Friday, November 26, 2010

Douglas Wight Pt 2

The second part of Tommy Sheridan's examination of News of the World journalist Douglas Wight (a report on the first part can be found Here ) began with questions about Mr Wight and Fiona McGuire, who as a witness in the 2004 libel trial, testified she had a sexual relationship with Mr Sheridan.  Mr Wight confirmed the newspaper had paid Ms McGuire £20,000 for her story. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he would be surprised that the Scottish editor of the NotW had described Ms McGuire as "barking" to which Mr Wight replied that he would have to know the "context" under which he had did so, and described Ms McGuire as "stable."

Mr Sheridan then asked if Ms McGuire was "stable" why had she apparently attempted to commit suicide by taking an overdose of prescription drugs? Mr Wight told the court that he believed this had occurred as Ms McGuire was "under pressure from people in the Scottish Socialist Party" (SSP) denying Mr Sheridan's assertion that it was the NotW that was putting her under pressure. Mr Wight then told the court of an incident in a hotel in Edinburgh just before the 2006 libel case when Ms McGuire had "taken a handful of pills and put them in her mouth" and described how he had taken her to the bathroom and "made her empty her mouth." adding that he was with her as the newspaper had a "duty of care" for Ms Mcguire.

Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Wight if it was true that he had to "fetch" Ms McGuire from an airport as she was about to "do a bunk to New Zealand" Mr Wight said this was incorrect and that he had met Ms McGuire at the airport as he was working in London at the time and that it was "the person with her who was going to New Zealand" Mr Sheridan then asked if Mr Wight was "in a relationship with Fiona McGuire" which the witness denied. The court then took a short morning break.

When court reconvened Mr Sheridan again asked Mr Wight if Ms McGuire had indeed tried to "do a bunk to New Zealand" The witness again said that it was her partner who was flying to New Zealand and he was not aware if Ms McGuire even had a ticket. Mr Sheridan then produced a police statement, made by Mr Wight on the 28th August where he stated "I got involved because she [Ms McGuire] did a bunk from her hotel, I caught up with her at Stansted [airport] and persuaded her to go back to Glasgow." The witness replied that was his 'viewpoint in 2007, not now" 

Mr Sheridan then turned to the issue of  medical appointments Ms McGuire attended while with Mr Wight. The witness confirmed Ms McGuire had seen a GP in Edinburgh, her own GP and also had an appointment made with a private psychiatrist. Mr Sheridan asked the witness how this could be reconciled with his earlier statement that Ms McGuire was "stable" Mr Wight replied that she "had issues" but there was "nothing unstable enough to do herself harm" 

Mr Sheridan then brought into evidence an email seen by the court before, from Bob Bird, the Scottish editor of the News of the World, to previous Crown witness Anvar Khan. In this email Mr Bird states that "we have a woman up North we are wooing over Mr T" and "she is totally barking (and married)" The email goes on to state that the person will not make a phone call to Tommy Sheridan, which could be recorded as evidence of the affair, and invites Ms Khan to do so, offering to "double her dosh." Mr Wight told the court that he had tried to get Ms McGuire to make a phone call to Mr Sheridan but that at that time she was "infuriating" and not co-operating. He added that when Ms McGuire had visited the News of the World's offices in Glasgow he had tried to have her make this call, to provide as he called it "dynamite proof"  however he could not recall if she had refused to do so, or had and only got through to an answering machine. Mr Wight also told the court that on another occasion, when Ms McGuire was in Glasgow for an SSP meeting journalists had "went with her" to see if they could record her talking to Mr Sheridan, he added "you were there but didn't speak to her

Mr Sheridan then asked the witness that in view of Ms McGuire's refusal to make a taped telephone call if Mr Wight had ever had any doubts over her story. Mr Wight replied that "he had no reason to disbelieve her." Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that Ms McGuire's story was a "fantasy" which he denied. Mr Sheridan then said "we may hear from Fiona McGuire" 

Mr Sheridan then moved on to discuss Mr Wight's testimony at the 2006 libel trial, which we will cover in our concluding post on his testimony.


sky blue said...

