Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bob Bird, conclusion of cross-examination

This morning the court was dealing with legal arguments so it was not until 2pm that evidence was heard in front of the jury with Tommy Sheridan continuing his cross-examination of Bob Bird, the Scottish editor of the News of the World.

Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Bird about his role in a police investigation into the discovery of a "listening device" in his car. Mr Bird again denied he had any role in this and told the court that he had been spoken to about this by a police officer in Lothian and Borders police.  Mr Sheridan produced the official report on the case in which the investigating officer states he had decided not to speak to anyone from the News of the World. However Mr Bird insisted he had spoken to an officer about the issue, but could not recall the name of the person.

Mr Sheridan then moved on to a series of emails he received from a Yasmin Urquhart.  In these emails Ms Urquhart  had made an allegation that Mr Sheridan was under 24/7 surveillance by the NotW and that the newspaper was sure they would win their libel trial. Mr Bird confirmed that Ms Urquhart was working for the NotW at the time, under the name "Ruth the Truth, the Psychic Agony Aunt"  Mr Bird further stated that he did know Ms Urquhart and regarded her as a "decent woman" adding 'as a Psychic she made a lot of predictions that didn't come true" Mr Sheridan retorted "Yes, she said you would win your libel trial."

Mr Sheridan then asked a series of questions about the size of News International, and Mr Bird confirmed they owned the Sun, the News of the World, the London Times and the Sunday Times as well as a "fair chunk" of Sky TV. Mr Sheridan put it to Mr Bird that the group was "powerful" and that one of it's ex-editors, Andy Coulson was now the Government's head of communications. Mr Bird agreed the group was powerful, but said it always also did it's best to be truthful. Mr Sheridan then quoted from a report of the Parliamentary committee on Culture, Media and Sport which had described a "collective amnesia" amongst the newspaper's executives into the scale of the group's phone hacking activities. Mr Bird again called the committee "biased" as "MP's do not like tabloid newspapers poking around their private lives and expense claims" Mr Sheridan remarked "just because they are all out to get you does not mean you are paranoid" and drew a comparison with his situation. Mr Bird answered "no."

Mr Sheridan then took Mr Bird through his evidence at the commission charged with locating documents to be used in the trial. He accused Mr Bird of being obstructive during that process, which Mr Bird denied. Mr Bird told the court that the Newspaper had lost "six months" worth of emails due to a decision to archive them in Mumbai India. Mr Sheridan then asked a number of questions about the evidence of Douglas Wight at the 2006 libel trial, where Mr Wight had testified that he knew nothing about payments to Anne Colvin and Helen Allison, despite apparently having signed the contract between them and the newspaper. Mr Bird admitted that "he got that wrong" adding that Mr Sheridan would have to ask Mr Wight about the issue.

Mr Sheridan ended his cross-examination by putting it to Mr Bird that the News of the World thought it could "print lies on a daily basis " and considered itself "above the law, which Mr Bird denied. Mr Sheridan then said  that the newspaper was determined to destroy him because of his poltical views and support for striking workers. Mr Bird replied "not true." Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Bird when he would next be meeting his "boss in London?" Mr Bird said he had no plans to do so. Mr Sheridan then looked at his wife in the dock and said "When you do tell him this is one relationship you will never break." He then ended his cross-examination and returned to the dock.

The Advocate Depute then rose to re-examine Mr Bird. He first asked if he recalled every meeting he had been to, Mr Bird responded that he worked 16 hours a day and could not be expected to. Mr Bird then confirmed that Anvar Khan was paid a fee of  £2000 for the original "swingers club story" in the Newspaper. The court was then played a section of the "McNeilage tape" in which the person the Crown alleges is Tommy Sheridan denies ever meeting Fiona McGuire. Mr Prentice then asked if this denial of the story would be "of assistance to you" to which Mr Bird said "not at all."

With that Mr Prentice returned to his seat and Mr Bird was allowed to step down from the witness box. The case continues tomorrow.


Whatsy said...

