Monday, November 15, 2010

Bob Bird, Cross-examination Pt 3


I was unable to be at court today, however regular commentator Whatsy had been kind enough to give us this report of Today's proceedings.


Monday, 15th November 2010
After comments from Lord Bracadale to the court that due to a medical appointment for Mr Sheridan, the court would rise for the day at lunchtime and they would make an effort to continue through to lunch without a break, Tommy Sheridan resumed his cross-examination of Crown Witness Robert (Bob) Bird, Scottish Editor of the News of the World (NotW)

Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Bird if he had discussed the case or his evidence over the weekend, to which Mr Bird replied No.

Mr Sheridan asked whether, in light of dramatic new evidence that was revealed over the weekend in the press of a new file from Metropolitan Police pertaining to News of the World phone tapping activities, would Mr Bird like to change his evidence. Mr Bird replied no, and that he didn't know what evidence Mr Sheridan meant. Mr Sheridan specified that Mr Bird may want to change his evidence regarding use of private investigator Glenn Mulcaire in the Sheridan case. Mr Bird declined to do so.


Mr Sheridan described new evidence that showed Douglas Wight, former Scottish NotW News Desk editor and current national NotW Features Editor had used Stephen Whittamore seventy times, not the ten times, for legal enquiries, that Mr Bird had previously stated. Mr Bird replied that he had only seen ten records of payment to Mr Whittamore on the system. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Bird if he was aware that Whittamore had been convicted of illegally obtaining information from what Mr Bird might refer to as “force insiders”. Mr Bird replied that he had already discussed Whittamore's past convictions on Friday.

Mr Sheridan asked whether “legal enquiries” of the sort undertaken by private investigators hired by NotW was a cover for illegal activities. Mr Bird replied that, as stated on Friday, NotW had made much greater use of private investigators like Stephen Whittamore ten years ago but had not realised at the time that they used illegal methods to get information.

Mr Sheridan put it to Mr Bird that he was at the heart of Wapping culture, was part of the illegal culture of phone tapping there, and was a News International “hack” to whom accuracy and truth were unimportant if it got in the way of a story. Mr Bird denied this, stating he did not believe phone tapping was part of Wapping culture and was certainly not practised in Scotland.

Mr Sheridan asked the Mr Bird when he first met Crown Witness Anvar Khan (You can find a report on her previous testimony here), to which the witness replied it was probably some time in 2001. Mr Sheridan then asked if Mr Bird thought Ms Khan a sane and honest person, to which Mr Bird said he did. The witness then stated that he tried to convince Ms Khan to do a "Kiss & Tell" story on Tommy Sheridan , but she would not . Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Bird if he considered Fiona McGuire to be a sane and honest person, to which Mr Bird responded that he thought her to be honest.

Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that David Leslie (NotW journalist) had been the first person Fiona McGuire contacted at the News of the World and had thought her story “had more holes than a string vest and sent her packing”. Mr Bird replied that this was not the case.

Mr Sheridan asked if the Fiona McGuire story was sane and honest, to which the Advocate Depute objected that, not for the first time, the witness was being asked to comment on someone's honesty. Lord Bracadale directed Mr Sheridan to focus his questions on particular evidence. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that the Fiona McGuire story was untrue, to which Mr Bird replied that “we thought it to be substantially true”.

A discussion followed regarding Mr Bird's contact and impression of Ms McGuire. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness, regarding Ms McGuire, that because he had not met this person he could not form an opinion of her. Mr Bird stated he had not met Ms McGuire. Mr Sheridan asked how the witness had formed an opinion on her, to which Mr Bird replied “I didn't form an opinion”. Mr Sheridan commented “that's what what I wanted you to say – it would have been easier if you had said that first”.

Mr Sheridan asked Mr Bird if Anvar Khan had used co-operation with NotW legal team as part of contract negotiations. After some hesitancy, Mr Bird stated no, she had not, and that NotW had nothing to hide regarding payments. Mr Sheridan then asked why, if there was nothing to hide, the defence had to take NotW to court to get some evidence. Mr Bird replied some evidence was confidential, such as payment to Mr McNeilage. Mr Sheridan stated that NotW had been helpful to the police and Crown, with Mr Bird responding that they had indeed spoken to them.

Mr Sheridan stated that he had provided his phone records voluntarily for the 2006 defamation trial, and then asked Mr Bird what he had done with them, to which the witness answered that they had been given to the police with names of potential witnesses.

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness whether any offers or payment had been made to various individuals, including Susan Dobbie, Beverly Anthea Dixon, Nicholas Dixon and others. Mr Sheridan then asked specifically again regarding Beverly Dixon and her husband Nicholas whether they had been offered or paid money. Mr Bird denied this. Mr Sheridan then asked if he would be surprised if Beverley Anthea Dixon claims to have made a deal with the NotW, to which Mr Bird agreed he would, and had no knowledge of any such deal.

Mr Sheridan again asked the witness if he wished now to take this opportunity to change his evidence and correct any lies or mistakes. The witness declined to do so.

