Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report


Extract from Official Report, 16 February 1999, Col. 751

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs who was the first person in his Department to have sight of a copy of the Foreign Affairs Committee report on Sierra Leone (HC 116 of Session 1998-99); and at what time and on what day it was seen.

Mr Tony Lloyd: Copies of the report were collected from the Foreign Affairs Committee office at 0800 on 9 February by the Head of Parliamentary Relations Department and the Parliamentary Clerk.

Extract from Official Report, 23 February 1999, Cols. 259-260

Mrs Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what statements, relating to matters contained in the Foreign Affairs Committee report on Sierra Leone and his response to that report, were released by representatives of his Department to the media prior to the publication of the report; and if he will place in the Library copies of these statements.

Mr Robin Cook: My office received in the second week of January a copy of a draft of the report. Shortly before the publication of the report, and at around the same time as leaks critical of FCO officials appeared in The Independent, Financial Times and The Times (on 5 and 6 February), we were also made aware of certain key conclusions of the report.

Neither I nor any FCO Minister, official or special adviser took any action to publish or disclose any part of any version of the report; or to interfere with the Committee's deliberations or the report's preparation. In advance of the publication of the report on 9 February, we made no comment to the media about the report, except in response to leaks by others to the press.

Copies of the report—embargoed until publication at 1000—were released to officials from the Parliamentary Relations Department of the FCO at 0800 on 9 February. I was immediately sent a copy. An FCO spokesman subsequently briefed the press orally, under the same embargo, on my initial response to the report. After publication of the report, the FCO News Department released copies to the press of a minute from me to the Permanent Under-Secretary. A copy of that minute has been placed in the Library.

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