When court reconvened this morning the first witness for the Crown was Detective Sergeant Gerald Fraser of Lothian and Borders police. DS Fraser told the court that he had 28 years service with the police and had played an "extensive role" on the case of Tommy and Gail Sheridan.
Alex Prentice QC, the Advocate Depute began by presenting to the witness telephone records obtained from the Scottish Parliament for Tommy Sheridan's mobile telephone. The witness was shown a record that Mr Sheridan's telephone was used to call a particular telephone number on two occasions on the 18th November 2006. These calls were timed at 18:43 and 19: 28. There was then a record of a call to voicemail at 20:44.
DS Fraser was then shown a portion of the "McNeilage tape" and the witnesses attention was drawn to the "timestamp" at the beginning of the video, 19:32 on 18/11/0. DS Fraser was then shown the tape's transcript and agreed this stated the time of the tape's conclusion as 20:32. The witness agreed that in the tape no use of a telephone is shown and further agreed that this fitted with the times of calls shown on the bill. With that the Advocate Depute concluded his evidence in chief and Mr Sheridan left his seat in the dock to begin his cross examination.
Mr Sheridan began by asking DS Fraser if it was correct that the telephone bill presented to the court would only show outgoing calls not incoming calls, the witness agreed that was correct. DS Fraser was then asked about the "HOMES" computer system used by the investigation team and what type of cases this was normally used in. DS Fraser told the court the "HOMES" system was normally used in complex cases such as "Murder , rape and protracted drug cases."
After discussing DS Fraser's role in the case Mr Sheridan asked the witness about the status of various people interviewed in the course of police inquiries." The witness explained that people could be "witnesses" "suspects" or "defendants" and confirmed that various people named, Colin Fox, Bob Bird, Alan Green remained witnesses while both Gail and Tommy Sheridan had their status changed to "suspect' in the course of the investigation. DS Fraser was then asked about what Mr Sheridan claimed were "inconsistencies" in the evidence of Crown witness Colin Fox, however at this point the Advocate Depute objected, arguing that DS Fraser could not speak to that subject, Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge agreed and Mr Sheridan moved on.
Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser if he would be "surprised" if a police officer would interview a witness in the presence of a journalist, the witness confirmed he would. Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser if he was aware that a member of the inquiry team, DC Wilson had spoken to Katrine Trolle at the home of Lorna Martin with Ms Martin present, the witness said he was not aware of that. Mr Sheridan then produced an email from Katrine Trolle to DC Wilson where she thanks him for bringing "Coffee and muffins this morning" and goes on to give the details of her Danish bank account. Mr Sheridan told the court that the defence had not been given any statement from DC Wilson about this meeting and asked if meeting a witness at a jounalists home was "improper" DS Fraser answered that it was "not normal" The court then adjourned for a short break.
When the court reconvened Mr Sheridan asked DS Fraser if he was aware that an inquiry had taken place into leaks of information to the media during the investigation. The witness confirmed there had been and that four officers, but not himself, had been interviewed. Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser if he was aware that Lorna Martin's partner was another journalist, Tom Gordon, and that Mr Gordon had written "lots of stories" about the case. DS Fraser told the court he was not aware of that.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness about emails between various officers allocated to the case where the defence had recovered the headings of the mails but not the content and suggested that these may have been deleted as they were "embarrassing" The witness said he had no knowledge of that and believed that the emails should have been stored at Lothian and Borders police HQ and that individual deleting a mail should still leave a copy on the server. Mr Sheridan said "thats what we thought" yet they had not recieved any emails, DS Fraser said he was not an expert on these issues but was aware that an inquiry had been undertaken into this issue by the Complaints and Conduct division of Lothian and Borders police.
Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser about Katrine Trolle's testimony to the 2006 libel trial where she had stated that the alleged visit by her, Mr Sheridan and others to the Cupid's club in Manchester had been in 2001 not 2002 as the she had stated at this trial. DS Fraser said that the witness had not told a lie but had been "unsure." The witness denied a suggestion that this amounted to perjury as it was "our belief that it was not malicious so was not perjury" Mr Sheridan then asked DS Fraser about the testimony in 2006 by Fiona McGuire, the witness told the court that after investigation it "appeared she was not telling the truth"
Finally Mr Sheridan put it to DS Fraser that he, and the other members of the team, had approached the case with the intention of "going after Gail and Tommy Sheridan" and had a "pre-determined view." The witness disagreed with this stating that he had looked at the information gathered before coming to a conclusion. With that Mr Sheridan returned to teh dock and the Advocate Depute rose to re-examine DS Fraser.
Mr Prentice asked the witness that while it was true that incoming calls would not appear on the bill, that in his viewing of the tape did he see or hear a telephone ringing. DS Fraser confirmed he did not. Under questioning DS Fraser told the court that he had not approached the case with a "blinkered view" and had not taken instructions from the News of the World or anyone else. With that the Advocate Depute thanked DS Fraser for his evidence and the witness was allowed to step down.
The court is now hearing from Detective Sergeant Stuart Harkness, who we understand will be the final crown witness in the case. A full report on his evidence will follow later today.