Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day Two Afternoon, the "Mystery Minute"

This afternoon was devoted to the testimony of Alison Kane. Ms Kane confirmed that she was National treasurer and a member of the Executive of the Scottish Socialist Party from November 2000. She stated that she had known both the defendants since 2000 and had considered Tommy Sheridan in particular to be "one of her best friends" as well as a "political ally."

She informed the court that she had been in attendance at the key SSP executive meeting on the 9th November 2004 and, like Barbara Scott previously, claimed that at that meeting Mr Sheridan admitted attending a sex club in Manchester on two occasions. She added that Tommy had said he had been "silly," and described the atmosphere at the meeting as one of shock, "you could hear a pin drop" she added.

She also confirmed that in her belief the minute of the 9th of November meeting produced by Ms Scott was an accurate record of what was said at the meeting.

She further alleged that at a later date (4-5 days after the 14th of November SSP executive meeting) Mr Sheridan had called her and asked her to "rattle some cages" to ensure no minute of the 9th of November meeting would be produced. She also stated that Mr Sheridan had asked her to go to the press and "say lies about other people" (ie other members of the SSP executive) This she refused to do and has never spoken to Mr Sheridan since.

The deputy advocate, Alex Prentice QC, also asked about the SSP conference in Perth in 2005, at which Ms Kane stated Katrina Troll was not present. She was sure of this as Troll was also "one of her best friends" who helped her in her treasurer duties at conference when she was in attendance. This is important as one of the charges against Gail Sheridan is perjuring herself in relation to a statement that she spoke to Katrina Troll at this event.

Mr Sheridan's barrister, Maggie Scott QC then cross examined Ms Kane. She began by asking about financial problems that afflicted the SSP in 2004, including a large debt. Ms Kane stated that this was nothing unusual for a socialist organisation which always found itself strapped for cash. Ms Scott asked if measures such as redundancies amongst staff had been considered to which Ms Kane replied in the affirmative.

Ms Scott went on to discuss the confusion around various statements from the SSP and Mr Sheridan about the reason for his resignation. She argued that both parties had agreed to cite "family reasons" for the resignation, however this was blown apart by a story in the Scottish Sunday Herald which quoted a senior source in the SSP saying Mr Sheridan had been forced to resign due to questions about is sexual conduct. Ms Kane was asked if she knew who the source of this story might be, she stated she "had an idea" bur was unwilling to name the person in court as she was not certain.

Ms Kane was also shown another minute, the "mystery minute" as Ms Scott called it, and agreed that apart from it not containing any admissions by Mr Sheridan to misconduct it was an accurate reflection of the 9th November meeting. While this "mystery minute" has now been shown to both prosecution witnesses we have still no idea of it's provenance, however I am sure we have not heard the last of it.

Ms Kane was then cross examined by Paul McBride QC acting for Gail Sheridan, In a combative performance Mr McBride repeatedly pressed Ms Kane on her assertion that Katrina Troll was not present at the 2005 SSP conference. Ms Kane was adamant that if Ms Troll had been there she would have known as "she always helped me count the money collected" Mr McBride then asked if she had told the police this fact in her statements to them. After initially not being sure she confirmed twice that she had told the police this. Mr McBride then requested the court rise early as he had another witness to call (presumably to challenge this statement) Lord Bracadale granted Mr McBride's request and the court rose at 3.45. Should be an interesting morning tomorrow.

The case continues.

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