Sunday, October 31, 2010

Anvar Khan Cross-Examination by Paul McBride

Paul McBride QC

The final session of the week was taken up with Paul Mcbride QC cross-examining Anvar Khan. He opened his questioning  by going over Ms Khan's  varying accounts of the date of the alleged visit by her and  Mr Sheridan, to the Cupids club in Manchester. Mr McBride pointed out that the witness had told this court that the date of the trip was September 2002, while she had told the jury at the 2006 libel trial it was November 2002,. The witness agreed she had. He then asked if Ms Khan had given an affidavit to the News of the World giving the date as "the end of 2001" which she agreed she had. Mr McBride  then read through that affidavit and asked the witness "this is a perfectly simple question, why 2001?" Ms Khan responded that she had felt under pressure to sign this document. Mr Mcbride put it to the witness that the affidavit must have been typed before she signed it and had been based on information "given by you" Ms Khan said that  Mr McBride should" refer to her previous answer," to which the QC retorted "This is not the houses of Parliament Ms Khan."

Friday, October 29, 2010

Anvar Khan Cross-Examination by Tommy Sheridan, Day 2 afternoon.

The court resumed this afternoon with the continuation of Mr Sheridan's cross examination of Anvar Khan.  After Ms Khan had returned to the witness box Tommy Sheridan left the dock and took his position at the lectern. He began by presenting the witness with a copy of the News of the World dated 31st October 2004. He put it to the witness that this story was a lie to which she replied that she had made a decision to run the piece in a "heavily disguised" way. Mr Sheridan then read various statements from the story and asked Ms Khan to say if each part was true. These were; "I met him in a Glasgow bar"; "Two weeks later he called and we got drunk in my flat"; "we fooled around and had drunken sex" and "he enjoyed being spanked." The witness confirmed that these parts of the story were untrue. 

Anvar Khan Cross-Examination Day 2

A short session of court this morning resumed with Tommy Sheridan continuing his cross examination of Anvar Khan (for an account of yesterday's cross examination see Here ) 

Mr Sheridan began by asking Ms Khan about a photograph of his wedding, which had been presented to her by the prosecution the day before. He asked if she had ever seen the photograph before to which the witness responded that she had possibly seen the photograph in a newspaper. Mr Sheridan asked the witness about a statement she had made to police in 2006 that she had been shown a photograph of Gary Clark by Bob Bird (the Scottish editor of the News of the World) The witness said that she did not recall being shown that particular photo although she did recall having been shown pictures of 'Louise" (whom she testified she had met at the Cupids club in Manchester in 2002) and her husband when they appeared to be "on a boat."  However she denied that she had "ever identified anyone" for the News of the World,  an  answer that Mr Sheridan called "ridiculous."

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Anvar Khan's Cross-Examination

Both the public gallery and the press section of the court were packed full when Tommy Sheridan left the dock to begin his cross-examination of Anvar Khan. Mr Sheridan began by asking the witness if she "knew the difference between artistic licence and lying, to which she responded "do you?" Lord Bracadale, the presiding judge, intervened to remind the witness her role was to answer questions, not to ask them. With that Mr Sheridan repeated his question to which Ms Khan responded "absolutely."

Mr Sheridan then turned to his and Ms Khan's first meeting. She said it had been at Saughton prison in Edinburgh and Mr Sheridan asked if she knew why he had been there. The witness replied that he was in prison because he had "protested against the poll tax." The witness was then asked if she and  Mr Sheridan had ever discussed various  issues, including racism in the media and Peter Mullen, the actor, and a friend of Mr Sheridan. She denied they had. He also asked her if she visited Scotland often, to which she replied she did, to which Mr Sheridan put to Ms Khan that there would have been nothing unusual in her coming to Glasgow in 2003 at the September weekend. The witness responded that on that particular weekend she was in Glasgow to go to Cupids in Manchester.

Anvar Khan's Testimony

This morning the court heard from Anvar Khan, a journalist and writer who wrote the book "Pretty Wild" in 2004 that sparked of both the libel case in 2004 and this subsequent perjury trial.

Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, began by taking the court through Ms Khan's CV and then went on to ask her when she first met Tommy Sheridan. She replied that she met him for an interview, and after Mr Sheridan made no objection to this being revealed, that was held in Saughton prison in Edinburgh where Mr Sheridan was serving a 6 month sentence for anti-poll tax actions. The witness then told the court that they had subsequently exchanged letters and after Mr Sheridan's release they met at Glasgow city chambers (Mr Sheridan had been elected as a city councillor while in prison) and in "flirtatious atmosphere" they "had a snog." 

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Barbara Scott Re-examination

The next witness to appear was another recalled witness, Barbara Scott, the former minute secretary of the SSP and this first witness to appear in the trial. (an account of her initial testimony can be found Here and Here ) Mr Sheridan began by asking the witness when she had been advised that she was to be recalled to court. The witness said it was on or around the 11th October. He asked her if she had discussed her evidence with any other Crown witness since then to which she replied that there had been "general chit chat while they were waiting around (in the witness room) but not about her evidence. Mr Sheridan then asked Ms Scott if she had made any comments about other witnesses to which she replied no.

Mr Sheridan then asked Ms Scott if she had commented about witnesses on Facebook, specifically the Facebook page of Eddie Truman, press officer for the Scottish Socialist Party. The witness replied she could not remember and Mr Sheridan then asked for a brief adjournment.

