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SKETCH: Contrasting styles of legal teams at Alex Salmond trial

Gordon Jackson QC, left and Alex Prentice QC
Gordon Jackson QC, left and Alex Prentice QC

It is impossible to ignore Gordon Jackson’s hefty frame as he stalks the courtroom.

Exchanges with witnesses during the opening week of the trial have been split between him and Shelagh McCall QC.

There is no doubt which one is weighing more on the prosecution witnesses’ minds.

“Where are SNP headquarters?”, advocate depute Alex Prentice asked one of the alleged victims.

“Gordon Jackson House” came the immediate reply, before it was corrected to Gordon Lamb House after a brief pause.

While Mr Prentice appears to quickly tiptoe across the courtroom to the podium carrying open files on flat palms, Mr Jackson plods with slow steps like a giant as he appears to mull over his first salvo.

Sometimes it is just a single sheet of paper hanging by his side that he barely refers to, other times he stands in front of the podium not even looking at what he has taken with him as he stares down witnesses.

On occasions he has been so far back from the lectern he could not even be seen on the television screen that is being used to monitor the evidence of witnesses during exchanges that have become confrontational at times.

“Surely you can remember”, he demanded yesterday.

“Give us the gist”, he then tried instead.

He does not deny that Alex Salmond can be “inappropriate” at times. He says he is a “touchy feely” person. It’s “just the way he is”, he told the court yesterday.

His argument has been whether the politician’s actions have been “criminal” – a question Mr Prentice and judge Lady Dorrian have firmly stressed is for the nine women and six men of the jury to decide.

The former first minister himself listens, an open spiral notepad with a silver pen has been a continuous presence on the bench in front of him all week.

At times he scribbles something, sometimes he barely stops scribbling.

At times he turns to his right to intensely watch the evidence of complainers, who are hidden behind a screen, on a television monitor, sometimes he stares straight ahead as if they were not there.

A cursory nod of the head while the judge enters and leaves has been a constant through the week.

Mr Prentice meanwhile has been following a formula – ticking questions off as he asks them.

At one point this week he asked a witness to point to Salmond to indicate whether he was in the room.

Immediately Mr Jackson rose to his feet saying “In fairness, there’s no doubt about who we are talking about.”

Indeed, crowds have remained on the Royal Mile all week eager to catch a glimpse of people leaving and entering the high court.

While cameras from the media have diminished yesterday’s crowd was comprised predominantly of tourists clutching mobile phones. There is no doubt about who they were there to see.