Today's court session was a short one due to a member of the jury requiring to attend to a family issue. Hence the court only sat from 10am until 12 noon. It may have been a short session but it was also a fascinating one as Tommy Sheridan began his cross examination of Katrine Trolle, the witness who's allegations yesterday dominated the news last night and the press coverage this morning.
Mr Sheridan began by apologising to the jury for his "shouting' from the lectern the day before. He informed them that he had been "chastised" for this by both the judge, Lord Bracadale and his wife Gail. With that, a measurably quieter Mr Sheridan, began his questioning of the witness.
Mr Sheridan opened by bringing back to the court's attention his diary, from 2001. This had been entered into evidence by the crown yesterday (see post below "Katrine Trolle Testimony) Ms Trolle had testified then that an entry "Katrine Trolle" followed by a telephone number was in her own handwriting. Mr Sheridan pointed to other entries, also in different handwriting from his own, which he suggested to the witness belonged to his wife, Gail Sheridan. He put it to the Ms Trolle that this showed his wife had "regular access to his diary" to which the she replied "I couldn't contradict that."
Mr Sheridan then took the witness and the court through a selection of diary entries for various dates and asked her to note the word "training" in each entry for Thursday. He asked Ms Trolle if she was aware that he was at that time playing "Junior Football" (NB in Scotland "Junior football does not refer to the age of the players but to the level, one below league football) to which she responded that she thought he only played for "fun." He also asked Ms Trolle how many members the SSP had in Aberdeen in 2001 and she agreed that it would be between 20-30. He then asked if it would be unusual for the convener of a political party to contact members in a city from time to time, and again she agreed it would not.
Mr Sheridan them moved onto the alleged visit by the witness to his home in December 2000, a visit Ms Trolle told the court yesterday resulted in the two of them having sexual intercourse. He asked first if her account was the same as at the 2006 libel trial (at which she testified twice) To which the witness responded that it was. He then asked about meetings she had with police officers and asked if she was on "familiar and friendly terms with them" She mentioned a police officer she referred to as "Grant" which led to Mr Sheridan asking if she was on first name terms with him? She denied however that she had been "coached" in her evidence.
Mr Sheridan then asked about the details of Ms Trolle's testimony yesterday, where she had stated that she had not stayed at the house for very long as Tommy Sheridan had received an unexpected telephone call from his wife and had to leave to collect her from a Christmas night out.
He had her read her testimony from 2006 where she had said that Gail was working that night (as an air hostess) and that after they had sex upstairs they had talked for a while afterwards. The witness put down the difference in accounts to the stressful situation she was in "talking about my sex life in from of all these people" to which Mr Sheridan responded that it was also stressful to listen to. Mr Sheridan put it to her that this was the beauty of a "fictional story that you can chop and change details." Ms Trolle said this was not the case.
Questioning the turned to the alleged visit of Ms Trolle to the home of Andrew McFarlane in December 2001 He asked if she was sure, as she testified yesterday that Mr McFarlane was introduced as Mr Sheridan's "Brother in Law." She said she was. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that she had repeated a "fatal error" as Mr McFarlane had not married until June 2002 so how could he have been referred to as his brother in law 9 months before. Ms Trolle insisted that was what had been said. Mr Sheridan then moved on to photographs shown to the court yesterday that she had testified were of Mr McFarlane's house. She admitted that she had seen the photographs before, having been shown them by a lawyer, William Davidson, at her home in Denmark before the trial commenced. Mr Sheridan then asked if at any time during her meetings with the police she had been cautioned that she could face a charge of perjury. She said she did not recall any such caution. He then had the witness read a police statement in which she says " Since we met on Monday I have found an old diary and have sorted out some dates." He asked who she met on Monday, to which she responded "Grant and another person" He asked her if she was aware that no notes or accounts of this meeting had been given to the defence, she said she knew nothing about that but confirmed the meeting had taken place.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness about photos she had been given by a Kenneth Lang, a lawyer for the News of the World (NotW) both before and after the 2006 libel trial. She told the court that one set of photos shown to her was of the couples she claimed to have met at the alleged trip to the Cupids club in Manchester. Mr Sheridan put it to her that her description yesterday was from the memory of the photographs she had seen and not from a recollection of the event. She denied this. He put it to her that she had not mentioned these meetings with Lawyers from the NotW as she did not want the jury to think she was co-operating with them. She replied that she had not been asked and may have been "helping them" but that was all.
Returning to the question of Mr McFarlane and his marriage the witness stated, under questioning, that she thought he was married because he had referred to his girlfriend as his wife, Mr Sheridan described this answer as "ridiculous" to which the witness responded that it might be unusual but not impossible. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that she was making up "yarns" to which Ms Troll forcefully replied "what would I gain from making this up" and 'if I made it up all the facts would be right." She stated that the events were "long ago and not that important to me at the time." and denied anyone had ever described the inside of Mr Sheridan's house to her.
Mr Sheridan then questioned the witness about further contradictions in her testimony in this trial and that she gave in the Libel case of 2006. In that case (as covered by Mr McBride yesterday) she had stated that the date of the Cupids visit was December 2001, not 2002 as she had told this court. He began to ask the witness about why the jury had not believed her in 2006, to which the Advocate depute objected as no-one could be sure what the jury had believed in that case only what the verdict was. Lord Bracadale agreed with the objection and Mr Sheridan rephrased the question adding that details were important and that her previous testimony in 2006, which she now admitted was mistaken, could have left him "bankrupt and humiliated"
Mr Sheridan then moved on to the evidence from Ms Trolle's own diary that was shown to the jury yesterday. She stated then, and confirmed now, that the entry for the 28,29,and 30 September written "cultural festival" was to cover up from her husband the visit to the Cupids club. Mr Sheridan then put it to her that the court would be hearing evidence that there was a "cultural festival" organised by the SSP on these dates and showed his own diary for that weekend in which was written "SSP people's festival Friday-Monday, must attend." The witness said she may have put that entry in as she "might have planned on going" but insisted she had not and had went to the Cupids club with Mr Sheridan instead. He suggested that this festival may have been the reason he had contacted the witness by telephone, to urge her to attend. Ms Trolle denied this was the case.
Finally Mr Sheridan asked if Ms Trolle had been offered money for her story from the NotW in any of her three encounters with one of their journalists, Andrea Vance. The witness stated she had not been offered or had taken any money from anyone for her story. Mr Sheridan asked her that in light of payments given to other witnesses in the case, "life changing amounts of money"
as he put it, that it was ridiculous for her to claim she had never been offered a payment. The witness continued to insist that she had never been offered and more importantly had never accepted a penny for her story.
With that exchange the court rose for the day, with Mr Sheridan due to continue his cross examination of Ms Trolle tomorrow morning.