Thursday, January 13, 2011

Release of police tapes questioned in Parliament

Robert Brown MSP
The Herald is reporting  that a Member of the Scottish Parliament, the  Liberal Democrat justice spokesman Robert Brown,  has written to the Scottish Justice secretary, Kenny MacAskill, asking for an explanation on how recordings of Tommy and Gail Sheridan's police interviews came into the possession of the BBC. Footage of  both interrogations was broadcast as part of a documentary shown in Scotland on the night of the verdict.

In a seperate development Lothan and Borders police have also been asked to investigate the treatment of Gail Sheridan during her police interview following a complaint from a "member of the public."You can read the full story Here


Scottish Blogger Lallands Peat Worrier has posted the details of the specific questions put to the minister, see Here for the details


knock knock said...

at last the popo are going to have to fess up to breaching data protection in the case of mrs s. if your aquitted all fingerprints, dna samples, photos, records etc are deleted from the PNC.

mr s is in a different boat, the guilty boat and that means he doesn't have a complaint about the interview video being made public. they did that with vanessa george etc.

no doubt peter you will disagree with point 2 but maybe just maybe agree with point one.

James Doleman said...

To anon who just posted. Sorry but Gail Sheridan was in fact acquitted of all charges. No comments that challenge that fact or attempt to cast doubt on that verdict will, for fairly obvious legal reasons, be allowed.

Best Regards


Onlooker said...

It's possible the Sheridans gave their interview tapes to the BBC. One poster here, who seems to know the people involved, says that was the case. Sloop - page 3 of comments

Certainly would explain why the interviewing officers were obscured, and why no protest was made by either Sheridan's legal rep - unless I missed that.

Anonymous said...

What, only 3 comments? Erring on side of caution is a sensible strategy sometimes. Maybe the MSP has opened a can of worms. Can bbc be forced to admit source?

Anonymous said...

Onlooker-"It's possible the Sheridans gave their interview tapes to the BBC. One poster here, who seems to know the people involved, says that was the case."
The Police dont hand out copies of interview footage. The defence would have be provided with written transcripts of the interviews, but I dont understand your suggestion that they passed the footage over.
I also dont understand the intervention by the MSP Robert Brown, as the Media Services dept of the Police routinely passes footage of taped interviews

James Doleman said...

Hello Anon, just FYI Lothian and Borders Police have denied they handed over the tapes, as have the Crown Office and the Defence.

Peter said...

On cans of worms and questions in parliament the NOTW have tonight confirmed that they have launched an independent investigation into themselves.

They have seized their own computers to see if there is any email evidence linking one of their senior editors to the convicted criminal bugger Mulcaire (who had Tommys phone account details/passwords etc. and thousands of others)

A pity the police did not see fit to have a look at the NOTW computers or interview that particular executive!

Never mind I am sure the NOTW and the independent law firm they are paying to conduct the inquiry will get to the bottom of it all and put our minds at ease.

Not sure it will mean that my current favourite politician Tom Watson MP will be dropping his complaint to the ICO.

James Doleman said...

Hello " Anonymous Brian" Could you possibly consider what you are sending us for posting. You must be heading for the record for most deleted comments. I do not like not posting people's comments and your constant breaking of our guidelines is becoming rather tiresome.

Best Regards


Anonymous said...

"I do not like not posting people's comments" -JD

Is that why you are up for the Orwell Award? Just joking, this is my first comment and I have to commend you for raising the bar for citizen journalists everywhere.

Peter said...

Is Anonymous Brian taking my record away - darn him.

Anonymous said...

yulefae said...

I.m no legal eagle,but as this case is live and probably has a fair bit to go after the 26th,it would appear that the BBC and Lothian and Borders can do what they like.

I do remember LB warning the press and others that they had to be carefull in what they print and the way they pursue people,
i,m talking about when TS flagged up the press outside his house when the charges were dropped against GS,BUT THE PRESS DONT GIVE A HOOT they are big organisations with loads od dosh.

Buck T said...

