In the final section of his examination of Mr Wight, (see Here and Here for his earlier testimony) Mr Sheridan returned to payments Ms McGuire received from News of the World. Mr Wight commented that “cash was irrelevant to her”, to which Mr Sheridan responded “So you offered her £20,000”, and then accused the witness of lying, and that Ms McGuire had been offered £10,000, and that this was not a person to whom cash was irrelevant as she was negotiating with the NoW for money. Mr Wight stated that this was not how it was at all. Mr Wight then denied that more cash had been offered to Ms McGuire if she phoned Mr Sheridan. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness in “newspapers like yours that when you start waving wads of cash”, people would do all kinds of things. Mr Wight responded “You would know”, stating Mr Sheridan had been paid £30,000 for a Daily Record story. Mr Sheridan denied this, stating that "SSP witnesses said exactly the same thing, and it's not true" adding that "you just repeated a lie" Mr Wight responded that this was the rumour in the newspaper trade.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he had offered money to Ann Colvin. Mr Wight replied that they “Didn't offer her money, no”, going on to state that she had come to the paper with the motivation of correcting statements she had seen from Mr Sheridan on TV denying various activities, and that payment only became an issue when a friend of Ms Colvin's came forward to corroborate her story and demanded payment, after which both women appointed a solicitor on their behalf to negotiate payment. Mr Wight went on to state that a contract of £7,000 was agreed with each woman on publication of the story, that there may have been an extra £3,000 payment available if they agreed to name everyone involved in the Moat House story, and that some interim payments were also made. Mr Wight also stated that he was not happy with either of the women getting any money, as they had come forward initially for different reasons.
Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Wight if his testimony on payments to Ms Colvin and Ms Allison had always been his position, to which Mr Wight responded “Yes, but I am aware I gave an unclear answer before.”
Mr Sheridan then put the live notes from Mr Wight's testimony in the 2006 defamation trial before him, where Mr Wight, being questioned by the News of the World lawyer, denied offering Ms Colvin & Ms Allison money and also denied that they were paid.
Mr Wight stated that they had come to the NoW and has asked for payment, and that £1,000 was paid to each in expenses, and that this may have slipped his mind during the 2006 trial. Mr Wight went on to state “I accept I should have been far clearer in 2006” and that “In my mind, I was thinking of their story payments”, further stating that he had nothing to gain by misleading his own lawyer, and that the contracts could have been produced in any case. Mr Wight continued that the point was that the NoW did not go round offering to pay witnesses, but that if they then asked for payment, they would then have to take a position on that, and that he had not told a lie but that he had made a mistake.
Mr Sheridan than asked why the witness had not discussed this with his lawyer beforehand, with the witness replying that he had had nothing to hide, but that he had a lot on at the time, including "looking after Fiona."
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness who he had discussed the "Moat House ladies" with before the 2006 court case, with Mr Wight responding that no lawyers were consulted, and that only Bob Bird, as his editor, was consulted, and that during this discussion he would not necessarily have been reminded of payments made.
Mr Sheridan then asked whether there was a culture of private and confidential cash payments at News of the World. Mr Wight stated that cash payments were indeed made, but that there was a note of everyone paid. Mr Sheridan then produced the News of the World's “Sheridan Costs” document dated 27 June 2007, consisting of a table of payments, many redacted by the commissioner. Mr Sheridan drew Mr Wight to two entries labeled "Private and Confidential cash payment" for £1,000 & £1,500, which the witness was unable to explain [note: these had the handwritten note "George McNeilage" next to them, which Bob Bird had previously testified adding, but this was not mentioned to the witness], then another two entries with Mr Wight's name against them, one for around £1,600, another for £2,173 labeled accommodation. Mr Wight stated these pertained to his three week stay in Scotland around the 2006 trial, and also included Ms McGuire's expenses as Mr McGuire had accompanied her, adding that cash payments were very rarely paid in Scotland.
Mr Sheridan then drew attention to records of three cash payments from August 2006 totaling £2,500 attached to the “Sheridan Costs” document, with Mr Wight pointing out that these were dated after he had moved to London, and stated these were not evidence of a culture of cash payments.
Mr Sheridan then asked for the production of an affidavit from Fiona McGuire, but Lord Bracadale did not allow this, stating that this contained points Mr Sheridan could make to the jury, but not with this witness.
Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that Ms McGuire never once referred to the accused having a Pay As You Go phone. Mr Wight replied that Ms McGuire changed phone numbers and phones, and therefore had no record of Mr Sheridan's phone numbers.
At this point, court rose for lunch.
When court reconvened Mr Sheridan resumed his cross examination of crown witness Douglas Wight by placing in front of him a copy of the November 2004 News of the World featuring Fiona McGuire on the cover, showed Mr Wight his byline, and asked him to confirm that he was responsible for this “5 page splash" article. Mr Wight agreed he was.
