Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Mike Gonzalez

The second witness of Monday morning was Mike Gonzalez. Mr Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence,  opened by asking the witness if would preferred to be called Mr or Professor, the witness replied "it makes no difference, either way" Mr Gonzalez then told the court he was now retired but had previously been professor of Latin American studies at Glasgow University. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness about his "political background" Mr Gonzalez told the court he had been active in left-wing politics since the 1960's and had joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in the early 1970's and had, along with other Scottish members of the SWP had joined the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) in 2001. The witness also confirmed that he was an elected member of the SSP's Executive Committee.

Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Gonzalez if he had attended the SSP executive meeting of 9 November 2006 (at which the Crown allege Mr Sheridan admitted attending a "sex club") The witness said he had not, as he had been in Spain at the time. Mr Gonzalez did tell the court he had attended the two subsequent meetings, on the 14th and 24th of November and was asked if minutes had been presented for approval at either of these. The witness replied "no, no minutes." Mr Sheridan told Mr Gonzales the court had heard from Crown witnesses that there were minutes of the 9th November meeting presented at the 24th November meeting and if he was "positive" none had been presented. Mr Gonzalez replied "absolutely positive, yes."

Mr Sheridan then presented the witness with an exhibit that the Crown allege is the booklet given to members of the Executive at the 24 November meeting. Mr Gonzalez looked through the booklet and stated that he was "certain" this was not presented at the meeting. Asked "how certain" he replied "very certain." The witness then went on to state that "he had never seen minutes like these" and that they appeared to be a "verbatim report," while minutes were normally "brief reports." Mr Gonzalez stated that a minute like this would have "caught his attention." 

Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Gonzalez about the "state of play in the SSP in 2004. The witness responded that there were "tensions and disagreement developing" due to "different organisations coming together" Mr Sheridan then asked Gonzalez if he and the witness were "friends." Mr Gonzalez replied "no, we are colleagues in a political organisation" and agreed that he and Mr Sheridan had never "socialised together. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if he had been truthful, which Mr Gonzales said he had, and concluded his questions by asking the witness "are you still in the SWP?" Mr Gonzalez replied "yes, indeed" Mr Sheridan then returned to his seat in the dock.

Alex Prentice QC, the Advocate Depute, then came to the lectern to cross-examine the witness. Mr Prentice brought into evidence a police statement he had made on the 24th July 2007. In this statement Mr Gonzalez is quoted as saying, "I don't remember being shown this book [containing the minutes] but I could have been given them at the meeting and not read them." Mr Prentice asked the the witness of he had said that to the police, Mr Gonzalez said he had. With that the Advocate Depute ended his cross-examination and Mr Sheridan rose to re-examine.

Mr Sheridan asked Mr Gonzalez about the circumstances under which these police statements were taken. Mr Gonzales told the court that the police had visited his home twice and stayed for around two and a half hours on each occasion. Mr Gonzales added that this was three months after his partner had died. He went on to tell the court he had found the attitude of the police "intimidating at a difficult time" and agreed that the Advocate Depute had "pointed to a single sentence of five hours of interviews" and that this statement was not taken under oath.  Mr Sheridan concluded by reminding the witness that he had affirmed to tell the truth and asked him if he had told the truth today, Mr Gonzalez stated that he had. Mr Sheridan then asked if Mr Gonzalez was "certain" that no minutes had been presented to him on the 24th November, Mr Gonzalez replied that he was. At that point the Advocate depute rose to object and the jury was asked to leave the court.

When the jury returned Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge thanked "Professor Gonzalez" for his testimony and the witness was allowed to step down from the stand.


Davie said...

Thanks a lot James.
I've had a bad cold and could not attend for a number of days. I've found your blog invaluable for keeping me up to speed.
If I'd had to rely on the established press I'd be no wiser than a 'Sun' reader...... (a bad place to be)

George G said...

If this is indeed a "conspiracy", it has to be the "Mother of All Conspiracies".

Anonymous said...

Maybe this trial is making us all see conspiracies. Even so...

There’s an interesting confluence of evidence around the subsequent ec meeting of the 24/11/04, where the defence has produced witnesses to question the existence of the 9/11/04 minutes at this meeting.

Firstly, Rosemary Byrne testified that she was “absolutely positive” these minutes were not presented and did not exist.

However, there have been three members of the Scottish Socialist Workers Party, testifying to not seeing the minutes at this subsequent meeting - Patricia Smith, Mike Gonzales and Charlotte Ahmed.

The first Smith said she was “certain” in her testimony that there were no minutes distributed. Later, under cross-examination and presented with a sign-out list she said documents had been distributed at the meeting. She denied that a signature on the list was hers. Presumably this must mean that she was the only person at the meeting who did not get documents. And that someone forged her signature. Or that she did get the documents and it is her signature. (apologies if there’s another explanation I’ve not thought of.)

Charlotte Ahmed also testified to there not being minutes presented at the meeting. Later, under cross-examination she said a bundle of documents was distributed – presumably the same ones Pat Smith says were at the meeting and which she did not get and which she did not put her signature to. Ahmed acknowledged under cross-examination that she did not look at the documents in the bundle, and admitted that she could not say that they were not present.

