The first witness on Thursday was Steve Arnott. Mr Arnott told the court that in 2004 he had been the Scottish Socialist Party's (SSP) Regional organiser for the Highlands and Islands and that he had also been a member of the SSP'S executive committee. Mr Arnott told the court that he had not attended the SSP executive of the 9th November 2004 (at which the Crown allege Mr Sheridan made admissions of visiting a "sex club") but had however been at the two subsequent meetings on the 14th and 24th of November. Mr Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence, put it to Mr Arnott that a number of prosecution witnesses had stated that a "minute" containing a record of these alleged admissions, had been presented to the executive meeting of the 24th November. Mr Arnott replied "absolutely not" and when asked if he was sure stated there was "no room for doubt,"
Mr Sheridan then showed Mr Arnott a booklet, which other witnesses have claimed was circulated at the 24th November executive, and asked if he agreed it had been handed out. Mr Arnott replied "not at that meeting" adding that "the first time I saw this was in 2006 in court" (Mr Sheridan had sued the News of the World for defamation in 2006, which led to the present perjury trial) Mr Sheridan asked the witness if the minute had been "moved and seconded" Mr Arnott replied "there was no minute to move"
After asking Mr Arnott about the "internal position" of the SSP in 2003, to which the witness had responded that there were "cliques and factions" Mr Sheridan showed Mr Arnott a section of a videotape which was distributed by the News of the World claiming it showed Mr Sheridan and George McNeilage. After the clip, which was around three minutes long, the witness was then asked if, in his opinion, it was Mr Sheridan's voice on the tape. The witness told the court he had known Mr Sheridan since 1986, 24 years and that he believed the voice on the video was not Mr Sheridan and although it was a "little bit" like him it was a "fabrication."
Mr Sheridan asked the witness what his reasons were for his belief that it was not his voice on the video. Mr Arnott replied there were a number of reasons, stating that the person on the tape was, in his opinion, "doing your public persona" and that in private Mr Sheridan was more"gentle and intellectual." Mr Arnott added that he also thought the amount of swearing in the tape was untypical stating it sounds more like "Cartman from South Park that you." Mr Arnott also said he thought the structure of the tape was "fishy" as it seemed to "tick all the boxes of the points they wanted to prove" Mr Sheridan ended his evidence in chief by asking the witness if he was confident about his answers, Mr Arnott said he was. The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, then rose to cross-examine the witness.
Mr Prentice asked the witness if he agreed that the voice on the tape "sounded like Tommy Sheridan" to which Mr Arnott replied yes. The Advocate Depute then asked the witness if this made it a "good impression" of him. Mr Arnott replied that "it might fool someone who had only heard him on telly." Mr Prentice then moved on to the 24th November 2004 SSP executive meeting and asked the witness if the events of the 9th November meeting were discussed. Mr Arnott stated that there had been "very little" as the meeting was discussing the "way foward" Mr Prentice then showed the witness the booklet of documents the Crown claim was handed out at the meeting and asked if it contained the documents presented there, the witness read the booklet and stated that the "minute" in the booklet had not been presented and that there was perhaps a financial report missing. The Advocate depute then asked Mr Arnott that if no minute was being presented why the attendees at the meeting had been asked to sign for and return the documents they had received. The witness replied that this was a "unique situation" as the press were "camped outside" the meeting and the party did not want any leaks, especially of the financial report which showed their position as precarious.
Mr Prentice then put it to the witness that in fact the major topic of discussion at the 24th November meeting had been the 9th November meeting and the admissions made there by Mr Sheridan. Mr Arnott replied that was incorrect and the party had "moved on" Mr Prentice asked "the truth is you had been given the minute before or on the 24th November" Mr Arnott replied that was "absolutely not the case" The Advocate Depute then asked "Alan Green told us there were, is he a liar" Mr Arnott responded that he was "afraid" he would have to say he was. With that Mr Prentice ended his cross-examination and Mr Sheridan left the dock to re-examine.
Mr Sheridan showed the witness a statement that had been agreed at the 24th November meeting which stated in part, "Tommy is a valued member of the most dynamic team of MSPs in the Scottish Parliament" and asked if this would have been agreed unanimously by people who were "disgusted" that he had admitted visiting a sex club. The witness replied that if he had thought that was true he "would never have written that." Mr Sheridan asked the witness why he had said Alan Green was a liar. Mr Arnott said that "these people were friends, I broke bread with them" but added that events since 2004 had forced him into the "reluctant conclusion" that they were. Mr Sheridan began to ask the witness about an affidavit that the court has already heard was given to the Sunday Herald newspaper by another executive member Alan McCombes. At this point the Advocate Depute objected saying that as this had not been part of his cross examination it could not be brought up in re-examination. Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge, upheld that objection and Mr Sheridan thanked the witness and returned to his seat in the dock. Lord Bracadle then thanked the witness and allowed him to step down.