Mr Sheridan suggested to the witness that he attempt to persuade Anvar Khan to make a phone call to Mr Sheridan to record him making admissions of visiting a swingers' club. Mr Bird agreed this was quite possible. Mr Sheridan asked why Ms Khan had not made the phone call for “easy money”, and Mr Bird stated that Ms Khan saw herself as a serious journalist at the time and didn't want to do a kiss and tell story where she would end up semi-naked on the front cover.

Mr Sheridan then displayed e-mail evidence where Mr Bird suggested to Ms Khan that she could “double your dosh” by making a phone call to Mr Sheridan and recording him admit to visiting the swingers' club. It was put to Mr Bird that this amounted to “devious entrapment”, to which he replied that he called it “getting evidence”. Mr Sheridan suggested that Ms Khan's refusal to make the phone call might make the witness think that the story was untrue, to which Mr Bird disagreed. Some further discussion on this e-mail followed, including portions where Ms Khan wrote that she was not interested in making the call for lots of reasons, and was “not sure he'd bite anyway”, and comment from Mr Bird that two people saying the same thing would look better in court.
Mr Sheridan drew attention to a comment in the e-mail where Mr Bird referred to another woman “Mr T” had been involved with, but that she was “totally barking” and put it to the witness that this referred to Fiona McGuire and reminded the witness of his earlier comments that he had not formed an opinion of her, having not met her. Mr Bird replied his “totally barking” opinion of her was based on her contacting other newspapers to sell her story when she had already signed a contract with NotW. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that Ms McGuire was also reluctant to record a phone call with the defendant because no such sexual relationship had occurred, and Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that Ms Khan made no visit to a swingers' club with the defendant and no sexual relations occurred after 1993, to which Mr Bird replied “You know that's a joke”.

Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that he knew the Fiona McGuire story was false, to which Mr Bird again stated he believed it to be substantially true, and that Ms McGuire was reluctant to do a kiss & tell story, for the same reasons that Ms Khan had been reluctant to do so. Mr Sheridan asked Mr Bird to describe the story that eventually appeared, and Mr Bird described the front page article accompanied with a picture of a semi naked Ms McGuire. Mr Sheridan pointed out this was exactly the story Ms Khan, and by Mr Bird's own comparison, Ms McGuire had wanted to avoid, and Mr Bird commented that he had perhaps not chosen the best example. Mr Bird then stated that “it wasn't until we knew what sort of person you were that we printed the Fiona McGuire story”.

Mr Sheridan asked the witness whether the affidavit he had got Ms Khan to sign had been the result of pressure from the London office. Mr Bird stated the affidavit had been as a result of a letter Mr Sheridan had sent to NotW threatening to sue. Mr Sheridan stated that according to previous testimony by Ms Khan, she had not wanted to sign it as any legal action brought by Mr Sheridan had nothing to do with her, and Mr Bird responded that this was because at that point she had not named Mr Sheridan in the MSP Swingers' Club story, and that the story was only linked to Mr Sheridan once the defendant went on TV and made admissions of past sexual indiscretions with named individuals including Ms Khan.

Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that Ms Khan was prepared to lie for the sake of her £28,000 contract with NotW and editorship of a magazine, which Mr Bird denied and stated that he remembered the magazine editorship role, but it was a one-off.

Mr Sheridan proposed that Mr Bird had attempted to help keep witness statements consistent during the 2006 trial, but it had been as “easy as herding cats”. In particular, Mr Sheridan suggested that Mr Bird primed Ms Trolle to stick to the originally proposed 2001 date for the visit to the swingers' club, but that Ms Khan and Ms Trolle's evidence on this date changed and still remained inconsistent. Mr Bird denied ever speaking to Katrine Trolle, to which Mr Sheridan replied “But your lawyers did.”

Responding to questions of the veracity of the story, Mr Bird stated that the Fiona McGuire story fitted a pattern of behaviour, established by information supplied by Duncan Rowan and news that Mr Sheridan had been dumped by his party due to sexual misdemeanors, and that only once this information came to light did the NotW published the story had been in their possession for six months.

Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that his anti-trade union organisation was to spare no expense to get Sheridan at any cost – the witness denied this.

Mr Sheridan asked the witness how much money Andy Coulson (Editor of NotW in London, and Mr Bird's immediate boss)was prepared to pay to destroy him. Mr Bird replied he could not recall any conversation like that.

Mr Sheridan asked whether the Sheridan story went to the very top of News International, to which Mr Bird replied he didn't know and that Andy Coulson was the most senior person with whom he ever discussed it.

Several documents of evidence were then presented to the witness.