Now this could be amazing - "we may hear from Fiona McGuire"...

Could TS be planning to call Fiona McGuire?

Anonymous said...

Since there are no flights from Stansted Airport to New Zealand why would someone who was intending travelling to New Zealand fly into there?

Flight Centre said...

You can connect from Stanstead to Auckland, you can go via Singapore for example

Easy Book said...

There is still no direct flights from Stansted to Singapore; you would have to change flights in say Germany then on to Sinapore then onto (Australia) then onto New Zealand. It's a bit like saying that you can fly to New Zealand from the bus-stop at the top of the road.

Peter said...

I have to agree with Lilybelle and Lynn.

It would have been good if Ann Colvin and Helen Allison had taken the stand.

Their appearance would have put beyond doubt that the majority of Crown witness who have been paid by the News Of The World.

(You see what I did there.)

Peter said...

By my calculation the Crown have about 2 days left to produce forensic evidence it is actually Tommy Sheridan pictured in that video.

If they don't shall we just all agree that it is most likely a mock up with an "actor" with hairy hands pretending to be Sheridan.

They could not film face on as it would have given the game away. Bits needed to be edited out that indicated it was not Sheridan - hence the gaps in the video.

As the defence have alluded to it appears likely that McNeilage and his accomplices took the opportunity to get the big money from the NOTW.

The NOTW were allegedly happy to pay it even though it was a joke as it got the police to start a perjury ivestigation. As they did.

Denizen said...

I thought Tommy made some good hits in his cross exam. One was that according to Wight's testimony in the first trial there were no private and confidential payments to witnesses when it is proved that there were.
Still I think that he needs to take a step back when cross-examining. His insistence on trying to force the witness to say what Tommy wants is counter-productive. It allowed the witness to filibuster in the most arrogant and offensive way. Some of the jury will see this; it still needs to be emphasissed.
Sheridan's manner may be seen as bullying. He does not listen to answers and react to them. In fact Mr Anwar kept talking to him when Wight was still speaking. Without careful attention to statements important points are missed. 'The devil is in the detail'. Wight's claim that he went @into every story with a healthy degree of scepticism@ required some gentle prompting. Even more so his description of that scene with the GP at Peterhead. Without listening to the absurdity of many of Wight's claims Tommy fails to bring this absurdity to the jury's attention.

Asa said...

During the cross examination of McColl it emerged that were sworn statements from witnesses that contradicted the date on the indictment, and that a witness the Crown had built their story around had stated that she hadnt met Tommy Sheridan. Given that a previous jury had already rejected the evidence of Colvin and Allison and that damaging stuff had already appeared about them living it up on the NotW expenses, I think the Crown were correct to call it there ratherb than see McBride spend 3 days rubbing their noses in it.

Anonymous said...

Stansted to new zealand via amsterdam would be the best route, dont see why it is important though

Quincy said...


"If they don't shall we just all agree that it is most likely a mock up with an "actor" with hairy hands pretending to be Sheridan."


shufty-wufty-bufty said...

Alex Prentice has been scrupulously fair throughout but calling Wright for the sole purpose of letting TS cross-examine was extremely decent. Wright could have been cited for the defence but AP has saved TS that possible inconvenience and distraction.More importantly by restricting evidence in chief to the witness giving his name and address that crucially meant that TS had him to cross rather than lead and with all of the additional latitude in questioning that gives.

Whatever else is happening at this trial AP is not the attack dog of the Establishment/Murdoch Press conspiracy turning TS inside out using clever procedural tricks to bamboozle him. It would not surprise me if the approach is carefully reasoned to ensure that in the event of a conviction and the inevitable appeal certain lines of appeal will not be available or will be rendered ineffective. That's the way clever, quietly effective advocates work.I've seen him in action securing a murder rap with witnesses who make the current lot look like paragons of virtue. He's a class act and I suspect that had the defence had a choice of A.D it'd have a preferred some Fettes-educated braying tupthumper to engage in a slanging match/gratuitous class war with.

am no tellin yous said...

If they don't shall we just all agree that it is most likely a mock up with an "actor" with hairy hands pretending to be Sheridan.

can I come and live on your planet please

Anonymous said...