Felicity Garvie Re-Examination

The court resumed after lunch to hear from Felicity Garvie, Tommy Sheridan's former parliamentary assistant and another of the witnesses recalled to the court after Mr Sheridan dispensed with the services of his previous advocate Maggie Scott QC. Mr Sheridan began by asking Ms Garvie about her political background, she had been a member of the Militant's sister organisation in Germany, which she agreed was an "entryist party" within the German SPD much like the Militant had been inside the UK Labour party.

Frances Curran

The first witness called by the Crown today was Frances Curran, a founding member of the Scottish Socialist Party and a member of the Scottish Parliament from 2003 until 2007. After establishing this Mr Alex Prentice QC for the prosecution asked Ms Curran when she had first heard about the News of the World's allegations about an MSP attending a "sex club" in Manchester. The witness told the court that she had been in the dining hall of the Scottish parliament on the 31st October and that "Rosie [Rosie Kane MSP] had been joking about it and taking bets." 

Ms Curran told the court that she had then received a telephone call from Alan McCombes who had informed her that the unnamed MSP in the story had been Tommy Sheridan. This was followed by a meeting at Mr McCombes flat later in the week attended by a number of SSP executive members and MSP's which Ms Curran described as an informal meeting at which she expected Mr Sheridan to attend. As he did not a decision was taken that a formal executive meeting was required and this was arranged for the 9th November.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Ritchie Venton Part 1

The final witness the court heard from was Ritchie Venton, a "founding organiser" of the SSP and a member of it's executive committee in 2004.  The Advocate deputy began by asking Mr Venton about his relationship with Mr Sheridan, he stated he had worked closely with Tommy Sheridan since 1999. He regarded him as a a great "populariser of socialist ideas" and the SSP's "best known figure.

Mr Prentice then moved onto the article about the unnamed MSP that appeared in the News of the World and asked when Mr Venton had discovered the MSP referred to was Mr Sheridan. He replied that he had received a call from Alan McCombes saying that Tommy Sheridan had admitted to him that he was. The witness was then questioned about the "9/11" meeting and if it was a "kangaroo court" Mr Venton replied "absolutely not there was not hint of kangaroo or any other marsupials" which led to laughter in the public gallery. 

Steven Nimmo

Steven Nimmo (left) with Colin Fox
The next Crown witness the court heard from was Steven Nimmo, SSP organiser for the Lothian Region in 2004 and, as such, a member of the SSP executive at that time. The Advocate Depute asked Mr Nimmo to confirm the above then asked him about the  9th November SSP executive meeting (the "9/11" meeting)  The witness confirmed he had attended the meeting and stated to the court that he had heard Mr Sheridan admit he had attended the Cupids club in Manchester on two occasions and that he had found this "difficult to hear" and it was not an "easy or a nice experience" as "my image of Tommy Sheridan was shown to be wrong." Mr Prentice QC then showed the witness the  disputed minute of the meeting which the witness told the court was an accurate record of events.

Ruth Adamson

The second witness to appear in court this morning was Ruth Adamson who also testified to an alleged visit to her flat by Tommy Sheridan in October 2004. Alex Prentice QC, for the crown, first established with the witness that she had shared a house in Dundee with Katrine Trolle at that date and that they were work colleagues as well as friends.

Mr Prentice then asked the witness if she had a mobile phone that she shared use of with Katrine Trolle.,which she confirmed she did. He then asked if she had ever had a call on this phone from Tommy Sheridan, which she had, and if Mr Sheridan had asked to speak to Ms Trolle, to which the witness responded he had. She said Mr Sheridan had called a "handful of times" between 2002 and 2004.

26 October Ralph Barnett

The court heard  this morning from Ralph Barnett.  Mr Barnett testified first describing himself as a journalist with the Dundee Courier. He as then asked by Alex Prentice QC, for the Crown, if he had ever met the defendent Tommy Sheridan he said he had on two instances he remembered, one in 2001 when he interviewed him for an article and once again in October 2004 (the 11th October being his best recollection) at the home shared by his ex-partner Ruth Adamson and Katrine Trolle.

Mr Barnett stated that he had been spending an evening with Ms Adamson when Katrine Trolle arrived in a car with Tommy Sheridan. The witness told the court that Katrine Trolle had "put their heads around the door" and did "no more than say hello. They then went upstairs and he did not see them again for the rest of the night or the next morning. He was then asked to describe the three bedrooms in the house and stated one was Ruth's room one belonged to Katrine and one was a "box room" that was used for storage. He was asked if there was a bed in the room to which he replied there was not, although there may have been a "camp bed." 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday afternoon Carolyn Leckie/Catriona Grant (Updated)

The first witness this afternoon was another recalled witness, Carolyn Leckie, an SSP MSP from 2003 to 2007. I do not have a full note of her evidence or that of Catriona Grant as I was asked by the police, as were other people, not to take notes until we had spoken to the clerk of the court. I did this after the case ended for the day and the situation has been resolved however I do not have a note of the session.

Thankfully there is an excellent BBC report Here (thanks to Stephen for the link)   and regular commentator Whatsy has kindly sent her recollection.

"The following accounts of witnesses Carolyn Leckie and Catriona Grant's testimony has been done from memory, as the public gallery were prevented from using notes at this time. Where quotes are used, I feel they are very close to what was said, but with the lack of written notes, they may not be fully accurate.

Carolyn Leckie – during this testimony, CL was warned twice by Bracadale to limit herself to answering the question, and also chided by TS for asking her own questions when she should be answering his.

Witness recalled by Advocate Depute on behalf of Tommy Sheridan. AdDep declined to examine witness.

