In which I try and summarise the legal disputes over Rangers FC in handy story form.
In which I try and summarise the legal disputes over Rangers FC in handy story form.
Readers Note: usually when I cover a court hearing I prepare a full note for interested parties which contains information that cannot be published for legal reasons. However as today’s proceedings at Edinburgh’s Court of Session have no such restrictions I have decided to reproduce it here in full.
Monday 24 November, Court of Session, before Lady Wolffe
MASH Holdings V The Scottish Football Association (SFA)
On the benches:
For MASH-Mr Sanderson For the SFA Mr Bodine . Counsel for Dave King was also present.
When proceedings began at 11am Mr Sanderson, for MASH rose to tell the court he was formally submitting two petitions. The first of these was a request for a judicial review of the decision by the SFA to grant the current Rangers chairman “fit and proper status,” to serve on the board of a Scottish football club. The second was to ask for a review of a £ 7,500 fine imposed on Mike Ashley by the SFA for having an interest in two football clubs, Rangers and Newcastle United which is contrary to the associations rules.
Referring to the draft arguments put before the court Counsel for the petitioners stated that the SFA had put “no positive case,” for their position and instead had argued that the court had no jurisdiction or justification for undertaking the review. He asked the judge to instruct the SFA to “put forward a substantial position,” in advance of a full hearing to be heard in Febuary.
The petition is believed to have objected to Dave King being allowed by the SFA to become chairman of Rangers on a number of grounds. It is understood that, while that the association’s rules prevent anyone from being a director of a member football club if they had ever been sentenced to more that two years in prison, King’s conviction in South Africa for tax evasion is a breach of that. There is also the matter of a judgment by a South African Judge that stated King was a “mendacious witness,” and a “glib and shameless liar,” which may be considered relevant.
Another issue that the court may consider was that King had been a director or Rangers PLC (“Oldco”) when it went into liquidation . Would Ashley would have invested £750,000 in shares of the new company if he had known King would be returning to the board? King has also, it may be argued have created legal problems by breaching a legal injunction over the confidentiality of the Rangers’ merchandising agreement during an interview with the Sky Sports TV channel.
Responding to the petition counsel for the SFA, Mr Bodine, said that he sought an early hearing in December to dismiss the petitions. Counsel noted: ” I hardly need to remind you of difficulties Rangers, and Scottish football have faced” adding that “this uncertainty must end.” Bodine said that in his view the SFA had: “no duty to provide explanations” to Mike Ashley arguing “”what is the standing of a 9% shareholder to challenge an SFA decision?”
Counsel for Dave King then rose and said he was “happy to adopt the SFA motions” and asked for “an end to uncertainty” and “expedited hearings”
Lady Wolffe then ruled against a December hearing and instead told the court she would hold a full two day diet in Febuary 2016 as requested by Counsel for MASH.
Court then adjourned.
“Once you hear the details of victory, it is hard to distinguish it from a defeat”
JOHN PAUL SARTRE
A case such as that of Tommy Sheridan’s 2010 trial for perjury will generate interest for years to come. Witnesses called to the High Court in Glasgow included the Scottish editor of the News of the World, the Prime Minister’s chief spin doctor, three self-confessed swingers and five former MSPs.
Since that cold January morning when Sheridan was sentenced to three years in jail, the world has seen Arab revolutions; a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown in Japan; and of course our own political earthquake: the SNP’s landslide victory in the recent Scottish election.
Yet it is clear that the first so-called insider account of the case, Downfall – The Tommy Sheridan Story by Alan McCombes, will be among this year’s most talked-about books. The title is however a misnomer, being more the Alan McCombes story than anything else.
Nevertheless, the writer insists he was the “closest political associate of Sheridan for 20 years and co-writer (or sole writer as he claims) of Sheridan’s book Imagine”. So he knows his subject.
The introduction bears the legend: “This book is not about settling scores. I have tried to describe what happened with calm and restraint.”
The extent to which McCombes comes over all calm and restrained can be measured using this, not atypical, extract: “Whatever anger I might have had in the past towards Tommy had gone, to be replaced with a mixture of pity and contempt. This was a man without remorse, without heart, without soul. His socialism was skin-deep, his compassion as phoney as canned laughter. Strip away the pious words and the practised facial expressions and you were left with a zombie.”