Shufty, wufty, bufty, in what circumstances to the defence get a choice of AD, never heard of it.

Peter said...

Quincy - Ok I will meet you halfway the actor does not need to have hairy hands as that is a relatively simple job to do with make up. My niece works in the theatre props script prompter etc says it would with simple scripting,some ad libbing, a bit of make up and a few gaps to cover up the script prompts they could have knock that video up in a couple of days from conception to production - as long as they had the actor ready to go. An amateur group would take longer of course but an amateur with a budget of 50,000 as alleged here (with the admitted fee of 200,000 would not have any difficulty). The main issue with that budget is to make it look unprofessional which was done very well by the addition off stage (and post shooting) of ambient noise, bad lighting etc. She thinks that is the clever part so hats off to the producer/director. Would have taken a few reshoots but it's most likely a production.

Lynn said...

I am missing the point of this cross-examination. I can't see anything in the indictment about the alleged relationship with Fiona Mcguire so why all these questions about her and her mental state. Is it another (yawn) attempt to present NOTW as the big bogey man. Like many people I don't rate the Sun or the NOTW and accept that they did make payments some of the witnesses in this trial but for me that isn't a defence. If I was TS and innocent of these charges,I would be absolutely outraged and I would want to shoot the charges down and show the jury irrefutable evidence that I wasn't in these places or with these women. Roll on the defence.

Steve said...

There does seem to be a conflict between Wight's reported evidence that he "never doubted" McQuire's story and his claim that he "entered into every story with a healthy degree of scepticism".

Any further info on the details of that would be interesting as regards journalistic practice, where in my experience you report others' views but make plain the reason for doing so (eye-witness, expert, etc).

Keith said...

The standard of witnesses the prosecution have relied on in this case has been variable to say the least. But the NOTW witnesses in particular, Bob Bird and Douglas Wight, in their answers to questions about their newspaper and its practices, have been a bonus for the defence. The impression left by both of them is of an extremely wet handshake and of a slithering trail left behind them.

Anonymous said...

Yes Lynn, if you want to look at it that way - the big, nasty NotW almost cost a poor woman her life! Oh, and as well as endangering the life of an unborn child. How much more evidence to you need? Pretty conclusive stuff in my opinion.

Quentin Tarantino said...

You may be onto something, Peter. If you want to see a good example of a similar deliberately amateur production check out Death Proof starring Kurt Russell and directed by Quentin Tarantino. You will see lots of similar techniques such as bad audio, the director running of of colour film in parts, bad editing etc.

Anonymous said...

Lynn, you contradict yourself, you say that sheridans cross isnt a defence (of course it isnt, his defence hasnt started yet) and then say "roll on the defence",

You seem to acknowledge that we havent seen Sheridans defence while at the same time discussing what you think his defence is.

I have no doubt that this cross is relevant to Sheridans defence, he has been pretty good so far and has good advice.

You might yawn at the idea of creating a context where the NotW are capable of anything, but it might be a crucial part of his defence.

Lynn said...

Anonymous 3.57, you forgot to mention the distress caused to a 'young family' and the breaking of the 'relationship'(gazes fondly in direction of wife). I don't know about actors with hairy hands but there's been a lot of performances in court in the last few weeks that would bring tears to a glass eye (if wearer of said eye was that gullible).

Peter maybe QT's post above is right, it was a Tarantio production, No country for swinging men.

Carnybull said...

Agree Lynn...the unborn infant endangered by a copy of the NoTW was harrowing beyond belief. Just gets sadder with every spellbinding re-telling by Scotland's answer to Michael Mansfield QC.

The truth is out there said...

this time next week it will be over, the crown will throw the towel in or the judge will stop it, I know Lord Bracadale got away with it as a prosecutor but he wont allow Prentice to go on like this

CharlieTheCoach said...

Have you got a personal interest in this story, or are you party to some information that is not being brought up in court?
As a an ordinary member of the public unaffiliated to any party I feel that this blog is reporting the facts as they appear in court without prejudice. What I have seen so far has been one prosecution witness after another blatantly lying, or changing previously given evidence, and getting caught out. Your whole contribution seems to be about making catty personal comments unrelated to the evidence. Why is that?