One contained a comment from Anvar Khan to Mr Bird on 15th June 2006, shortly before the 2006 trial, where she stated she had not had BB's contract offer in writing, but she was prepared to rethink her position regarding talking to the NotW QC.
Another was a letter from Mr Bird to Ms Khan on 20th June 2006 with a new contract offer, followed by an e-mail from Ms Khan to Mr Bird on 21st June 2006 acknowledging receipt of the contract offer and asking for additions to the contract, including four weeks paid holidays, a “kill fee” for an unpublished Michael York story and editorship with suitable payment, of any magazine that was possible, and a suggestion she was prepared to change her position and speak to the NotW QC.
Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that Ms Khan was using co-operation with NotW QC's as leverage during the contract negotiations and asked the witness “Does every negotiation end with 'if I get what I want I'll speak to your QC'?”
Mr Bird replied that in this negotiation there was a little extra spice.

The cross-examination moved on to retrieval of e-mail evidence, with Mr Bird stating there was a six month black hole in the NotW e-mail archive, which was stored with a company in India, and that these e-mails had not been able to be retrieved.

Mr Sheridan stated that many e-mails had only been retrieved from NotW after legal proceedings at a commission hearing, then produced and e-mail from Craig Jackson, then NotW News Editor (who had replaced Douglas Wight), from 28th September 2006, to Tom Owen of Owl Investigations, a US company given work analysing the veracity of the tape made by George McNeilage purporting to show Mr Sheridan confessing to visiting a swingers' club. In the letter, Mr Jackson gave Mr Owen some background to the tape and the Tommy Sheridan defamation trial, then stated that he “guesstimated” NotW had spent $2 million on this case so far, that the story had gone right to the top of News International, that the company was Murdoch-owned and was one of the biggest media outlets in Europe, and that his inclusion, he was sure, would have a huge knock-on effect to your business.
Mr Bird stated that what Mr Jackson was expressing was not based on any access to the financial figures of the case. Of which Mr jackson wouldn't have a clue, and that the e-mail was intended to get someone in a forensics lab to “get their finger out”, and that he wouldn't take this e-mail as gospel.

When asked about how much the case had cost NotW, Mr Bird replied that he didn't know, but that after the libel trial verdict there had been no end of people disgusted with the verdict who rang up NotW “telling us what you were really like” with names of no end of women who had affairs with you.

Referring back to the e-mail from Mr Jackson to Owl Investigations, Mr Sheridan asked if the comment “our editors are waiting to hear from you” referred to Andy Coulson, to which Mr Bird was not sure. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that he was embarrassed by the court case verdict after the muck he threw at the defendant, to which Mr Bird replied that it had been Mr Sheridan who had thrown the muck, to which Mr Sheridan asked whether he had ever accused Mr Bird of having an affair. Mr Bird responded by saying that in 99% of cases, when NotW got something wrong in the past they held their hands up and settled financially, but in this case they went to court because they thought they were in the right.

Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Bird if, when discussing legal matters of the case with Tom Crone, the NotW head of legal, Mr Coulson might not be aware, to which Mr Bird replied he spoke to Mr Crone but didn't know if Mr Coulson was informed.

Mr Sheridan then turned to Mr Bird's police statement of 10th October 2006, where he described leaving Mr McNeilage's house after seeing the video tape for the first time and phoning Mr Coulson to agree “tactics and price”. Mr Sheridan asked what price Mr Bird had agreed with Mr Coulson, and Mr Bird replied that the statement was not exactly timed and was more a summary of what he talked to Mr Coulson about over more than one call, although he definitely spoke to Mr Coulson the same day that he first saw the tape. Mr Bird stated that although he did not know the overall cost of the Sheridan trial to NotW, the legal bills were immense, but that they came out of a different legal budget. Mr Sheridan asked what the NotW budget was, and Mr Bird replied that for NotW Scotland it was £2m annually, and that they had spent over £100,000 on the Sheridan case from 2004 to 2006.

Mr Sheridan then displayed an e-mail from Kenneth Lang of Mellicks lawyers, acting on behalf of NotW, sent to Mr Bird and copying Justin Walford, from 11th August 2006, containing a Minute Of Agreement that showed a fee of £250,000 for the McNeilage Tape. Mr Bird stated that there were loads of drafts before the final agreement. Mr Sheridan then stated that it was apparent that Wapping, through Mr Coulson and Mr Crone, had taken over and that Glasgow had been dropped from negotiations. Mr Bird replied he didn't think it was particularly significant.

A further e-mail from Kenneth Lang to Robert Vaughn, solicitor acting for George McNeilage, was produced, asking that Mr Coulson and Mr Crone come up to view the tape, as Mr Coulson was the man who signs the cheques. Mr Sheridan asked the witness “You were sidelined in negotiations, weren't you?” to which Mr Bird replied “If that's so, I didn't mind a bit”.

At this point, due to Mr Sheridan's medical appointment, the court rose for the day.

55 comments:

veritas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
paw said...

Thanks to whoever took notes this morning.

It seems odd that few of the official press take notes. What are they doing there?

Waiting for interesting stuff like the allegedly widely used practice of illegal phone tapping, by NotW journalists, I suppose.
I see that the Guardian has put a report on this aspect, on its website. Not as full as this account.

There is so much conflicting evidence, how do jurors keep track of it all? I hope they know about this blog.

