Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gordon Morgan

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.


Brenda said...

Good to see you hard at work typing on a Sunday, James. No rest for the wicked, eh! Brenda

no legal eagle said...

I'm confused by these hearsay rules: it appears ok for some witnesses to say what someone else said, but not others.

Why is Gordon Morgan saying what someone told him on the phone any different from someone claiming that TS had confessed to them?

James Doleman said...

My understanding is that, in the case of Alison Kane's telephone call, the witness would be reporting someone else's opinion of what was happening at the meeting. As Ms Kane has been a witness and has told the court her opinion directly there is no need for such testimony.

up4it said...

hey james you not wanting to post my comments anymore

James Doleman said...

Nothing personal up4it, you breached the rules.

Jamesie Cotter Esq. Govan Call Centre said...


If you were at the meeting, you can tell us what was said.

If you only spoke to someone at the end of the meeting by phone, you can tell us what you heard in the background (Splitter! Revisionist! Pabloite! Stalinist! Splitter! Wailing and gnashing of teeth; anyone for another Buckie? what's Faslane got to do with it? etc) but you cannot tell us what the other party told you went on at the meeting before the phone call.
Simply because as you were not there it is therefore someone else's evidence.

up4it said...

well james the smart money is on a xmas eve verdict

Smart Money said...

It is increasingly looking like that up4it, two weeks extra time to allow for "slippage" would bring this trial neatly round to an Xmas Eve climax; of course we might all be sat in Court come the New Year.

James Doleman said...

Campbell, sorry but you cannot discuss things not presented to the jury. Discussions you had with crown witnesses about defence witnesses fall into that category.

up4it said...

xmas eve, talk about a high stakes game. if you get a result what a xmas that will be but if it goes the other way! would it be norm to put someone on bail pending sentencing if they got found guilty on xmas eve or would it be go to jail do not pass go but get your £10 chrissy bonus (as reported in wkend papers) on entry to the big hoose.

James Doleman said...

Lets wait until we get a verdict before discussing those issues please up4it.



Court Insider said...

Where an Accused in found guilty on Xmas Eve or not is immaterial to whether or not bail is granted. Judicial decisions are not based on sentiment.

Anonymous said...

Not anticipating the course of the trial or anything, but I bet that you will be able to hear a pin drop in that courtroom before the Verdict is delivered.

Mike said...

39 people dependent on the SSP for their income?

Well, the MSPs weren't. Even if the party was wound up, they'd still get their salaries.

Also, the various researchers the party employed were paid out of the money the MSPs gave back to the party, so you can hardly claimn they were dependent on the party either.

Methinks Crde Morgan exagerates.

Jack Hack said...

Maybe the High Court is different but at rural Sheriff Court level where I grub about there is a definite advantage in getting cases into the system just before Christmas/New Year. I suspect it may be less to do with sentimentality than Scottish Court Service wanting to avoid the expense and grief of having Reliance vans trundling about during the festive season tipping bodies into jails where they're operating on skeleton staff anyway.

Legally Challenged said...

Mike said...
39 people dependent on the SSP for their income?

Well, the MSPs weren't. Even if the party was wound up, they'd still get their salaries.

Also, the various researchers the party employed were paid out of the money the MSPs gave back to the party, so you can hardly claimn they were dependent on the party either.

Methinks Crde Morgan exagerates.

Perhaps the SSP expenses Accounts submitted at the end of the fiscal year would shed some light on this.
Iam sure that such records would include things like staff cost and overheads of the day to day running of the Party?
Staff levels of around forty wether partime time or full time, the numbers suggested would indicate to me if on a minimum wage level would suggest an outlay similar to a small business.
As for researchers I beleive like other MSPs or indeed Mps researcher costs can be offset with expenses claims to the Parly.
Perhaps Crde Morgan rather than exagerating has underplayed this issue.

Mike said...


If the MSPs and researchers weren't dependant on the party for their income, I'd have thought that would suggest Morgan was exagerating the numbers.

He's saying 39 people, I'm saying the number is lower.

He's trying to imply that all these people, who he claims were depdendent on the party for their liveliehood, were jockeying for position and that this somehow gave rise to a plot against Tommy.

Not that this makes any sense anyway (why would people dependent on the SSP for a living decide they all had to do in Tommy anyway), but he's simply got his facts wrong.

Ca ching said...

Mike, the MSP's were all list MSP's. Therefore they owed their living to getting put as number one on the party list at the next election. The researchers etc were all appointed by the MSP's so if they went, most likely their staff would to.

The defence contend that the political fight was so bitter for precisely that reason, one side stood to lose not only their positions (that happens all the time in parties) but also their confortable livelyhood.

Anonymous said...

@ Ca ching - are you saying that everyone is "on the make", that is is all about money, having a comfortable livelihood?