TS opened by questioning the witness about how she felt about TS's leadership in the SSP in 2004, suggesting that she thought he was getting too much attention. The witness denied this.
TS then asked Leckie to recall who was the press officer of the SSP in 2004. The witness answered, to which TS asked her if she would like to guess again, then gave her the answer of Hugh Kerr. "Ah, how could I forget Hugh?".
TS: "You didn't like Hugh Kerr, did you?"
I wouldn't say I didn't like him, but there were some things he did that I didn't like regarding his inappropriate behaviour towards women.
I spoke to you about Hugh's inappropriate behaviour, as you will remember.
TS: You thought he was too close to me, didn't you?
CL: Nonsense - if I thought you were close, why would I come to you about Hugh?

Discussion about the video tape made by George McNeilage for NotW.
TS suggests that Leckie and particularly her partner Alan McCombes had helped McNeilage write the script for the tape, and that they had received payment from McNeilage during a particular visit he made to McCombes's flat. CL denies this with comments of "utter nonsense" and "ridiculous", and points out that both she and McNeilage live in a style inconsistent with having lots of money, and offers to show the court her bank statements to prove there have been no large deposits.
TS: Did you watch the tape?
CL: I watched some of it, but I didn't watch it all. There was only so much I could take of you referring to me as "that cunt Leckie".

TS starts to question CL on how she felt about him winning the original case against News International/NotW and also him being elected as party co-chair in 2006. She said she had disagreed with the verdict but had expected his election to that post.

Advocate Depute Alex Prentice objected to TS framing a question regarding his election to a post in the SSP as evidence of the SSP membership believing his account of the various events in question, and Lord Bracadale agreed, directing TS not to impute from his election what party members believed. TS began to ask the question again in a similar style and was immediately interrupted by Bracadale "Mr Sheridan! I have just directed you!" to which TS hastily reworded the question more successfully.

Catriona Grant

Witness recalled by Advocate Depute on behalf of Tommy Sheridan. AdDep declined to examine witness.

TS opened his questioning by asking CG “You don't like me, do you?”, to which CG agreed at some length.
There followed a discussion on CG's membership of the “United Left” and/or “Anti-Tommy” SSP faction, and some assertions from Grant that much of the pro/anti Tommy divisions were down to gender.

Alan Green, Re-examination

The second and final witness of the morning was another  recalled at the request of Mr Sheridan, Allan Green, ex National secretary of the SSP (you can find accounts of his initial testimony Here and Here)  The Adocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, formally called the witness but declined to ask him any questions, Mr Sheridan then left the dock and began his examination from the lectern.

He opened by asking Mr Green if he believed the "democratic structures' of the SSP were important, to which the witness agreed. He then asked about a meeting in early November at Alan McCombes' flat in which he was in attendance and what he recalled about it. Mr Green told the court that this was an informal meeting and he had been told Mr Sheridan would be there. When asked who it was who told him this,  that he replied that it was Alan McCombes. Mr Green was then asked if he recalled anyone phoning Tommy Sheridan from the meeting, which he did not. Mr Sheridan put it to the witness that the court had heard evidence that someone from the meeting did call him, the witness said he did not recall that happening.

Monday 25 October Morning session, Gary Clark

The court resumed this morning at 10.30 and heard first from a Crown witness Gark Clark. Mr Clark is a long time friend of Tommy Sheridan and has known him since primary school. He was also described as an ex professional football player who played for Clyde. Alloa and Hamilton (all part of the Scottish football League) Alex Prentice QC for the Crown, asked Mr Clarke was asked if he was a member of the Scottish Socialist Party, the witness replied he was not although he did give donations to the Party and had helped with the distribution of leaflets from time to time. Questioning then moved in to September 2002, the time of Mr Sheidan's alleged visit to the Cupids club in Manchester.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Friday afternoon, Alison Kane Re-examination.

Court resumed this afternoon and the Advocate depute  made a motion to recall a third witness the court had already heard from, Alison Kane. (accounts of her previous testimony can be found here and here)  Mr Prentice QC for the crown had no questions to ask the witness so the jury then heard from Mr Sheridan.

After informing the witness that he did not intend to go over "old ground"  and then began by asking her if she recalled the Scottish Socialist Party's "People's festival" held on the weekend of the 27th of September 2002  (the date, the Crown claims, of Mr Sheridan's trip to the Cupids club in Manchester) Ms Kane responded that she did recall the event "considering I organised it." At that point Mr Sheridan again showed the court his 2002 diary which has an entry for the 26th November  "SSP people's festival..must attend" 

Day 12 Friday Morning, Duncan Rowan.

This morning's session was a bit of a stop start affair, the reasons for which we will touch on later. The only witness that appeared was Duncan Rowan, former North East organiser for the SSP and one of the eight witnesses that Mr Sheridan has received permission to re-examine after parting company with his original advocate, Maggie Scott QC.

After asking the witness of there was anything he wished to change about his original testimony, to which Mr Rowan replied no, (an account of the witnesses original testimony can be found Here ) Mr Sheridan then moved on to Mr Rowan's relationship with a Fiona McGuire. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Katrine Trolle Cross-examination, morning session

As mentioned below I was unable to attend the court this morning due to a family matter. Regular commentator "Whatsy" has been kind enough to send an account of the proceedings

News International
TS Opened his cross examination with a recap of some of the witness's testimony so far including her claim that 
she had never received payment from News International (N.I.). The witness was asked her opinion on whether it was likely that various Crown witnesses had received payment from N.I. In the past for their story, to which the witness agreed that this was likely.
TS then continued to ask the witness to comment on the size, wealth and influence of N.I., which she confirmed she was aware of.
TS asked for her opinions on how much N.I. Had spent on the trial, and suggested to her it was in the region of £2m, which she agreed seemed reasonable.
Around this point, the Advocate Depute objected that the witness was not able to comment on such matters and that other called witnesses associated with N.I. could speak to such issues, to which Judge Bracendale agreed and directed TS to focus questions to this witness on areas pertaining to her.

