjury conviction for me. Nor I wager an appeal court judge. Also, point of order: Mulcaire didn't 'refuse to appear in this trial' (which would have seen him on charges of contempt) he had a medical certificate exempting him. You might think his absence looked suspicious and I might agree, but let's separate fact from conjecture please.

sceptic said...

The issue over Mr Mulcaire and "phone hacking" relates to the telephone records the Crown was so keen to share with the jury. To give an example The Advocate Depute in his summation stated that it would be an amazing coincidence that the time the "McNeilage tape" was supposedly made coincided with a period when Mr Sheridan was not using his mobile phone and argued this was a unbelievable coincidence.

Not if the NoTW had access to the phone records it wasn't.

Steve said...

Two wrongs don't make a right.

Boomerang said...

If Mr. Coulson (and I stress here the 'IF') is ever shown to have perjured himself on the stand during HMA v Sheridan and Sheridan then I, for one, would certainly expect that he too should face the full force of the law. Not least as two people's liberty was at stake at the time.

That said, however, if it does transpire the Mr. Sheridan's phone was 'hacked' then I can't really see the relevance of such a development to any appeal.

Either they got nothing substantial from their venture (which allows the evidence as presented at Court to stand) or they got verification of Mr. Sheridan's actions (and didn't present it, which again allows the evidence as presented at court to stand).

Kubla Khan said...

I still don't see that this improves TS's chance of appeal one iota. The NOW legal team had TS's phone records because TS handed them to them prior to the 2006 civil case. The jury knew this and convicted. TS's defence tried to make a link between the NOW connection to phone hacking and his claim that the NOW had, with McNeillage and others, concocted the 'McNeillage tape'. The jury heard this argument and convicted. Any further revelations about the NOW's involvement in phone hacking, or indeed Andy Coulson's lack of honesty about what he knew about it, doesn't make TS's argument about the McNeillage tape stronger. The best that TS can hope for is that there will be further criminal investigation into the NOW's operations and who knew what. His chances of successful appeal remain exactly the same as they did on December 23rd.

sceptic said...

I do have to laugh at some of the comments here. There is now a suggestion, no more than that, that a Crown witness or three may have possibly have lied from the witness stand yet we have people here saying that doesn't matter?

One wonders what would convince them to challenge their prejudices?

Steve said...

How about this on Rosie K then:

skeptic said...

Interesting URL there Steve, "Rosie-kane-former-socialist". I can think of a few people who would agree with that description,



Critical-eye said...

Given its essential irrelevance why did TS spend so much time on the phone hacking issue? One explanation is simply that it was a cynical ploy to divert attention from the real issue of the evidence in the case. However, I believe there is a deeper reason: namely, it was part of TS’s belief that the whole case against him was orchestrated by the NOWT, and he was able to use the phone hacking issue to focus his moral outrage against the NOWT. But this moral outrage, so characteristic of TS and many on the Left, has, I believe, a dark and deeply ambiguous side.

Left politics has a strongly moral tone: what it stand for is represented not as for the public good but as morally superior, and any failure in acting on the strictest principles, especially on the part of their opponents or on the part of state authorities is condemned as morally outrageous. At the same time the Left has a relaxed, and even permissive, attitude to law breaking in the service of their own cherished causes.

Notice how in his cross-examination TS used any criminal record on the part of prosecution witnesses (Cumberbirch, McNeilage) to imply their total unreliability as witnesses - all the time passing silently over the fact that he is a convicted criminal who has served time in prison. It may be objected that his time in prison was for the noble causes of protesting against warrant sales and Trident – but that is precisely my point: why is law-breaking by the Left virtuous and law-breaking by everyone else evil?

In the open letter whose reference is given by Steve - - TS says “The Scum of the World’s attack on me and our party is an extension of the class struggle”. With this attitude, it is easy to see how he could think that perjury against the NOWT is a political act and justified in the class struggle. Any phone hacking by the NOWT shows their essential evil; and since the moral cause of the class struggle justifies any means in the fight against class enemies, even perjury itself is justified.

Anonymous said...


I'm afraid this blog has lost it for me.

There have been lots of articles in the papers over the past few days about this case, the Riddoch one and the interview with Rosie Kane stand out, and no mention here.

When is this blog going to declare what it seems to have become, a "Free Sheridan" or "Tommy is Innocent," front?

I read somewhere that the author is a member of the SWP. Is this just another of what they do so well, that is, nurture fronts?

I doubt if this will be published, but could the authors consider some balance?


WS, Glasgow

James Doleman said...

Hello WS.

