The second witness of the morning was James (Jim) Monaghan. Mr Monaghan told the court that he had been a member of the Scottish Socialist Party from 2001 to 2006 and when asked by Mr Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence, stated that he had been following the case through the "newspapers and the internet. Mr Sheridan asked Mr Monaghan if anything had "caught his eye" and the witness responded "quite a bit." Asked to explain Mr Monaghan stated that when he had read that previous Crown witness Alison Kane had said that Mr Sheridan had not attended the SSP's "people's festival" on the 27th September 2002 (the date the prosecution claim Mr Sheridan was at the Cupids club) he "knew that to be a lie."
Mr Monaghan went on to tell the court that on the night in question he, and a friend Mark Gilroy, had travelled from their home in Cumnock to leaflet the event for a meeting they were holding a few days later, a "Keir Hardie Memorial lecture." When they were at the Centre for Contemporary Art (CCA) they had seen and spoken to Mr Sheridan to remind him he was to speak at their event. Asked by Mr Sheridan how he could be so sure about an event eight years ago, Mr Monaghan replied that he had checked the SSP's website and that the only event held in the CCA that weekend was on Friday the 27th of September and he had confirmed this recollection with Mr Gilroy.
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness what time he recollected he had met him. Mr Monaghan replied that it was around 9.00 pm and could have been no later that 9.30 as he and Mr Gilroy had caught the last train back to Cumnock which left at 10.00pm. Mr Sheridan then produced his diary for 2002, which he told the court had been siezed in a police raid on his home in December 2007. Mr Monaghan was shown an entry for the 1st October 2002 which read "Keir Hardie Memorial commemoration, attend" and agreed that this was the date of the meeting he had organised. The witness also told the court that Mr Sheridan had attended and indeed been the "main speaker" at the meeting. The court then took a short break.
When court reconvened Mr Sheridan asked Mr Monaghan if, in the years following 2002, he had "heard me speak" The witness replied that he had "quite a lot." Mr Sheridan then played to the court a section of a tape, distributed by the News of the World, that is alleged to show Mr Sheridan making damaging admissions (the so called "McNeilage tape") Mr Sheridan asked Mr Monaghan if he had been aware of the tapes existence. The witness replied that on the Saturday night before the tape was released there had been posts going round the internet by "SSP members" saying that a story was about to break and "Sheridan is done for" Mr Sheridan then played a section of the video and, after the 3-4 minute clip was played, asked Mr Monaghan if he "believed that was my voice" The witness replied "I don't think it is."
Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Monaghan why he thought it was not his voice on the tape. The witness replied that there were a "number of things" that the voice on the tape was "stop start" and that the volume of swearing "sticks out" adding that that the conversation was "too convenient" and, in his opinion the voice was that of an "impersonator" Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Monaghan about his familiarity with his voice. The witness responded that he had been appointed as Mr Sheridan's press officer in 2006 and worked as a researcher in the Scottish Parliament and therefore had spoken to the accused "on a daily basis."
Mr Sheridan ended his evidence in chief by asking Mr Monaghan about a conversation they had in October 2006 about a previous Crown witness Jack Ferguson (a report on Mr Ferguson's evidence can be found Here ) Mr Monaghan told the court that during a car journey Mr Sheridan had played him a voicemail that had been left on his mobile phone, which had on it a "disgraceful message" that "wished you mum would die of cancer." The witness told the court he had phoned Mr Ferguson on his own phone about this message and that Mr Ferguson had "laughed it off" saying that "someone else had got a hold of his phone" and had then "hung up" At this point a clearly emotional and upset Mr Sheridan ended his questions and returned to his seat in the dock.
For the first time in the case the Advocate Depute, Alec Prentice QC, did not conduct the cross-examination on behalf of the Crown, instead Mr David Nicolson came to the lectern. Report to follow.