TS went back to the Cultural Festival and provided evidence of it having taken place, and the relevant entries in his diary - "must attend".
KT could not recall the festival and could not recall attending.

Katrine Trolle Cross Examination, Second day.

Katrine Trolle outside Court, pic by AP

Due to a family commitment I was unable to attend court this morning, I have spoken to some people who were there this morning and got their accounts, which I will collate and post later. If any readers were in court this morning I'd be grateful if they could share their impressions either in the comments below or by email to Meanwhile here is a link to the  BBC Report of this morning's events. 

Court resumed after lunch and Mr Sheridan continued his cross examination of Katrine Trolle. He began by asking her about an email she sent to police, in 2007,  which contains this paragraph; "I told the Lawyer I will not be good at the trial, he said he would think of something." Ms Trolle then confirmed that the Lawyer she referred to in the email was Kenneth Lang a lawyer acting on behalf of News International (owners of the News of the World) Mr Sheridan then asked if the police had ever discussed Mr Lang with her, she did not recall and if she still had the emails between her and Mr Lang to which she replied "no." Mr Sheridan then reminded the witness of her previous assertion that she wanted "nothing to do with the News of the World (NotW) to which she resplied that she drew a distinction between the newspaper and the Lawyers employed by them.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Katrine Trolle, Tommy Sheridan's Cross examination

Today's court session was a short one due to a member of the jury requiring to attend to a family issue. Hence the court only sat from 10am until 12 noon. It may have been a short session but it was also a fascinating one as Tommy Sheridan began his cross examination of Katrine Trolle, the witness who's allegations yesterday dominated the news last night and the press coverage this morning.

Mr Sheridan began by apologising to the jury for his "shouting' from the lectern the day before. He informed them that he had been "chastised" for this by both the judge, Lord Bracadale and his wife Gail. With that, a measurably quieter Mr Sheridan, began his questioning of the witness.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Katrine Trolle, First Cross Examination.

The court resumed after lunch and the Advocate Depute finished his examination of Katrine Trolle.  Ms Trolle was shown a registration document for an 02 mobile phone under the name "Patrice Prolle." The witness said she did not recognise the document or the details contained in it. He then asked Ms Trolle if she had ever discussed "party matters" with Mr Sheridan to which she replied no.

Mr Sheridan had asked if he could wait until tomorrow to begin his cross examination of the witness, due to the large number of documents produced by the crown, to which the presiding judge, Lord Bracadale, agreed. Lord Bracadale explained to the jury that to make the best use of the court's time he had suggested that Paul Mcbride QC (pictured) acting for Mrs Sheridan, could  examine the witness "out of turn" Mr McBride agreed to this course of action and then began his cross examination.

Katrine Trolle Testimony

As mentioned briefly below, the trial today heard the testimony of Katrine Trolle a key witness for the prosecution of both Tommy and Gail Sheridan. Up until today the case has almost exclusively heard evidence about disputed accounts of SSP executive meetings and what, if anything, was admitted at them. Today we heard for the first time from someone who allegedly participated in the  trip to the Cupids club in Manchester. The salacious nature of much of what was said in court today will be sure to dominate the Scottish Tabloids tomorrow.

Day 10 Morning Katrine Trolle

This morning a packed and hushed court heard the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, begin his examination of Katrine Trolle. Ms Troll, who has been flown over from Denmark for the trial, has told the court she had  a number of sexual liaisons with the defendant, Tommy Sheridan, including one at his office in Glasgow city chambers while he was a councillor. She has also stated that she visited the Cupid's club in Manchester with Mr Sheridan and others in 2002. 

Ms Troll is due to finish her evidence later on this afternoon and we will post a full update of her testimony then.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Day 9 Afternoon, Colin Fox.

As was decided in court last Thursday, but only told to the jury today, Lord Bracadale has granted a motion by the defence to recall a number of the previous witnesses to put fresh questions to them. The witnesses to be recalled are:

  • Barbara Scott, former SSP minute secretary
  • Allison Kane, former SSP treasurer
  • Allan Green, former SSP national secretary
  • Colin Fox, SSP joint national spokesperson
  • Duncan Rowan, a former SSP regional organiser
  • Felicity Garvie, a former personal assistant to Tommy Sheridan.
  • Carolyn Leckie, former MSP
  • Catriona Grant,  former SSP co-chair
After the conclusion of Rosie Kane's testimony today we heard from the first of these witnesses, Colin Fox. The Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, formally recalled the witness but asked no questions, leaving Mr Sheridan to begin his examination.

Day 9 Morning Session

Alan McCombes Revealed as source of Sunday Herald Affidavit.

