Court resumed this afternoon and the Advocate depute made a motion to recall a third witness the court had already heard from, Alison Kane. (accounts of her previous testimony can be found here and here) Mr Prentice QC for the crown had no questions to ask the witness so the jury then heard from Mr Sheridan.
After informing the witness that he did not intend to go over "old ground" and then began by asking her if she recalled the Scottish Socialist Party's "People's festival" held on the weekend of the 27th of September 2002 (the date, the Crown claims, of Mr Sheridan's trip to the Cupids club in Manchester) Ms Kane responded that she did recall the event "considering I organised it." At that point Mr Sheridan again showed the court his 2002 diary which has an entry for the 26th November "SSP people's festival..must attend"
Mr Sheridan then moved on to the pivotal SSP executive meeting of November 9th 2004 (the "9/11 meeting") and asked if Ms Kane had made a phone call during this meeting. She replied that she had tried to call Duncan Rowan (who had left the meeting in distress) to check he was ok. Mr Sheridan told Ms Kane that he had evidence she called Gordon Morgan not Mr Rowan. The witness said she did not recall that.
Mr Sheridan them asked Ms Kane about a SSP National Council on May 28th 2006 and the discussion of the SSP's defiance strategy (a decision not to give internal party documents to the News of the World) held at that event. He asked her is she recalled that Alan McCombes (a leading SSP member) was being held in jail at that time for contempt of court. She said she did and Mr Sheridan then read out an article from the SSP newspaper from that period which said Mr McCombes was "putting his loyalty to the party before his duty to the court." Mr Sheridan asked the witness if she agreed with this position to which she responded "I do." Mr Sheridan then asked the witness why she had supported this defiance of the court to which she replied that the SSP was a socialist party that "stood for the overthrow of the state, well not now." and added that they did not hand over documents partly "to protect you Tommy, something you conveniently forget."
Mr Sheridan then moved on to discuss a newspaper article from the Sunday Herald that appeared on the same day as the National Council. The article quotes a "Top SSP official" and states that the paper has a "secret record of the meeting in a signed affidavit." The witness was asked if she knew who signed the affidavit (in her previous testimony she had stated she had "an idea" but did not know for sure) She said she had thought the person concerned was Duncan Rowan but after reading newspaper resports of Rosie Kane's testimony realised the source of the statement was Alan McCombes. When asked if she was "surprised" by that news she replied that she was initially but could understand why he did so as Mr Sheridan was also talking to the press and Mr McCombes could have wanted an "accurate historical record." When asked if this was "appropriate" she responded that these were "exceptional circimstances."
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if she thought Mr McCombes actions were cynical. Ms Kane argued that Mr Sheridan had "known he was going to lose" his action against the NotW so he wanted the minutes released so he could "blame the executive for bringing him down." Mr Sheridan then put it to Ms Kane that her statement "proved beyond a reasonable doubt that you co-ordinated your actions with the bourgeois press." The witness responded that he was talking the "out of context" and was ignoring the "background of the situation." Mr Sheridan again put to Ms Kane that Alan McCombes actions were "cynical" in "scurrying off to a national newspaper revealing private meetings" The witness responded "he did the same as you did" and "if Alan is cynical so are you."
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness how much money this "defiance strategy" had cost the Party. She replied it was around £ 25,000. He then asked "do you think this was money well spent" to which she replied it was not. Mr Sheridan then quoted from the affidavit where Mr McCombes states he "consulted senior party members" before going to the Sunday Herald. Mr Sheridan asked Ms Kane if she had been consulted, which she denied. He then asked the witness if she would be surprised to find out that the affidavit contained no reference to any admissions by him that he had visited a sex club. The witness replied "yes."
Mr Sheridan then turned to a reply Ms Kane had given Maggie Scott QC in her initial evidence. he put it to her that her statement that she had said she had "no role" in the formulation of the strategy of defiance. After a testy exchange, involving the production of various minutes of meetings Ms Kane acknowledged that "in hindsight I made a mistake" and that the documents had "jogged her memory" She further agreed with Mr Sheridan that she had "not liked" the results of the 2006 libel trial as it had made her out to be a liar. Mr Sheridan then asked if she had ever been cautioned by police for perjury in that case. She said she had "never been cautioned in her life."
Mr Sheridan asked Ms Kane if she had discussed her evidence with anyone else. She said she had not and had not even seen her "best friend" (Katrine Trolle) while she was in Glasgow. Mr Sheridan asked the witness if "she had seen her best friend on TV last night punching the air as she left court." Ms Kane said she "didn't see it."
Mr Sheridan concluded his cross-examination the by suggesting Ms Kane that she was "lying" and "putting a gloss on the cynicism of Mr McCombes. He said it was "simply beyond belief" that she would defend his conduct. The witness insisted that she had only ever "tried to give honest answers" and with that Mr Sheridan returned to the dock.
The Advocate Depute then asked Ms Kane if she had ever seen the affidavit in question, which she said she had not, Mr Prentice then said "lets correct that." and the affidavit was displayed on the court video screens.
I do not have a copy of the document, only notes I made when it was displayed. To summarise it indeed does not have any reference to admissions by Mr Sheridan, however it does contain a reference to "certain information" that the party has. In the document Mr McComes also states that the statement is being made to "give information to our supporters in the public" and that he understands it will be used as the basis of newspaper articles. It also states that Mr McCombes understands that his name will be kept private as the source of the document unless there is a court action and that he has received no payment for the information.
Finally the Advocate depute discussed with Ms Kane the "people's festival" first discussed above. He had the witness look at the timetable for the event and asked when she had seen Mr Sheridan. The witness stated that he was not in attendance on the Friday night and she had not seen him until the Saturday evening.
With that the court adjourned for the week, the case resumes on Monday.