Thanks to James D and the note taker of this morning,

Whatsy said...

My Lord, and that was only half a day!

Hopefully James is back on duty tomorrow...

Bunc said...

Not sure from all this what TS was trying to establish today. He seems merely to have given yet another witness the opportunity to say damaging things about his character eg

"...after the libel trial verdict there had been no end of people disgusted with the verdict who rang up NotW “telling us what you were really like” with names of no end of women who had affairs with you."

None of this stuff today ( or recently ) seems to gpo to the essential matter - the veracity of the tape. Apart from the fact of course that we now know that OWL Investigations were asked by NOTW to look at the tape.

Tommy trial addict said...

As an aside, I wonder if any legal scholars out there could tell me what would happen if Sheridan was given a sick note for a substantial period of time – say three months – by a doctor due to an illness being diagnosed.

Sheridan had a medical appointment today and while he probably just has flu I am just wondering what would happen to the case if he was unable to continue representing himself for a lengthy period.

Would the trial be put in abeyance or would they have to abandon it and start all over again when Sheridan was able to continue?

How would it affect Gail's trial if such a thing happened?

I know it is just hypothetical but I would appreciate any knowledgable replies.

Cheers

Whatsy said...

@Tommy Trial Addict

I'm pretty sure the trial would be abandoned and have to start again with a new jury and the witnesses examined again from scratch.

Romeo said...

It would depend, he can't get a sick line to say he's to ill for work. If he was too ill to carry on representing himself then the judge would instruct him to appoint a QC to represent him. QCs have junior counsel for the days they can't be in court to take over. He would then return to the dock.

If he was ill for "three months" or so, and too ill to come to court he would need a "soul and conscience" from a doctor probably a specialist and there would need to be regular sickness certificates. This happens with people with psychiatric illnesses. My understanding is that the case would then continue in his absence until he was better. You would have to be VERY ill not to be called to the box when it is the defendants turn to be cross examined.

The defendant can represent himself but they need to be fit and be able to commit to the job.

Therefore it doesn't affect Gail.

There is no case in point where what you have suggested Whatsy would happen.

Whatsy said...

@Romeo - interesting. So no chance of the case being "Deserted... (some latin)..." then?

I can see why TS would want to get through by himself after his performance on Bird over the past two days.

Christian Schmidt said...

Well well well, I never had the NOTW in high regard. And of course we all know that there were people in there who use money and criminal means to get at stories, and that there were editors who either consent to it or are so relaxed about ethics that they don't bother to ask for the source of fishy stories.

But really, reading this, if TS gets cleared and keeps his libel money, the NOTW only has themselves to blame. In my view Bird appears to so reckless and comtemptuous about ethical behavior that I'm not surprised they lost the libel case in 2006.

the_voice_of_reason said...

Romeo:

In fact it is not that rare for a trial to be deserted pro loco et tempore due to illness of a key participant.

As Scots law only allows trial in absence in very limited circumstances, it would not be feasible to proceed as you suggest. How would counsel be able to take instructions on the evidence from an absent accused?

Also, there is no duty upon the accused to give evidence - his right to silence subsists throughout the trial, and Tommy may yet not elect to give evidence on his own behalf. I think he will, but it's his choice whether to go into the witness box.

Incidentally, desertion on the grounds of ill health can be seen in Ryan, Devine and O'Donnell v HMA, where the judge was ill, while in R.P. v HMA the case was deserted due to juror's holiday commitments, Sutherland-Fisher v HMA, where defence counsel was ill, so there would be no difficulty in the court adopting the suggestion Whatsy makes

Bunc said...

I have no affiliation to either side of the SSP / solidarity issue and no axe to grind here.

I can only give you my reaction as someone interested in the trial. On that basis I still keep going back to the what I think is the heart of the matter -
Why should I doubt the veracity of so many people from so many different backgrounds, including previous colleagues and best friends?
Do I really think that there is a reasonable probability that the NOTW has suborned so many people? Do I think that all these various sources of evidence are tainted simply because the NOTW is involved with some of them and likes to use its cheque book to buy stories?

Sorry I don't buy this line - so far anyway - and I don't buy the line that this is two grand consipracies either - one by the NOTW and one by the SSP. Too much of the evidence seems to hang together - AND with enough variation to have the ring of truth. ( variation is what you get when different peple honestly recall the same events - when people stitch up stories they are generally too similar and this is a give away).

Sceptic said...

Bunc, I'd agree there will always be variation by witnesses, but you seem to be making this into a principle.

One rather important variation is if the alleged Cupid's visit happened in September 2001 or September 2002. Now I don't know about you but I have a pretty good recall of what I was up to in September 2001, after all the twin towers had just been attacked, a memorable period, especially for left-wingers engaged in anti-war activity.

Still I suppose that whole "The World will Never be the Same again" mood might have passed them by.

Anonymous said...

"When asked about how much the case had cost NotW, Mr Bird replied that he didn't know, but that after the libel trial verdict there had been no end of people disgusted with the verdict who rang up NotW “telling us what you were really like” with names of no end of women who had affairs with you"

Can I ask if any new evidence can be added at any time during the trial?