This morning's session continued with Tommy Sheridan's cross examination of Rosie Kane (see below for her previous testimony) In a departure from last week the Judge granted a motion from Mr Sheridan to ask questions from the advocates rostrum, not from the dock as previously. This was conceded, he said, due to the unusual circumstances of the trial.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Rosie Kane's testimony Part 2

Mr Sheridan continued his cross examination after the intervention of the judge, Lord Bracadale (see Part 1 below)  and began to question Ms Kane on her testimony regarding the key 9th November meeting of the Scottish Socialist party executive. Mr Sheridan reminded Ms Kane that she described him, to the Advocate Deputy, as holding a notepad in his lap, which she confirmed. Mr Sheridan asked why no other witness had described this, and when pressed Ms Kane said "I can only tell what is my truth." Mr Sheridan then asked how long he had spoken for, which she was again unsure of, and who spoke after him. He questioned her statement that she was shocked at the meeting as a bit "overdone" considering she had stated she had known about the allegations for a week or so.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Day 8 Afternoon, Rosie Kane Part 1.

The end of Friday's morning session and the whole of the afternoon was occupied by the testimony of Rosie Kane, a Scottish Socialist party MSP from 2003 to 2007 and a member of the SSP executive throughout that period.  Ms Kane was questioned by the Advocate Depute, Alex Prentice QC, who with his usual skill and precision took the witness through the key evidence in the case. He first asked Ms Kane about her history in the SSP and brought out that she was a founding member of the party. She said she had admired Tommy Sheridan and that he had "incredible charisma." She also confirmed that she attended the SSP executive meeting on the 9th November 2004 (the "9/11" meeting) 

Day 8 Morning Session

Court began slightly late today due to a problem with the equipment used to record the testimony of the witnesses. When this was fixed we continued with Tommy Sheridan's cross examination of Joanna Harvie (see below for the first part of her testimony)

From his position in the dock Mr Sheridan began by returning to the SSP executive meeting of the 9th November 2004 (the "9/11" meeting) He asked if during that meeting she had heard any other serious allegations of a criminal nature against him. Ms Harvie stated that she recalled either Mr Sheridan or Keith Baldassera had mentioned something about a "gun," although she was unclear in what context. Mr Sheridan asked if Ms Harvie had mentioned this to the police in her statements to them regarding this meeting. She said she had not as "They didn't ask me." She was also asked if she recalled mention of a "sex orgy in a Glasgow hotel" she stated she did not.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Andy Coulson to Give Evidence

Severin Carrell of the Guardian has confirmed that Andy Coulson, ex-editor of the News of The World and currently the Conservative Government's director of communications has been called as a defence witness.

"Tommy Sheridan named Coulson today in a revised list of defence witnesses who also included Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator who was jailed for six months in 2007 for phone-hacking voicemail messages for NoTW" 

Having the Tory equivalent of Alistair Campbell being cross examined by Tommy Sheridan should make for, to say the least, an interesting day in court.

Tommy Sheridan begins his own defence.

The majority of the court's time this morning was taken up with various legal motions and organisational issues resulting from of Mr Sheridan's decision to dismiss his advocate Maggie Scott QC. Lord Bracadale the presiding judge reminded the gathered media that they should not report anything that happened in court outwith the presence of the jury.

The jury was recalled at noon and the court proceeded with the next prosecution witness, Joanna Harvie. Ms Harvie stated her occupation as a journalist and confirmed she was editor of the Scottish Socialist Voice (the newspaper of the Scottish Socialist Party) in 2004 and was, in this capacity, a member of the SSP executive committee.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

What the Papers Say

One thing I've noticed, attending the court every day, is the apparent disparity between what we see and hear there and  the media reports. It is not that the reporters are making things up or telling lies, just that they present a very partial and incomplete account of the proceedings.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Tommy Sheridan to defend himself in court.

                                     Ms Scott QC Hails a Taxi Outside Court today

(pic via Scottish Daily Record)

Arriving at court this morning it was clear, from the number of press in attendance and the buzz around the defence and prosecution teams that something big was in the offing. Due to  restrictions we can only report Lord Bracadale's statement.
He thanked the Jury for their patience and said they would notice that Maggie Scott QC was no longer in the court. He told the jury that Mr Sheridan had decided to conduct his own defence, as he was "perfectly entitled to do." He would retain the support of his solicitor Mr Aamer Anwar. Mr Sheridan had asked for an adjournment to prepare himself and this was granted. The court is to adjourn until Thursday 14th October.

The BBC reports
"This is not the first time the former MSP has parted company with his lawyers.He sacked his legal team during the original defamation action, choosing instead to represent himself.In the run up to the perjury case, Mr Sheridan also dismissed Donald Findlay QC, one of the country's most high-profile defence lawyers.His decision to sack Ms Scott, who defended Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, appears to indicate that he was unhappy with how she had handled evidence."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Video.

One major piece of evidence that I have only briefly touched on, is a video tape, 40 minutes of which was shown to the court on Friday morning. Prosecution witnesses Carolyn Leckie and Colin Fox have both testified that they recognised the two people on the tape as the defendant Tommy Sheridan and a Mr George McNeilage. The tape was first released by the News of The World newspaper on the 1st of October 2006 while a time stamp on one version of it gives the date of recording as 18/11/04.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Our comment policy is designed to allow the free flow of debate. We will delete comments that are abusive or that, in our opinion, clearly breach the law on contempt of court. Comments remain the responsibility of their author and the failure to delete any comment does not imply, in any way, agreement with or endorsement of it.

For informational purposes only:

"Both statutory and common law contempt of court are concerned with the possibility that a juror, witness or lay judge may be influenced by material which is published about active legal proceedings. Accordingly, any of the following activities could be considered to be contempt:
  • obtaining or publishing details of jury deliberations;
  • publishing information obtained from confidential court documents;
  • reporting on the defendant's previous convictions;
  • mounting an organized campaign to influence proceedings;
  • reporting on court proceedings in breach of a court order or reporting restriction;
  • breaching an injunction obtained against another party;
  • anticipating the course of a trial or predicting the outcome; 

Friday, October 8, 2010

Day 5 Afternoon.

