Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ian Fitzpatrick

The second witness to appear for the defence on Tuesday at the trial of HM Advocate v Sheridan and Sheridan in the High Court of Glasgow was Ian Fitzpatrick. Mr Fitzpatrick told the court that he had been a civil servant but his job had now been outsourced and he worked for an IT company The witness also told the court that he was a representative for the Public and Commercial Services Union. Mr Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence, asked Mr Fitzpatrick how long he had known him. The witness told the court he had known Mr Sheridan since 2002 and further told the court he had heard Mr Sheridan speak at lots of meetings and rallies, in private conversations and during "poker nights" adding "even though you are not very good at them."

Mr Sheridan then showed the witness a short section  of a video, which the Crown alleges is of Mr Sheridan and George McNeilage  (you can find a report about the video and a link to a partial transcript Here ) After the clip Mr Sheridan asked the witness if, in his opinion,  the voice on the tape was his. Mr Fitzpatrick replied "absolutely not" adding that "in so many ways it's not you." Mr Sheridan concluded his evidence in chief by asking the witness if he was aware of the consequences of being "untruthful in court" and given that would he be willing to risk prison by lying for him. Mr Fitzpatrick replied that "I think we are all aware of that" and added "I have a four year old and a six year old waiting for me at Christmas, no way Tommy" Mr Sheridan then finished his examination and returned to his seat in the dock.

The Advocate Depute then rose to cross-examine Mr Fitzpatrick. He began by asking the witness that if all he intended to give as evidence was his view on the voice on the tape, why had he not given a police statement. The witness replied that he had come home to find a "card" through his door on a Friday evening, from a police officer,  and had" thought nothing more of it" until he had come home on Monday to find another card, which he thought was "bordering on the extreme" Mr Prentice asked "a card is extreme" to which Mr Fitzpatrick replied that the police had returned 'within one working day." 

The Advocate Depute then asked Mr Fitzpatrick what he had told the police. The witness said he had spoken to a "nice chap" who seemed keen to "distance himself" from the previous investigation. Asked why he had refused to give a statement the witness replied that he had taken legal advice from the defence team who had told him he was not obliged to give a statement. Mr Fitzpatrick went on to say that the treatment of Gail Sheridan (see Here) by the police had influenced his position on the matter especially "her being accused of IRA tactics " adding "I work for the MOD [Ministry of Defence] and was not desperate to be tarred with that brush."

Mr Prentice then asked the witness to explain what he had meant when he said the voice on the tape was unlike Mr Sheridan's "in so many ways" The witness replied "Tone, it struck me he never makes long pauses, the swearing" adding that Mr Sheridan spoke in an "eloquent way" Mr Fitzpatrick further told the court that he had never seen "any behaviour like that" from Mr Sheridan, even when he had been angry especially the "swearing and slang language" Mr Prentice put it to Mr Fitzpatrick that other witnesses, some who had known Mr Sheridan for 30 years had testified that it was his voice. The witness said it was "obvious" it was not Mr Sheridan and that it was "crystal clear it was not him" 

The Advocate depute then asked for a brief recess and when court resumed he played to the jury a section of video tape from an interview from Channel Four news on October 3rd 2006, two days after the News of the World had released the "McNeilage tape" Mr Sheridan is seen as saying in this channel 4 video  "it is not me, they may have inserted my voice, but who framed Roger Rabbit." and later on in the interview "they may have spliced my voice." With that the Advocate depute ended his cross-examination and Mr Sheridan returned to the lectern to re-examine Mr Fitzpatrick.

Mr Sheridan then had the court staff replay more of the Channel Four video, including a section where he says "we beat the News of the world in the last court case and we will beat them again" adding that the tape is a "concoction" Mr Sheridan asked the witness if he recalled saying, in his earlier testimony, that it was not his voice in the tape but another voice, and asked if Mr Fitzpatrick was aware if there was anyone who could "mimic his voice" The Advocate Depute objected to this question and the objection was upheld by Lord Bracadale. Mr Sheridan concluded by asking the witness "I don't have long pauses and swear when I speak" Mr Fitzpatrick replied "absolutely" and that there was a "stark contrast" between the voice on the video and that of Mr Sheridan, adding "you don't swear like that, there is only one conclusion" Mr Sheridan then thanked the witness for his evidence and Mr Fitzpatrick was allowed to leave the stand.


former ssp said...

that could be the least convincing case i've ever read in my life...

surely there must be more to the defence case than the fact Tommy doesn't swear very often...

one point to consider is that surely if the tape was knocked up by Tommy's former best man then he would also know that Tommy never swears and wouldnt have included so much of it? i guess it's for the jury to decide though

Suspension of Disbelief said...

At least this clears up the position that the defence is taking on the tape, so we can assume that it is a bona fide tape then? Only contention is between it being TS on the tape and an actor/mimic.

Anonymous said...

Seriously, he's going with the swearing thing??

Even if it made any sense as a defence (if anyone was going to pick a time to swear, might it not be a time a like that?), it doesn't help his case much. As he doesn't swear much in public or normal circumstances, why would someone 'concocting' a tape pack it so full of swear words?

Words are honestly starting to fail me.

Conspiracy Theory said...

former ssp - G McN might know that Tommy didn't swear a lot but would "Quentin Tarantino"?

Jamesie Cotter Esq. Govan Logsplitting Collective said...

So TS was on Channel 4 saying his voice may have been spliced/inserted into the tape. Now Fitzpatrick denys the same voice is Tommy's.

Fade to a scene of the Shetland ferries passing in the night. One sailing North, the other pushing South.

That, my friends, is a wrap. Goodnight.

Sceptic said...

Breaking. Tommy Sheridan said he did not know if it was an actor or a splice on the tape the day after he heard it 4 years ago, but did always say it was not him.

