Wednesday, December 8, 2010
Rosemary Byrne's Testimony
In today's session, which was shortened due to weather conditions, the court heard from only one witness, Rosemary Byrne. Mr Sheridan began by thanking Mrs Byrne for making it to court today and then asked the witness about her background. Mrs Byrne told the court that she had been a teacher for 30 years and had reached the position of principle teacher in "pupil support," had been an active Trade unionist and had also a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) from 2003 to 2007. Mrs Byrne also confirmed that she had been cited in the case by the Crown, but had not been called to give evidence by them.
Mrs Byrne was then asked about the pivotal Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) executive meeting of the 9th Noveber 2004 which she had attended in her capacity as an MSP. Mrs Byrne described the meeting as haven taken place in a "very small room" and described the atmosphere as "hysterical' and "very unpleasant" Mr Sheridan then asked the witness what he had said to this meeting. Mrs Byrne answered "you denied attending a sex club" and that Mr Sheridan had called the stories about him "all rumour" and "untrue" Mrs Byrne added that Mr Sheridan had admitted to having an affair with Anvar Khan in the early 1990s . Mr Sheridan asked the witness if she was "sure" of her answer, Mrs Byrne replied "absolutely positive."
Mr Sheridan the asked Mrs Byrne if he had left the meeting early, which she confirmed, and what happened after he had. The witness told the court that there had been more allegations made and a number of "emotive things said that I found very discomforting." and further called the mood as "like a kangaroo court." Mrs Byrne added that the meeting had decided that if Mr Sheridan decided to sue the News of the World he would be asked to step down as Convener so the party was not "embroiled" in legal action and that it was agreed someone would speak to him to discover his position. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness what had occured at the end of the meeting. Mrs Byrne told the court she had shared a car to Edinburgh with Pat Smith, Barbara Scott, Catriona Grant and Colin Fox. Asked about what was discussed Mrs Byrne replied that there had been a "horrible discussion" between Barbara Scott and Catriona Grant and told Mr Sheridan "at that point I realised these people were not your friends."
After asking who Mrs Byrne had spoken to about he 9th November meeting, Mr Sheridan asked the witness about the following SSP executive meeting, held on the 14th November 2004. Mrs Byrne told the court that this was another "hysterical meeting" at which many people were angry that there had been discussion in the press about internal party matters. The witness was asked if she had been presented with a set of minutes of the 9th November meeting at the next SSP executive on the 24th of November. Mrs Byrne denied this had happened and told the court if she had not seen any minutes of the 9th November meeting until being shown an alleged minute of it at the 2006 civil case between Tommy Sheridan and the News of the World. Mrs Byrne stated that she had told the court then she did not recognise them and had never seen them before. The witness added that she had been involved in meetings and had been dealing with minutes for thirty years and "would never have forgotten" if she had been shown this minute as she regarded it is an incorrect account of the meeting and "I know I would have objected, I would have said something."
Mr Sheridan then asked Mrs Byrne about her view on "internal relations" within the SSP parliamentary group after the election of six of it's candidates to the Scottish Parliament in 2003. Mrs Byrne told the court that "almost from the start I knew something was not right" and described how she had felt isolated and believed that discussions were being held "behind her back" . Mrs Byrne also described what she claimed was a lack of co-operation from SSP Parliamentary staff, telling the court that she had eventually had her mail sent to her office in Irvine as none of the office staff in the parliament were dealing with it. The witness also told Mr Sheridan that the atmosphere in the group was "not nice" as people were "vying for position" and were "jealous" of him.
Mr Sheridan ended his evidence in chief by asking Mrs Byrne if she had been offered money by anyone for her testimony, which she said she had not, and if she was "willing to lie for me." Mrs Byrne told the court "I wouldn't lie for anyone:" and with that answer Mr Sheridan returned to his seat in the dock.
Posted by James Doleman at 6:28 PM