Thursday morning saw the continuation of the defence case with Gordon Morgan being called as their next witness. Mr Morgan told the court that he was the previous Deputy Director of IT at Glasgow city council and was now self-employed. Mr Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence, then asked the witness about his political background and Mr Morgan said he had been in both the Liberal and Labour parties before becoming a founder member of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in 1999.
Mr Sheridan asked the witness to comment, in his capacity as SSP assistant treasurer from 2003 to 2006, about the "financial position" the party was in. Mr Morgan told the court that by 2003 the party was "clearly spending more than it's income" due to the employment of extra staff before and after that year's Scottish parliament election. The witness estimated that in 2003 there were 39 people who were "relying on the SSP for their income," (including the six members or parliament) and that this represented "one in a hundred" of the membership. Mr Morgan added that there was an urgent need to reduce staff costs.
Mr Sheridan then asked to Mr Morgan if the party had received any loans . The witness told the court that at the end of 2003 the organisation did not have the funds to meet staff wages for "more than a month." Mr Morgan told the court that the party had , approached Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne for a loan It was agreed that Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne, who contributed £1,300 a month from their MSP salaries to the party,would agree to borrow £40,000 each as an "advance" on their monthly remittance. £40,000 was to be used to fund the deficit and the other £40,000 was used as a deposit which with a £67,000 mortgage would fund the purchase of new party offices in Glasgow. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Morgan if there were any other loans to the SSP during this period. The witness told the court he himself had lent the party £23,000 via "credit cards" money that there was, in his words, "no way to repay." Mr Morgan added that "there were times the party was on the verge of bankruptcy" which, being a breach of election law and would lead to the SSP being "wound up.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he had been made aware of an emergency meeting of the SSP executive committee on the 9th November 2004. Mr Morgan stated that he had been telephoned about, it but when he had been informed the meeting was solely to discuss "rumours" about Mr Sheridan he had decided not to attend and advised others not to. Mr Morgan stated that at the time he believed that the decision to call an executive meeting on this subject was "outrageous". The witness then began to tell the court that he had called Alan Green, the National Secretary of the SSP about the proposed meeting, however at this point the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, rose to object on the grounds of hearsay. Lord Bracadale upheld the objection and asked Mr Sheridan to move on.
Mr Morgan then told the court about a telephone call said he had received from Alison Kane during a break in the executive meeting. Due to the rules of evidence around hearsay Mr Morgan could not discuss what Ms Kane had said to him, however he did say that immediately after the call he had said to a colleague "they've all gone mad" and "it sounds like a lynch mob" Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he would be willing to make his phone records available to the court to confirm that this call had occurred. The witness told the court there were a number of "factions" in the party both inside and outside parliament. Mr Morgan told the court that there were three Members of the Parliament, Frances Curran, Rosie Kane and Carolyn Leckie who formed a "sub group" and that these three MSP's were "derogatory" towards Tommy Sheridan and Rosemary Byrne. Mr Morgan added that the financial crisis in the SSP had intensified the divisions and that when it became clear the some people would lose their jobs with the party there had been much "jockeying for position" amongst the staff. With that Mr Sheridan returned to his seat in the dock and the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, rose to commence his cross-examination.
Mr Prentice began by asking Mr Morgan if the disputes in the SSP at this time were over a "point of principle" The witness replied that they were of a "personalised nature" Mr Prentice then asked about the role of Colin Fox, the MSP who succeeded Mr Sheridan as convener of the party. Mr Morgan described Mr Fox as "moving in the wind" sometimes siding with Mr Sheridan and sometimes with the "other three female MSPs" Mr Morgan gave the example of a "protest" in the chamber of the parliament over the G8 which saw four MSP's suspended (Mr Fox, Ms Kane, Ms Curran and Ms Leckie) and cost the party £30,000. Mr Morgan called this protest a "stunt" which had "never been agreed by anyone."
Mr Prentice concluded his cross examination by asking Mr Morgan why he had refused to provide a statement to the police when asked in November this year. The witness agreed that he had not and added that he had taken legal advice and been told that this was not compulsory, something that had "surprised" him. Mr Sheridan then briefly re-examined Mr Morgan and asked for more details about the "protest" held by the four MSPs in the parliament. Mr Morgan claimed that the action had been taken on the pretext of a denial by the police of permission to hold a demonstration at the G8 summit in Gleneagles in July 2005, but that the four MSP's "knew that it had been permitted" With that Mr Sheridan thanked the witness and Mr Morgan was allowed to step down from the stand.