Sceptic said...

Anon, the NotW has had 4 years and a rather large budget since then, yet no new allegations have been made outside of what was heard in 2006.

That could mean anything of course, it could mean the NotW has rubbish detectives and journalists, or it could mean there was nothing to find.

Up to the Jury to decide.

Bunc said...

It is a principle - one that an investigator might well use but I'll leave that be for now.

You obviously keep a diary or whatever - I frequently have trouble figuring out what year certain things happen - even quite major things and I know I'm not alone in that. I could tell you what I did by day/month and year in regard to work by checking my work diary but not re my proivate life as I dont diary that.
The surest sign someone is lying is when they have all the details worked out.

It seems to be only in court cases where people know exactly what they did on a particular day nearly ten years ago.

Oh and ypou donn't address my central point which the range of sources of the evidence we are hearing. You really believe cheque book journalism and in-fighting explains all that?

Sceptic said...

Never mind the quality (of the evidence) feel the width?

There are people's who have their liberty at stake here, I would think that the number of witnesses is not quite the point.

the_voice_of_reason said...

Anonymous 11.07pm

In practice, no. The Crown append their list of witnesses to the indictment 29 days before it calls. Later witnesses may only be added with leave of the court, provided notice has been given to the defence seven days before the preliminary hearing or later, on cause shown, but BEFORE the jury is sworn; Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 Section 67 (5A)

Bunc said...

Oh but the range of witnesses is important if the line is that there is some kind of conspiracy going on or that evcidence has been bought. It stretches credulity the wider the range and number of sources of evidence are.

I could believe a suggestion of conspiracy if there were a small number of witnesses but sorry I don't buy it at all given the range and number of people we are hearing from. Biut as I said before I have no political axe to grind on this one and I'm not a fanboy - neither indeed am I generally a believer in fanciful conspracy theories.

James Doleman said...

Hello Voice of Reason, you may technically be correct however in every case I have ever covered the court will usually allow witnesses to be added to the list if either side can show they are relevant.

Whatsy said...

@Sceptic - on the other hand, there is an important point of law at stake - that a current MSP lied copiously in court in pursuit of a defamation action he brought.

If that charge is true, the liberty of that individual should indeed be in peril, no matter what good he has done in the past. Nobody should get a get-out-of-jail-free card for past good behaviour. Although if the real Bunk agrees with that...

I tend to think that although catching various Crown witnesses in inconsistencies, inaccuracies, receipt of offers or actual payment and even downright lies for personal gain help the defence, the essential nature and veracity of the charge needs to be successfully questioned to at least establish reasonable doubt. Not slight or statistical doubt.

Anonymous said...

Sceptic,

The News of the World published details of the video in 2006 and then a police investigation began. I suspect the screws deliberately carried nothing more after that.

I suspect they have been sitting on a lot. Hear that two dailies have completed big buy ups too.

Leonard Cohen said...

Looks like TS has got Bob Bird on the wire...

the_voice_of_reason said...

James: It's not rare for witnesses to be added right up until a day or two before the trial starts, but I'm struggling to remember any jury trial in which a judge has allowed a witness to be added to Crown or defence list after the evidence has commenced, and the Act doesn't seem to allow it in serious cases.

I know it happens in summary trials, where there is no jury, and where the rules are less strict, but I'd be interested to hear an example of it happening in the High Court.

'fisshull Watcher(again!) said...

Whatsy - You're hired!You must be one of the endangered shorthand species..Nice copy pal.

Who's this Doleperson bloke anyway ?
James keep it up as well, just a jest....
The more detail, the fewer bonkers commenting ...hopefully, but then they know it all already

Anonymous said...

@ Whatsy Tommy Sheridan does a lot of good for the community, charity work etc. How can his liberty ever be in peril?

Anonymous said...

Interesting point about the variations in stories. Now, what would be saying if all the stories matched up in every little detail, hmm, I wonder.

Romeo said...

But Voice of Reason has there been a case where the defendant has sacked their counsel to represent themselves and then half way through a very long case become too ill to represent themselves?

the_voice_of_reason said...

Incidentally, reverting to Romeo/Whatsy's earlier discussion about the trial continuing if Tommy was ill for several weeks, this very situation occurred in a High Court trial in 1966 - HMA v Brown and Foss.

Four weeks into the trial Mr Brown became unfit to continue or give instructions, so the trial judge deserted the indictment against both accused pro loco et tempore, expressly granting the Crown the right to re-raise proceeedings. The report is at 1966 SLT 341.

Graeme said...

Thanks for the replies.

I thought the fact Sheridan is representing himself could bring up a lot of anomalies.

Can the court impose a Queen's Counsel on someone who has already sacked their QC because they think they are not up to the job?

Are there any precedents in Scotland of a defendant representing himself falling ill during a trial and a QC being imposed upon them against their will?

