Letter to the Rt Hon Robin Cook MP, Secretary
of State for Foreign and
Commonwealth Affairs, from the Chairman of the Committee on Standards
As you know, the matter of the premature disclosure
of the Foreign Affairs Committee's report on Sierra Leone stands
referred to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.
The Committee would be grateful if you could respond
in writing to the questions set out in this letter. The Committee
would also be grateful if you could ensure that your reply is
received by the Clerk of the Committee by 6.00 pm on Wednesday
17 March, and if you could include in it an assurance that you
have not discussed the questions or your answers with Mr Ernie
The Committee's questions are as follows:
1. Who in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
saw the leaked draft report (or was made aware of its contents)?
When did they see it? How did they get access to it? And with
whom did they discuss it, and for what purpose?
2. Who in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
was aware of the Committee's final conclusions before the embargoed
copies of the report were delivered? How and when did they become
aware of them? And with whom did they discuss them, and for what
3. Did anyone in the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office use the draft or the leaked conclusions to brief the media
before the publication of the report? Did anyone in the FCO News
Department have access to the draft or any briefing on it before
the embargoed copies of the final version were released to them?
4. Did you, or anyone acting on your behalf,
ask Mr Ross to disclose committee papers?
5. What contacts took place between you (and
anyone else in the FCO who may have been aware of the contents
of the draft) and Mr Ross after you received the draft?
6. Did you (or anyone else in the FCO) ever discuss
possible amendments to the draft report with Mr Ross?
7. Did you know that Mr Ross was the source of
the leaked information? If so, how?
The Committee would also welcome any further relevant
information you may wish to give it.
10 March 1999