Does anyone believe that the NOTW are actually going ahead with their appeal against the original trial ? Given what's come out in the last few days re the phone hacking scandal, the amount of money they've already spent trying to hush it up and the fact that the one rogue reporter has now turned out to be two (surprised ?). If they go to court with the appeal, they are just opening themselves up to being questioned more thoroughly, especially given the time TS will now have on his hands to prepare. Given the lengths they've gone to to prevent anything reaching court (including paying out millions) I just don't see them actively taking this on. Is there a time limit on when they need to appeal by ?

James Doleman said...

That is a very interesting point Buck, thanks for that.

all the best


Corporal Punishment said...


I would be astonished if they don't go ahead with the appeal.
The appeal is not a re-run of the defamation action. It would be judged by three judges who would examine the evidence presented during the original case.

Tommy Sheridan could raise the issues you raise if he then launched a fresh defamation action. But he would most likely have a fresh action forbidden on the basis that he has - as as convicted perjurer - no reputation to defend.

The law is quite finicky, I'm afraid. It's not like the movies!

Corporal Punishment

Peter said...

Corporal Punishment,

This perjury verdict does not make the first verdict of the jury automatically perverse.

If it did there would be no problem for the NOTW.

The NOTW need to make out their perversity argument in detail as one jury does not overule the other - at best it is 1-1.

It is a high bar to reach to show perversity.

It is (IMHO) highly speculative that the libel jury would have made a different decision if they had heard the ALL evidence in this perjury case.

The trap that many are (perhaps understandibly) falling into is that they look at only the evidence in this perjury trial that would tend to undermine the Sheridan original action in the libel case.

The correct approach, however, is to look at the totality of the evidence in both trials and see if that takes you towards showing perversity.

There was much revealed in this perjury case that would (IMHO) actually have supported the libel verdict.

Very arguably the libel jury in possession of ALL the evidence could have decided more heavily in his favour; stayed the same; or gone against him.

What is not possible to show, in my opinion, is that the libel jury definitely would have found against him.

Indeed the test is stiffer than that - the NOTW need to show that no other jury could possibly have found for him.

A stiff test indeed.



Legal Parrot said...

Peter - there is no such finding in Scottish Law as "perversity" and thus no bar to reach. "Perversity" is solely a matter of opinion.

Peter said...

Hi Legal Parrot,

That's interesting. I wonder if the NOTW know that.

Its very good news for Sheridan if you are right as the current, publically stated, grounds of the NOTW appeal in the civil libel is on the grounds of perversity not error of law.

I am familiar with perversity challenges in the civil courts down here. Indeed I have defended favourable employment verdicts against such attack.

I would be surprised if there was not a concept similar to perversity up your end but I await your reply with interest.

NB: Quick property law question for you: 3 parrots sitting in a cage - one at the top, one in the middle and one at the bottom - which one owns the cage?



Say It Ain't So Joe said...

Legal Parrot,
Thank you. That's a helpful clarification.
The verdict of the criminal jury establishes that in his civil action Tommy Sheridan gave perjured evidence. It follows from that the verdict of the civil jury does not stand as a safe and reliable verdict.
The public policy implications of allowing a verdict to stand in favour of a party who has given perjured evidence will , I expect, be a central issue playing on the minds of the appeal judges.

I would expect that NOTW's lawyers will be exercising their minds about how to get an order to require TS to lodge Caution for expenses should he continue to oppose the appeal.

Corporal Punishment said...


You know very little about the law, it would seem.

The appeal will be heard before judges and I am confident - no, I am certain - that they will overturn the previous jury decision.

It's nice you want to type all these words and all, but you don't make any sense.

Corporal Punishment

Braxfield said...


The clouds have parted - you practice south of the border...

Ours is an adversarial system.

You may be more familiar with an inquisitorial system.



sceptic said...

Braxfield said...

Hi Peter,
Your 3.14 comment is helpful in understanding where you are coming from.
As I understand it 'perversity' is a notion/concept of equitable jurisdiction.
Scotland is not an equitable jurisdiction.

The notions and concepts that we need to fasten on are 'guilty', 'not proven' and 'not guilty'.

A jury of his peers have proven TS guilty. Back in 2006 TS appeared to find jury verdicts pretty ginger peachy- indeed going so far as to be comfortable in assigning class identity to jurors who voted for him.


