NB this is one of a series of reports we were unable to complete last week. For the record Mr Stott testified on the 14th of December.
On Tuesday Morning the court heard from defence witness Phillip Stott. Mr Stott told the court that he had known the accused, Tommy Sheridan, for twenty six years through their mutual involvement in the Labour Party Mr Stott also stated that he had been a founding member of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP). Mr Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence, then showed the witness a three minute clip of a video that the Crown assert shows him making various admissions of relevance to the charges against him. Asked for his opinion of the video Mr Stott said to Mr Sheridan that the voice on the tape "was certainly not you" Asked he was sure the witness said "absolutely certain.
Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Stott if he was aware of the possible serious concequences of not being truthful in court, Mr Stott replied that he was and when asked if he would "risk prison" replied "I have a young family and would like to continue to see them. With that Mr Sheridan thanked the witness and returned to his seat in the dock.
Alex Prentice QC, the Advocate Depute, then came to the lectern to cross examine Mr Stott. Mr Prentice first asked if the voice in the tape "sounds like Mr Sheridan" to which the witness replied "no" Mr Prentice then asked if the witness believed there was "no question of it being Mr Sheridan" Mr Stott responded by describing the voice on the tape as a "poor caricature." The Advocate depute then asked the witness why he would state that. Mr Stott said he had a "number of issues" with the claim that the voice was Mr Sheridan's stating that firstly that the number of swear words used was untypical of the accused stating "that's not something he does, and secondly that this "was not how Tommy Sheridan holds a conversation, it doesn't ring true." Asked if the voice was at least "similar to Mr Sheridan, Mr Stott responded that it "might be to people who don't know him" but that it was "definitely not his voice."
The Advocate Depute then moved on. asking Mr Stott why he had "refused to speak to the police" prior to giving his evidence. Mr Stott replied that he had taken legal advice from a friend, who was a lawyer, and from Mr Sheridan's defence team that it was not "legally nessesary" for him to give the police a statement. Mr Prentice put it to the witness that it was still "his choice" and that by not giving a statement he was being "obstructive." Mr Stott denied that and stated that he did not think that Lothian and Borders police had been "even handed" in the conduct of their investigation, that they were engaged in a "vendetta" against the accused and therefore he did not particularly want to assist them. Mr Prentice then ended his cross-examination and Mr Sheridan left the dock to re-examine the witness.
Mr Sheridan began by asking Mr Stott what he had meant when he had claimed that Lothian and Borders police had been engaged in a "vendetta." Mr Stott told the court he believed the investigation had not been "impartial" and mentioned Gail Sheridan's questioning by the police when they had asked her if she had been trained by the IRA (see Here) Mr Sheridan then put it to Mr Stott that he had been cited in October and that the Crown would be aware he was to give evidence, Mr Stott stated that he "assumed so" Mr Sheridan then asked the witness if the police had any attempt to contact him before this week, Mr Stott stated "never at any time" Mr Sheridan concluded by asking Mr Stott if he was "firm" in his opinion that the voice on the tape was not his. Mr Stott said he was "certain it is not you." Mr Sheridan then thanked the witness and Mr Stott stepped down from the stand.