NB this is one of a series of reports we were unable to complete last week. For the record Mr Montgomery testified on the 15th of December.
The fourth witness called to the stand on Wednesday was Thomas Montgomery. Mr Montgomery told the court he was employed as a training manager and had known Mr Sheridan for over 40 years. Mr Montgomery also stated that he Tommy Sheridan and Gary Clark had "grown up together." When asked by Mr Sheridan, who is conducting his own defence, if he considered himself a "friend of Gary Clark" the witness replied, "very much so"
Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Montgomery if he had been "following the case" the witness said he had been "to a degree" and had read newspaper and seen television reports on the proceedings. Mr Sheridan asked if he had become aware that the date the Crown was alleging he had visited a "swingers club" was the 27th of September 2002, Mr Montgomery answered yes. Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Montgomery what his opinion was of the evidence presented in court about that date. At this point the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, rose to object to this question and Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge asked the jury to leave the court while a legal matter was discussed.
When court reconvened Mr Sheridan asked Mr Montgomery if he had spent time with Gary Clark (whom the crown allege accompanied Mr Sheridan and others to the Cupids club in Manchester) in September 2002. Mr Montgomery said he had, and told the court that at that time Mr Clark's wife had left him and taken their daughter with her. The witness told the court that Mr Clark's "whole world fell apart" and he had "started to drink to forget." Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Montgomery if he could recall if he saw Mr Clark on the 27th of September 2002, the witness said he did.
Mr Montgomery told the court that on that Friday he had left his office at around 3pm and had went to Mr Clark's house to watch the Ryder cup. The witness added that he and Mr Clark were both "massive fans" and that they had arranged to watch it together. Mr Sheridan asked Mr Montgomery how he could be sure of his memory about an event that had occurred eight years ago. The witness replied that he would not be sure except that the Ryder cup had been cancelled the year before due to the attacks on the United States of America in September 2001, 2002 was therefore the "first time it had been held on an even year" and that had "stuck in his mind" adding that "any golfer would know that."
Mr Sheridan then asked the witness when he had left Mr Clarke's home on the day in question. Mr Montgomery replied that they had watched the golf and that he had cooked a meal for them both and had stayed in the house until between 9pm and 9.30pm. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that if Gary Clark had been at home on the 27th September 2002 "he couldn't have simultaneously attended a swingers club in Manchester" The witness agreed. Mr Sheridan then asked the witness to give his opinion of Mr Clark's mental state at this time. The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC then objected to this question but Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge, overuled the objection and Mr Montgomery told the court that Mr Clark had, in his view, he was suffering from "depression and lethargy" Mr Sheridan then asked the witness why Mr Clark would state that he was at the club with Mr Sheridan if this was not true. Mr Montgomery said that Mr Clark had been put "under pressure" and that "it pains me to say that he told lies" but that "in that whole period Gary cannot remember what went on."
Mr Sheridan then showed the witness a short clip from a video tape, which the Crown allege shows Mr Sheridan making various admissions. Mr Sheridan said "four Crown witnesses had given evidence that is my voice, what do you say?" Mr Montgomery replied "it doesn't sound like you" and "if this was not so serious that would be laughable" and then added "in my opinion it it is a pretty poor imitation." Asked if he was "sure" Mr Montgomery told Mr Sheridan "I've known you since I was ten" adding that when people such as Des McLean (a Scottish comedian) did impersonations of Mr Sheridan it fooled his workmates but to his ear it sounded wrong. The witness also added that he had played football with Mr Sheridan and had been in dressing rooms at half time were everyone was using "industrial language" but "had never heard you utter language like that" Mr Sheridan then thanked the witness and returned to his seat in the dock.
The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC then rose to cross-examine Mr Montgomery. He asked the witness about his statement that the voice in the video tape was a "poor imitation." Mr Montgomery told the court that "in my mind it's poor" and "I would know Tommy Sheridan's voice anywhere." Asked by Mr Prentice "what's wrong" Mr Montgomery responded that the swearing was "totally alien" to Mr Sheridan. Mr Prentice then said "but it sounds like him" Mr Montgomery replied "maybe to you"
Mr Prentice then asked the witness when he had discovered that the date 27th September was significant. Mr Montgomery told the court it was "just after the start of this trial"and described what he called a "eureka" moment when he had realised that was the date the Ryder cup had started. Mr Prentice asked how he had found out that the date in question was the 27th September 2002, the witness replied "on the news, in the paper" Mr Prentice asked "which"
and Mr Montgomery replied "in the paper." Mr Prentice asked the witness "whose evidence" Mr Montgomery replied "I can't remember the actual person."
Mr Prentice then put it to Mr Montgomery that he had claimed to have a "eureka moment" but "you can't tell us who the witness was" Mr Montgomery said he remembered the date not the person and "this had been a long trial I don't follow the name of every witness." Mr Prentice asked Mr Montgomery if he had a "eureka moment every day" Mr Montgomery replied "no" leading the Advocate Depute to ask, "this was a unique event, think about it" the witness responded that he "didn't know" but agreed that it "could have been" in November
Mr Prentice then moved on and asked Mr Montgomery what he had done after he had realised the date was significant, the witness replied that he had spoken to Gary Clark a "couple of days after" but that Mr Clark "couldn't remember." The Advocate Depute then asked "did you tell anyone who is here today" Mr Montgomery said "no." Mr Prentice then asked the witness if he was saying that he had not told Mr Sheridan or his advisors and that they had "no idea what you were going to say until today?" Mr Montgomery said "yes." Mr Prentice then asked the witness if Mr Sheridan had asked him about that date in out of the blue and lo and behold you said you were with Gary Clark" The witness stated this was the case a statement which Mr Prentice described as a "complete and utter lie." The Advocate Depute then ended his cross-examination and Mr Sheridan rose to re-examine the witness.
Mr Sheridan asked Mr Montgomery what Mr Clark had said when the witness had told him he had remembered being with him on the 27th September. Mr Montgomery replied that Mr Clark "cannot remember that day and said he had to go with his statement" Mr Sheridan then asked Mr Montgomery if he recalled giving a statement to his solicitor, the witness said he "couldn't be certain when" but recalled that it had been in "Amer's office" Mr Sheridan then thanked the witness and Lord Bracadale allowed Mr Montgomery to step down from the stand.