I have to say, having worked in IT, that it is not terribly unlikely for archived data to vanish. Depends on the size and professionalism of the firm you outsource it to, really, as well as the service you pay for. I'd assume NoW changed archivers or got a hefty discount as a result of this data loss.

I thought it was a bit turgid today, with neither TS or BB making any great impression on the other.

The most dramatic and relevant contribution to the case was from Prentice's final question before the witness left the stand - if The McNeilage Tape was faked at the behest of NoW, why on earth would they include a denial from "T" that he had ever even met Fiona McGuire?

Should be some interesting exchanges with other News International folk after this testimony, though.

paw said...

Great Summary, James.

Correction needed here; "Mr Sheridan put it to Mr Bird that the group was "powerful" and that one of it's ex-editors, Andy Coulson was not the Government's head of communications"


Anonymous said...

why on earth would they include a denial from "T" that he had ever even met Fiona McGuire? - mistake, oversight on the part of the NotW?

Anonymous said...

It must have been an oversight. That's the only explanation.


Sceptic said...

Or veracity, it would have stretched crediblity that TS would have admitted an allegation that no-one, not even the Crown in this case, argues is true.

Anonymous said...


why would they include it at all?

James Doleman said...

Ok if hypothetically it is a fake tape they would look at bit dumb if they ignored the story that was in the paper that weekend, and even siller if Sheridan had admitted an allegation there that he never has before or since.

Lets hear the defence on the tape before we pass judgement.

Anonymous said...

Having been to court a quite few times and read all of this blog on a daily basis, i also consider myself a neutral as far as the outcome goes, That said ,hypatheticaly speaking at this juncture and this might change .If i was on the jury i would be voting for a not provan verdict ,not because i believe TS because i dont,I just dont believe many of the crown witnesses either

Speak up for Scottish Justice said...

I agree that Not Proven looks increasingly likely. I am sure that TS would prefer a clearer Not Guilty, but an acquital is an acquital.

Of course, this is before we hear the defence witnesses - they may swing things towards Not Guilty.

Anonymous said...

Good point, James. Even just for the sake of keeping up with current events, like they do with soap operas. It would look daft if TS had said that he was attending the Queen's Coronation next week.

Lynn said...

What happens next? has the Crown still to call more witnesses? Does the AP not get a chance to question TS? What about some tangible evidence that has only been alluded to so far( for example Louise Cumberbirch was asked to confirm that a phone nmbr listed in a diary entry under a man's name was in fact Cupid's number)will the Crown eventually bring this and other evidence together? I think the jury deserve this after all the long drawn out discussions over the last few days.
On another note, how does TS get away with making these personal statements, the comment about his relationship with his wife was nearly as pathetic as yesterday's references to his 'unborn child' and certainly wouldn't make me any more sympathetic on a jury. He is definitely over-egging the pudding and I find it quite nauseating.

Anonymous said...

This is all getting very the end of the day all you have to ask yourself is..would you buy a second hand car from TS?....

Anonymous said...

Excellent blog James, thanks.

Have to say I agree with Anonymous above - not proven is my take on it too.

One question - yesterday on the 10.35 BBC news much was made of TS raising his voice in Court. I could see no real mention of it here and wonder whether it was an oversight or whether the BBC was choosing to focus on some drama?

Anonymous said...

well done james another true account of the trial today bob bird should take a few lessons from you

James Doleman said...

"much was made of TS raising his voice in Court."

Hello anon, that is covered in the post and the comments in yesterdays post.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know how a not proven verdict for TS would affect the NOTW appeal of the libel trial result

Anonymous said...

Anon Nov.17 8.29

Would I buy a car from T.S probably not,not due to any mistrust in T.S, I would be more afraid of an associate running away with the log book and giving it to someone else.

Anonymous said...

My take too - not proven. In my opinion something doesn't stack up, but so far In opinion there isn't enough evidence for a finding of guilty. Alex Prentice really needs to up his game if I am to convict on what I have heard so far. But, as they say, it's still early days.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, I wouldn't buy a car from the guy, I wouldn't let him within a 10 miles of my wife, I wouldn't give him tuppence of the NotW's money. Neither would I send him to jail (or his wife), but I wouldn't let him go without "marking his card", all in my very humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

A Not Proven verdict and TS not getting a penny out of the NotW would probably be the best all-round outcome for all concerned.