Elsewhere in the book McCombes describes Sheridan as a “rampaging egomaniac”, a “disordered personality”, “damaged goods”, a “political gangster”, a “man without basic human decency” and, let us not ignore, an “abuser of women”.
McCombes argues that not only did Sheridan perjure himself, apparently inflicting “more damage to the left in Scotland than Margaret Thatcher and Rupert Murdoch combined”, but also that Sheridan’s greatest achievements were not victories of his but were victories achieved instead by the author and Sheridan’s “comrades”. We’re talking here about the fight against the hated poll tax; the abolition of warrant sales; and the wholly unprecedented electoral success for the radical left.
Nevertheless, Downfall grudgingly acknowledges Sheridan’s talents as an “articulate and inspirational figurehead” for the working class, although it quickly adds: “original thinking was never his great strength.”
In a similar vein, an admission that Sheridan was “an outstanding orator” is qualified by the claim that McCombes himself had written Sheridan’s “key” speeches made in the Scottish Parliament because “writing had never been Tommy’s strong point”.
To Alan McCombes’s Sheridan had the “matinee-idol looks of a Hollywood star, the vocal powers of a Christian fundamentalist preacher and the persuasive techniques of a door-to-door salesman”, and “a talent for quickfire soundbites” but seemingly little else.
However, the rough edge of McCombes’s pen bristles against not just Sheridan. Downfall tells the reader that Sheridan has no supporters, but “rabid disciples” who launch a “ghastly, shrieking orchestra of hate” against poor McCombes and his loyal colleagues.
At one meeting, McCombes writes, Sheridan was a “latter-day Christ, flanked by a posse of apostles”, while those who testified in court for the defence were “broken men and women, ready to publicly debase themselves and their party because they were too weak to resist a more powerful personality”.With these bitter declarations, which are repeated throughout the book, the reader can rest assured that the writer was recounting events with “calm and restraint”.
IF Downfall is an accurate account. McCombes must then answer a serious question: if Sheridan was merely a fame-seeking, empty suit with no political talent other than the ability to dazzle the unwary, why then did the author and his party “plaster Tommy’s face and name on countless millions of leaflets and hundreds of thousands of posters” and “inflate Tommy’s abilities and exaggerate his role”?
The only answer given reads thus: “Focusing on an individual keeps things simple for the media and makes it easier to connect with people, but we went too far.”
Most puzzling is McCombes’s account of the political partnership between him and Sheridan. He claims “no trace of acrimony” between the two until 2004 and insists Sheridan confessed to him in late 2002 that he had indeed visited Cupids sex club in Manchester.
While Sheridan engaged in the “exploitation of women for his own personal gratification”, McCombes happily covered them up, telling no one, despite a “gnawing fear that this might come back to haunt them”.
Indeed not only did McCombes willingly hide this “hypocrisy” from other members of his party as well as the SSP voters in the Scottish election of 2003, but he was happy to do so in such a way that his relationship with Sheridan was never strained. This is difficult to believe.
Downfall’s account of the lengthy perjury trial last year runs to just 20 pages. Unsurprisingly, prosecution witnesses appear as paragons of the truth, unfairly slandered, while defence witnesses are packaged as obvious liars, their evidence “incredible” and “suspicious”.
Perhaps unwittingly, Downfall seems to confirm suggestions made by the defence during the perjury trial: SSP witnesses were not just testifying to what they claimed was true but that they were actively seeking to have Sheridan convicted.
One revealing passage reads: “[We] were clear in our own minds what we had to do. During the defamation case we had been reluctant witnesses, the legal equivalent of a work to rule. Now we knew we were up against Tommy the Terminator, a man quite prepared to orchestrate the biggest miscarriage of justice in Scottish legal history. This would be a no-holds-barred fight to the finish.”
McCombes furnishes the reader with no details on what was involved in this “fight to the finish”. Instead, he is coy in relation to his role in how a major piece of evidence came to be presented in court. This gives us a clue about the said fight to the finish.