Anonymous said...

Charlie the Coach, of course you are entitled to say the that prosecution witnesses are "blatantly lying" but that is only your opinion. Whether or they actually are is a matter for the jury to decide. Charlie you sound as almost non-partisan (if that is possible) as Lynn.

Anonymous said...

The best position to be in to judge the veracity of witnesses is to have a seat in the jury box. From there you can carefully study their demeanour, observe their reactions as they give evidence, watch for facial twitches, eye movements etc.; that's why the design of a courtroom is the way it is. Reading a second-hand account in a red-top rag really is no substitute.

the_voice_of_reason said...


Can you please explain the basis in law for the trial judge to withdraw this indictment from the jury, and what the consequences would be, because I certainly cannot see any reason for this case not going to the jury?

Campbell McGregor said...

"The truth is out there" I am prepared to bet you at odds of 10 to 1 that, whatever the eventual outcome of this case, it will not be all over in a week's time.

shufty-wufty-bufty said...

Anon 11.14 a.m.
Of course defence do not get to choose the A.D. What I was speculating on was that IF the defence did have a choice then A.P would be well down the wish list.

Sorry to have caused any confusion.

CharlieTheCoach said...

Sorry but I can't agree. When a witness says "ok I lied", then the prosecution drops charges because of the lie, it is no longer a matter for the jury.
Why is saying that an opinion?

When other witnesses change the evidence in this trial from the evidence they gave in a previous trial, and admit in court that they did so, that is a fact also.

How can me repeating these facts, be considered an opinion?

I notice you didn't comment on the catty remarks I mentioned that have nothing at all to do with the trial, and whether they were said because of a different agenda than discussing the court case.

The truth is out there said...

The voice of reason, the reason I am saying this is because the prosecution is bound by 'he who asserts must prove' and Tommy has a presumption of innocence under scots law.

Prentice has to deliver the persuasive burden and the evidential burden to the standard of 'beyond a reasonable doubt'

In my opinion Prentice has not done this so far, also at the end of the prosecution I dont think Tommy has a case to answer based on the fundamantal principle of 'presumption of innocence'

Tommy has not lodged any special defence so the 'persuasive' burden upon the crown does not shift to Tommy at any time.

Time will tell but I see an aquital here, every 'dmamging' witness has been paid by the NOTW


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

Since a motion of "no case to answer" is a common submission for the defence to make particularly at the close of the Crown's case we will have to wait (and speculate) how the case will continue. If the Judge considers that the Crown have failed to present a case that is worthy of going to the jury for consideration His Lordship is perfectly entitled to through the case out, we will see...

Anonymous said...

Every witness has not been paid by the NotW.

Victor English said...

anonymous (one of you), I really do not think that Mr Sheridan has much of a chance of 'no case to answer' as we have seen a substantial case from the Crown, ranging from a number of witnesses who claim to have witnessed a confession, to people who claim to have visited a swingers party with him. We would have to see the defence counter before ruling any of that out.

However, I might have missed it, but I havent seen any case presented by the Crown on Sheridan's second charge of suborning Colin Fox or on the remaining charges against Mrs Sheridan. We might see a move to drop those charges, but the main charge against Mr Sheridan does have a porosecution case to answer to.

Steve said...

Lynn's "catty" comments make the legitimate point that those who accuse others of duplicity MIGHT be guilty of it themselves.

Peter said...

Hi all,

It's easy enough in relation to Gail Sheridan now:

1. Gail Sheridan has been aquitted of a number of charges relating to the Moat House already as the evidence that the Crown presented against her fell apart in spectacular fashion following the evidence of McColl. Very bad witness preparation by the Crown but there it is. Embarassing for the Crown - really was.

2. Gail Sheridan has also been accused of lying about the "tummy pat" incident at the conference. The Crown consider that Ms Trolle could not have patted Ms Sheridans tummy at that conference as Ms Trolle was supposedly not there.

Unfortunately for the Crown another Crown witness testified that Ms Trolle told him she had an affair with Sheridan and one of the venues for that affair was that conference. So the "tummy pat" charge will likely be dropped.