Sorry to hear that there are reasons why I have not posted the Rosie Kane piece, it seems to me to be more of a lifestyle feature on Ms Kane's personality rather than an analysis of the trial, the Riddoch piece I considered and am still thik=nking about posting it, however I am trying to track down her evidence in the 2006 trial.#

I would ask you to also note that I am sent articles from all sides (including Socialist Worker, the CPGB, The World Socialist website, the SSP) none of which I have posted as they seem to be mainly political opinion pieces. I would see your point if I was posting those to the exclusion of others but I do not as I try and concentrate on the trial and it's aftermath rather than publish everything that pops in by email.

I will of course keep your feedback in mind. However I would say if you can find a single "Tommy is innocent" piece anywhere on this blog that would be a surprise to me as I have never posted any such article and have made it clear that I will wait to express my own personal view until after sentencing next week.

Best Regards


CB said...

Anon 2:20

How can you make such a complaint?

Critical Eye's post - immediately above yours - refutes you, as do a multitude of other posts. Leaving the verbose Peter aside, the blog is not dominated by "Tommy Lovers", if James will permit me to use that expression.

Anonymous said...

sorry James have to agree with anon 2.20pm. It is becoming more and more one sided.

Kubla Khan said...

Sceptic @ 11.39am. Of which three Crown Witnesses do you speak? Coulson was a defence witness. Douglas Wright was called by the crown on behalf of the defence and Bob Bird was a crown witness but the evidence led by the prosecution was principally about how he got the tape from McNeillage (evidence which is not any more questionable now than it was during the trial) The question is not whether the NOW developments matter but rather how do the NOW developments weaken the crown's case against TS in the perjury trial? How do the developments constitute significant new evidence in the case?

James Doleman said...

Hello anon, I try my best to keep it balanced, I'd certainly argue that this site is by far the most balanced account of the trial available. People have strong opinions on both sides, I've just tried to steer a middle course. Of course I have had flak about that, and a number of nasty personal attacks and threats, but I'd suggest I have done a reasonable job. If people are unhappy with this site I'd point out that no-one is forcing them to read it.

I have never claimed that I do not have my own personal views, and friends and family know what those are, however I would suggest the fact that I give everyone from both camps the right to comment here shows I am trying my best to keep a balance.

Anyway lets leave that subject there, unless anyone has anything substantial to add.

Mardy said...

James, sorry to hear about the threats but I offer you my experience of those.

In another life I was involved in a high profile campaign against a planning application. There was a lot of money at stake for the lucky few - several million pounds.

I got near daily threats to my well being, including death threats.

I never paid them a blind bit of notice. I always recalled the words of Jock Stein: Nobody that's seriously going to do you is going to tell you about in advance.

Nobody ever harmed a hair on my head. My campaign won.

Thanks for all your work, an incredible slog.

Norma Anderson said...

For what it's worth, I tried to post a piece last week in defence of Gail Sheridan's right to stand as a candidate. My post was in reply to another which I felt was a bit anti-Gail. To be fair, my argument MAY have been a bit too strong in terms of the rules of this website. As my post was not published I assume that this was so. However, if James were as one-sided as has been implied I am absolutely certain it would have been posted.

Critical-eye said...

I think I detect a subtle bias in this blog. Tried to post earlier - rejected, post too long. Snip, snip - still too long. Snip again - still no go. Snip, snip, there's practically nothing left - it's off at last.

I swear my post is shorter than the vast majority of Peter's. James - have you set your blog up in such a fiendishly clever way that, without your intervention, it detects Pro and Anti-TS posts, and gives more space to the Pros.

But then being fair-minded I realise this is no bias - the Pro case being much harder to make, it is only good old-fashioned socialist positive discrimination.

James, You have kept your own opinions so well concealed, that I look forward earerly to see which side you are on.

paw said...


Keep cheery. Your conduct as writer and moderator of this blog has been pretty exemplary.

As someone who has followed this blog from about five days into the trial, can I say that I agree with the verdict of the jury. I also cannot see how Coulson can claim to have been ignorant of phone hacking commissioned by employees of the NoTW. I think that the phone hacking was a very peripheral issue in this trial, though of great national interest.

You are quite right to ignore lifestyle journalism, if you wish.

Let's face it; 26th of January 2011 is the next important date. We'll hear the length of prison sentence; whether Tommy Sheridan will appeal. We'll also hear your personal take on the trial. Looking forward to your views.

Until 26th, let's calm down.
I hope you get a good seat on the day, James (and Whatsy too). It could be busy!

Anonymous said...

Nobody can know on what exact basis the Jury finds a defendent guilty (unless one of the Jury goes on facebook etc)

TS phone records were handed over to the NOTW lawyers as part of the defamation case.