Downfall presents the story of how handwritten notes from the disputed SSP executive meeting of 9 November came to the attention of the police, once the 2006 defamation trial had ended: “Barbara Scott, the SSP minutes secretary, was also on a mission. One way of clearing her name would be to track down the original handwritten notes. They would reveal more detail about what had been said at that now-infamous meeting. When she found the notes she marched into the headquarters of Lothian and Borders Police to hand over this new piece of evidence.”
McCombes however neglects to mention that Scott had testified in court that she had not “found” the notes but that McCombes himself had handed them to her just before the 2006 trial.
During his cross-examination of Scott, Paul McBride QC (acting for Gail Sheridan) made much of Scott’s claim that she had given evidence in 2006 with these notes “in her handbag”, asking her why, if she had that evidence all along, she had not shared it with the court.
By conveniently omitting his own role in concealing the notes from the court in 2006, McCombes avoids the same question being asked of him. If he knew about this “vital evidence” why then did he not disclose it to anyone at the time? Why wait until the trial was over?
Another useful sleight of hand in Downfall’s incomplete account of the perjury trial is the glaring contradiction between McCombes’s insistence that he confronted Sheridan over his visit to Cupids in 2001 and the Crown, the police and other witnesses placing the event as having taken place in September 2002.
McCombes does not take refuge in the excuse of witnesses Katrine Trolle and Anvar Khan, in that that they got their dates mixed up. Instead he argues: “In the period spanning November 2001 to September 2002 Tommy visited Cupids not once but twice or more. There is no doubt in my mind that he was in Cupids on the weekend beginning Friday 23 November 2001.”
No evidence to back this novel claim is supplied, other than McCombes’s unconvincing nod and a wink that this was a “rumour circulating in media circles”. Downfall makes no attempt to explain why, if the claim was true, not a single shred of supporting evidence was uncovered by a police investigation costing £5 million and 40,000 hours of time.
Downfall is not completely without merit. On one level it is the definitive account of one side of the Tommy Sheridan story, providing non-sourced revelations for the lack of forensic evidence presented during the case.
The book’s terminal failure comes partly from its portrait of Sheridan as a shallow, intellectual midget, compared with McCombes, sitting in stark contrast to the principled, politician that many us remember. Sheridan may have had his detractors but none that I recall ever questioned his intellect.
Indeed, in court defending himself, Sheridan achieved victory in one case and came close to winning the perjury case itself, being found guilty by a minority of the jury. As the trial went on, even the legal professionals became impressed by how competently Sheridan had mastered the facts of the case and, indeed, how he presented his own defence (presumably without the so-called writing skills of McCombes).
Downfall symbolises the Manichean view of the case: good versus evil, light versus darkness. According to Downfall, no person who defended Sheridan did so for good reason: they were either stunningly naive or self-serving plotters. Those who testified against him, even those who were paid to do so, were credible, believable even. No middle ground, no shades of grey are even considered.
Those who followed the trial closely might enjoy the book, there are some interesting details given about the case which were not revealed in court. But I would argue that the definitive work on the “trial of the century” has yet to be written.
The video above is worth watching in full because it shows something the press and politicians want to talk about least, the mass nature of the recent “unfortunate events.” The police in London did not lose control of the streets because they are unaware of the danger of riot or because they do not have enough heavily armed and specially trained squads ready to deal with it. They were, by their own admission, overwhelmed by the numbers of people involved.
Even “non nonsense” and “robust” tactics as per below somehow failed to work
Another News Meme we have been encouraged to believe is that the riots were perpetrated by some separate group in society, some random people unconnected with our daily world. For the Right this wasthe Underclass (an idea that sounded far more convincing in the original German), for the left the however, the rioters were “precarious proletariat” or the oppressed or the youth. Both are wrong, this was a mass uprising involving all of the labouring classes. After the bankers, MP’s and the media others have joined the “society of looters.”
However for once we have the statistics, as someone has put together a Spreadsheet showing data on riot-related defendants to appear in court so far. The list of occupations is instructive; (Postman, freelance journalist, estate agent, Law student. semi-pro footballer) We can also see the harshness of the sentencing on those who plead guilty of minor offences. A policy already being called into question by legal professionals . What is worse are attempts at collective punishment of the families of accused rioters. We have also seen a mother of two who slept through the riots being jailed for six months.