Sorry to go a bit off tangent given the dramatic proceedings today but, you never know, such a scenario may unfold if Sheridan is unwell to a degree we are unaware of.

PS: Not having a go Bunc, I enjoy all the comments, but someone has already pointed out that it is strange how so many witnesses' evidence has changed since the original libel trial.

It's amazing how their memory improves the farther away from the original event they get.

I would have thought the opposite would be the case for most people.

Bunc said...

Sorry about my spelling in my last comment. Must check before I hit the button!
@Whasy "... if the real Bunk agrees with that..."
Is there a real Bunk in here? Why was I not told about this?

Peter said...

Bunc 11.13pm:

That is not quite right is it? The defence narrative is not as sparse as you make out.

If you give it a closer look at the defence advanced, in both the libel trial and this perjury trial, you will see a very complex narrative.

A colorful mise en sceneis is presented most dys. Any time you dip into this narrative you will come across a very believable cast of grotesques, the unfortunate, the wrongly persecuted and the vengeful.

TBC:

Victor English said...

Relevant witnesses can be added at any time as long as it is agreed, if the defence and prosecution cannot agree the judge decides whether they can be added or not.

In this case, evidence has come up that has previously been unknown. The defence would be able to add witnesses to counter that evidence.

There is no compulsion to accept new evidence or witnesses but neither is there a bar on it happening either.

In a case this size I would guess that both Crown and Defence have added witnesses since the trial started, and that would not be unusual.

Bunc, the sheer weight of numbers of witnesses is not irrelevant but, in theory, it makes little difference. Even if witnesses are repetitive it can be used to add weight to story and can be powerful with a jury.

But, theoretically, it does not matter. what matters is the evidence they bring and whether it corroborates other evidence.

The judge might rule that too many witnesses covering the same ground is a waste of court time, but it is not unusual to see a whole host of witnesses who say the same thing yet have little affect on the jury, as they do not believe the point of evidence they are testifying to.

So you are wrong that it is "the central point". The central point is proving, beyond doubt, the charges in front of the court.

Different witnesses pertain to differect counts on the indictment. Therefore, a witness who maintains that Mr Sheridan had an affair with a woman, does not add weight to other witnesses who say he confessed, simply through the virtue of being another witness or from a different background.

Bunc said...

Victor - I am quite clear on the points that you are making and of course there has to be a level of credibility from witnesses relevant to the points at issue.

It seems to me that there are a diverse range of witnesses on the different parts which have been covered so far.
Your theory may be correct but I suspect for ordinary jurors it will provide weight unless they can convince themselves that all these witnesses have reasons to be lying.
As I said, for me - viewing this AS AN ORDINARY OBSERVER that stretches my credulity. I can only call it as I see it and personally I have yet to hear anything that causes me much level of doubt about the points that the prosecution is trying to establish. Much of the defence is flim flam in my view. Other views may of course differ.

Tommy trial addcit said...

I posted a comment as "tommy trial addict" but in my next one I posted as Graeme using my google account by mistake.

Sorry for any confusion caused.

Peter said...

DEFENCE NARRATIVE CONT:

So Bunc to continue I think on consideration you may agree that the defence offers much more than “just political infighting and cheque book journalism” to the jury.

At my count the defence has raised the following scenarios to explain how Tommy has found himself in the Glasgow courts:

Cheque-Book Journalism / Gutter Hacks / The Hubris of Embarassed (& Passed Over &desperate) Scottish News Paper Executives / the need to cover up Illegal Investigatory Techniques and payments

The Murdoch Empires anti union / anti socialist agenda

SSP Political In Fighting inc. Factional Activity, Feminist Conciousness Raising, Personal Rivalry.

The Personality Disorders and M/H Problems of Crown witnesses and people who sold stories to the NOTW
Sexual Fantasism / Story telling
behaviours / Attention seeking behaviours

The Alcohol problems of some Crown witnesses and people who sold their stories to the NOTW

The unreliability of common criminals as opposed to those with political criminal records

Memory Problems of witnesses Due to the passage of time.

Memory Problems Due to the affect of medication / alcohol.

Hearing problems.

Fall outs from the Break Up of Long term Friendships.

Jealousy

Career Advancement

Greed

Fear of prosecution

Immunity offers

Improper / unprofessional nvolvement of male police officers with younger female witnesses

Police / Crown vendetta/hubris for past political activity

Poverty of the pocket and more poetically a Poverty of the soul

and of course the dog that has not barked yet ..... the involvement of state assets inside the SSP and state agencies such as MI5 etc.

TBC

Peter said...

CONTINUED DEFENCE NARRATIVE:

So to finish off Bunc: I have come across all the above scenarios in my political and professional life - but maybe I have just been lucky! It could be a Liverpool / Glasgow thing of course.

It is a rich vibrant (and rather scary for some) tapestry but all human life is there.

It is the very complexity and the three dimensional structure of the story that leads me to consider that the defence narrative is either truthful or at least believable.

The narrative is coherent and compelling.

