The second witness in court number 4 this morning was Paul Sinclair. Mr Sinclair told the court that he had been the political editor of the Scottish Daily Record from 2000 to December 2005 and in that capacity had called Tommy Sheridan on the 10th November 2004 to ask about rumours he was to step down as Scottish Socialist Party convener. Mr Sinclair stated that Mr Sheridan had not returned his call, which was unusual, so he had went to the Scottish parliment building to try and find Mr Sheridan. The witness said he had met Mr Sheridan and they had walked together to Waverly train station.
Mr Sinclair told the court he had asked Mr Sheridan if he was being forced to step down as it was alleged he was the unnamed MSP from the News of the World story the previous Sunday. Mr Sheridan said this was untrue, although he admitted to a sexual relationship with Anvar Khan in the early 1990's. Mr Sinclair then testified that Mr Sheridan had told him he was "planning to resign" as the SSP was not a "one man band." Alex Prentice QC asked the witness if Mr Sheridan had mentioned any "plot against him" to which Mr Sinclair replied "no plot." Mr Sinclair was then shown a story from the Daily Record from the 11th November 2004 headlines "Sheridan quits as convener of SSP, denies sex scandal" and agreed that he had written the piece as a result of this conversation.
Mr Prentice then asked the witness about the 2006 libel case between Tommy Sheridan and the News of the World and Mr Sinclair confirmed he had been cited as a witness by the defence. Mr Sinclair told the court that after Mr Sheridan had sacked his legal team Mr Sinclair had texted Mr Sheridan and asked "if and when he wanted me to appear" The witness stated that Mr Sheridan had replied that he was going to call him as "I could say there was a conspiracy against him." Mr Prentice asked the witness if he "could say that" to which Mr Sinclair replied "no that's the opposite of what he told me" adding that he had called Mr Sheridan to tell him that, and Mr Sheridan had responded that he "didn't need him."
The Advocate Depute then ended his evidence in chief, thanked the witness and returned to his seat and Tommy Sheridan left the dock to begin his cross-examination.
Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Sinclair if him not returning his calls was "unusual" Mr Sinclair repeated that is was. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that when the Daily Record changed editors, with Peter Cox taking over, he had been sacked from writing his column in the paper. Mr Sheridan also stated that he had a dispute with the Daily Record over it's "Scotland against Drugs" campaign, which he claimed was hypocritical when the newspaper was also giving vouchers away for cheap lager. Mr Sinclair stated that the campaign was not aimed at "legal drugs"
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he recalled a Daily Record headline that called him a "Working Class Zero" and another that had called him the"lowest form of human life" He also asked Mr Sinclair if he had seen an editorial in the paper that had said there would be "no future coverage of the SSP." The witness said he vaguely recalled them. Mr Sheridan then asked why he would have given an exclusive story to the paper given this history, and denied Mr Sinclair;s assertion that they had a "convivial relationship."
Mr Sheridan then told the witness that he agreed they did indeed have a meeting on the 10th November and the discussions had been "along the lines" that Mr Sinclair had stated. Indeed he had no reason to contradict him.
Mr Sheridan then asked how Mr Sinclair had found out so quickly about the internal SSP meeting of the 9th November to which Mr Sinclair responded that one of his fellow journalists had a "friend" in the party that had told him. Mr Sheridan asked the witness if there was no "plot" against him why were people "tipping off the papers" adding that "Plots and skullduggery are part of the life of political parties." Finally Mr Sheridan asked the witness where Mr Cox, the then Daily Record editor, worked now. The witness was not sure and Mr Sheridan suggested he was now deputy editor of the Sun newspaper. With that Mr Sheridan ended his cross-examination and, as the Advocate Depute had no further questions, Mr Sinclair was allowed to leave the witness box.