Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tommy Sheridan's Summation Part 9 - The Witnesses

Mr Sheridan reminded the jury of Jim Monaghan's evidence, described by the Advocate Depute as “the leafletter”, who had testified that he had been at the CCA SSP People's Festival to distribute leaflets on the night of 27-Sep-2002 and to remind Mr Sheridan to attend the Cumnock Keir Hardy Commemoration the following week. Mr Monaghan had said Mr Sheridan was the only SSP EC member in attendance at the CCA, and Mr Sheridan suggested he was honest and credible, and compared him to Alison Kane's testimony, when she had testified that the CCA event was memorable to her, as Mr Sheridan put it, “because it was her birthday on the Monday”.

Mr Sheridan moved on to the “McNeilage Tape”, stating that there had been no expert witnesses called regarding the tape, and “you might like to reflect why”, and that regarding this “News of the World video”, “I want you to consider, hand on heart, do you have reasonable doubt?”. Mr Sheridan ten suggested that after nine witnesses testified that they did not think it was Mr Sheridan on the tape, “you may have reasonable doubt”.

Regarding the SSP witnesses who had appeared for the Crown, Mr Sheridan asked the jury to “reflect on possible bile, hatred and vitriol” in their evidence, that “yes, I want you to consider their demeanour”.

Mr Sheridan then apologised to the jury for the “boring, detailed and repetitive” evidence regarding the SSP motion for a Strategy of Defiance regarding release of minutes to the court in 2006, and that their eyes must have been glazing over, but this had been important because it showed the SSP had devised a strategy to lie to the commission hearing, that Alan McCombes, Alan Green, Alison Kane, Colin Fox had given testimonies that were hard to reconcile with each other's, with Mr Sheridan suggesting they had told lies. “At the very least, what do you make of all of their testimonies?”, asking the jury to conclude that they were unreliable. Mr Sheridan pointed it that it was he who had asked for the minutes to be handed over “because I had nothing to hide”, and that if the SSP members were “prepared to get together to discuss lying” regarding the minutes, it was not too big a stretch that they might tell other lies, and then referred to Carolyn Leckie stating “We discussed whether we should lie in court”.

Mr Sheridan suggested to the jury that during this twelve week court case, the SSP had “committed perjury in pursuit of a political civil war”, and that while he was not a lawyer and the Advocate Depute had an advantage over him in court, he had the advantage over Mr Prentice when it came to knowledge of left wing politics, how there are lots of fights and factionalism. Mr Sheridan put it tho the jury that the SSP's testimony that he had made sex-club admissions “testimonies tainted by spite and hatred”. Mr Sheridan reminded the jury of Jack Ferguson's testimony for the Crown and asked them, as Mr Prentice had, to bear in mind the significance of small details, and that Mr Ferguson had dismissed the burning of Tommy Sheridan effigies at a Scottish Socialist Youth gathering as “fun”, and how he admitted a group had left a phone call message to Mr Sheridan – and at this point Mr Sheridan paused for a number of seconds - “hope your mother dies of cancer”. Mr Sheridan emotionally stated “You've heard in court that she didn't die of cancer, she fought it and beat it”, and that the jury should reflect “on the level of hatred required to leave that message”.
Mr Sheridan continued on the subject of the SSP, stating there were secret pre-meetings, “some of which we have heard of”.

Mr Sheridan then moved to the witness testimony on the “McNeilage Tape”, agreeing with the Advocate Depute that the jury should not just weigh the nine people who said it was not Tommy against the four who said it was, and that credibility and reliability was most important. Mr Sheridan then stated that the testimony of Gordon Morgan, Jock Penman, Graham McIvor and Pat Smith should be enough for reasonable doubt over the charge of admissions of visiting a sex club, and that although the Advocate Depute had said he was going to come back to Jock Penman, “he never did”, and Mr Sheridan went on to recall the testimony of Crown witness Ian Campbell, who stated that Jock Penman had told him “Tommy denied the allegations”, and also that Mr Campbell had been told by Ms Trolle that she had attended the Perth conference.

On the issue of credibility and reliability, Mr Sheridan asked the jury to consider Rosemary Byrne - “why would she lie?”, and that she gave her testimony in an impeccable manner.

On the defence witness Pat Smith, Mr Sheridan described her as “softly spoken”, and who, apart from politics, I know nothing about, and described how the Advocate Depute had been “ a wee bit magpie-ish” when he had described Ms Smith as having agreed to almost everything in the disputed minutes of the 9/11 meeting when she had disagreed with the sections about Mr Sheridan admitting visiting a sex club. Mr Sheridan stated “I think she was a witness of impeccable credibility whose demeanour was first class”.

Turning to Graeme McIvor's testimony, Mr Sheridan admitted that there was a political association between them as he is the National Secretary of Solidarity, the political party of which Mr Sheridan is Convener. Mr Sheridan stated that he was proud to have Mr McIvor in the party, as he had four children, and in the witness box, didn't want to call people liars and resisted name-calling while testifying he had heard the accused deny ever visiting a sex club.

Mr Sheridan concluded his examination of the SSP witnesses by stating “you the jury have been dragged into a political battle that has nothing to do with you”, and that even more of this detail had been discussed in the 2006 trial but had not been allowed in this trial and that Mr Sheridan was not allowed to discuss it now, but that he thought “you are able to be reminded how that jury found – in my favour”, going on “if you can't conclude beyond reasonable doubt that you believe the Crown witnesses, you cannot convict”. Mr Sheridan then stated that defence witness Steve Arnott was “a pal”, but that Charlotte Ahmed and Mike Gonzalez were not friends, but under oath had all stated “there was no minute”, and that Professor Mike Gonzales, teacher Charlotte Ahmed both said the minutes were not there at the meeting of 24th November 2002.

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