Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fourth Report

Annex J

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from The Lord Coe OBE

I am writing further to my letter of 21 February and my visit to William Hague's constituency last weekend.

As Tina Stowell in this office indicated to you on the telephone last night, my further enquiries have served only to confirm what I reported in my letter of 21 February. Namely, that the manner in which advice was sought from professionals in Mr Hague's constituency was informal and there is no written record of any conversations that would have occurred. As busy professionals, those who initially offered assistance did not make the creation of a charitable trust a priority. As I explained in my earlier letter, Mr Hague's Constituency Secretary, Claire Gibson, was also at this time under immense family pressures * * * *. It is therefore fair to say, as I have previously, that she did not pursue the creation of the trust as vigorously as she might because of these pressures and, without any evidence of urgency from Claire, the professionals were content not to make it a priority.

I am confident from my enquiries, as I have reported to Mr Hague, that the confusion relating to his entry in the Register of Members' Interests was a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding between his two offices. It is true that his entry in the Register was incorrect. But I do think it important to point out that none of the monies that were donated for charitable purposes were in excess of the amount you guide Members to consider registering following speaking engagements or media work (ref: your recommendation to the Standards and Privileges Committee on 8 March 2000). It could be argued, therefore, that Mr Hague's desire to be open about how any monies received for speaking engagements would be redirected, was in fact, well beyond what is required by Parliament.

As you know, any charitable donations that organisations wish to make on Mr Hague's behalf are now sent direct to a nominated charity. Mr Hague does not and never has sought payment for any speech, article or appearance.

Finally, you may be interested to know that, having learnt last month that none of the cheques made payable to the trust were ever cashed, Mr Hague was concerned that no charity benefited from the donations. He has decided, therefore, to make personal donations to charities and good causes in his constituency totalling £1,750 (the total amount of cheques made payable to the Charitable Trust). I will provide you with written details of the recipients and the individual amounts donated by Mr Hague as soon as possible.

I do hope that it will be possible to bring this matter to a speedy conclusion.

9 March 2001

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