Sunday, 3 October 2010

Tommy Sheridan on Trial

Note: more recent takes on the Tommy Sheridan trial here and here.

How many of us enjoy a trip down memory lane? Unfortunately, tomorrow's start of the trial of Tommy and Gail Sheridan on perjury charges is one blast from the recent past we could all do without. In the summer of 2006 when Tommy successfully sued Murdoch's
News of the World for libel, I had a ring side seat via the UK Left Network of the pain, anger and tragedy the action brought down on the Scottish Socialist Party. Whatever one thinks of the SSP's politics and the various takes on the resulting split, Tommy's libel action tore apart a collective of dedicated class fighters who were tempered by the fight against the Poll Tax and whose hard work had built the most successful left-of-Labour socialist organisation since the Communist Party's heyday. And over the next 50-odd days we get to rake through it all again.

Regarding the trial itself, the Socialist Party is
right to question the huge resources thrown into putting the case against the Sheridans together. But equally, the charge sheet (reproduced below via Lallands Peat Worrier) can hardly be described as a set of "trumped up" charges: all pertain to the specifics of the original trial itself.

Another depressing aspect of this trial, just like the civil suit, is the appearance of erstwhile comrades of Sheridan on the witness stand. Last time a number of SSP witnesses testifying against Sheridan were roundly denounced as class traitors and scabs by Tommy and his supporters. Those tempted to use their reappearance for more tired grand standing might like to reflect that as the state is prosecuting, anyone failing to respond to a citation could face a contempt of court charge with the prospect of getting banged up for two years. Not the same as going to prison for not paying your poll tax, is it?

The comments are open but will be very tightly moderated due to
sub judice. Discussion of the wider context of the trial is fine, but comments on the details and/or expressions of opinion on Tommy and Gail's innocence or guilt are out of bounds. The trial is being blogged from an observer in the public gallery here, and the charge sheet is reproduced below for information purposes.
Thomas Sheridan, born 7 March 1964, whose domicile of citation has been specified as Paisley Road West, Glasgow, and Gail Sheridan, born 4 January 1964, whose domicile of citation has been specified as Paisley Road West, Glasgow, you are indicted at the instance of The Right Honourable Elish Angiolini, Queen's Counsel, Her Majesty's Advocate, and the charges against you are that

(1) you THOMAS SHERIDAN having raised an action of defamation in the Court of Session, Parliament House, Parliament Square, Edinburgh against News Group Newpapers Limited, 124 Portman Street, Kinning Park, Glasgow, a company incorporated under the Companies Acts, being the publisher of the News of the World newspaper, in which you alleged that on 21 November 2004 the said newspaper had published an article communicating the false idea that you had visited a "swingers club" with Anvar Begum Khan, c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh, and knowing that a civil jury trial had been fixed for the hearing of said action on 4 July 2006 and having on 9 November 2004 at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Scottish Socialist Party held at 70 Stanley Street, Glasgow, attended by, among others, Colin Fox, c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh, admitted attending such a club and in particular Cupid's Healthclub, 13-17 Sutherland Street, Swinton, Manchester on two occasions in 1996 and 2002 and knowing that accurate minutes of the said meeting existed and had been lodged on 16 June 2006 at the said Court on behalf of the said defender and that said Colin Fox was to be called as a witness at said trial did on 18 June 2006 at the premises known as The Beanscene, 67 Holyrood Road, Edinburgh attempt to suborn said Colin Fox, to falsely depone as a witness that the minutes of said meeting were not accurate and you did thus attempt to suborn said Colin Fox to commit perjury;

Friday (2) on 21 July 2006 at the Court of Session, Parliament House, Parliament Square, Edinburgh you THOMAS SHERIDAN being affirmed as a witness in a civil jury trial of an action for defamation then proceeding there at your instance against the News Group Newspapers Limited, 124 Portman Street, Kinning Park, Glasgow as publishers of the News of the World newspaper did falsely depone:

a) that at a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Scottish Socialist Party held on 9 November 2004 at 70 Stanley Street, Glasgow you had not admitted you had attended Cupid's Healthclub, 13-17 Sutherland Street, Swinton, Manchester known as Cupid's on two occasions in 1996 and 2002 and that you had not admitted that you attended there with Anvar Begum Khan c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh;

b) that at said meeting on 9 November 2004 Alan William McCombes and Keith Robert Baldassara, both c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh did not state that they had previously raised the issue with you of your visits to a sex club in Manchester and that you had admitted to them that it was true;

