This morning the court heard from Anvar Khan, a journalist and writer who wrote the book "Pretty Wild" in 2004 that sparked of both the libel case in 2004 and this subsequent perjury trial.
Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, began by taking the court through Ms Khan's CV and then went on to ask her when she first met Tommy Sheridan. She replied that she met him for an interview, and after Mr Sheridan made no objection to this being revealed, that was held in Saughton prison in Edinburgh where Mr Sheridan was serving a 6 month sentence for anti-poll tax actions. The witness then told the court that they had subsequently exchanged letters and after Mr Sheridan's release they met at Glasgow city chambers (Mr Sheridan had been elected as a city councillor while in prison) and in "flirtatious atmosphere" they "had a snog."
Ms Khan then went on to describe a visit to Mr Sheridan's then home, an event which she described as a "date for sex." She stated they chatted and then went upstairs where, she said, Mr Sheridan had a large picture of Che Guevara above his bed. Mr Prentice asked the witness if Mr Sheridan had been married at this time, she said she was unsure.
The witness was then asked if she knew a Susan Dobbie. Ms Khan said she a knew a "Suzie" and described her as arriving at her home along with Mr Sheridan and Andrew McFarlane some time in 2001. The witness said she recalled asking Mr Sheridan to bring a "carry out" and that he had brought a large number of miniature wine bottles "like you find on Aeroplanes" Ms Khan then claimed the 4 of them went to the bedroom and had sexual intercourse.
Alex Prentice QC then moved on to the alleged trip to the Cupids sex club in Manchester. Ms Khan stated to the court that Mr Sheridan called her in London and suggested they visit the club that he had already visited on his own. She agreed and flew to Glasgow on the 27th September to meet Mr Sheridan. At this point the prosecution produced Ms Khan's bank statement which shows a debit to British Airways for 223 pounds, which she said was for the airline ticket. She described being picked up by Andrew McFarlane and Gary Clark, and said Mr Clark drove the three of them to a flat in Glasgow that she described full of Rangers [football club] memorabilia. Ms Khan told the court that Mr Sheridan had later arrived with Katrine Trolle and the group of them drove to Manchester. The witness described the group stopping on the way for some "fast food" which Mr Sheridan paid for from an A4 envelope full of cash. She described them arriving at a "broken down estate" and entering the Cupids club.
Ms Khan described the club to the court and was asked if she recalled meeting anyone there. She said she remembered one of the staff as "Louise" as she had asked her about getting a glass of wine only to be told the club did not sell alcohol. The witness added that she had also been introduced to Louise's husband. She mentioned then that Mr Sheridan had "panicked" when entering Cupids as a couple of people from Glasgow had recognised him although they had ended up later being all "Glasgow guys together" She further described going to a party after the club to a house owned by "Ian" and was shown pictures of a house she identified as belonging to him. She said they had left Manchester in the early hours and they party had arrived back in Glasgow as dawn was breaking.
She then was asked if she knew an Elizabeth Quinn, whom Ms Khan stated was a friend. The witness told the court that at some point around this time (either before or after the Cupids trip) Mr Sheridan had called on her at Ms Quinn's flat where they "had sex." She said that "Liz" had returned while Mr Sheridan was still there and had seen them together. Asked by Mr Prentice if the flat had smelled of anything, she replied "paint"
The Crown then asked Ms Khan about a telephone call she received from Mr Sheridan while she was in London. The witness told the court that Mr Sheridan had told her that rumours about their alleged trip to Cupids were "flying about Albion Street" (the home of the Glasgow Herald Newspaper) but that she should not worry as there was "no proof." She described her reaction as one of thinking that someone would use that information at some point and that she and Tommy Sheridan would be linked together. She stated she told Mr Sheridan that what he was doing was "dangerous" and he should "keep it in his pants." She claimed she had further told him that he was leading a double life and this would damage his integrity and his "authority to help people" She said at this point Mr Sheridan said "Don't talk about my business MI5 are listening to my phone right now." She told the court that she had decided then to break off the relationship.
After a short morning break court resumed with Alex Prentice QC continuing his examination of Anvar Khan by asking the witness about her 2004 book "Pretty Wild." Ms Khan described the book was written to a specific commission and was to be about a "romantic and sexually adventurous woman working in the media in London," a "Scottish version of Sex and the City." Mr Prentice read out the subtitle of the book, "The Most Honest Diary About Men, Women and Sex You'll Ever Read" to which Ms Khan responded that this was chosen by the publisher.
Mr Prentice then asked the witness if she had based any of the book on her alleged trip to the Cupids club in Manchester. She answered that about 7 pages were. The court was then shown a transcript of part of Ms Khan's evidence to the 2006 libel trial where the characters in this part of the book are names as Patrick, Drew, Gerry and Hilda. The witness explained, in response to a question about artistic licence that the book contained "elements of fact and elements of fiction"
Ms Khan then described a meeting with a journalist from the Scotland on Sunday newspaper, organised by her publisher to promote the book. held in 2004 in the Copthorn hotel in Glasgow. She said she had made an "off the cuff" remark that contained a "clouded reference" to a "married MSP" She claimed that this was an "off the record comment but that the journalist had "run with it." She said she received a call from the same journalist a month or two later asking her to name the MSP which she refused to do. She said she had raised the matter with Bob Bird, the Scottish editor of the News of the World (NotW)bbut with no-one else.
Ms Khan was then shown a copy of the NotW from 31 October 2004 and the headline "Married MSP is Spanking Swinger" and a sub-headline on page 13 "Girl Anvar and Married MSP and Sex Club Orgy." and was asked if she had co-operated with the paper on this story. She said she had "in a way" and that Bob Bird and her had discussed using the "Married MSP" headline to promote her book. Ms Khan said she had also been assured that this story was just a preamble to an expose being run on Mr Sheridan the week after regarding Fiona McGuire. The witness also stated she had received no payment for the story.
Ms Khan was then asked about the 2006 libel case taken by Tommy Sheridan against the News of the World in 2006. The witness told the court she had been contacted by the NotW's legal team but had refused to co-operate with them. She said that Mr Sheridan had not been suing over her article but was suing over the Fiona McGuire allegations. She added that she had never discussed Mr Sheridan publicly except when she was under oath.
Mr Prentice then presented the court with an affidavit, signed by Ms Khan in which she put the date of the alleged trip to Cupids as November 2001, not 2002. She explained that this had been taken at her Glasgow flat and she had not had time to check it properly. She said she was under pressure as this was to "help Bob [Bird] get London to run the article." Mr Prentice ended by asking the witness if she liked publicity. She said that while sometimes it is a "necessary evil" this case had led to her no longer being a "member of the Scottish press" which she described as "vindictive, misogynist and hysterical." Mr Prentice then ended his examination and returned to his seat.