Examination of Witness (Questions 80 -
TUESDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2000
80. Could you explain the background to your
departure from the Labour Party post?
(Mr Rafferty) I was engaged by the Labour Party from
12 January until 17 May, at which point I took up the post of
special adviser to the First Minister in the Scottish Executive,
until 10 December. So I was not engaged by the Labour Party I
was engaged by the Scottish Executive in the latter part. There
had been a great deal of press attention about me from the day
of my appointment on 17 May. The First Minister and I were extremely
close. It just built up fromactually, on 14 November last
year they ran a series of very sensational stories about my children,
and I became increasingly uncomfortable. Then, early in December,
came another allegation from a newspaper that I had made exaggerated
statements to them. The First Minister and I discussed this many
times and in December we agreed that I should move on. That was
the statement that he made publicly and to the Scottish Parliament.
81. What did he make public?
(Mr Rafferty) That we agreed that I would leave my
82. Was there an allegation at any stage that
you had been dishonest in the way you made some statements to
(Mr Rafferty) There was an allegation by one tabloid
newspaper that I had made exaggerated statements to them.
83. Were they found to be true?
(Mr Rafferty) They were not investigated.
84. That is not the question I asked. Were the
allegations without any foundation that you had been less than
frank with the press?
(Mr Rafferty) It was not a question of being less
than frank with the press. I believe a construction was placed
on remarks that I made, perhaps ill advisedly, a construction
was placed on them by the newspaper.
85. It is just that with that in the air some
might say "can you believe absolutely everything Mr Rafferty
might wish to say?" That is a fair question, is it not? I
only put it to you.
(Mr Rafferty) I can understand that. It is a matter
for you to judge that.
86. You do not bear a grudge against any people
involved in any of this, do you?
(Mr Rafferty) Absolutely not. I do not know whether
any impropriety has taken place here or not, I hope that it has
not. I have known John Reid and John Maxton for a very long time,
they have given outstanding service, but it is not for me to judge
Mr Campbell-Savours: Fine. Okay, thank
87. In your discussion with the Commissioner
on 1 March you described Chris Winslow as having "an enormous
capacity for work".
(Mr Rafferty) Yes.
88. And you said in your answer that you were
aware when he was physically present at his desk that he was nevertheless
doing some work for John Maxton.
(Mr Rafferty) Yes.
89. When did you first become aware that he
was employed by John Maxton?
(Mr Rafferty) There was never ever any discussion
of the basis on which people were employed either by the Labour
Party or by Mr Maxton. I think it may have been around the conference
call when he said that he had been engaged by John Maxton, he
had worked for John Maxton.
90. So when he was in the Labour Party offices
and "doing questions for John Maxton on to the House of Commons
Library", you regarded that as normal?
(Mr Rafferty) Yes. I did not know at that point that
he was being paid from a parliamentary allowance.
91. You did not know until after the election
(Mr Rafferty) I am sure that is the case.
92. The same would apply to Suzanne Hilliard?
(Mr Rafferty) I did not know anything about Suzanne
Hilliard until I read the newspaper in January.
Mr Levitt: Thank you.
93. You said that you raised the issue with
the First Minister when you had received the alarming information.
What precisely did you tell him, because you said you did not
go into detail?
(Mr Rafferty) I reported what Chris Winslow had said
on the conference call and we discussed it. We had no way of knowing
what the facts of the matter were at all. That was it. He was
concerned that there should be no idle gossip or speculation in
the absence of the facts.
94. Did you suggest that it should be checked
or did he suggest that it should be checked?
(Mr Rafferty) We decidedhe decidedthat
there should be no idle gossip or speculation in the absence of
the facts. It was taken no further at that time.
95. Then when Mr Nelson phoned you, you reported
that to the General Secretary?
(Mr Rafferty) Yes, I did.
96. What did you say to the General Secretary?
(Mr Rafferty) I said that I had received a telephone
call asking questions about whether special advisers had been
engaged by Members of Parliament, paid by Members of Parliament,
whilst working on the Labour Party campaign.
97. I realise that you cannot remember every
part of every conversation but what was the general tone of the
General Secretary's response to that?
(Mr Rafferty) I remember exactly because I felt reassured.
She said that some time, months before the campaign Kevin Reid
had been engaged on a full-time contract by the Labour Party and
I was aware that Chris Winslow had done some work for John Maxton
because he told me that and, I must confess, I thought that would
be an end to the matter.
98. When Mr Nelson spoke to you, were you aware
that he was taping the interview?
(Mr Rafferty) I did not know anything about that.
99. He gave no indication whatsoever?
(Mr Rafferty) No.