c) that at said meeting you denied having visited a swingers' club in Manchester;

d) that Allison Kane, Keith Robert Baldassara, Alan William McCombes, Allan Green, Colin Anthony Fox, Barbara Jane Scott, Carolyn Leckie, Catriona Mary Grant, Joanna Harvie, and Rosemary Kane all c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh had lied in evidence during said civil jury trial when each gave evidence that: - they had heard you admit at said meeting on 9 November 2004 that you had visited said Cupid's in Manchester; and they heard it being stated at said meeting on 9 November 2004 that Alan William McCombes and Keith Robert Baldassara had previously raised the issue with you of your visits to a sex club in Manchester and that you had admitted to them that it was true;

e) that you had not admitted in 2002 to said Alan William McCombes and Keith Robert Baldassara that you had attended a sex club in Manchester;

f) that you did not say at the said meeting held on 9 November 2004 that you were not prepared to resign as convener of the Scottish Socialist Party unless there was proof that you had attended a sex club in Manchester and that you did not believe that there was any evidence to prove that you were lying about not attending said club;

g) that in a pub known as the Golden Pheasant,2 Stepps Road, Kirkintilloch on or around Friday 12 May 2006 you were not given the minutes of the said meeting of 9 November 2004 to read;

h) that said Alan Green lied during his evidence in said civil jury trial that in said pub known as the Golden Pheasant on or around 12 May 2006 he had shown you the minutes of the said meeting of 9 November 2004;

i) that there was not an event on 14 June 2002 or at any other time at the Moathouse Hotel, Congress Road, Glasgow organised by Matthew McColl, c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh which you attended along with Andrew McFarlane, c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh at which you and said Andrew McFarlane went into a bedroom with a girl and had sexual relations with said girl;

j) that Helen Todd Allison and Lily Anne Colvin both c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Road, Edinburgh lied in their evidence during said civil jury trial when each gave evidence that you were at the Moathouse hotel with said Andrew McFarlane;

k) that a conversation between you and said Keith Robert Baldassara had not taken place when said Keith Robert Baldassara had asked you about "madness" somewhere in a hotel in Glasgow and that you said to him that you did not participate, but were present at the event when a lady from Birmingham was brought in;

l) that said Keith Robert Baldassara lied in his evidence during said civil jury trial that he had asked you about "madness" somewhere in a hotel in Glasgow and that you said to him that you did not participate, but were present at the event when a lady from Birmingham was brought in;

m) that you had not attended said Cupid's in Manchester along with Andrew McFarlane, Gary Clark, Anvar Begum Khan and Katrine Trolle all c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh towards the end of 2001, or had ever visited a swingers' club;

n) that you had an affair with said Anvar Begum Khan in late 1992 for six months only and that you did not have a sexual relationship with her from 1994 to 2002; and

o) you never had a sexual relationship with said Katrine Trolle and had never been with her in the house occupied by you at Paisley Road West, Cardonald, Glasgow or with her at Kingennie Court, Dundee; the truth being as you well knew, that on 9 November 2004 at the Executive Committee meeting of the Scottish Socialist Party held at 70 Stanley Street, Glasgow, you did admit to attending said Cupid's in Manchester on two occasions in 1996 and 2002 and that you had visited said club with said Anvar Begum Khan;

B) that at said meeting it was stated by said Alan William McCombes and Keith Robert Baldassara that they had previously raised the issue of you attending a sex club in Manchester and that you had admitted to them that it was true; that at said meeting you did not deny having visited a swingers' club in Manchester; that said Allison Kane, Keith Robert Baldassara, Alan William McCombes, Allan Green, Colin Anthony Fox, Barbara Jane Scott, Carolyn Leckie, Catriona Mary Grant, Joanna Harvie and Rosemary Kane had not lied in evidence during the said trial when they each gave evidence that:

i) they had heard you admit at said meeting on 9 November 2004 that you had visited the said Cupid's in Manchester on two occasions and ii) they had heard it being stated that said Alan William McCombes and Keith Robert Baldassara had previously raised the issue with you of your visits to a sex club in Manchester and that you had admitted to them that it was true; that:

ii) on 3 November 2002 in the course of a journey between Glasgow and Edinburgh you did admit to said Keith Robert Baldassara that you had attended a sex club in Manchester; ii) on an occasion between 4 November 2002 and 31 December 2002, at the City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow, you did admit to said Alan William McCombes that you had visited a club for swingers in Manchester and

iii) on 1 November 2004 at the City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow, you did admit to said Alan William McCombes and Keith Robert Baldassara that you were the MSP referred to in the News of the World article published on 31 October 2004 and that you had attended said Cupid's in Manchester with said Anvar Begum Khan; that you did state at the said meeting held on the 9 November 2004 that you were not prepared to resign as convener of the Scottish Socialist Party unless there was proof that you had attended the said Cupid's in Manchester and that you did not believe that there was any evidence to prove that you were lying about not attending said club;