Anonymous said...

Pity TS can't plead not proven lol

Moo said...

"Ok if hypothetically it is a fake tape they would look at bit dumb if they ignored the story that was in the paper that weekend, and even sill[i]er if Sheridan had admitted an allegation there that he never has before or since.

Lets hear the defence on the tape before we pass judgement."

I'm not quite sure what you're attempting to say here James. When (in your opinion) is the defence attempting to suggest the tape was made?

However: "and even sill[i]er if Sheridan had admitted an allegation there that he never has before or since" - well he has never admitted to the Cupids story either, if you stick to the defence version of events (i.e. ignore alleged admissions to SSP executive and leadership). Sheridan has argued in court in 2006 and 2010 that he has never admitted to any of the allegations. Why would it look any sillier for a 'fake' tape to contain this admission than the admission about Cupids (which is made in the tape).

In other words I am agreeing with Whatsy and the anon comments above that this is a significant point. If the NoTW was take the huge risk of making a fake video tape in order to mislead the Scottish courts, why make him continue to deny the allegation that was one of the major sources for their story in the first place? It doesn't make any sense.

Anonymous said...

Many people are talking as though the trial is all over. Surely there is well over 130 more witnesses to come from Mr Prentice? Then of course we have TS witnesses.

James I know you are unable to comment on what all the legal ramblings were this morning but can you say, with your experience of covering the trial, how long we can expect this to go on?

Bunc said...

The oscars beckon I think for a certain participant in this trial. The smell of Ham wafting from the court the last couple of days is overpowering.
If it's Not Proven and they do make a film of it they should call it "The great escape 2"

Anonymous said...

"If the NoTW was take the huge risk of making a fake video tape in order to mislead the Scottish courts, why make him continue to deny the allegation that was one of the major sources for their story in the first place? It doesn't make any sense." - can't get my head round this either, my brain is about to explode.

Sceptic said...

This may be of interest

Anonymous said...



What has that got to do with the charges against Sheridan? Specifically, please.

Sceptic said...

I'll leave that to you to think about anon. With regards to the rules set by our host about comments I'll say nothing further.

Sceptic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


I thought about it and it has nothing to do with the chanrges.

Bunc said...

Whatsy in his first comment here has absolutely put a nail in the ciffin of the theory that the NOTW scripted the tape. If they did they need to sack the script writer cos he's a complete imbecile.

Peter said...

Anon 9.32
You ask: Does anyone know how a not proven verdict for TS would affect the NOTW appeal of the libel trial result?

Anon (just pick a name any name) if Sheridan does "win" and the same logic is followed by the authorities as when he won his libel trial then the Crown will declare the verdict as "perverse" and appeal - difficult, very unlikely (due to the beasting the Crown have had so far) but technically possible.

Alternatively Tommy and Gail Sheridan return to the bosom of their family, Tommy collects the libel win from the NOTW (as no way do the NOTW continue their libel appeal) and a number of parties get their collar felt for breaches of the various laws and codes of practice that I set out to Whatsy below. Oh …… plus Contempt of Parliament for Andy Coulson if the evidence given by the NOTW staff to the New York Times is true. That is not dependent on this trial per se but may influence proceedings.

@Peter said: Purely as a point of law I say there is no real difference between a witness actually being paid money and being advised that money or other things are always available in the future.
Whatsy said: This is great news. I had not previously been aware that all these e-mails I receive promising me money were legally no different to actually receiving the money.
Peter said: Whatsy those unsolicited offers from Nigerian princes are "phish" but if you forward me £200K with a £50K straightener for a "community project" I am involved in with some local "youths" I will send you a video that explains it.
Offers from national newspapers to witnesses are treated somewhat more seriously than emails from single Russian ladies unfortuately. In terms of the law it is the same unfortunately. But you can have that advice for free and keep your clothes on.