Importantly it is also varied enough to give each of the jury members a chance to apply their own life experience and hang their reasonable doubt on at least one or more of the above scenarios.

Some are scenarios may well have come across in their own lives or have knowledge of from family members or even from popular culture.

I would agree with you if the defence narrative was weak if it was “just cheque book journalism and political infighting”. It’s clearly not.

This may well go all 15 rounds but considering that this is the Crowns part of the case I must put Tommy ahead on points.

Bunc said...

Tommy trial addict /Graeme

"it's amazing how their memory improves the farther away from the original event they get.
I would have thought the opposite would be the case for most people."

Sorry, but I don't find this surprising at all. My impression at the earlier trial is that many of the witnesses were not exactly whole-hearted about the whole thing. Facing a second trial those who had been called a scab and a liar (effectively all the "defence side" the previous time) will have had their minds wonderfully concentrated and so I don't find it surprising that they would make corrections and adjustments. The question is whether any of these amount to something which calls into question the essential nature of what they are testifying to. Again I can only say that in my opinion it doesn't. Then my opinion of the first verdict is probably not printable here anyway. Was it a shining example of the jury system in practice? A victory for TRUTH and justice? Hmmm.

A Rural Socialist said...

Bunc said
Oh but the range of witnesses is important if the line is that there is some kind of conspiracy going on or that evcidence has been bought. It stretches credulity the wider the range and number of sources of evidence are.

I could believe a suggestion of conspiracy if there were a small number of witnesses but sorry I don't buy it at all given the range and number of people we are hearing from. Biut as I said before I have no political axe to grind on this one and I'm not a fanboy - neither indeed am I generally a believer in fanciful conspracy theories.

Bunc have you ever considered the notion that if there was a conspiracy in motion to do down T.S. What better opertunity there would be for said conspiritors to act than when information became available that the NotW had T.S in their sights, and would be happy to act Pro bono if it led to where they wished things to be?

Anonymous said...

Hi Bunc.

Just like you, I'm another (to use your type-face) ORDINARY IMPARTIAL OBSERVER, and I have to say I completely disagree with you. Isn't that strange!?

I'm honestly shocked at some of the testimony of the prosecution witnesses.

I never expexted that so many of them would be unable to answer clear questions, and feel mightily confused by some testimonies (based on the revelations in court regarding payments, particularly over the past few days).

In fact, I'd be very interested to know what you think of Peter's comments over the past few days on this blog? It seems that the legal arguments being debated on some of the threads below, have not swayed your opinion. Perhaps you could say why?

It's funny isn't it, being an ORDINARY OBSERVER can provide us with such different views of things! Anyone would think we were totally UNORDINARY OBSERVERS! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaaaaaa the very idea!

The Shrink x

Fred the Shred said...

The issue that has been made several times is that many of the witnesses were not too enamoured to give evidence in the previous trial and did so under protest, what was it Richard Venton said he felt like he was a "hostage".

Also the witnesses have been interviewed by the police and probably precognosed to prosecution and defence who would be drilling away and asking for verifications, so not that surprising that all the evidence does not match between the 2006 trial and the 2010 trial. It would also appear to me that the NOTW were complete muppets in 2006 and hardly anyone was co-operating with them (as it should be)

Psyche said...

Tommy will continue with the trial to the end. No major illness of any kind.

Anonymous said...

(a not very difficult) CROSSWORD CLUE

I sell shit, it’s how I live
I always take, cannot give
My rag’s yellow putrid pie
I cannot look you in the eye
I sell lies, make up muck
I’m a shallow shameless fuck
Bribe the weak, attack the truth
Control the English polling booth
Don’t come too near, there is a smell
If god exists I’ll burn in Hell
Who am I ? not hard to sus
A parasite that peddles puss

Davie - (an unbiased observer)

Bunc said...

@anonymous (1:21)
Do I find it surprising that two different impartial observers might come to two different conclusions - No. Happens all the time about all sorts of stuff. Happens all the time within Juries too.
I don't recall Peters comments specifically so I'll look them up and then respond to that.
By the way it would help if you didn't post anonymously - it's hard to debate issues when comments aren't identified to a specific person.

Steve said...

Sceptic said:
"Now I don't know about you but I have a pretty good recall of what I was up to in September 2001, after all the twin towers had just been attacked, a memorable period,"

By way of comparison, I can remember where I was working that day (as I saw it on a TV in the building) but I have no recall of my personal or political life, other than things that must have happened because they always happen. Memories seem to hang on significant events, as in 9/11.

I'd say I have a pretty good memory, but I've been round the block a few times now.

Stan said...

To go back to the question at 11:07.

"Mr Bird replied ... there had been no end of people disgusted with the verdict who rang up NotW “telling us what you were really like” with names of no end of women who had affairs with you"

Can Bird actually say that and get away with it if said "no end of women" aren't going to be witnesses?

Anonymous said...

There's an element of fantasy creeping into some suggestions further up this thread.

There are only three situations where counsel can be appointed without the direct approval of the accused.

