Mhairi McAlpine | 27.05.2006 22:35
Alan McCombes statement
Alan McCombes, press and policy coordinator of the Scottish Socialist
Party made the following statement :
"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."
The Scottish Socialist Party head offices was searched last night and this afternoon by Messengers at Arms (Court Officials) as was Alan's home, searching for the minutes which have been demanded by News International defending a libel action taken out by Tommy Sheridan, the former convenor of the SSP.
Three other members of the SSP were cited alongside Alan McCombes and a further 13 were cited after Alan appeared in court.
Court costs of £10K have been awarded to News International.