Check out:
Contempt of Court Act 1981
Solicitors Code of Conduct as amended 2009 (Rule 11)
Editors Code of Practice (Rule 15)

I do not say it happened in this case far from it but IF such offers are made by authorised agents (even a few times removed in different countries) then the fact that any "newspaper" has the means; motive; declared intent; and record of actual payments to other witnesses and various international offices as a means for laundering such payments to witnesses I would, if I was a Crown prosecutor, be very careful to ensure my witnesses were kosher.

I should have been clearer of course and explained that it is not just my opinion - the law and the relevant code of practice cover the matter of offers quite clear as well.

As I understand it breaches of the Codes of Practice regarding offers to witnesses, whilst not criminal offences in themselves, can be quoted persuasively in legal proceedings for Contempt of Court (depending when the offers were made).

Mr Bird has to a certain extent pushed the matter upstairs to Andy Coulson as according to the House of Commons Select Committee and this trial the slush fund was getting tapped out.

Anonymous said...

But that appears to be the consensus of opinion, Bunc, a fake tape made by a complete imbecile, because that is the only thing that makes sense.

Bunc said...

Anon - sorry Occams razor tells me that the simplest explanation is that the tape is true. I can lend you my razor if you've lost yours.

James Doleman said...

Could everyone remember the magic words "allegedly" "In my opinion: and "of course that is for the jury to decide"



Anonymous said...

any truth that the prosecution is to rest its case a week on fri and the defence is to get 10 days to submit their case?

Anonymous said...

11.01. No - the defence will get as long as it needs.

Anonymous said...

Never mind Occam and his rusty razor Bunc, applying the principle of Sheridan's Law leads us to the conclusion that the tape is allegedly in fact a spliced concoction produced by the NotW. What gives? Occam's Law or Sheridan's Law?

Paul Daniels said...

Allegedly of course that is for the Jury to decide in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

peter,i am not very computer literate i have attempted to put a name to my comments but it doesnt seem to work any tips

Eraserhead said...

@Peter - Thank you for your excellent legal insights, delivered with some humour too. They bring some much needed clarity, as well as light relief, to the tedium of this case,

And I'm keeping my clothes on - lol.

Whatsy said...

@anonymous any truth that the prosecution is to rest its case a week on fri and the defence is to get 10 days to submit their case?

I believe that is about right. Regarding the supposed 130 Crown witnesses still to come - No. Many fewer than that.

Regarding the Guardian article about Mulcaire having to disclose the journalists who commissioned him - that could be a massive can of worms just opened. It's relevant to the charges Sheridan faces because his defence, in part, is based on News International targeting him from on high for political and strategic reasons rather than as a local news story.

Whether the differences between English & Scots law, or any Mulcaire appeal, will get in the way of these disclosures, I'd be interested if any of the lurking lawyers could enlighten us.

James Doleman said...

If I may jump in anon,

If you choose the option :Name/URL from the menu below you can choose whatever name you want.



Whatsy said...

@Peter - regarding payments to witnesses.

Is there any distinction in law between
1) a business like journalism where adhoc payments to individuals for info are routine, and the recipients may very often end up as witnesses in court
2) a "normal" business like, ehm, defence contractors, where adhoc payments to individuals for info might be enough in itself to land the persons involved in court

It strikes me that if payments to sources in the newspaper trade was likely to make that person a witness unable to pass any sort of "reasonable doubt" corruption test, then nobody would ever get paid for a story that had any possibility of making it to court, or no case that had ever been near the tabloids would ever make it to court in the first place.

Anonymous said...

could any one hazard an educated guess as too when the trial will finish ?

Whatsy said...

@Whatsy previous post about duration of defence case - my "about right" comment pertained to the prosecution duration, not the defence.

Peter said...

Andy Coulson to the House of Commons Community Media and Sport Select Committee:

"Finally, I would like to say this, Chairman: things went badly wrong under my editorship of the News of the World"

Bit of a dilemna now for News International types.

With the Sheridan trial, the HoC select committee investigations, a mooted private prosecution by hundreds of people who had their phones hacked, further investigation by the Information Commissioner and the new Met. CPS Police enquiry.

