Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Ritchie Venton Part 1
The final witness the court heard from was Ritchie Venton, a "founding organiser" of the SSP and a member of it's executive committee in 2004. The Advocate deputy began by asking Mr Venton about his relationship with Mr Sheridan, he stated he had worked closely with Tommy Sheridan since 1999. He regarded him as a a great "populariser of socialist ideas" and the SSP's "best known figure.
Mr Prentice then moved onto the article about the unnamed MSP that appeared in the News of the World and asked when Mr Venton had discovered the MSP referred to was Mr Sheridan. He replied that he had received a call from Alan McCombes saying that Tommy Sheridan had admitted to him that he was. The witness was then questioned about the "9/11" meeting and if it was a "kangaroo court" Mr Venton replied "absolutely not there was not hint of kangaroo or any other marsupials" which led to laughter in the public gallery.
The witness then went on to give his account of the meeting. Mr Venton stated that Tommy Sheridan had admitted to being the unnamed MSP in the News of the World story and that he had visited the Cupids club on two occasions. He then said that Tommy Sheridan had been confident there was no evidence he had been there and he was confident he could challenge the story and "destroy Anvar Khan as a witness." Mr Venton then described his reaction as "heartbroken" "gobsmacked" and "close to tears."
Finally the Advocate Depute asked Mr Venton if he was telling the truth, as he had at the 2006 libel case when he had felt "more like a hostage than a witness." With that the Crown examination ended and Mr Sheridan began his cross-examination.
Mr Sheridan opened by asking Mr Venton if his memory had improved since 2006 as he now recalled him saying he visited the Cupids club in Manchester twice, something he had not said in his testimony at the libel trial, Mr Venton responded that he had said "at least one" and that he had remembered it was twice "as I stepped down from the witness box." When asked why this was the witness replied "maybe I should get a date on Big Bother to pay for a psychology degree" and added that he had hesitated to give "damming evidence." The witness then stated that there was a suggestion in the meeting that there had been three visits by Mr Sheridan to Cupids. Mr Sheridan expressed "surprise that none of the other 11 witnesses remember that." Mr Venton claimed this was a comment made by Keith Baldessera that had not been taken up, but added to Mr Sheridan, "you didn't deny it."
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness about his statement that he had said at the same meeting he could "destroy Anvar Khan as a witness which he described as "unique" as no other witness had mentioned it. Mr Venton replied that it was his recollection and different people remember different details. He added that this showed there was not a conspiracy against Mr Sheridan as people were proving different details and not using a "script."
Part 2 to follow.
Posted by James Doleman at 11:51 PM