Britain has a history of riot, one that stretched from Watt Tylor to the Poll Tax. After every one the state seeks to demonise those who took part, ruin their lives and crush their communities, only to admit ten years later that they had a point. We should all work to stopping that happening again.
Finally, for viewers in Scotland, we had an engaging riot subplot as various members of our ruling party decided to take umbrage at the revolt being billed as #ukriots on twitter and, heaven forfend, “British Riots” on the BBC. Thankfully good sense has prevailed and the BBC are now reduced to speaking of “England Riots” while our national leaders are congratulating themselves on saving our tourist trade news of when they would address Scotland’s social inequality, which the statistics show makes Tottenham look like Happytown was not breaking at the time of writing.
AAMER ANWAR- RESPONSE TO APPEAL TO SECOND SIFT IS REFUSED- CONFIRMED THIS MORNING BY LETTER.
We had requested that the appeal be cisted pending the outcome of major criminal investigation into NOTW in Scotland. Mr Sheridan alleged that News of the World lied during the trial about phone hacking, payments of police officers, private detectives and witnesses. He believed that had the jury been aware of this, then they may have come to a different decision.
Unfortunately the appeal judges were unwilling to continue an appeal indefinitely on a speculative basis and dismissed leave to appeal on the existing grounds.
For Mr Sheridan, the decision is not the end of the road and we will consider if there are grounds for an appeal to the Supreme Court or whether to take the matter to the Scottish Criminal Case Review Commission on the basis of new evidence which may emerge as a result of the police inquiries.
On a final note before some of the NOTW start to celebrate, they should think again and wait for that knock on the door from Strathclyde Police.
Noted Scottish blogger Lallands peat worrier has posted an excellent piece; A numpty’s guide to appealling Tommy Sheridan’s conviction…
With his usual skill and insight he highlights the legal position around the Scottish criminal appeals and gives a compelling argument on how this does, or does not relate to Tommy Sheridan’s conviction given recent revelations about the conduct of the News of the World.
I agree with most of his conclusions, especially the dismissal of the idea that Andy Coulson arrest “must cause the High Court of Justiciary to turn the key in the lock, and throw open Sheridan’s cell door.” However I would like to put a counter-point of view as I do think the recent revelations do have a direct relevance to the Sheridan Trial.
The best place to start is probably recent statements by Paul McBride QC, on television and in print, that, to quote one in full.”
“Tommy Sheridan was convicted of perjury by telling a civil jury that he hadn’t been to a swingers club and that he hadn’t told members of his own party about it. The evidence at the trial was from members of his own party that he had been to a swingers club and the jury accepted that evidence and he was convicted of perjury. The News of the World had no input whatsoever in relation to that perjury conviction, so the evidence of any journalist of the News of the World, even if it was perjured evidence, would not affect the conviction of Tommy Sheridan at all.”
In many ways this has become the “common sense” view of the situation , Tommy Sheridan was found guilty of perjury after a fair trial. If his phone was hacked, so what? Andy Coulson may not have told the whole truth in the High Court of Glasgow but he was a defence witness and, as Peat Worrier rightly asks:
If Coulson’s alleged perjury is limited to the general unlawful practices of employees at the News of the World, and his knowledge of them, how does that impact on the critical issues of the Sheridan trial, concerning swingers clubs, his confessions to his colleagues and his lies about both in Court?
To answer that question properly we need to briefly examine the defence case. Tommy Sheridan and his legal team’s main argument in the trial was that he was a victim of a plot. Witnesses from the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) were supposedly motivated by political differences, personal jealousy and a major financial crisis in the party, to lie about his supposed confession at the 9th November 2004 SSP executive meeting. Much was made of the fact that all of the executive members who testified that Sheridan had confessed belonged to a group called the “United Left” and that the four people who claimed he had not confessed were those who did not belong to that group. But what of the News of the World?
