Court resumed this morning with the continuation of Tommy Sheridan's cross-examination of Alan McCombes (an account if the yesterday's cross examination can be found Here ) Mr Sheridan opened by returning to the issue of the affidavit Mr McCombes gave to the Sunday Herald newspaper. In this document the witness had stated that the vote in the "9/11" SSP executive meeting had been 19-0 that Mr Sheridan stand down as convener of the SSP. Mr Sheridan asked the witness how many people were at the meeting, and after some discussion Mr McCombes settled on a figure of 21. Mr Sheridan then pointed out that Barbara Scott, as the minute secretary, could not vote and that himself, Kevin McVey and Duncan Rowan had left the meeting before the vote. Mr Sheridan then put it to the witness that this only left 17 people, not 19. Mr McCombes agreed that this was the case but that he could offer no explanation.
Mr Sheridan them moved on to ask Mr McCombes about their "shared political background" as members of the Militant. He put it to Mr McCombes that Militant was a "semi-secret" organisation. The witness agreed but argued that he had been instrumental in challenging that culture of "clandestinity" 20 years ago. He further stated he had not been involved in any factionalism in the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP)
Mr Sheridan then asked Mr McCombes if he was a "keen writer." Mr McCombes responded with "I wrote "Imagine" but we used your name for marketing purposes." Mr Sheridan the asked the witness if was angry that he had got "too much credit" for Imagine. Mr McCombes replied that he had never raised that point with anyone" Mr Sheridan responded "I know you are lying."
At that point the witness addressed the Judge, Lord Bracadale, and objected to Mr Sheridan's comments. Mr McCombes stated that if he was "dealing with a normal QC he wouldn't be able to ask questions like that." Lord Bracadale responded that any QC would have a duty to put issues like this to the witness and that Mr McCombes should answer questions put to him unless the judge himself told him not to.
Mr Sheridan then returned to the issue of the affidavit the witness had given to the Sunday Herald, and asked Mr McCombes if he had been the "mystery snitch?" Mr McCombes said he had wished to tell the party he had given the document to the newspaper, but had been strongly advised not to. The witness then began to speak to the court about the atmosphere at a meeting that had discussed this issue. Mr Sheridan objected and the judge reminded Mr McCombes that he should only speak to events he had direct knowledge of. A further exchange again led to Lord Bracadale intervening to remind the witness to wait for the question to be completed before he spoke.
Mr Sheridan then moved on to testimony Mr McCombes had given in relation to the 2006 libel case between Mr Sheridan and the News of the World (NotW) He highlighted a passage given, under oath, to the commission charged with gathering documents for that trial when the witness had stated that the disputed minutes "were always in my possession" which he said was not true. Mr McCombes challenged the accuracy of the notes and said that there must have been "errors in the transcipt." Mr Sheridan pointed to the record of the 2006 trial when Mr McCombes had been asked about the same quote and had not objected. Mr McCombes responded that he had "not picked it up then." but now realised the error.
There was then an exchange between Mr Sheridan and Mr McCombes on the issue of the disputed minute. Lord Bracadale intervened after an objection from the witness to a question from Mr Sheridan which called the minute a "dodgy and distorted document" and asked Mr Sheridan to avoid such terms in his questions. After further exchanges the judge asked Mr Sheridan to move on from the issue as it had been already covered both today and yesterday.
Mr Sheridan then moved on to Mr McCombes account of a meeting held between the two of them and Keith Baldessera on the 1st November 2004. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that he had in fact denied any allegations of visiting a sex club at that meeting. Mr McCombes responded "you confessed" at which point Mr Sheridan produced his diary for that date in which was written "Mtg KB/A McC row they don't believe me" Mr McCombes said this could have been added at any time. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that "just because you repeat something over and over again doesn't make it true."
The testimony of Mr McCombes then moved into the video tape made by George McNeilage that allegedly shows Mr Sheridan making admissions in relation to the case. He accused the witness of having "helped write the script for that tape" Mr McCombes called this a "scurrilous accusation," demanded Mr Sheridan provide evidence for the statement and "that is your voice Tommy." Lord Bracadale again intervened and the jury and witness left the court.
After court resumed Mr Sheridan again returned to the disputed tape and asked Mr McCombes how much George McNeilage had been paid by the NotW. The witness said he "had an idea" from comments made in the press to which Mr Sheridan put it to him that it had been 200,000 pounds. The witness denied he had "taken a penny" of this money. Mr Sheridan then put it to Mr McCombes he would profit from the case as he had a book deal. Mr McCombes said he was writing a book but that it was a "work in progress" and he had received no money other that a 6,000 pound advance. When Mr Sheridan asked who the publisher was Mr McCombes asked Lord Bracadale if he had to answer the question as he had signed a confidentiality agreement with the publishers. The judge allowed Mr Sheridan to ask if the publisher had any connection with News International, which Mr McCombes said it had not. Mr Sheridan finished his cross-examination by putting it to the witness that he was a "cool and calculated liar." which he denied. Mr Sheridan then returned to the dock.
The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, then briefly re-examined the witness on the issue of the video tape. The witness again denied having "scripted' the tape and called such allegations "truly bizzare" With that Mr Prentice ended and Mr McCombes was allowed to step down from the witness stand.