So no hacking involved in the leading of that particular evidence, the veracity of which has not been challenged, even by TS.

If Coulson faces further investigation over the phone hacking then that investigation may well consider his evidence in the TS perjury conviction, but it's difficult to see what relevance it has to Tommy's appeal.

He wasn't convicted for anything that came as a result of phone hacking, he was convicted for lying under oath about his personal life.

I suspect that Tomy pursued this angle to paint the NOTW in a bad light, and he may well have succeeded. But the jury still heard from the majority of folk who heard Tommy admit the indiscretions at the meeting and from Gary Clark, who went with him.

What truck do these people have with the NOTW?

For all that I hope Coulson is finished. But thats another matter.

yulefae said...

Take it my last was binned,well in other words Coulson is being protected by big brother,

Critical eye TS declared his previous convictions to the jury,so he was entitled to lead the previous cons of the legendary honest crown witnesses

Surreptitious Evil said...

Critical Eye - most of my comments seem to be rejected by blogger as being too long. They do turn up later (I tried splitting one and ended up with a right stramash.)

I'm certainly not pro-TS, I'm interested in the practical differences between evidence in legal systems (and live in Scotland.)

Critical-eye said...

Point taken - I had missed that TS's convictions had been declared. I agree he was entitled to lead the previous convictions of the witnesses - that follows from the fact that he was allowed by the Judge to pursue this line of questioning.

I did find the questioning distasteful: it seemed to me to be attaching the man rather than his evidence.

I would, also, be interested to hear a response from someone from the Left on the point I was making that the Left is permissive of law-breaking in pursuit of their cherished causes, and whether this was one of the factors which might have led TS to think it was OK to commit perjury.

Anonymous said...

"Critical eye TS declared his previous convictions to the jury,so he was entitled to lead the previous cons of the legendary honest crown witnesses"

It's a shame that whilst TS was feeling so open that neither he nor Gail opted to take the stand in their own defence. As is their right of course.

As Tommys supporters believe the case against him is so weak and that Tommy is so innocent, it's curious that a great orator like TS didn't take the opportunity to debunk the prosecutions questions.

Usually there's no way to shut the man up!

CB said...

Critical Eye

Everybody, left or right, is permissive of law breaking in pursuit of higher principle. I remember certain supermarkets flouting the Sunday trading laws until they were amended.

But perjury to cover up "mad shagging" is not conducive to the achievement of any political cause known to me.

Your earlier point (2:11 pm) is more interesting: that some of Tommy's supporters subordinate factual truth to the class struggle. They can't see any difference between going to jail in the struggle against poinding, and telling lies to secure £200k in a phoney defamation suit. The important thing is not mere factual truth, but the social class of the contending parties.

This reasoning gave us the Moscow trials, and other similar abominations.

Gunboat Diplomat said...

@ Critical eye Re: your suggestion that left politics has a uniquely moral tone and this attitude thus justifies law breaking in particular in relation to TS's perjury.

Well most politics and politicians, left and right have a strong moral tone, at least in the anglo saxon world.

The nature of that morality however changes considerably depending which end of the political spectrum you're closest to.

On the issue of sexual behaviour for example, marxists would be considered extremely amoral by most of the rest of the political spectrum as they maintain whatever goes on between consenting adults is purely a private matter.

On the issue of breaking the law I don't see whats unique about a left wing perspective that makes this uniquely permissable.

Cetrtainly much of the left are obsessive about wehther or not something is "legal" or "illegal". Look at the criticism of the Iraq invasion under Blair for example. I doubt very much whether any of the dead would give a monkeys whether or not this was "legal" or not.

The EDL are clearly happy to constantly break the law - along with heads and trigger-happy tea baggers in Tuscon arizona are likewise happy to ignore the law when it suits them.

The mainstream parties and their capitalist masters are no different in their attitudes for the most part. You don't have to be a political radical to see parliament as being one seething mass of corruption.

Scandal after scandal after scandal shows the ruling classes and their politicians can't even abide by their own rules much of the time. The fiction that the law is blind has to be maintained of course along with the real role the courts play in brokering disputes between the bourgeoisie themselves.

Fact of the matter is everyone is prepared to lie in court in the right circumstances. Trying to blame this on his socialist morality is as foolish as me trying the blame all political murders on the right wing. Assuming he is actually guilty I'm sure TS had his reasons but nothing I would recognise as a socialist conscience would eb high anmong them - although it could well be a post facto justification.

Bunc said...

I see from the breaking news today that the dead man has indeed now walked as I anticipated.