Sheridan argued that the News International, the owners of the News of the World (NotW) were “at the heart” of the trial a and that they were willing to “concoct evidence” to reverse the result of Mr Sheridan’s successful defamation case against them in 2004. The Crown’s response to this argument was to call this a conspiracy theory that “doesn’t make sense.” As Alex Prentice QC put it in his summation:
“If the whole story had “been a set-up” by the News of the World why would they “include lots of people.” It was possible to link Anvar Khan to a purported plot by the News of the World, as she had been a journalist with the newspaper and “had a book to promote” However Mr Prentice said was “more difficult” to link Katrine Trolle. to the “plot” , but it could be argued that as a member of the SSP she could have been seeking to be seeking promotion within the party. Mr Prentice then asked the jury to consider why the alleged plotters had “not just stopped there” and queried why they would have included Gary Clarke and Andrew McFarlane, in the story as they could have had “cast iron” alibis for the night. The Advocate Depute then asked the jury to consider the “obvious answer.”
The Advocate Depute also used the same, powerful point, in his cross-examination of Andrew McFarlane, who denied attending the Cupids club along with Mr Sheridan.”
“he asked that it must be “incredibly reckless” of Anvar Khan, Katrinne Trolle and Gary Clark to name him as having gone to Cupid’s with them on 27thSeptember 2002, as “there could be incontrovertible evidence that you were elsewhere”, such as a sportsman’s dinner or a hospital outpatient’s.” Mr McFarlane replied “there is”, stating he had not been to Cupid’s. Mr Prentice suggested that from their point of view, it would have been reckless, as he could have been anywhere on that date and they would not know about it. Mr McFarlane replied “No. I know so.”, and again denied he could have been anywhere. Mr Prentice again suggested that Ms Khan, Ms Trolle and Mr Clark could not have known where he would be on that date”
So part of the Crown’s argument against Mr Sheridan was that any “conspiracy” would have no way of being sure that Andrew McFarlane was not in a very public place with a perfect alibi, rather than, as he said, at home recovering from a recent knee operation.
Mr Prentice also used this argument in relation to the “McNeilage tape” which the Crown claimed showed Mr Sheridan confessing to the Cupids visit.
“ He asked the jury to consider the initial detail Mr McCombes would need to know if he or Mr Baldessara had scripted the tape, as had been alleged by the defence,’
“At the point where “T” discusses speaking to Lynn and Carol, presumably Mr Sheridan’s sisters, about leaving his wife, Mr Prentice asked the jury why this should be included in the film as it could be denied by the people concerned, as it had indeed been done in their testimony. If the alleged conspiracy against Mr Sheridan was true, why include such detail?
So as we can see, much of the Crown’s rebuttal of the defence case was to state that no-one but Mr Sheridan could have known those “details” hence the voice on the tape had to be his. Yet we now know that as phonehacking was so widespread at the News of the World there was a method by which employees of the newspaper could have known those”details” This is course is not, in itself, proof of anything. However would that knowledge would have led the jury to accept Sheridan’s “plot” theory raised a reasonable doubt? I would argue that possibility can not be blythly dismissed by any court reviewing the verdict.
Finally what did the Crown say about phone hacking, in his Summation the Advocate Depute stated:
“The Advocate Depute then turned to the matter of “phone hacking” that had been raised in the case, suggesting it was irrelevant to the charge. He reminded the jury of the testimony of Detective Chief Superintendent Williams who had told them that there “was no evidence” that Mr Sheridan’s voicemail had been accessed illegally. Mr Prentice went on to suggest that there was no information contained in the McNeilage tape that had been gathered from any alleged illegal voicemail access, that there was no evidence of phone or voicemail interception”
I would suggest that if Mr Prentice had stopped at the idea of hacking being “irrelevant” there would be no case to answer. As he did not and instead suggested to the jury that there was “no evidence” of Mr Sheridan’s phone being hacked and therefore no chance of the “McNeilage tape” using such evidence, any future discovery that Sheridan’s phone was hacked would constitute new and relevant evidence that would have to be considered under the terms of the Criminal Procedure Scotland Act
Part two to follow will deal with the “prodigal emails” and today’s news that Tommy Sheridan’s first appeal has been rejected.