What to do? What to say? When to say it? What forum to say it in? What did I say last time I was on oath?

For example I am reliably informed by a "pal" that now Mr Bird has finished his evidence that the House of Commons select committee are shortly going receive a requests that Bob Bird be summonsed to attend.

No doubt he will be asked their to confirm his testimony made in open court, under oath and widely reported in the media that there was no illegality at the NOTW, there were no payments made for illegal phone tapping, illegal voicemail access or bugging.

He will no doubt be asked to provide proof for his statement that the honourable members knew that there was no illegality and instead were motivated purely with malice and self interest when they produced an all party House of Commons report criticising the culture of illegality at the heart of the NOTW.

No doubt the honourable members would be interested to hear his proof for his allegation that they only produced that report because they were upset that the News International owned media were attacking them over the expenses scandal.

In his own words he can "double his dosh" - Contempt of Court and Contempt of Parliament.

Tommy trial addict said...

As a starting point, I don't believe the tape is fake.

However, I must take issue with people who can't see the logic of the NOTW creating a tape that undermines a part of their case while substantiating the crucial part?

Sheridan is claiming the tape was made after the libel trial.

The weakest part of the NOTW libel case was the evidence of Fiona McGuire.

Let's just say they over-egged the pudding with that particular witness. It was their weakest link and it may well have cost them the case.

Bob Bird said her story was substantially true. I think he is taking liberties with the word substantial.

He couldn't admit there was no truth in it as that would demolish his credibility and that of his newspaper.

If I worked for the NOTW and made a fake tape after the libel trial I would try to disown the part of the case related to Fiona McGuire.

Jessica PI raised Karl Rove in a previous discussion and this sort of thing would be right up his street.

The "fake Sheridan" denying the McGuire allegations while admitting to the Cupids/SSP material, the bit that is before the courts, actually lends weight to the veracity of the tape.

As Karl Rove would say – Use your weaknesses to accentuate your strengths.

Before I get clobbered for this analysis I just want to reiterate that I don't think the tape is fake.

Peter said...

Eraserhead November 17, 2010 11:26 PM:

My pleasure. I went to a very cool Mark Kermode event last night and he was talking about Eraserhead.

It brought back chilling memories of the first time I saw it, the deeply disturbing grotesques within it still sends chills .... that brings me nicely back round to the News Of The World.

As you have the best username I will give you this one for your cut out and keep News of the World testimony checker:


Andy Coulson to House of Commons Select Committee investigating Press Standards, Privacy and Libel - Culture, Media and Sport Committee

21 JULY 2009

Chairman: For the second part of this morning's session, can I welcome the Managing Editor of the News of the World, Stuart Kuttner, and the former Editor, Andy Coulson. To begin, having shown remarkable restraint so far, Peter Ainsworth.

Q1550 Mr Ainsworth: Good morning. Do you want to say something first?

Mr Coulson: Would you mind? I know that time is of the essence, but I wondered if I might take a couple of minutes just to make a few comments that might save some time in the long term.

Good morning. I was, as you know, Editor of the News of the World for four years from January 2003 until January 2007.

During that time I never condoned the use of `phone hacking and nor do I have any recollection of incidences where `phone hacking took place.


So that's that then ... nothing to see here ... move along .... oh but whats that coming over the hill - is it a monster? .... oh no its Greg Mulcaire

Bunc said...

"...his defence, in part, is based on News International targeting him from on high for political and strategic reasons rather than as a local news story."
WTF does that have to do with the charge that he committed perjury? How is that a defence? If that's the defence then someone ( allegedly and in my view though the jury may see things differently) has an overmighty sense of their self importance.

Stan said...

Isn't the allegation by Sheridan that McNeilage concocted the tape, rather than the NotW?

CB said...


From the McNeilage testimony:

Mr McNeilage also stated he had told Mr Bird that he had a substance in the kitchen that would destroy the tape if anyone came to the door, adding "of course this was mince."

Since the tape could be destroyed by McNeilage's mince, are we to assume that it was "concocted" from the same substance.

Of course, that will be for the jury to decide.

Anonymous said...


