Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Rosemary Byrne, Cross-Examination
After Tommy Sheridan had examined Rosemary Byrne, Alex Prentice QC the Advocate Depute, rose to cross examine the witness. Mr Prentice began by asking the witness if she had been been exicited by the formation of the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) Mrs Byrne told the court that she had seen the party as providing a alternative Socialist voice that would "represent people who were struggling" Mr Prentice asked the witness if one if the "different" things about the SSP was that it rejected "hypocrisy and sleaze" Mrs Byrne answered "I didn't even think about sleaze to be honest" but agreed that integrity was important.
Mr Prentice then put it to Mrs Byrne that a "Sex scandal would be disastrous for the SSP" especially if it involved their leading figure, Tommy Sheridan. Mrs Byrne agreed it would have been, "if true." Mr Prentice then asked the witness if she was if she was "greatly relieved" when Mr Sheridan denied the allegations, Mrs Byrne agreed that she was. Mr Prentice then asked that if Mr Sheridan had denied the allegations one would think that the SSP executive meeting would have an atmosphere of "joy." Mrs Byrne replied that on the contrary the meeting was a "kangaroo court" and that she had found out later that there had been a "prior meeting" where it had been decided to find Mr Sheridan guilty, "no matter what he said." Mrs Byrne added, "sorry, no joy."
Mr Prentice then asked Mrs Byrne if Mr Sheridan had denied the allegations why then had the executive asked him to resign, a decision she had voted for. The witness replied that the decision was taken because the party did not want to have it's convener involved in legal action and that she had favored waiting to see if Mr Sheridan was going to sue the News of the World. Mrs Byrne stated that the "consensus" was to ask Mr Sheridan to step down now, so she had voted for it. The witness added that she now "regretted" that decision and stated again that the meeting was "very hysterical" and "nasty."
Mr Prentice then asked Mrs Byrne if she had seen Barbara Scott at the meeting as the minute taker. The witness stated she had, but was "not aware" is she had taken notes. The Advocate Depute then asked Mrs Byrne if she was calling Barbara Scott a liar, the witness replied that she believed Ms Scott was "wrong" adding that "it didn't happen" but when pressed added I have to say it as you put it to me [that Ms Scott had "lied"] Mr Prentice put it to the witness that this was not her testimony at the 2006 civil trial. Mrs Byrne responded that they had "all been in one party then" and the situation had been "horrid beyond belief adding that "since the split" (in the SSP) she had realised that there were "people out to get Tommy" and that they would "do anything" The Advocate Depute then asked the witness if the witnesses who have testified to Mr Sheridan admitting attending a sex club at the meeting were "all liars" Mrs Byrne responded that she did not hear any admissions and that "they were not telling the truth"
Mr Prentice then asked Mrs Byrne why it would be a "concern of the party" that Mr Sheridan was planning on taking a civil action against the News of the World. The witness replied that it raised "a lot of problems, financial problems" and that having a convener "fighting the News of the World was not the best position, but I regret that we didn't wait." Asked to explain the financial issues she referred to Mrs Byrne said that the party was in debt and indeed that both herself and Tommy Sheridan were "owed money." Mr Prentice asked if this had been discussed at the 9/11/04 executive meeting, Mrs Byrne said it had been "touched upon" but agreed there had not been a full discussion of the issue.
The Advocate depute then moved on to ask Mrs Byrne if she belived that "Socialists should always take sides against the News of the World" to which the witness responded "no, it would depend on the circumstances. Mr Prentice then produced an email from Tommy Sheridan, to which the witness was copied, that contained a copy of a motion, passed by the Cardonald branch of the SSP in May 2006, that resolved that the SSP should "if a record exists" destroy any records if meetings that had information about members "personal lives" Mrs Byrne told the court she was familiar with the motion which she described as an attempt to "get out of the woodwork" talk of minutes, adding that she had asked to see any minute of the 9/11/04 executive meeting "over and over" and had never been shown any. Mr Prentice asked "if" the minutes existed did she agree they should have been destroyed, to which Mrs Byrne replied "you can't destroy what's not there" but agreed that it would be "wrong" to do so if a minute was a "ratified minute" . Mr Prentice asked of she agreed with another section of the motion that stated "Socialists must always take the side of other socialists against scum and scab outfits like the News of the World. The witness replied that she agreed that the News of the World was a "scum and scab outfit," but added that "you don't take sides if someone is wrong."
Mr Prentice then returned to the question of the disputed minute and asked if the witness had not seen this document at the SSP executive meeting on 24/12/04. Mrs Byrne replied she had not and would have remembered if she had. The Advocate Depute then produced a hand written note, that he told the court had been made by Barbara Scott of the 24/12/04 executive meeting and pointed to the agenda that had as item two, "Minutes." Mrs Byrne again said she had seen no minutes at that meeting and, when asked about discussion of the minute stated that that no-one had objected to the minute as it had not been presented.
Mr Prentice concluded his cross-examination by putting it to the witness that "the truth is Tommy Sheridan did admit attending a sex club and you heard that" Mrs Byrne replied "he did not admit that on that day or on any other day in my presence." Mr Prentice stated that the witness was a "supporter of Tommy Sheridan" and that is why she had testified as she had. With that he returned to his chair.
Mr Sheridan then briefly re-examined Mrs Byrne asking first if she was a member of the Cardonald branch of the SSP or had voted for their motion. The witness said she was not and had not. Mr Sheridan concluded by asking Mrs Byrne if the events of the 9th November 2004 executive meeting were "clear in her mind" The witness replied "absolutely clear" and with that Mr Sheridan thanked the witness and returned to the dock. Mrs Byrne was then allowed to step down from the witness box.
The trial continues tomorrow with further witnesses for the defence.
Posted by James Doleman at 8:17 PM