G)/ that on 12 May 2006 at the premises known asThe Golden Pheasant, 2 Stepps Road, Kirkintilloch said Allan Green did show you the minutes of the said meeting of the 9 November 2004; that said Allan Green had not lied during his evidence during said civil jury trial that on 12 May 2006 he had shown you the minutes from the said meeting on 9 November 2004 at said premises known as The Golden Pheasant, 2 Stepps Road, Kirkintilloch; that you did attend the said Moathouse Hotel on 14 June 2002 at an event organised by said Matthew McColl along with said Andrew McFarlane at which you and said Andrew McFarlane went into a bedroom with Beverly Anthea Dixon, c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh and you did have sexual intercourse with said Beverly Anthea Dixon; that said Helen Todd Allison and Lily Anne Colvin had not lied during their evidence during said civil jury trial when they said that they had seen you at the said Moathouse Hotel with said Andrew McFarlane; that between 15 June and 15 July 2002, both dates inclusive, at the City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow, said Keith Robert Baldassara did ask you about "madness" somewhere in a hotel in Glasgow and you stated to said Keith Robert Baldassara that you had been present at said Moathouse Hotel when a lady from Birmingham had been present and that this event had been organised by said Matthew McColl for said Andrew McFarlane; that said Keith Robert Baldassara did not lie in evidence during said civil jury trial that between 15 June and 15 July 2002, both dates inclusive, at the said City Chambers, George Square, Glasgow, that he had asked you about "madness" in a hotel in Glasgow and that you had said to him that you had been present at the Moathouse Hotel when a lady from Birmingham had been present and that this event had been organised by said Matthew McColl for said Andrew McFarlane; that on 27 September 2002 you did attend said Cupid's in Manchester with said Andrew McFarlane, Gary Clark, Anvar Begum Khan and Katrine Trolle and that you had visited a club for swingers; that between 1 January 1994 and 28 September 2002 you did have a sexual relationship with said Anvar Begum Khan; and

O)/ that between 1 January 2000 and 31 December 2005, both dates inclusive, you did have a sexual relationship with Katrine Trolle, that she had been in the house occupied by you at Paisley Road West, Cardonald, Glasgow with you and that you had stayed overnight with her at 16 Kingennie Court, Dundee.
And the charges against Gail Sheridan:
Monday (3) on 31 July 2006 at the Court of Session, Parliament House, Parliament Square, Edinburgh, you GAIL SHERIDAN being sworn as a witness in a civil jury trial of an action for defamation then proceeding there at the instance of Thomas Sheridan, MSP, your husband, residing at Paisley Road West, Cardonald, Glasgow against News Group Newspapers Limited, 124 Portman Street, Kinning Park, Glasgow as publishers of the News of the World newspaper did falsely depone:

that you saw and spoke to Katrine Trolle, c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh, at the Scottish Socialist Party Conference held in Perth in 2005, and that said Katrine Trolle told you there that the News of the World had been at her door, asking her if she had had an affair with Tommy Sheridan and had offered her money and that she hugged and kissed you and touched your "tummy";

that you had checked your diaries and the diaries of said Thomas Sheridan for November 2001 and November 2002 and that the entries confirmed that you had been at home overnight during every weekend in November 2001 and November 2002;

that you could recall that you spent every weekend in November 2001 and November 2002 with said Thomas Sheridan; that you were present and witnessed said Thomas Sheridan on an occasion telephoning Directory Enquiries and asking for the telephone number of Cupid's Health Club, 13-17 Sutherland Street, Swinton, Manchester known as Cupid's and said Thomas Sheridan telephoning the said Cupid's;

that your aunt, Annie Healy c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh arrived into Scotland from the United States of America on 14 June 2002; that said Thomas Sheridan was in your company during the whole of the evening of the 14 June 2002 and returned home with you after midnight on 15 June 2002;