Mr Sheridan then asked whether the witness knew that co-defendant Mrs Gail Sheridan was pregnant at the time of publication. Mr Wight agreed that he was aware of this. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Wight whether he knew when the Sheridans had got married, and Mr Wight confirmed that he did, and that he had covered the story for the NoW.
Mr Sheridan then questioned Mr Wight whether Fiona McGuire getting the date of the Sheridan wedding wrong should have been a cause for concern, with the witness replying that he was not sure at the time, but had also queried Ms McGuire's recollection of the wedding dates, but had himself suggested an incorrect date instead.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness how many times Ms McGuire said she had met Mr Sheridan, and when the witness was unable to give an answer, quoted previous evidence stating it was every couple of months over four years, amounting to 24 meetings. Mr Wight did not accept this number of meetings as an accurate interpretation of the phrase “every couple of months”, but accepted that during the meetings she had with Mr Sheridan, she never produced a clear date for any of them, and although she named some hotels where she claimed to have met Mr Sheridan, because she had often paid in cash, used a different name and never gave a precise date, there wouldn't be any record. During this exchange, Mr Sheridan mistakenly addressed Mr Wight as “Mr Bird” for the third time over the course of the day, with Mr Wight again correcting him before continuing.
Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Wight whether he had ever asked staff at any of the hotels if they could recall Mr Sheridan staying, or using their restaurant, and Mr Wight stated that he had not contacted any of the hotels due to not having precise dates to check. Mr Sheridan stated that he might have been considered a well known figure in Scotland at the time, and that hotel staff might have been expected to remember him, but Mr Wight again stated that he had not contacted them.
Mr Sheridan questioned Mr Wight on his examination of Ms McGuire's phone records, with Mr Wight stating that she only submitted her phone and records for examination by the NoW after the story had been published. Mr Sheridan recounted how, from some of Ms McGuire's previous statements, she had described how the process of arranging to meet the accused was always the same – Mr Sheridan would text or phone her – and asked the witness why, if this was the case over 24 different occasions, no phone or text records could be found on Ms McGuire's phone. The witness replied that the NoW were indeed short of evidence for the story, and that was why they had not ran the story earlier, adding “If you had kept your mouth shut about the Anvar Khan story, the Fiona McGuire story would still be unpublished”.
Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that he didn't have a single shred of evidence to corroborate McGuire's story, and the witness agreed.
Mr Sheridan then quoted a conversation between Ms McGuire and Mr Wight on the eve of publication of her story, where Ms McGuire asked “What if Tommy Sheridan sues?”, to which Mr Wight had replied “We'll screw him.”. The witness accepted that this conversation occurred, but stated that “we believed the story to be substantially true. We took it on good faith” and that Ms McGuire “always maintained she was telling the truth”.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he took pleasure in discussing sordid, perverted sexual detail with Fiona McGuire. The Advocate Depute objected that this was a personal attack on the witness and had no relevance to the charges, and this objection was sustained by Lord Bracadale.
Mr Sheridan again asked “Were you sleeping with Fiona McGuire?”, and the witness replied “I take offense at that. No, I was not.” and then directed Mr Sheridan to a recording of a conversation between Ms McGuire and Mr Wight shortly before the 2006 trial where Ms McGuire says to Mr Wight “you don't know what I'm like in bed”.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he recalled agreeing to take Ms McGuire out for an evening meal, which the witness agreed he did, but that “we have yet to have that meal”, going on to state that the story was only run because the accused had lied to voters about his reasons for stepping down as SSP leader. The witness than asked why he had been the first person Ms McGuire had phoned on the night of her overdose, and stated “We were the ones who looked after her, not you, not her party who had abandoned her”.
Mr Sheridan stated that the witness had been in contact with Ms McGuire since August 2004, she had signed a £20,000 contract but refused to make the phone call... then Lord Bracadale interrupted, stating that Mr Sheridan had already gone over this several times, and Mr Sheridan responded that his lordship's intervention was unfortunate as he was moving towards his conclusion. Mr Sheridan continued, stating that Mr Wight had taken advantage of a mentally fragile Ms McGuire and had paid her for an untrue story with no shred of evidence to corroborate it. Mr Sheridan also put it to the witness that Fiona McGuire had "welcomed my libel victory" to which the witness replied "quotes". Mr Sheridan said "she knew she had lied" adding that his wife, himself and Fiona McGuire had been "subjected to a perjury enquiry" to which Mr Wight replied "that was nothing to do with me". With that Mr Sheridan returned to the dock, and the court rose for the day.
Due to a holiday on Monday court will not reconvene until Tuesday morning
Due to a holiday on Monday court will not reconvene until Tuesday morning