Friday, November 5, 2010
George McNeilage Cross-examination by Tommy Sheridan, Day 1
There was not a single unoccupied seat in court number 4 when Tommy Sheridan left the dock to cross-examine George McNeilage. Mr Sheridan began by putting it to Mr McNeilage that he was a "man of poor character" and that he had lied to the police, in an article in the News of the World (NotW) and on television when he had said he had "been asked by people" to make his video tape. Mr McNeilage said he had lied on that occasion but denied being of poor character.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness that out of his "long list" of criminal convictions which he thought was the "worst one." Mr McNeilage replied "you tell me Tommy?" at which point the presiding judge, Lord Bracadale intervened to instruct the witness to answer questions put to him. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he been a "housebreaker" to which Mr McNeilage replied he had two convictions for that offence from when he was a 'boy of 16." Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that he had "Robbed the poor when they were asleep in their beds." Mr Sheridan then asked Mr McNeilage if he had robbed "his own political party" and "stolen the proceeds of paper sales and collection to buy drugs" The witness responded that this was in 1986 and he had since organised rally's against drugs at some risk to himself. was then asked if he had taken any of the proceeds of Mr Sheridan's column in the Daily Record for himself. The witness denied this and stated that he "no money ended up in my pocket." Mr Sheridan then accused Mr McNeilage of fraud, the witness replied "You are the fraud" and "You dont have real feelings" At this point Lord Bracadale again intervened and instructed the witness to answer questions and not make additional statements.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness his views on the News of the World, which he described as part of the "most anti-trade union organisation on the planet" and called Mr McNeilage a "hypocrite and a fake." The witness responded "you are, totally fake." and "you are not a Socialist." Mr Sheridan asked if the Mr McNeilage recalled being on a picket line in 1986 where he had been supporting 5000 print workers who had been sacked and asked if he remembered which company that was? Mr McNeilage replied "News International" and added "you've done similar things." Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that News International publications had called striking miners "scum," firefighters "Saddams henchmen" and had claimed that Liverpool fans had "urinated and stole from their dying comrades" Mr McNeilage responded by claiming that Mr Sheridan had contemplated writing a column for the News of the World. This prompted the judge to intervene and instruct the witness to restrict himself to answering questions put to him.
Mr Sheridan then moved onto the issue of the disputed video and asked Mr McNeilage that if he had the tape "existed " in 2006 (at the time of the civil trial) "why didn't you come forward" The witness replied that he did not want to become involved. Mr Sheridan then asked If the tape was real why he had not passed it to the SSP in 2006. Mr McNeilage replied that "of course it existed and that "I didn't get Rory Bremner to impersonate you." Mr Sheridan replied that the court had already heard that particular soundbite before [from Alan McCombes] to which the witness said he knew that and had read it in the paper. Mr Sheridan remarked "not very original."
Mr Sheridan put it to the witness again that if they tape existed "you could have stopped the destruction of the SSP if only you had handed the tape to Keith Baldessera or the SSP." Mr McNeilage answered that "I was too close to you" and "it scooped my insides out" The witness then added "you are a fake without an ounce of sincerity" and accused Mr Sheridan of "abusing your wife" by putting her through the trial. Mr Sheridan responded that "now we know you are feeling guilty" Mr McNeilage responded "you're trying to change your voice now." At that point Lord Bracadale asked the jury to leave the court.
When the jury returned Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that the tape had been made after 2006. A suggestion Mr McNeilage called "nonsense." Mr McNeilage was then asked about his acting career, with particular reference to his work with the film director Ken Loach. Mr Sheridan then stated that there was a "fatal flaw" in the tape.
Mr Sheridan put it to Mr McNeilage that on the tape the voice allegedly of Tommy Sheridan swears "115 times in 38 minutes" and that in 30 years of knowing him had he ever heard him swear like that. Mr McNeilage replied that night he had saw a "different person" and "I saw the real Tommy Sheridan, that is you." Mr Sheridan then stated that, what he called, the "C word" is used 9 times on the recording and that "I don't use that word." Mr McNeilage said "of course you use it, you say it at football."
It was then put to Mr McNeilage by Mr Sheridan that the "next fatal flaw in the tape" was the missing 17 minutes and added "a lot can be said in 17 minutes" He added did "the actor stand up and face the screen?" Which Mr McNeilage said was "nonsense." Mr Sheridan then asked "did he forget it was not 2004?" a suggestion the witness called "absurd."Mr McNeilage then turned to Gail Sheridan, who was sitting in the dock Mr Lavelle, acting for Mrs Sheridan then rose to object and the jury again left the court.
When the jury returned Lord Bracadale informed them that the case was adjourned until Monday and the court rose for the day.
The trial continues.
Posted by James Doleman at 7:22 PM