L'esprit d'escalier? Took your time with that one.

Lynn said...

Stan, BBc news just reported that a woman says she bought pizza for TS and co after meeting them at sex club. Pizza or mince? That will be for the jury to decide.

Peter said...

Whatsy 11.45pm 18.11.10

I think I have answered your points before but in summary:

There are raft of laws and relevant Codes of Practice that treat OFFERS to Crown witnesses the SAME as PAYMENTS to witnesses - for good reason.

Payments; or offers of payment; offer of future payment after proceedings end; payments or offers to close associates of the witness etc should not be made once civil and criminal proceedings are "live".

There is a severe risk of criminal Contempt of Court against the payer and the payee and other civil charges if done when "live".

The evidence of witnesses who have been paid or offered money can of course be considered in court.

Such payments and offers of payments must be declared to the Police, the Crown, the Defence, the judge and the jury.

To not declare it undermines the investigation stage; skews the decision whether to prosecute or not; it can cause important prosecutions (of possibly of "guilty" people) to collapse at great expense and public concern; undermines the right of the accused to a fair trial; and provides good grounds of appeal for the accused.

Fair enough?

Peter said...

Hypothetically (nods to James):

A powerful organisation with a confirmed, malignant culture of illegality PAYS Crown Witness One £20.00 for a night out at the dogs, a taxi and a bag of chips on the way home (sounds good to me).

The same organisation offers a Crown Witness Two £200,000.00, a new home in a different country, all the foreign holidays they want, legal advice, a new career and a new life - paid through untraceable sources now or in the future.

The trial takes place:
Crown Witness 1 denies, under oath, any payment.

Crown Witness 2 denies, under oath, that any offers were made and importantly denies any discussion at all even about the possibility of offers.

Crown Witness Three, who worked for the powerful organization takes the oath, and to avoid perjury admits that the powerful organisation paid Witness One £20.00. Crown Witness Three also confirms that offers were actually made to Crown Witness Two but says he has no details of the offer as he did not make it himself. Cannot explain why Crown Witness 2 has denied that offers were made.

Defence Witness 1: who worked for the powerful organisation and was closer to the deal takes the stand and details some of the offers she made to Crown Witness 2. Payment is denied. Cannot explain why Crown Witness 2 is denying that offers were made.

Defence Witness 2: A person who led the organization at the time gives evidence that very bad things happened, that he did not know about them at the time but anyway it is all in the past now and he no longer works there so can’t we all just move on.

Defence Witness 3: Used to work as a third party agent for the organization. Has string of convictions for work done for the organisation. He confirms that he and others were paid to do things others within the powerful organization could not do themselves such as payments, bugging, threats of exposure etc. He confirms the illegality was known only by the higher ups but was covered up. No direct knowledge of payment or offers to Crown Witness 2 and other Crown witnesses. Confirms that the powerful organization had the means, the ability and motive to make life changing offers and conceal and launder such payments.

What would you as a jury member be most concerned to know more about - the actual payment to Crown witness 1 or the curious situation about Crown witness 2. ?

Can the Crown, the Defence, the Judge or the Jury carry out their function if the Crown itself apparently does not know what has happened regarding payments and offers to its own witnesses?

If there is strength in the proposition that a jury is able to consider the evidence of a paid witness or a witness who has been offered money must the necessary corollary to that proposition be that a jury cannot properly assess the evidence of a witness if it is unaware of a payment or the existence and size of an offer of a payment?

Cue Casey Casem (Rod Roddy if you prefer):
"These questions—and many others—will be answered in the next episode of Soap."

Anonymous said...

You're spending a lot of time on this Peter.
I wonder if the jury might still be focussing on the specifics of the charges, though.

Carnybull said...

Of the remaining Crown witnesses, does anybody know if any of them will testify about mobile phone GPS plotting records?

I seem to remember Lothian and Borders were said to be pursuing that line of enquiry allegedly linking Tommy's movements to the establishment/s in question.

Anonymous said...


that must not be the "necessary corollary", If x doesn't equal y, it doesn't automatically equal z.

you type a lot of words but there is no intellectual rigour to what you propose.