Anonymous said...

Thoughts? He almost certainly has, Braxfield.

Peter said...

Legal Parrot & Corporal Punishment:

Re: NOTW Appeal Grounds Libel Verdict

1. Perversity

You claim the concept of perversity in criminal and civil verdicts in England and Wales has no comparator in Scottish law.

Mmmmm really?

As I understand it Section 106 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995, under subsection 3(b) neatly sums up perversity.

I quote:

“any alleged miscarriage of justice, which may include such a miscarriage based on … the jury’s having returned a verdict which no reasonable jury, properly directed, could have returned”.

That clause very neatly sums up the concept of perversity in criminal law (and indeed civil law).

Indeed the NOTW straight after the verdict (before any new evidence was uncovered) announced there appeal was on perversity grounds ie. they felt that it was a ridiculous decision and that no other jury could have possibly reached the same verdict.

Perversity also seems, from my research, to be a relatively widely used term in Scottish law forums.

Your lack of familiarity with the concept of legal perversity therefore puzzles me.




Steve said...

Braxfied 9.24 PM said:

"Scotland is not an equitable jurisdiction."

Could you explain what you mean by that?

Did Lord Kames write Principles of Equity (1760) in vain?

I always had the idea our judges fancied themselves as something more than jobsworth interpreters of statute or followers of precedent. Isn't there a touch of equity in that?

Peter said...

RE: Grounds for NOTW libel appeal Cont.

2. New Evidence

Corporal Punishment - you scorn the idea that a new libel trial could ever take place.

Maybe you should address your comments to the (presumably Scottish) solicitors who entered the appeal for the NOTW in the Scottish courts.

They specifically requested a new trial in their appeal - presumably they know Scottish law! Or was their appeal ground just all guff - maybe it was.

Anyway the NOTW specifically requested a new trial in their appeal on the basis of "new" evidence.

In 2007 they formally presented that new evidence in support of their appeal. (See the Herald article at the time for the new evidence they had eg. the video etc).

They can now also call in aid the perjury verdict - in relation to Tommy only and only in relation to 5 specific proven charges though.

Of course the judges MAY set aside the libel verdict.

Indeed the NOTW MAY well seek to amend their appeal and withdraw their request for a new trial and just request a substitute verdict by the appeal judges.

Sheridans side of course have various arguments against such a susbstitution - which as I have previously stated them I won't go over again.

There is also IMO the added complication of overturning the libel verdict on the grounds of a guilty verdict if that guilty verdict is being appealed (if indeed that appeal occurs here).

The fact of the matter is that the libel verdict stands. The NOTW itself must try and overturn it.
This is a live and developing matter

Maybe you should both familiarise yourself with the (so far) published grounds of the NOTW appeal (ie. perversity and new evidence).

I suggest you wait and see if those two appeal grounds are amended before again being as categorical in your views.

Otherwise it just looks like you are not taking a balanced view of the matter when you jump in with rash comments.



Answer: The parrot at the bottom owns the cage - as the other 2 are just on hire purchase.

Peter said...

Legal Parrot and Corporal Punishment,

Apologies - I forgot to include Braxfield in my comments when I put you right on the NOTW appeal grounds.

As for costs.

The judge may well give a costs warning to Sheridan.

An application that a deposit for costs to be paid up front by him in anticipation of a successful appeal by the NOTW will be less likely if it will have the effect of forcing him from the seat of justice.

If he admitted perjury then fair enough - he didn't and so he is entitled to resist the libel appeal.

With respect to you all the NOTW first have to present an appeal case that is reasonably arguable before Sheridan has to worry about that issue.



Anonymous said...

Thanks. Scotland is not an equitable jurisdiction because it is not an equitable jurisdiction.

Judges can , of course, come up with judicial reasoning that delivers what looks and feels like an equitable finding but they can't say in doing so that they are being 'equitable'.

Peter said...

Corporal Punishment says:


You know very little about the law, it would seem.

The appeal will be heard before judges and I am confident - no, I am certain - that they will overturn the previous jury decision.