This is especially the case as the Crown has not presented any corroborative evidence that Ms Trolle was not at the conference - so the necessary corroboration standard for burden of proof was clearly not met.

3. You will note from the indictment list that Gail Sheridan has been charged with a couple of other acts.

Unless the Crown presents evidence on those charges in the next couple of days left to it there is no case to answer.

The Crown will likely agree with the defence application there is no case to answer on those matters if it does not act first and withdraw them.

To be continued.

Peter said...

So what's gone on here ?

For me it is a classic case of overcharging an accused to pressurise them into admitting guilt or turning against the co-accused or both.

Even the kids on the street corner know this dodge to get you to give false evidence on your mates.

In the guidance for Crown prosecutors for England the prosecutors are advised not to overcharge in this way.

Firstly its an abuse of process by the state and brings the Crown into disrepute for pursuing citizens without a proper evidential basis.

Simply put the Crown had nothing on Gail they were after Tommy - they have now had their bottoms slapped publicly by the defence for it.

It's just very embarassing kids stuff. It'sn easily exposed tactic especially if the accused is well represented.
Gail Sheridan was right not to fall for it.

Whilst the Crown may fool some country folk with their strokes the Glasgow jury will see it for what it is - if it get's that far.

I think the application of no case to answer in Gail's case will likely be successful if the Crown does not do so first.

Tommy's case is now a bit trickier of course as unfortunately the Crown has decided to stop its witnesses giving evidence.

Anonymous said...

Peter, in my opinion the accused are always "over-charged", in my opinion there is always something completely over-the-top and unprovable on every rap sheet: "If you plead guilty to the breach of the peace charge, the Crown is prepared to drop the two murder charges." In my opinion I'm surprised that the Bible John murders weren't added to TS's Indictment.

Anonymous said...

Peter I agree with your assessment of why GS was prosecuted in the first place - to put pressure on TS (in my opinion to force his hand into some sort of "deal" - irrespective of his guilt or innocence or to force GS to turn Crown's evidence irrespective of either TS's or GS's guilt or innocence, in my opinion solely to secure a conviction against TS).

But what about the remainder of the Indictment against GS

"... that you were present and witnessed said Thomas Sheridan on an occasion telephoning Directory Enquiries and asking for the telephone number of Cupid's Health Club, 13-17 Sutherland Street, Swinton, Manchester known as Cupid's and said Thomas Sheridan telephoning the said Cupid's; that your aunt, Annie Healy c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh arrived into Scotland from the United States of America on 14 June 2002... that you had recorded in your diary that you had travelled to Miami on Tuesday 20 November 2001 and you were in Miami on the weekend of 24 and 25 November 2001 and that said Thomas Sheridan had recorded in his diary that you were away between 21 and 28 November 2001; that you were in Miami on 24 and 25 November 2001 and you did thus not spend every weekend in November 2001 with said Thomas Sheridan; that on 23 November 2001 you were not present on the occasion when said Thomas Sheridan phoned directory enquiries and said Cupid's in Manchester; that your aunt, said Annie Healy arrived in Scotland from the United States of America on 12 June 2002... "

Sceptic said...

Surely the Crown are now alleging that the Cupids visit was September 2002, so what has November 2001 got to do with anything?


Peter said...

Anonymous said...

Peter, in my opinion the accused are always "over-charged", in my opinion there is always something completely over-the-top and unprovable on every rap sheet: "If you plead guilty to the breach of the peace charge, the Crown is prepared to drop the two murder charges." In my opinion I'm surprised that the Bible John murders weren't added to TS's Indictment.

November 28, 2010 10:06 PM

Yes Anon. I wonder if someone knows the guidance for Scottish prosecutors is different from England andthese tactics are encouraged.

The Crown prosecutor seems to be very highly rated but in the case of Gail it appears he is going out of his way to allow the case against her to fail.

Maybe its a genius tactic that mere mortals cannot spot or he is saving up the evidece against Gail for the last 5 miutes.

There are only two accused - it seems embarassing to have spent so much taxpayers money only to drop the charges.

