After his summing up on the the "SSP chapter" of evidence (see our previous posts below) Alex Prentice QC, the Advocate Depute, turned to the question of the alleged visit by Mr Sheridan and others to the Cupids club in Manchester. He first asked the jury to "pause for a moment" and consider his assertion that the idea of a "big conspiracy" around the visit to Cupids "doesn't make sense."
Mr Prentice put it to the jury that if the whole story had "been a set-up" by the News of the World why would they "include lots of people." The Advocate Depute said that it was possible to link Anvar Khan to a purported plot by the News of the World, as she had been a journalist with the newspaper and "had a book to promote" However Mr Prentice said was "more difficult" to link Katrine Trolle. to the "plot" , but it could be argued that as a member of the SSP she could have been seeking to be seeking promotion within the party. Mr Prentice then asked the jury to consider why the alleged plotters had "not just stopped there" and queried why they would have included Gary Clarke and Andrew McFarlane, in the story as they could have had "cast iron" alibis for the night. The Advocate Depute then asked the jury to consider the "obvious answer."
Mr Prentice then suggested that the jury reflect on the testimony of Katrine Trolle. He reminded the "Ladies and Gentlemen" that there had been no evidence presented to them that showed that Katrine Trolle had "taken a penny" from the News of the World, although he accepted that there had been a conflict between Bob Bird and Ms Trolle's testimonies on whether she had ever been "offered payment", then asked the jury to conclude whether this was important. Mr Prentice stated that Ms Trolle had lied to the News of the World when they were on her doorstep, and had not co-operated with them. The Advocate Depute asked the jury to reflect on why Ms Trolle would have told "intimate details" about her personal life "before a busy court and a jury full of stranger." Mr Prentice also asked the jury to consider the description Ms Trolle had given of Mr Sheridan's house, suggesting that the defence's contention that she had received this information from Alison Kane made no sense as "what gain would they have to tell lies?" Mr Prentice asked the jury to consider why Ms Trolle would add details of the house if she had never been to it, and regarding her recall of a sunbed, put to the jury that although Mr Sheridan's sister claimed to have not seen one during her stay at the house, that doesn't mean there was not one there. Mr Prentice asked why Ms Trolle would say she met Mr Sheridan in Dundee, and what witnesses Adamson and Barnett would gain by lying about this. Mr Prentice then showed evidence of a phone call from Mr Sheridan's phone to Cupid's club on 23 November 2001 at 23:41, stating that it may seem like a small piece of evidence on it's own, but asked the jury to consider it as part of a "pattern of evidence" adding "there is a pattern, is there not?"
The Advocate Depute continued by reminding the jury that Katrine Trolle had produced receipts from "Primark and Debenhams" relating to purchases she said had been for the trip to Cupids, showing a date of the 26th September 2002. He also recalled Anvar Khan being shown, in court, her bank statement that showed a debit to British airways of £223.40 on the 26th September 2002, which Ms Khan had testified had been for her plane ticket to Glasgow to join the group travelling to Cupids. Mr Prentice continued that on this trip, Ms Khan had testified that Ms Trolle and Mr Sheridan had bought a veggie burger, and suggested to the jury that, although it was a small detail, taking notice of the "detail might assist you" and suggested that their given the jury's "experience of life and human affairs a strong picture may be emerging"
Mr Prentice then produced the evidence of Mr Sheridan's phone records, showing six phone calls to Anvar Khan, Gary Clark and Katrinne Trolle over the 26th and 27th September 2002 - the latter being the date of the alleged trip to Cupid's.
Mr Prentice said to the jury "In particular, I ask you to believe Gary Clark", as he had no political interests, had nothing to gain, had not co-operated with the investigation until forced to do so, had held back the sex club details for the sake of his family, and that it had taken great courage for Mr Clark to tell court about this.
Mr Prentice then asked the jury to consider why, if the News of the World was behind a conspiracy, why include all these people, rather than stopping with Mr Sheridan, Ms Trolle and Ms Khan? The Advocate Depute recalled the Cumberbirches, then and Pamela "Stella" Tucker, who, he suggested to the jury, they "might have thought really didn't want to be here", but had recognised Mr Sheridan at Cupid's.
Mr Prentice recalled Mr McFarlane's testimony, where he had said he had not been at Cupid's and that everyone else was a "complete liar", then that although medical record evidence confirmed that Mr McFarlane had a recent operation on his hip, there was no evidence that he was immobile. The Advocate Depute went on to remind the jury that Mr McFarlane had testified he had not appreciated the significance of the date 27th September 2002 until well into the trial.
Mr Prentice reminded the jury of the conflict in evidence between Nicholas McKerrell and Lynn Sheridan, stating that the jury would have to resolve this conflict.
Mention was also made of evidence presented by Keith Baldessarra, Charlie McCarthy and Elizabeth Quinn, then that although there may be issues with the evidence of Anvar Khan and payments, it doesn't follow that because she was paid, she had told lies.
Mr Prentice stated that this was not a court of morals, then discussed some defence witnesses - Alan Brown and Jim Monaghan, who had testified they had seen Mr Sheridan at the Cultural Festival on 27-Sep-2002, then that Alison Kane had testified that she had organised this event, had been nervous about it, had wanted all EC members to attend, but that Mr Sheridan had not attended.
Mr Prentice then brought up defence witness Thomas Montgomery's testimony, stating that he had found him to present "most unsatisfactory evidence", reminding the jury of Mr Montgomery's "Eureka moment" when he had first read about the Cupid's allegation date of the 27th September 2002 during the course of this trial, that his body language may have been useful to the jury, and that when asked by Mr Prentice "Who did you tell", replied "Nobody". Mr Prentice put to the jury that Mr Montgomery expected them to believe that the first time his evidence concerning this date became known to the defence was when he took the witness stand in this trial, with Mr Prentice concluding "I suggest you view him as a complete out and out liar".
Mr Prentice then moved on to discuss the "McNeilage Tape" which will be the subject of our next report.