PRESS RELEASE- AAMER ANWAR
We welcome this announcement (SEE BELOW).
Over two weeks ago we provided a detailed dossier of allegations of perjury, phone hacking and breach of data, to Strathclyde police and called for a robust investigation. We understand that Strathclyde have since met with the Metropolitan Police and obtained the 11,000 pages of the Glen Mulcaire notebook and are cross referencing data we provided to them.
What we have seen in England is the tip of the iceberg. The orginal Metroploitan Police Inquiry failed in its public duty to contact the potentially hundreds of scottish victims that they may have been subjected to illegal activities by the News of the World.
Over Two Million pounds was spent by the police on investigating Mr and Mrs Sheridan and we were told it was in the public interest. I expect now to see a similar ruthlessness and determination in dealing with the News of the World.
The Prime Minister has already announced the Public Inquiry will extend to Scotland and we would expect it to look at the allegations of corruption in Lothian and Border Police amongst other matters, it really is time that all political parties in Scotland had the guts to speak out on this issue.
From: Crown Office
INVESTIGATION INTO ALLEGED TELEPHONE HACKING IN SCOTLAND
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service have today confirmed that a Strathclyde Police investigation into claims of phone hacking and breaches of data protection in Scotland has commenced.
The Crown had previously asked Strathclyde Police to make a preliminary assessment of the available information and the evidence given by certain witnesses in the trial of Tommy Sheridan following allegations made against the News of the World newspaper.
The preliminary assessment has concluded. Strathclyde Police have now reviewed the available information and following liaison with the Area Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow the Crown has instructed an investigation should commence.
The investigation will be progressed expeditiously and in close liaison with the Area Procurator Fiscal and Crown Counsel. Significant resources will be deployed though these will vary with the needs of the investigation.
The investigation will cover the following:
1. Allegations that witnesses gave perjured evidence in the trial of Tommy Sheridan.
2. Allegations that, in respect of persons resident in Scotland, there are breaches of data protection legislation or other offences in relation to unlawful access to personal data.
3. Alleged offences determined from material held by the Metropolitan Police in respect of ‘phone hacking’ (Contraventions of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000) and breaches of data protection legislation in Scotland.
4. Alleged instances of police corruption linked to items 2 and 3 above, in respect of the unlawful provision of information or other personal data to journalists or persons acting on their behalf.
Having investigated these matters Strathclyde Police will report to the Area Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow and Crown Counsel.
At a public meeting in Glasgow last night Tommy Sheridan’s solicitor Aamer Anwar took issue with “Armchair legal experts” who have been arguing that the current News International phone hacking scandal would have no impact on on his client’s appeal.
Mr Anwar informed the audience that it was his and Tom Watson MP’s complaint to the information commissioner about emails supposedly “lost” by News International that led to the discovery of the data at the company’s Wapping HQ. The data found he claimed had been responsible for setting off the “avalanche” of revelations now dominating the media. He also stated that while the News International employees who testified in court that the data had been lost in Mumbai India were “entitled to the presumption of innocence” if they had knowingly lied they should be charged with perjury. Mr Anwar reminded the meeting that allegations of perjury against Mr Sheridan had led to an inquiry costing over two million pounds and taking up 52,000 hours of police time, and demanded a similar “transparent and robust investigation” into the testimony given at the Sheridan trial by Bob Bird.
Mr Anwar then turned to recent commentary that the News of the World scandal had no bearing on the Tommy Sheridan trial stating “How do you know unless you had seen the emails? how do you know the News of the World did not bribe witnesses? how do you know they did not hack their phones?” further describing this as a “desperate attempt to downplay Tommy Sheridan’s appeal.”
Mr Anwar also revealed that just after the conclusion of the trial, on Christmas eve, his laptop had gone missing from his office The lawyer asked the audience to consider that no money or other items were stolen and asked who could have been interested in the contents of a laptop containing all of his files relating to Tommy Sheridan? The computer has never been recovered.
