SSP official fined for contempt
Mr Alan McCombes the co-founder of the Scottish Socialist Party who was jailed for failing to hand over documents has been found guilty of contempt of court. The News of the World believes they included details of Mr Sheridan's private life which would help in its defence of a defamation case brought by the former leader.
Speaking after the verdict, Mr McCombes said: "I think penalties that have been imposed are extremely harsh. Not just the £500 [court fine for contempt] but the tens of thousands of pounds of costs awarded against me, News International costs, the cost of raiding and searching my home and party headquarters in Glasgow and Edinburgh. I think it's been an extraordinary situation."
He was jailed last month for
refusing to hand over an SSP document but released after three days when party
officials presented the document to the court, after a vote at SSP National
Council. The party will have to meet costs of about £45,000.
SSP leader Colin Fox, who was in the Court of Session to hear the verdict, said party lawyers would discuss the costs in due course. Mr McCombes said: "I certainly don't have any assets or resources and it may be a case that you have to get blood out of stone. I have to consider all the options."
Alan McCombes statement prior to the NC's decision (which Alan could not attend for obvious reasons)
“My decision, which I took with the full support of the SSP, not to hand over the documents demanded by the court was not one taken lightly but in the full understanding of the possible serious consequences that could follow.
“However I took my stand on the clear position that the Scottish Socialist Party, like all democratic organisations, has the right to hold private discussions on sensitive matters and for those discussions to remain confidential.
“That is not only my view but also the view taken by both the SSP’s executive and our National Council composed of rank and file delegates from across Scotland
“Scottish Executive has argued precisely this view on such sensitive matter as the Shirley McKie case, the handling of the scandals around Hepatitis C and many PFI contracts which are paid for by public money
“We now face the grotesque position that a small party is being pressed by the state to hand over its internal records while the Executive is allowed to keep policy decisions and other matters of vital public interest under lock and key.
“To comply with the demand to hand over the documents would endanger the right of free debate inside political parties and mean that out rights of free association would be threatened.
“ In such discussions the keeping of records and minutes is a vital part of ensuring that elected officers are accountable to their members and meeting the court’s demand to hand over internal records threatens that right.
“My legal team Paul Cullen and Fred Tyler presented a powerful case for my position and I pay tribute their skills is so doing and thank them for their work.”
If you'd like to donate money to the SSP to help them survive this difficult perios please send a cheque made out to the 'Scottish Socialist Party' to;
Scottish Socialist Party,
FAO Allison Kane,
70 Stanley Street,
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