Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Eighth Report

Reply from the Rt Hon Robin Cook MP to the Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges

Thank you for your letter of 31 March.

I would wish to be as helpful as possible to the Committee. But it is now almost three months since we received the draft report. My office processes over 200 documents a day, and it is not possible to establish precise answers to all your questions so long after the event. I hope, however, that what follows will meet the substance of your questions.

Questions 1-4 and 7

Although we are confident that the draft report was received in my office in the second week of January, we have no record of the precise day or time. The first person in my office to handle the report was Andrew Hood. He gave it to John Grant and John Williams. John Williams gave it to Kim Darroch and Chris Sainty. I first became aware that we had received it in the course of a meeting on other issues on 1 February, when Andrew Hood alerted me that the report was likely to be critical of officials. John Grant subsequently showed me a copy of the draft.

Questions 5,6 and 9

I was not aware that we had received the report until 1 February. I gave no instructions about the handling of the draft report. At no stage did I disclose the draft report to anyone else, or authorise further dissemination of it.

Question 8


I have seen your letter of 10 March to Madam Speaker, which has been placed in the Library of the House. I welcome the guidance which the Committee has offered for the future, and have instructed my office to act in accordance with that guidance at all times. I trust that the Committee's report will make it clear that this is new guidance, and that it was not in application at the time of this episode.

9 April 1999

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