and g)/ that you and said Thomas Sheridan visited Andrew McFarlane c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh, at his home at 216 Tweedmuir Road, Glasgow after 10pm on the 14 June 2002 when said Andrew McFarlane and James McManus c/o Lothian and Borders Police, Police Headquarters, Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh were present there between that time and when you left with said Thomas Sheridan after midnight on the 15 June 2002;

the truth being as you well knew, that you did not see or speak to said Katrine Trolle at the Scottish Socialist Party Conference held in Perth between 11 and 13 February 2005 and that the said Katrine Trolle did not tell you that the News of the World had been at her door asking her if she had an affair with Tommy Sheridan and had offered her money and said Katrine Trolle did not hug and kiss you and touch your "tummy";

that you had recorded in your diary that you had travelled to Miami on Tuesday 20 November 2001 and you were in Miami on the weekend of 24 and 25 November 2001 and that said Thomas Sheridan had recorded in his diary that you were away between 21 and 28 November 2001;

that you were in Miami on 24 and 25 November 2001 and you did thus not spend every weekend in November 2001 with said Thomas Sheridan; that on 23 November 2001 you were not present on the occasion when said Thomas Sheridan phoned directory enquiries and said Cupid's in Manchester;

that your aunt, said Annie Healy arrived in Scotland from the United States of America on 12 June 2002; that you were not with said Thomas Sheridan during the whole of the evening of 14 June 2002;

and that you were not in the company of said Thomas Sheridan, Andrew McFarlane and James McManus within 216 Tweedmuir Road, Glasgow continuously between 10pm on 14 June and 1am on 15 June 2002.

33 comments:

Phil said...

I started reading the charge sheet but couldn't bear to carry on after a couple of paragraphs.

Dear God, this is going to be awful. Socialists in both SSP and Solidarity have my profound sympathy.

Joan of Arc said...

Small but important point - witnesses testifying in the libel trial were also cited by the court and subject to same compulsion to turn up as in a criminal trial. If any didn't turn up they would have been jailed for contempt in that case as well as this one.

Anonymous said...

Well at least no one can say keeping the minutes is a boring job any more.

Phil said...

Someone's planning on blogging from court here.

skidmarx said...

"the truth being as you well knew" - seems to stand out on the charge sheet. If the Sheridans get off, is there going to be a perjury trial for their former comrades?

Bunc said...

Hopefully this trial will establish the truth of the whole affair rather than being an occassion for grandstanding - but I have my doubts.

James Doleman said...

First update here

http://sheridantrial.blogspot.com/

Phil said...

One comment blocked for commenting directly on the case. Anyone wanting to vent about Sheridan are wasting their time posting here.

Eddie Truman said...

I have to say it is astonishing that James Doleman thinks it is appropriate to promote a blog which has comments from 'Jim' speculating on named possible forthcoming witnesses in the trial and the evidence they may give.
Perhaps they are all 'Risking Everything';
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YIvZ7gwVeME&sns=fb

Anonymous said...

Somehow whatever the outcome I don't think SSP and Solidarity will be feeling the love. This is going to be a brutal business. Both the SSP and Solidarity should forget about standing in the Holyrood election next year.

If they stand against each other it'll only increase the bitterness and when they get a miniscule number of votes it'll just be bad for morale. It would make more sense for them to canvass for the SNP since they support independence.

Archipelago said...

Interesting evidence given on day 1 from Barbara Scott. According to the blog mentioned above:

"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 Caroline Leckie and Rosie Kane."

Perhaps Phil might like to reconsider the sentence beginning "Those tempted to use their reappearance for more tired grand standing..." in the light of Scott's evidence.

Archipelago said...

Or perhaps the Guardian would be considered a more reliable source:

"Scott, a former secretary in the NHS, said today that she had been so angry with Sheridan for calling her a liar during his libel hearing against the News of the World that she had voluntarily handed over her notes of that meeting to the police days after the libel case ended.

Accompanied by the then SSP MSPs Carolyn Leckie and Rosie Kane, who employed her as an assistant at the Scottish parliament, Scott visited Lothian and Borders police headquarters of her own volition several days later to give them her notes.

"Basically, he had said that I had fabricated evidence and my job at that time was secretarial, and I had been called a liar and had been part of a conspiracy, which was total nonsense," she said. She approached the police "to clear my name. I didn't lie," she said."

The issue of these people being forced to give prosecution evidence doesn't arise. They went to the police themselves to accuse Sheridan of a crime.

James Doleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

There's no doubt that a faction of the SSP deliberately put the knife into Sheridan. Arguably they did it to protect themselves thinking they might be pursued for perjury after the original trial. That's the charitable interpretation.

Bunc said...

Anonymous - what else would you suggest that they shoudl have done - lied and perjured themselves?

Anonymous said...

The comments by Monaghan on Doleman's blog are contempt of court.

And now they've been reported to the Crown.

Doleman will soon find out who has to take responsibility for publication.

Meanwhile, the truth about Monaghan - with photos and recordings - is with a daily newspaper.

James Doleman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Doleman said...

http://sheridantrial.blogspot.com/2010/10/comments.html

I'm sorry to have to do that as blogs should be about communication and I always think the comments are a vital part of the process. However given anon's comments (which are probably bluster but you never know) I'm going to check out the legal position before turning them back on.

Phil said...

That's fair enough. Better safe than sorry.

Anonymous said...

"Contempt of court"? What socialist does not hold the bourgeouis courts in contempt?

Steve

Frank Martin said...

It did seem bit a OTT from 'anon' there.
Very dramatic!!!

However I do think Monaghan's comments could have been putting you at quite a bit of potential risk.

Anonymous said...

stromg contempt now appearing in the reports on the defend Tommy Sheridan site. Presumably the work of Monaghan.

Jim said...

Ther is no contemot of court, only a desperate attempt to shut me up. All of my comments referred to reports of that days proceeding and information already in the public domain. The stuff about photos etc is serious and I ask that you cooperate with police on this. my email is jimmonaghan63@gmail.com

The anonymous comments could amount to intimidation and I would appreciate assistance when the police tried to determine who it is this time.

Apologies to James who is doing a good job with balanced reporting from the trial.

You are right though, it is all bluster and I am used to it
I am sure that the SSP would want to disassociate themselves from this course of action especially at this time

Frank Martin said...

Why dodn't you allow comment's on the "Defend Tommy Sheridan" site Mr Monaghan?

Anonymous said...

Jim,

Whether the evidence has been heard or not is irrelevant. You are offering opinions about witnesses and their evidence and that is contempt.

It's an astonishing strategy from a man Sheridan used to call Moronaghan (before he needed a new lickspittle).

Jim said...

No it isn't anon, you clearly have no idea what you are talking about. The only problem here is the very clear attempt at intimidation by the earlier anon poster.

And, as my opinions have been removed due to pressure from frightened ssp members, there is no longer even a question.

Frank, after last night you are advised not to contact me even on an open forum like this.

I will ask about the DTS site but its a campaign site, not a blog or a forum.

Anonymous said...

It's all a sad train wreck, and I doubt whether anyone is going to emerge with credit from it.

Edwin Moore said...

Hi Phil - have referenced you and LPW and the fine daily blog on my Glasgow Album

http://glasgowalbum.blogspot.com/2010/10/swingergate-day-2-tommy-and-gail.html

I like bad puns so am calling the affair 'Swingergate'

Lorraine Barrie said...

"Meanwhile, the truth about Monaghan - with photos and recordings - is with a daily newspaper."

You are kidding? Have you learned nothing in this whole sorry tale? The events of the past few years have demoralised thousands of left leaning supporters in Scotland, many people have told me they will never vote for a socialist party again after whats happened, and still theres threats about photos and stories in newspapers.
Extraordinary that you have the baws to give stories to the media, but not attach your name to your comments.....

Jim said...

I cannot believe that last post made it through moderation, especially as the person making the claims isnt willing to do it in their own name.

Th ten years or so that i was editor of various magazines was never a 'career', that word was never used by me, only by those whose similar posts were sent to police as they included a threat that i would be OK if i refused to be a wwitness.

This post contains several accusations against me that are unsubstantiated, yet the person who moderates the post thinks this is OK?

Jim said...

Lorraine, they have been going on about these photos and other such nonsense for years. There is no story, but you are right that they have learned nothing and still think this is a good idea after losing 90% of their vote in 2007.

Phil said...

My eye wasn't on the ball, Jim. It's now been deleted.

I think it's time to draw this thread to a close.

Kevin said...

As a half hearted SSP activist of a few years standing this whole episode is very depressing. Whether the man himself did (or not), he took this action knowing that he would be jeopardising comrades and fellow travellers, and the socialist movement in Scotland in general. Who could defend that, whatever you believe?