The afternoon session today continued with Maggie Scott's QC cross-examination of Carolyn Leckie. Ms Scott asked again about the executive meeting in the 9th November. She asked Ms Leckie if Tommy Sheridan had left that meeting early. She said he had as he "always manipulating things." Ms Scott pointed out that his reason for leaving was to show a scan of Mrs Sheridan's pregnancy to his sister, Ms Leckie remarked "That was him using Gail and his unborn child as a human shields."

Day 5 Morning session

A fascinating morning, lots to cover which I'll do my best to summarise before returning to the court at 2pm. This morning we heard from Carolyn Leckie, and SSP MSP from 2003 to 2007 and a key witness for both sides of the case. As well as seeing the full video produced by George McNeilage,and released by the News of the World

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I've turned comments off for now until I get advice on them. Hopefully will be back soon.

Day 4 Afternoon

This afternoon's session was taken up with the testimony of Felicity (Fizz) Garvie who was Tommy Sheridan' parliamentary assistant from 1999 to 2006. Alex Prentice QC began by asking her to describe her duties and then asked if she would recognise Tommy Sheridan's handwriting. She said not only that she would, she had a sample of his handwriting in her handbag. Mr Prentice remarked that " we've all had enough of handbags" (in reference to Barbara Scott's testimony) which led to laughter in the court.

Day 4 Morning Session.

Today began with the The deputy advocate, Alex Prentice QC continuing his questioning of Mr Colin Fox, co-convener of the Scottish Socialist Party.

Mr Fox was shown the disputed minute of the SSP executive of the 9th of November and confirmed it was, in his view, an accurate record of what occurred. He also confirmed that Mr Sheridan had supported Mr Fox to succeed him as convener of the SSP an that he had worked closely with Mr Sheridan in the Scottish Parliament.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Day Three Afternoon session.

This afternoon's session resumed with the continuation of Maggie Scott QC's cross examination of Alan Green, past National secretary of the SSP and a key witness on the provenance of many of the documents under dispute in the case.

Carrying on from her morning session (see below) Ms Scott continued to probe the apparent contradiction between Mr Green's testimony in the 2006 libel case and his statements today. In 2006 Mr Green told the court of session that he had "probably" destroyed the original handwritten note made by Barbara Scott which formed the basis of the disputed minute of the 9th November SSP executive meeting. As this note has now been presented in evidence this clearly creates a bit of a problem for Mr Green (and indeed the Crown)

Day 3 Morning.

The day opened with the the conclusion of Paul McBride's cross examination of Alison Kane. He began by reminding her of her statement yesterday that she had informed the police of her contention that she was sure Katrina Troll had not attended the SSP conference in Perth in 2005 as Ms Troll usually assisted her in counting money when she was present. Both defence and prosecution had agreed that this did not appear in her statement and she was asked to explain this.

Ms Kane stated that this was her honest recollection and suggested that perhaps the police officers had not noted this comment. After being shown that she had signed the statement she argued that this had been an honest mistake.

Mr McBride then had Ms Kane confirm a number of facts, that she had visited Mr Sheridan's home on a number of occasions, that she had never seen him drink alcohol and that Ms Troll was a close friend with whom she "shared personal things" After Ms Kane agreed with these statements this cross examination closed.

The deputy advocate, Alex Prentice QC, then showed Ms Kane the so called "Mystery Minute" of the meeting and was asked to comment. She stated she had never seen this document before the civil trial and agreed that it appeared to list only 18 people attending unlike the 21 people listed on the Barbara Scott minute of the same meeting. Ms Kane was then allowed to stand down.

The next witness called by the prosecution was Alan Green, National secretary of the SSP in 2004 and a key witness for both sides.

Mr Green was first asked about two meetings preceding the 9th November 2004 executive committee meeting, one in "Wickets" public house with Alan McCombes on the 1st November, and one at Mr McCombes' flat sometime before the executive meeting attended by Himself, Alan McCombes, Frances Curran, Carolyn Leckie, Rosie Kane, Keith Baldessara and possibly Ritchie Venton. These meetings were to agree a course of action re the News of the World's stories that were just starting to appear.

He was also asked about the executive meeting on the 9th and gave a very similar account to the previous two witnesses, describing himself as "appalled" by both Tommy Sheridan's "reckless behaviour" and his intention to sue News International and so "go down the route of Jeffrey Archer" and attempt to "Turn lies into truth and truth into lies." He stated that the whole executive unanimously disagreed with this course of action.

He also informed the court that Tommy Sheridan had asked him to destroy the minute of the 9th November meeting on the 26th November (possibly by shredding it) something he refused to do as it was "crucial that an accurate record was kept."

He then was asked about events in May 2006 (just before the libel case was due in court) when the SSP had been cited to produce all relevant documents. He stated he had met with Mr Sheridan and Colin Fox in the Golden Pheasant public house in Lenzie. At this meeting he claims to have told Mr Sheridan he was "snookered" and he should call off his action or the party would be forced to hand over the minutes. He showed Mr Sheridan the document and claimed Mr Sheridan did not challenge its accuracy. He also stated that Mr Sheridan informed him he had discussed the minute with his own lawyers and been told that revealing the minute would "be a blow but not a fatal one" He also alleged that Mr Sheridan told him that the News of The World's case was "close to collapse" and it would be ironic if it was the SSP that "gave them the ammo to beat me."

