Yesterday we had a look at the prosecution case so far, so it seems only fair that we use today to look at the defence. It is important to note that we do not fully know the what the defence case is as it has not begun or have any defence witnesses been called. However it is possible to discuss what has been put to Crown witnesses so far and get an idea of what that case will be when the defence proper begins (in three to four weeks or so) As with yesterday's report we will start with the full indictment against Mr Sheridan which we summarised thus;
Thomas Sheridan did commit perjury by denying:
- He had been to the Cupids club in Manchester.
- He had admitted this at the SSP executive of 9/11/06 and on various other occasions.
- He was in a "sexual relationship with Katrine Trolle and Anvar Khan
- He had been given the minutes of the "9/11" meeting by Alan Green at the Golden Pheasant
- He had attended an event at the Moathouse hotel in Glasgow on 14/06/2002 (and various charges relating to that)
And in addition that Thomas Sheridan attempted to suborn Colin Fox to make false testimony at the 2006 trial at a meeting the Beanscene cafe in Edinburgh.
Mr Sheridan has strongly denied attending the Cupids club on any occasion and has put it to one witness (Katrine Trolle) that he will be presenting evidence that would confirm he was attending an SSP cultural festival on the 28th of November 2002 (the date of the alleged visit) Both Mr Sheridan and Paul McBride QC have also highlighted Ms Trolle's and Ms Khan's testimony at the 2006 trial that the alleged visit happened in 2001 and called into question their veracity on that issue. The defence have also called into question Gary Clarke's testimony about the Cupids visit, pointing to his admitted excessive consumption of alcohol and anti-depressant drugs during the period in question. He also pointed to the criminal record of the supposed eye-witness, Tony Cumerbirch, arguing he was not of good character, could not be trusted and was motivated by the prospect of receiving financial advantage if his story was believed.
On the issue of the SSP executive meeting of 9/11/2004 Mr Sheridan has put it to witnesses that have testified he made admissions there that they are part of a "plot" to oust him as SSP leader. Mr Sheridan has claimed that almost all of the Crown witnesses that have stated he made the admission that he had visted Cupids at that meeting were part of a group within the SSP, the "United Left," which he claims was the "anti-Tommy faction," and therefore are lying for political advantage. The defence has also produced an alternative minute of the 9/11/04 executive meeting that contains no reference to any admissions by the defendant, the source of this document has not yet been revealed in court.
The court has also heard a great deal about an affidavit given to the Sunday Herald newspaper by Alan McCombes just after the 9/11/04 executive meeting an action which the defence claims shows that Mr McCombes was using the press to "do in" the defendant.
Mr Sheridan has also denied being in a sexual relationship with Katrine Trolle at any time. During her cross examination he put it to her that she was "lying" about the whole affair in order to gain financial advantage, and suggested he was attending football practice on one occasion she claimed they had met and that she was mistaken in claiming she saw a sunbed in his home as he had never owned such a thing.
Mr Sheridan has admitted being in a relationship with Anvar Khan in the early 1990's but that it ended in the mid 1990's. During cross-examination Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that she claimed the relationship continued to sell more copies of her book, "Pretty Wild" and to secure a new contract from the News of the World where she worked as a columnist.
Mr Sheridan has agreed that he did attend a meeting at the Golden Pheasant with Alan Green and Colin Fox, but denied Mr Green's account was accurate and he was not shown any minute of the 9/11/2004 meeting. He highlighted the section of Mr Green's testimony where he stated Mr Sheridan had said "my lawyer says the minute is a blow but not a fatal one" and put it to Mr Green that this was a "bizarre" thing for him to say as since, according to Mr Green, he had never seen the document, how could he have consulted his lawyer about it?
On the alleged "Beanscene" meeting with Colin Fox on the 16/06/2006 Mr Sheridan has denied it happened at all, and has shown the court his diary which contains no mention of it. He has also denied ever visiting Elizabeth Quinn's flat or having taken Susan Dobbie to any house party in Glasgow's West End.
Finally the defence has challenged the the video, supposedly made by George McNeilage and given to the News of the World in 2006. Mr Sheridan pointed to the £200,000 received by Mr McNeilage for the video as motivation for the witness to "concoct the tape." The defence put to the witness issues such as unexplained breaks in the tape and that the by Mr McNeilage's own admission he taped over a large portion of it. Mr Sheridan stated he would be producing an "expert witness" that would show the tape had been 'selectively edited" and that he could not be the figure in the video as he would not swear "115 times in 38 minutes" and use the "C word" 9 times.
The court has not yet heard any evidence in connection with the Moathouse hotel section of the charges.