It's nice you want to type all these words and all, but you don't make any sense."

The appeal will be heard before judges? Really Corporal Punishment? I thought the Krankies? No? But thanks for putting me right.

At risk of further showing my ignorance the attached Herald article backs up my earlier posts about the grounds for the NOTW appeal.

You may be right that the judges will overturn the verdict.

The NOTW hope no doubt that in the light of the new evidence uncovered in the perjury verdict that the appeal judges just overturn the libel verdict rather than instructing a new trial.

IMO the NOTW realised the essential weakness of the substitution argument (which I have looked at before) and that is why they requested a new trial.

On balance I feel the NOTW have an argument for a new trial as the new evidence uncovered in this perjury process includes both positive and negative information for both Sheridan and the NOTW.

To be fair to all sides that new evidence should be weighed up by a new jury. Thats what the NOTW asked for after all.

Sheridan could just agree to that request. That possibly will put the cat amongst the pigeons.

The NOTW would I am sure be happy to subject themselves to that new trial as they asked for it.

They no doubt must be confident that their evidence and witnesses will therefore all stand up. No?

Maybe Mr Mulcaire and Ms McGuire and the missing NOTW and police emails could even make a late appearance?



Corporal Punishment said...


Would you mind terribly if I don't read or respond to what you're written?

I'm certain it's fascinating and all, but ... life. short. that sort of thing.

but all the very best.

Corporal Punishment

Say It Ain't So Joe said...

Sorry Peter but in relation to finding caution for eckies and much else besides whether TS admitted perjury or did not is irrelevant.

He has been found guilty by a jury of giving perjured evidence in his defamation action and there matters stand.

Steve said...

Anon 6.36 PM said:

"Scotland is not an equitable jurisdiction because it is not an equitable jurisdiction."

So far, so tautologous, but wait!

"Judges can , of course, come up with judicial reasoning that delivers what looks and feels like an equitable finding but they can't say in doing so that they are being 'equitable'."

Surely they could add that comment to any finding. Are you suggesting that it would have no legal weight? If so, why would it not?

By way of comparison, England has (or had) a court of Chancery that originally dealt with equity, in addition to its criminal, civil and revenue courts, but the concept of equity spread, so that Blackstone said equity is a principle in the other courts too.

In Scotland, we have (or had) Courts of Justiciary, Session and Exchequer (criminal, civil and revenue). Are you saying they operate solely on custom, precedent and statute, with no appeal on grounds of equity? That seems to be missing a trick doesn't it?

(Sorry if this is getting off-topic, but the original comment invites the question of what was meant!)

Corporal Punishment said...

It is worth pointing out that a scenario in which the judges instructed a new defamation action will not occur.

It is a civil action and it is down to the pursuer whether to attempt to run it again.

The judges will uphold the NOTW appeal, of that there can be little or no doubt. In that case, it is up to Mr Sheridan to attempt to launch a new action.

However, it will be for the court to decide whether that action is competent. The fact of his conviction mean it is not so. Simply, he has no reputation still to defend.

No amount of cod-legalese will change that.

I direct my remarks not at Peter, who claims certain legal experience (a claim i find about as credible as he finds the testimony of katrine trolle) but to anyone who might be placing any faith in what he states regarding the matter.

Sheridan's defamation verdict will not stand and he will be financially ruined. These are the further consequences of his actions.

Petra said...

Corporal Punishment - What if Tommy Sheridan launches an Appeal and wins. My understanding of Scotch Law is that in those circumstances TS's defamation victory would still stand. This fight has a long, long, way to go in my opinion.

Corporal Punishment said...

The News of the World's appeal will be heard long before any appeal against conviction, Petra.

This fight is over, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

"My understanding of Scotch Law..."
Deary me.

Bunc said...

Petra - The maxims of "Scotch Law" can be simply stated ;
1) If I stand you a pint and a wee half then you stand me one back
2)Do not drown your scotch with coke
3) It's time to stop drinking when you start falling over or your money has run out.

Scots Law on the other hand is a much more complicated beast and probably more relevant to the present discussion.

Anonymous said...

Scotch Law - Quantity of evidence takes precedence over quality of evidence.