Maggie Scott QC, acting for Mr Sheridan, began her cross examination by returning to the handwritten note supposedly written by Barbara Scott during the 9th November meeting. She opened by asking Mr Green about what happened to the note after it was used to create the typed minute. He said he had kept it at home along with other papers until May 2006 when he had given it to Alan McCombes.

Ms Scott then produced a transcript of Mr Green's evidence to the 2006 libel trial, where, when asked about the handwritten notes by council for News International he had stated that he had "probably destroyed it" This led to a heated exchange with Mr Green accusing Ms Scott of "throwing mud around" and "not being interested in the truth" while Ms Scott insisted he answer the questions and not continue to make long statements. Ms Green was about to move on to another document, a "background paper" produced by Mr Green in 2006 when the court adjourned for lunch.

The case continues........

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Day Two Afternoon, the "Mystery Minute"

This afternoon was devoted to the testimony of Alison Kane. Ms Kane confirmed that she was National treasurer and a member of the Executive of the Scottish Socialist Party from November 2000. She stated that she had known both the defendants since 2000 and had considered Tommy Sheridan in particular to be "one of her best friends" as well as a "political ally."

She informed the court that she had been in attendance at the key SSP executive meeting on the 9th November 2004 and, like Barbara Scott previously, claimed that at that meeting Mr Sheridan admitted attending a sex club in Manchester on two occasions. She added that Tommy had said he had been "silly," and described the atmosphere at the meeting as one of shock, "you could hear a pin drop" she added.

She also confirmed that in her belief the minute of the 9th of November meeting produced by Ms Scott was an accurate record of what was said at the meeting.

She further alleged that at a later date (4-5 days after the 14th of November SSP executive meeting) Mr Sheridan had called her and asked her to "rattle some cages" to ensure no minute of the 9th of November meeting would be produced. She also stated that Mr Sheridan had asked her to go to the press and "say lies about other people" (ie other members of the SSP executive) This she refused to do and has never spoken to Mr Sheridan since.

The deputy advocate, Alex Prentice QC, also asked about the SSP conference in Perth in 2005, at which Ms Kane stated Katrina Troll was not present. She was sure of this as Troll was also "one of her best friends" who helped her in her treasurer duties at conference when she was in attendance. This is important as one of the charges against Gail Sheridan is perjuring herself in relation to a statement that she spoke to Katrina Troll at this event.

Mr Sheridan's barrister, Maggie Scott QC then cross examined Ms Kane. She began by asking about financial problems that afflicted the SSP in 2004, including a large debt. Ms Kane stated that this was nothing unusual for a socialist organisation which always found itself strapped for cash. Ms Scott asked if measures such as redundancies amongst staff had been considered to which Ms Kane replied in the affirmative.

Ms Scott went on to discuss the confusion around various statements from the SSP and Mr Sheridan about the reason for his resignation. She argued that both parties had agreed to cite "family reasons" for the resignation, however this was blown apart by a story in the Scottish Sunday Herald which quoted a senior source in the SSP saying Mr Sheridan had been forced to resign due to questions about is sexual conduct. Ms Kane was asked if she knew who the source of this story might be, she stated she "had an idea" bur was unwilling to name the person in court as she was not certain.

Ms Kane was also shown another minute, the "mystery minute" as Ms Scott called it, and agreed that apart from it not containing any admissions by Mr Sheridan to misconduct it was an accurate reflection of the 9th November meeting. While this "mystery minute" has now been shown to both prosecution witnesses we have still no idea of it's provenance, however I am sure we have not heard the last of it.

Ms Kane was then cross examined by Paul McBride QC acting for Gail Sheridan, In a combative performance Mr McBride repeatedly pressed Ms Kane on her assertion that Katrina Troll was not present at the 2005 SSP conference. Ms Kane was adamant that if Ms Troll had been there she would have known as "she always helped me count the money collected" Mr McBride then asked if she had told the police this fact in her statements to them. After initially not being sure she confirmed twice that she had told the police this. Mr McBride then requested the court rise early as he had another witness to call (presumably to challenge this statement) Lord Bracadale granted Mr McBride's request and the court rose at 3.45. Should be an interesting morning tomorrow.

The case continues.

Day 2 Morning,

Today opened with the continuation of the deputy advocate's examination of Barbara Scott, minute secretary of the SSP at the time of the controversial executive meeting of the 9th November.

Ms Scott was asked how her purported handwritten note of the above meeting had came back into her possession after being given to Alan Green (then National Secretary of the SSP) She informed the court that she had asked for them to be returned to her a week or so before Tommy Sheridan's libel trial in June 2006 where she was due to give evidence. These were handed to her by Alan McCombes in Edinburgh. She also called any suggestion she had fabricated these notes as Laughable"

Margaret Scott QC for Mr Sheridan then cross examined the witness. She began by discussing how many members of the executive committee of the SSP at the 9th November meeting were also paid staff of the party (apparently all but two) and pointed out that after Tommy Sheridan's removal from the position of party convener that these same staff all backed Alan McCombes as Mr Sheridan's replacement.

She also mentioned a faction of the party, the United Left Faction which she described as the "Anti-Tommy Sheridan" grouping.