Professor Gonzalez testified that he was “absolutely positive” there were no minutes presented and that he was “very certain” that the documents presented in court today were not presented at the meeting. Under cross-examination he acknowledged making a statement to police that 1. he did not remember seeing them and 2. he might have been given them but might not have read them.

The subtle differences, but broadly similar theme is striking in these latter three versions, compared to the first. Any ideas why? I know recollections vary but it struck me as odd.

Sceptic said...

I thought it was a bit of a nothing point from the AD. How could anyone deny it was possible that there was a minute but you didn't see it. It is possible that there was someone in my house last night but I didnt see them, how could you deny that possibilty?

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're being wilfully obtuse, sceptic, but i'll bite.

it's important and relevant because Ms Ahmed had just testified there was no minute, only to admit she hadn't looked at al the papers. It's very relevant and a very big deal.

Sceptic said...

I think if you read Mr Doleman's report on Ms Ahmed you will see that was dealt with.

Bunc said...

Something about aspects of these recent testimonies doesn't feel right to me but I cant put my finger on it.

Bobby said...

I think if AP had done his homework he would have read up about the Scottish Left before this trial.

Does no one else find it interesting that from those who were members of the EC who have testified for TS three of the five (Patricia Smith, Charlotte Ahmed, and Mike Gonzalez) were members of the Socialist Workers Platform within the SSP... ?

A Rural Socialist said...

Bunc said

Something about aspects of these recent testimonies doesn't feel right to me but I cant put my finger on it.

December 14, 2010 9:09 PM

Could it be that these were defence witnesses and not Crown?

Peter said...

Do posters agree that the testimony of Crown witness Colin Fox corroborates the evidence of all of the defence witnesses on this specific matter ie. that the version of the "minutes" that the United Left and the Crown say are genuine were not seen by anyone other than United Left members until 2006 when Alan McCoombes handed them over to the court?

Fox appears also to say he was in a pub in 2006 when he was informed by Alan Green that he had a set of minutes in his bag but he was away from the table when they shown to Tommy by Alan Green!

Still getting my head around that one.

I would have thought that as leader of the SSP Fox may have been a little curious to see these minutes and could have asked Alan to get them out of his bag for a little look see.

The problem I suggest for the Crown is that none of its case is straightforward.

The main physical exhibits eg. the minutes and video and all the witness testimony have large question marks next to them.

It is only if you view the minutes as a version of events the United Left felt to be the case rather than an actual party document that they make sense.

In my opinion as a party document they are so flawed in theor style, content and structure that as a set of minutes they would not have gone through on the nod at any meeting.

justaglasgowguy said...

If indeed there were minutes then the procedure is that attention is called to them, they are 'moved' and sometimes amended if someone believes the to be inaccurate and then voted on. Then there would be 'matters arising' ie what happened regarding decisions taken at the previous meeting. So if it was decided that a meeting be called to campaign over an issue, then a report would be made on that matter.
So the minutes are not just a record but are a means by which committee holds individuals of the committee and the office bearers to account.
This is not something that slips by in a meeting. In some meetings the minutes of the previous meeting can take up most of the next meeting.
So the idea there was minutes but no one noticed seems very strange, and suggests that indeed there were no minutes.

Anonymous said...


I see what you are saying but i disagree.

In fact it may be the case that three of these defence witnesses lend credence to Colin Fox's testimony.

On Day 3 of proceedings i believe he identified the document produced in court as the same document that he had seen at the ec meeting subsequent to the resignation meeting in 2004.

He maintained this position when he was recalled for further cross-examination.

The four defence witnesses above in their testimony either deny the existence of the minutes, or of seeing them or possessing them.
Under cross-examination two of the witnesses acknowledge that they cannot say with certainty that minutes were not present at that meeting - if Ms Smith had not signed for the documents, presumably she must be in no position to say whether they were in the "bundle"; Professor Gonzales position is that there were documents but no minutes - although part of his statement to police was that he might have been given documents and not read them.

The point being, that several key defence witnesses and ec members have not testified that they read minutes; but they have not testified that they did not exist.

Anonymous said...


I think 16 people have already testified that they noticed the minutes.

Anonymous said...


Or - an alternative interpretation - it could suggest that certain people are lying about there being no minutes

Marvinfaethescheme said...

anon 5:51

Indeed it may indicate someone is lying about there being no minutes; a careful look at the way the SWP witnesses testified and then modified/elaborated under cross-examination however, is a telling detail.

Either some people are lying that there are minutes.

Or some people are lying that there are no minutes.

Yet these defence witnesses, all political allies of the accused, though from a distinct political tendency, have a get-out clause either way (the professor excepted) as in effect they are saying "mibbes aye, mibbes naw."


Anonymous said...

Hi James, how come my comment with the link to the Herald article hasn't been published?

annabanana said...


Bunc said...

I can assure you that flattery and praise will get you absolutely anywhere you want with me.