(1) Where the prosecution is for a named sexual offence, and the accused has not instructed a solicitor (since November 2002 it is not permitted for an accused person to represent himself in a sexual offence case)

(2) Where two psychiatrists confirm that the accused is mentally unfit to give instructions, and the court directs an examination of facts.

(3) Where the accused has parted company with one or more solicitors and counsel, wishes to instruct new counsel and cannot find anyone prepared to act, then the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates (Counsel) or the President of the Law Society of Scotland (solicitor-advocates) may appoint someone to act for the accused.

None of these three situations exists here.

the_voice_of_reason (can't access my usual account from here)

Gunboat Diplomat said...

@ Sceptic: "One rather important variation is if the alleged Cupid's visit happened in September 2001 or September 2002. Now I don't know about you but I have a pretty good recall of what I was up to in September 2001, after all the twin towers had just been attacked, a memorable period, especially for left-wingers engaged in anti-war activity."

Personally I can clearly remember having a drink with my flatmate shortly after sept 11th but I honestly can't remember if it was late 2001 or late 2002 when we slept together a few times. And its not like I was having tons of opportunities with different women.

Memory is a funny thing like that.

As an ORDINARY IMPARTIAL OBSERVER I find a conspiracy of the magnitude the Defence is claiming to be highly unlikely. With all due respect to TS's political work hes no John MacLean and I doubt hes important enough to be on Rupert Murdochs personal hitlist as TS seems to be suggesting.

Don't get me wrong - I'm sure the NoTW and the bourgeois state is delighted to have this opportunity to pursue, possibly imprison and possibly end the career of a socialist politician. I'm just not convinced they concocted such a grand conspiracy to do it.

Although if the Defence were to show the videotape to be a fake I might reconsider that.

Peter said...

Court Testimony Regarding Large Payments to Crown Witnesses:

These are sensitive matters but they have already been stated in open court so it is legitimate to comment on them.

Fred the Shred (or was it Bunc). Sorry for the delay in getting back to you my post disapppeared somewhere - it was too long I think!

I think you asked which Crown witnesses have not told the truth about the contamination of the witness pool by the deep pockets of News of The World.

I have done a brief outline of 4 of the main Crown witnesses the defence has accused of lying about money which I will post later. There are others of course.

TBC

Peter said...

PAYMENTS TO CROWN WITNESSES CONT.

On a more general point Fred/Bunc I think you posted that you do not see the problem with Crown witnesses having discussions with the NOTW and being offered money or advancement if they then go on to reject such offers.

You indicate you consider Ms Trolle to be one such person. I take the point - it is a fair one. But considrr this.

Ms Trolle denied, under oath, both in the libel trial and the perjury trial that any offer was made to her at all.

Her evidence has now been, very reluctantly, contradicted by Mr Bird. In the libel trial if you remember he had been careful to back up Ms Trolle's version that she was not offered money by NOTW.

He has now under pressure from the defence left her swinging in the wind and admitted she was offered large sums after all.

But maybe it is still Ms Trolle who is telling the truth and Mr Bird is lying. The Crown no doubt hope so.

Of course if Ms Trolles version is right she still cannot really be held out as someone who has on point of high principle rejected the advances of the NOTW ..... if no such offer was made to her there was nothing to reject in the first place.

I have a 100% record of rejecting the advances of Ms Angelina Jolie but I do not hold that out to my girlfriend as evidence of my fidelity.

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

Careful Peter you have now provided the NotW with enough information to run a story regarding Ms Jloies unrequinted love of yourself.
With kind regards Ms.Jolies Pal

Lynn said...

Oh dear, here we go again, cheque book journalism, political in-fighting, jealousy, conspiracy theories.I feel so sorry for the jury today, they must've been comatose by lunchtime. As a lay observer, I keep going back to something quite simple - the evidence of 3 witnesses who are not involved with any of the above; Elizabeth Quinn the retired head teacher and the 2 people who shared a house with Katrina Trolle. All 3 claimed to have seen TS in places that he says he had never been and with people he claims he wasn't having a relationhsip with. What motive is there for them to lie and perjure themselves? This along with tangible evidence such as telephone records and diary entries along with expert opinion on the relaibility of the tape would be very hard to ignore no matter how many clever theories abound.

Anonymous said...

@ Lynn Re: Elizabeth Quinn, her "paint story" didn't quite stack up, if it didn't blow a hole through her testimony at least it left enough for reasonable doubt. As for the other two their evidence was all over the place, even the timing were way out.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, if you are still in any doubt about the unreliability of Elizabeth Quinn's evidence you should read the relevant entry on this blog. The excellent analysis by the commenters should leave you in no doubt.

Anonymous said...

The trial has been a great eye opener for me as I was sure rhe wheels of justice turned for all the people and not just The News of the World. The trial is costing a lot of money which could well be spent helping some of the people who will lose their jobs in this period of cuts. Having watched a good number of days I am sure tommy has the metlal to see this to a sucessful conclusion and I am sure the PF will appeal on behalf of the News of the Screws