It's the right thing to do of course, as there is no corroborated evidence of guilt, but it looks very embarassing for the from from here.

Peter said...

Anon (heh why not pick a user name) and Sceptic I think James may agree that the Crown have not presented specific evidence on these charges yet.

As I say earlier unless the Crown does so soon it will likely later this week withdraw the charges.

Alternatively will not oppose (or not strongly) the defence motion to dismiss the charges against Gail on the grounds as there is no case to answer.

Of course if the Crown are being especially tricky they may be happy for Gail to walk as it then gives the Crown a later option of questining Gail.

At the moment she has the right to silence. As a witness she would not (as I understand It). It would require a tricky manovere by Prentice but as the Crown seem to be capable of anything in this trial I would not rule it out entirely.

Anonymous said...

James correct me if I am wrong but telephone records have been submitted as evidence?

James Doleman said...

There have been a number of telephone records submitted in evidence anon, these are usually mentioned in the reports of that day.

Peter said...


The Crown has not sought to relate those records to the specific charges Gail Sheridan faces (yet)

If they do not them I think I am on strong ground to say that they have no basis to contiue the indictment. Only a couple of days to wait though.

anon anon said...

Innocent or Guilty how the hell did this man become Scotland's leading Socialist, whoooooo.

Chris Jack said...

The charge against Gail Sheridan about the phone call does not dispute that a fact call was or wasnt made, the charge is that she wasnt present when the call was made. Phone records would not be corroborating evidence unless presented along with evidence that Gail Sheridan was elsewhere. No evidence that she was elewhere has been presented so far.

There is also the charge that she, having checked her diaries, spent every weekend in November 2001 and 2002 with her husband. Again, I have seen no evidence so far to back up this charge. Also this related to the Crown accusation about Cupids and that has now been changed to a date in September, so she would have had no motivation to lie.

With only a day or two left for the prosecution, if we dont see something from them on these charges, they will be dropped surely.

On the subject of overcharging to pressurise an accused person, that would be a tactic on that person.

If it is thought that Gail Sheridan's charges were not serious and were only to pressurise here husband this would be a major problem for the police and the Crown and would have to be investigated, in my opinion.

Dont forget, Gail Sheridan has already been charged with theft which led to her being suspended from work, eventually being cleared.

As someone with experience in these matters, this particular charge disturbed me. The reason for that is that I could see no connection between the theft charge and the perjury charge. If a crime had been reported to or discovered by police, that took place in Glasgow, the Lothian and Borders police should have passed this information to the Strathclyde police to deal with and Glasgow's PF should have been making the decision on whether to press charges.

The fact the Lothians police took it on means that this action reeked of a pressure tactic, not something that I would deem to be in the public interest.

Peter said...

Yes Chris Jack,

At the moment Gail Sheridan has a case for maliciousprosecution on the abandoned theft charge annd the abandoned perjury charges if no evidence is presented on them.

The Crown would have a reasonable defence to the perjury charge in relatio to the Moat House as they could theoretically blame their poor witness - very embarassing that was but maybe not malicious.

If the Crown does not preset any evidence on other charges then really it is a clear case of malicious prosecutionn to me - a ruse to get her to give evidence against her husband.

The Police and the Crown Threatening women with young children with prison is never a pretty sight.

As Terry Thomas would put it there a shower an absolute shower.

The truth is out there said...

The reason for Lothain and Borders going after Gail for the theft charges was maybe that thats where BA have a head office and therefore it would be in their patch.

Unless i am mistaken if the crown drop charges against Gail they cant call her under 'spousal privilege' being a husband and wife cant be compelled to testify against each other

Chris Jack said...

No, it wouldn't come under the jurisdiction of where the head office is, it would be where the theft took place.

Also, it is not linked to the perjury charge in any way so would have had a separate investigating team and would not be part of a house serch instigated as part of that perjury charge.

The police cannot 'trawl' in a search. They must have had information regarding alleged stolen items. The procedure would have been to pass that information to collegaues in Glasgow. who would then have decided whether to act on it, whether to instigate a search, whether to proceed with charges etc.