Hold the front page?

Thought not.

Queen & the Soldier said...

Checkmate to Prentice then?, but of course that is for the jury to decide.

justaglasgowguy said...

Well could be made by someone who only knows TS from the media, but knows he is a working class guy from Pollok. How would such a person speak in private? He would swear of course! A bit of working class veracity. Just like when the police spies turned up on the miners pickets with the Sun hanging out of their pocket, not realising that the any picket worth their salt wouldn't have been seen dead with such a thing.

Bunc said...

The defence response to the tape is so bad it's surreal - in my opinion

Anonymous said...

I fear following this case closely is like staring at a huge mountain from a foot away... you can't see what's right in front of your nose, yet from a distance it is obvious.


The number of defence witnesses who have declined to speak to the police is not surprising. It is of course their right.(it may surprise those who have to make the decision however)

However, several, rather than just say "it is my right and choice," have now declared a definite motive, connected with the investigation. This seems either foolhardy or a desperate attempt to underscore sense of a conspiracy... the problem is though that it can come across as in itself conspiratorial and does not chime with joe public's everyday perception of the law.(rightly or wrongly)

Anonymous said...

By Jove, If TS ever tracks down this actor/mimic character I think he will find himself/herself on the end of stern words - does anyone think the actor/mimic is local? pollok?

Anonymous said...

On a serious note, acting and mimicry are different disciplines with different demands. Some artists can execute both though it is a rare talent.

Moreover, to sustain a monologue in character for the time suggested would indicate an actor of the highest calibre - surely someone who can be easily identified.

On a different note, dialectology can produce remarkably accurate results in matching voice to locale. For example, the voice on the Wearside Jack tape (when a hoaxer sent a tape to police claiming to be the Yorkshire Ripper - he was caught and convicted in 2005, on DNA evidence)was matched to one particular scheme in Sunderland.

We wont see that in this case though, i suspect.

Tommy Trial Addict said...

I think, as others have hinted at, there are hidden legal reasons which mean we will not hear any expert testimony on the tape.

Sheridan is therefore countering the reliability of the tape by simply getting people to say it isn't his voice.

Not a winning strategy in my book but it is, perhaps, the only option left open to him.

The tape is the crux of the case and I don't think Sheridan can shake it off just by saying it is not his voice and that McNeilage got paid by the NoTW.

The phone-call evidence the Crown presented helps lend credence to the tape too.

Sheridan has to do better over this issue or he is in soapy bubble, in my opinion.

jim mclean said...

Dont knock it, whatever happened to Gerry Adams's voice over, maybe switched to a weegie accent?
Was that really John Reid at the Celtic AGM. Haven't been on here for a week, will have some catching up to do.

A.N. Onomouse said...

Tommy Trial Addict says
The tape is the crux of the case

If I were TS I would be more worried about his pals testimony in relation to the car trip to Cupids.

He's not the Messiah, he's a very naughty boy. said...

If Tommy never swears, then presumably he never swears when he's on the phone.

If that's the case, then it can't be spliced from the mobile phone conversations he claims the NotW have.

He'll need to do much better than this to even remotely undermine the tape evidence

Anonymous said...

The tape is not the crux of the case.

It is however a very powerful piece of evidence which crystallises some of the issues.

If you take seriously the notion of the tape showing actors, then you are likely to embrace much of the other evidence about a wide-ranging political and personal conspiracy.

If you don't, then you are likely to accept that individuals make blunders when they are in tight spots and will be prepared to say anything to extricate themselves. And that for so many personal friends and colleagues to turn on someone in such a dramatic fashion, there must be an explosive reason. Which would discredit to a significant extent the defence that a conspiracy involving multifarious interest groups has occurred.

From the evidence heard so far, and the context of the civil trial, I suspect that the prosecution would have gone ahead had the tape not existed. And the emphasis currently placed on the tape, would have been placed on other evidence. In fact the involvement of the tape has allowed the defence a certain traction in terms of drawing out the notion of "dark arts," "back-stabbing," "phone-hacking" which has been used to cast wider doubts on what you might call more conventional evidence such as records of discussions, the weight of witness testimony etc.

Steve said...

It might be more accurate to say "second witness [..] on Tuesday morning" rather than just "second witness to appear for the defence".

Yes, call me pedantic...

Critical-eye said...

It is not clear whether Fitzpatrick claimed that TS never swore or that he rarely did.

"For f###'s sake Frances I expected more loyalty from you" - so Frances Curran has testified TS said at a meeting on the day after the 9/11 meeting. I believe that TS did not challenge this statement in his cross-examination.

The date on the tape is 18/11/2002, a date when TS was under extreme pressure, and the tape reveals a man under pressure, who can, therefore, be expected to swear more than usual.

The "T" character in the tape also IMO shows the same psychology we have seen from TS in Court - the same "they are out to get me" attitude, and the same attempt to use his wife and child (note the attempt in the tape to use the forthcoming birth of the "wean" to try to put off his resignation until February).

Whatsy said...

Re: "It might be more accurate to say "second witness [..] on Tuesday morning" rather than just "second witness to appear for the defence".

Yes, call me pedantic...

I've corrected that. James is a little busy right now...

Whatsy said...

Interestingly for me, being a regular in court, by the Crown playing this Channel 4 interview, TS was able to play a bit of it with him saying "the 2006 trial proved that NoW are liars", which is something similar to what he has regularly tried to say in court this time around, and Prentice has successfully objected to.

So, a wee victory for Team Sheridan on that one, I would have thought.

Sceptic said...

Critical eye, if we take Francis Curran as an honest witness TS is guilty anyway. I doubt her accusation of swearing is particularly germain.