Anonymous said...

@ Peter, all this stuff about "payments" is irrelevant except insofar that it affects the reliability of the witnesses' testimony. Regardless of your arguments the Jury are still perfectly entitled to accept that witnesses as both reliable and credible. Of course, they are equally as entitled to reject the witnesses' testimony.

Anonymous said...

At the end of the day in my opinion everyone has their price and people will (do) and say (almost) anything if the price is right. We can accept that, but we don't want to be side-tracked and distracted by it. As far as this case goes someone is telling lies. And whoever it is should be exposed, you really don't want to be played for a fool and hood-winked. All we want is the TRUTH!

Moo said...

@tommy trial addict 12.00am

Fair enough, in all honesty I didn't know the defence was attempting to argue (implicitly?) that the tape was made in the few weeks between the trial verdict and it being made public. I bow to your analysis, and agree with your expressed opinions.

Whatsy said...

@Peter - regarding my question:

Is there any distinction in law between
1) a business like journalism where adhoc payments to individuals for info are routine, and the recipients may very often end up as witnesses in court
2) a "normal" business like, ehm, defence contractors, where adhoc payments to individuals for info might be enough in itself to land the persons involved in court

I'm not clear to me if you have answered that.

Anon states "the Jury are still perfectly entitled to accept that witnesses as both reliable and credible. Of course, they are equally as entitled to reject the witnesses' testimony."

If there is no direction from the judge that such testimony must not be considered by the jury, this seems to be how the evidence potentially influenced by NoW payments/offers should be viewed by the jury.

Peter said...

Whatsy 9.02am

As you, I, Voice of Reason (and Uncle Tom Cobley and all have stated) the large payments/large offers that were made to a large number of the Crown witnesses by the NOTW can be weighed in the balance by the jury.

But I also say that in circumstances were the large payments/large offers have not been fully disclosed to the jury cannot properly assess their veracity.

The testimony of Mr Bird re. Ms Trolle shows that there cannot have been full disclosure of large offers.

As I say large offers, for good reason, are treated the same as payments.

Simply put it needs to be disclosed whether Ms Trolle, as a key Crown witness, was offered large amounts of money by the NOTW (refused or otherwise) to say she had sex with Mr Sheridan.

Bird says yes she was - Troll says no she wasn't.

Full disclosure is therefore necessary. The police can of course be directed to investigate this matter (if they are not already doing so) if the relevant parties will not dislcose it themselves.

Or are we to take Bob Birds evidence that Troll was offered money, but refused it, at face value - when she denies any such offer or discussion at all?

It is therefore open to the judge, in the absence of the full disclosure of payments/offers, to:

a) consider defence applications for "mistrial" (or Socttish equivalent;

b)direct that the evidence of certain Crown witnesses be disregarded by the jury;

c)allow it to go to jury and cross his fingers and hope that Crown witnesses who say they were not paid/made offers were actually not paid/made offers.

If there was a guilty verdict that lack of disclosure would be grounds for appeal. (see the grounds for appeal advanced in the vacated Lockerbie Appeal I referred to before.)

I appreciate Voice of Reason's argument that the Crown duty to disclose only extends to matters that it considers directly relate to the indictment they are bringing. I think that may be to formalistic. I say the Crown has a duty to disclose any payments/offers made by any party to the Crown witness pool. (Apologies if that is an incorrect summary of your view Voice of Reason.)

The Crown may ofcourse say they had no knowledge of all of the payments and therefore could not possibly disclose evidence about those.

That would not defeat an appeal that a guilty verdict is unsafe - it may of defeat any charges for failure to disclose.

If Sheridan suffers prison, and evidence of payments emerges after a few years and he has a successful appeal, then any parties that are involved in this matter who have not disclosed offers / payments from the NOTW will face long sentences.

So there are very high stakes indeed for witnesses who been paid or offered money.

Enough to lie about under oath / cover up? Certainly - "what a wicked web we weave" and all that.

The longer this goes on the greater any malfeasance.

Certain people who may find themselves in a hole need to stop digging.