Mr Anwar concluded by criticising much of the media coverage of the perjury trial of Tommy Sheridan, saying that the decline of court reporting had led to the public only receiving a partial and one sided view of high profile cases that highlighted prosecution evidence but generally ignored the defence case. He also pointed to the fact that “every political party in Scotland had been silent” on the growing News International scandal, a silence he attributed to the continuing “power of News International in Scotland.” He called on Strathclyde police to “cross-reference” their investigation into phone hacking in Scotland with the Metropolitan police in London and for the Glasgow based force to urgently contact those in Scotland whose voicemail may have been intercepted.
Around fifty people demonstrated to mark the closure of the News of the World outside the newspaper’s Glasgow office this afternoon.
While many of those attending expressed sympathy with the “ordinary workers” who had lost their jobs, the overwhelming mood of the demonstration was one of joy that the title, long seen as an opponent of the Trade Unions was to publish it’s last edition tomorrow.
One of the event organisers. Keir McKechnie said “We are here to celebrate the fact that Rupert Murdoch’s media empire has been exposed for their corruption and lies, this is just the tip of the iceberg. Today is a victory for people power but the campaign must go on”.
Also at the rally were members of the Defend Tommy Sheridan campaign who believe that the revelations about phone hacking by the newspaper and the launch of an inquiry by Strathclyde police into evidence presented at the Tommy Sheridan trial gives new impetus to their campaign.
A member of the DTSC, Joyce Drummond recalled Andrew Coulson, a former editor of the News of the World, appearing as a witness at the Tommy Sheridan trial. In court Mr Coulson ended his evidence by winking at Mr Sheridan. Said Joyce, “Tommy has been instrumental in bringing Coulson down. Who’s winking now?”
The campaigners were also keen to “Keep the Pressure on Murdoch,” asking passers by to boycott other News International titles. One demonstrator remarked about today’s hot weather, “This is the only Sun we want to see in Glasgow”.
During Today’s Scottish Television lunchtime news Political Editor Bernard Ponsonby reported that Strathclyde police were to investigate allegations of phone hacking in Scotland. He concluded his piece (which can be seen Here ) by stating that that the “finger of suspicion” was pointing to Douglas Wight, a News of the World journalist and Crown witness during the Sheridan trial.
Unlike many of the witnesses in the case, Mr Wight was far from a household name, and reports of his testimony concentrated on his dealings with a Fiona McGuire and his denials that this was a sexual relationship (see Here ) However looking back at his testimony we can see he was specifically asked about possible involvement in illegal activities and his relationship with Greg Miskiw who is emerging as a key player in the unfolding News of the World “Hackgate” scandal.
The account we did at the time of the trial breaks Mr Wights testimony into three parts which can be read in full below. They key section though occurs in our report of part one of his evidence to the jury;
Mr Sheridan asked whether it was part of Mr Wight’s job to break the law, with Mr Wight replying that this was “not strictly true”, adding that he did not accept it to be true when Mr Sheridan repeated the question.
Mr Sheridan then asked whether the NoW was a newspaper that regarded itself as being above the law and that could make make payments to people to remain quiet about illegal activities. The witness replied he was not aware of any payment for illegal activities.
Mr Sheridan then asked specifically about Stephen Whittamore, whom the witnessed admitted using as he provided info that could help move stories on…the witness stating that Mr Whittamore was a resource used in general by the paper, but that he could not recall who had originally passed him the name of Mr Whittamore, but denied that it was Andy Coulson as he was not at the NoW at the time, and that it probably wasn’t Greg Miskiw either. Mr Sheridan finally asked what the witness knew of Mr Whittamore now, with the witness stating that he knew Mr Whittamore had been prosecuted for accessing data in breach of the data protection act.
It was revealed in court that requests for information from Mr Wight appeared in Mr Whitamore’s records 70 times.
Mr Wight was also discussed during the testimony of Andrew Coulson, the former editor of the News of the World who was arrested this morning on suspicion of involvement in phone hacking. Mr Coulson confirmed that he had appointed Douglas Wight as a features editor at the National News of the World, possibly at the recomendation of Bob Bird the newspaper’s Scottish editor.
Of course these are only allegations so far and Mr Wight is entitled to be considered innocent until proven guilty. However does this new information open up more questions about the safety of conviction of Tommy Sheridan as a Crown Witness may told less that the whole truth to the High Court jury?