Ms Scott was closely questioned on the process by which her original handwritten note was turned into the final printed minute which is under dispute. She agreed the procedure used was not "normal" but argued that the whole situation was "abnormal" She accepted that Alan Green had given her "guidance" on what to write. She was then instructed by Alan Green to delete the disc on which she had saved the minute so as to stop any leaks to the press (the disc was produced in court where it appears the deleted file has been recovered)

Ms Scott QC for the defence concentrated on two points, differences in language between the handwritten notes and the final product and differences in the structure of this minutes and the usual format of SSP exec minutes.

The sharpest exchange came after Ms Scott claimed that the phrase from the original handwritten minute "A woman phoned about group sex" had been an error on her part and she had realised later that the phrase was "flew" The defence seized on this point and argued that this alleged phone call had only came to light after the production of the minute and therefore Ms Scott's claim that it was a mistake was an attempt to cover up the minute containing facts not known at the time. Again I expect we will be hearing more about this from other witnesses.

The most heated exchanges of the morning came in the cross examination of Ms Scott by Mr McBride acting for Gail Sheridan. He queried the witness forcefully over her claim yesterday that while testifying at the civil case in Edinburgh she had the handwritten notes in her handbag. He pressed the point repeatedly that it was "inconceivable" that she would allow herself to be called a liar in court while having such vital evidence in her direct possession. Ms Scott repeatedly stated that she had no desire to help the News of the World and was testifying for them against her will. Mr McBride asked if there was anything in her handbag now she should tell the court about.

He also asked the witness of she had mentioned the papers in her bag during her interviews with police, which the witness appeared unclear about, and about her attending court with Carolyn Leckie and Rosie Kane, both of whom are to appear as witnesses. When Ms Scott stated they were her friends Mr McBride asked if she had no other friends she could come to court with who were not witnesses.

After a brief re-examination by the deputy advocate Ms Scott was allowed to stand down and the court rose for lunch.

The case continues.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Day One Afternoon

The afternoon session was taken up with the Prosecution's first witness Barbara Scott, who in 2004 was employed as parliamentary assistant to Scottish Socialist Party MSPs Carolyn Leckie and Frances Curran. In addition to this paid position she was also elected as minute secretary to the SSP executive committee and it was in this capacity she attended an SSP executive meeting at the organisation's Glasgow office on the 9th November 2004.

Ms Scott stated that her normal practice was to take handwritten notes at executive meetings which she then later typed up for distribution. The prosecution began with these handwritten notes (which were not considered at the civil trial, of which more below)

According Ms Scott's notes Tommy Sheridan admitted at the 9th November meeting that he had indeed attended the controversial "Swingers Club" in Manchester on two occasions. The notes read.

" "Two visits 1996, 2002, mistake, reckless etc. Publication of book by someone, two other MSPs named. For two weeks someone been trying to sell story to newspapers.

She stated Mr Sheridan had informed those at the meeting that there was no proof of his visits and if there was he would resign, but asked for the chance to fight on.

Ms Scott went on to state that other attendees spoke against this position claiming that a cover-up would discredit the whole Scottish Socialist Party. Alan McCombes is supposed to have drawn an analogy with the Monica Lewinski affair where it was the public denials that hurt President Clinton more than the initial allegation. She also informed the court that after the meeting the handwritten notes where taken into safekeeping by Alan Green the then National Secretary of the SSP.

The prosecution then moved on to the typed version of the minutes, produced according to Ms Scott on or around the 16th of November at the SSP office at Stanley Street Glasgow. To avoid the minutes leaking to the press she created the typewritten version on a floppy disc, printed one copy and then deleted the disc. Alan Green again kept custody of the only copy.

Ms Scott also claimed that when she was a witness in the libel action taken by Mr Sheridan against the News Of the World that she had the written notes "In her handbag" while she was in the witness box. She claims she was asked by the lawyer for the News of The World about the original notes however she did not mention she had them in her possession.

She further informed the court that, three or so days after Tommy Sheridan's victory in the libel trial, she took the original notes to Fettes Police station in Edinburgh and told the police she had evidence that a crime, ie perjury, had been committed by Mr Sheridan. She did this, she claims to "clear her name" and when asked confirmed that she was accompanied to the Police station by then MSPs Carolyn Leckie and Rosie Kane.

She was also shown another purported minute of the 9th November meeting which did not contain any reference to any alleged admissions by Mr Sheridan. She denied was an it accurate note of what occurred at the meeting in question.

At that point the court rose with Ms Scott to continue giving evidence tomorrow.

Day 1 Morning

A beautiful sunny morning in Glasgow, Tommy Sheridan arrived at court at 9.30am to be met by a crowd of around 30 of his supporters. Accompanied by his wife Gail Sheridan (who is also a defendant) he entered the court making no comment to the large crowd of photographers and journalists gathered outside.

In a crowded courtroom the very long indictment had to be read twice as two jury members were excused after the first reading. The jury is made up of 13 women and two men. From the charges (see below) the leadership of the Scottish Socialist Party are to be the key witnesses in the first part of the case as the majority of the charges relate to Mr Sheridan allegedly perjuring himself in relation to statements to the SSP leadership on various occasions (again see full indictment below)

The main charge against Gail Sheridan seems to centre on a dispute involving dates where she claims to have been in UK with Mr Sheridan while the prosecution claims she was in Miami.

In Scottish courts there are no opening speeches to the Jury from the defence or the prosecution. So after the delay in swearing in the jury and instructions to the jury from the judge the court was adjourned until 2pm.

We understand that the first witness to be called will be Barbara Scott who is expected to testify as to the accuracy of the disputed minutes of the 9th November meeting of the SSP executive.

update Various sources reporting that Andy Coulson will be called as a witness in case. confirmation when we get it.