Examination of Witness (Questions 200
TUESDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2000
200. You have said to us a couple of times that,
in your opinion, for somebody to be employed under the Office
Costs Allowance and be employed by the Labour Party or any political
party, those two employments running concurrently is wrong. I
put it to you that in fact the rules do not say that it is wrong;
the rules say it is only wrong if the duty to the Member of Parliament
is not being discharged. Are you telling us that the three people
involvedKevin Reid, Suzanne Hilliard and Chris Winslowwere
not carrying out their duties under the Office Costs Allowance
arrangement to their MPs irrespective of the arrangements with
the Labour Party?
(Mr Rowley) The first point to make in terms of the
question is, what I am saying is only my opinion. I do not know
what the rules actually state on this. It is my opinionhaving
known what people have gone through in the last number of months
in this particular investigation, and knowing the practices we
did operateI think it is an area that certainly should
be looked at because I think it is a grey area. Knowing what I
know now, I would say that the Party centrally should not employ
people who are also employed with MPs because it is difficult.
That is a personal opinion I have given you. In terms of the question
about the three people concerned: Suzanne Hilliard, I cannot go
into much detail. She was employed by the Labour Party. She did
carry out media monitor and, therefore, she was my responsibility
in that sense.
201. She was employed by the Labour Party or
was working as a volunteer?
(Mr Rowley) She was employed. She worked as a volunteer
at one point with the Labour Party, but at some point she came
on and did the media monitor and so was employed in some form
or another by the Labour Party. When asked this question by the
Commissioner I was unable to go into any details of her employment.
What I do know is that I would have been involved in any of her
employment and any decision that was taken to employ her, but
I simply cannot remember the details of that. Suzanne Hilliard
I remember, as we came up to the Election itself, complaining
to me in terms of being overstretched and overworked. She was
working long, long hours, but of her arrangement with John Reid
I am not sure. I have said that, in terms of Suzanne, I would
have been the person who employed her; but I do not know what
arrangements were put in place for her. With regard to Chris Winslow
and Kevin ReidI know the arrangements that were put in
place. I know that Chris Winslow in particular worked extremely
hard for the Party throughout that yearway beyond the call
of dutyand was there working hard long, long hours. In
terms of Kevin, as I have said to you Kevin went home in the evenings
and at the weekends. I cannot say how he spent his evenings or
his weekends. All I know is the arrangement I came to with his
father, and I know that to be the case.
202. As far as Chris Winslow is concerned, you
are not the first person who has told us that he had a huge capacity
for work, and so on. He also apparently made no secret, and told
the Commissioner and other people in the office, that he was spending
at least some of the time at is desk in the Labour Party actually
working for Mr Maxton from that desk?
(Mr Rowley) Firstly, that is complete news to me.
I was not aware of him doing any type of work whatsoever for John
Maxton. MPs can say that that was going on and I cannot deny that.
All I know are the arrangements in terms of what I entered into
to get these people in full-time employment with us.
203. Chris Winslow was never under contract
for more than 30 hours for the Labour Party, is that right?
(Mr Rowley) I do not know what the exact contract
was. All I know was the arrangement that was reached.
204. Do you know what the contract was with
(Mr Rowley) No. I would have been responsible for
her but I do not know what the contract was.
205. It is possible, therefore, that each of
these people were discharging their duties to their MP under the
Office Costs Allowance, even though they may have been doing some
of it from their desk at the Labour Party and some of it in their
(Mr Rowley) No, what they did in the evening themselves
I do not know. I have to acknowledge that: I do not know. I cannot
say what they were doing or not doing in the evenings. What I
can say is what they were doing for the Labour Party. I certainly
was not aware of anybody discharging any duties for anybody else
other than the Labour Party, or for MPs going up in front of television
cameras, preparing briefs etc. That was the type of role they
had. The media monitor simply monitored the media the whole time
and was writing that up. I do not know what these people did in
their spare time. I am not aware of them doing any work for any
individual MP outwith the general work for the Labour Party when
they were employed through the Labour Party.
206. You did mention earlier that you have worked
for an MP yourself under the Office Costs Allowance. Was that
under the Office Costs Allowance?
(Mr Rowley) No.
207. That was as a volunteer?
(Mr Rowley) Yes, and was also paid directly by the
208. So it may have been under the Office Costs
(Mr Rowley) No. I worked under the Office Costs Allowance
for two MSPs, and still do some work for MSPs under the Office
Costs Allowance that we have in Scotland.
209. So you have a very good idea of what goes
on in an MP's constituency office?
(Mr Rowley) Yes. I was a constituency Labour Party
Secretary at Dunfermline East for many years and worked in the
office. When I was at university I spent my summers working in
that office. Yes, I have worked in an MP's office.
210. Would you, therefore, accept that, in the
case of Dr Reid in the early part of 1999 after Kevin Reid had
stopped working for him and during the period when his office
secretary was off on a prolonged leave of absence through illness,
that somebody must have been doing something in his office to
keep the office ticking over, and that that person, as far as
we understand, was Suzanne Hilliard?
(Mr Rowley) One, I do not know. John Reid has told
me since that his assistant was off ill. Yes, I would accept that
somebody somewhere has to be in an office of the MP in the constituency
area. Whether that person was Suzanne Hilliard or not I just could
211. Changing the subject slightly, we have
Annex 143 of Maxton/Reid 2 a note by the Commissioner relaying
the contents of a telephone conversation which she had with you,
in which you say you had heard from a colleague of yours, who
is also a friend of Suzanne Hilliard, that she was extremely distressed
"because of the pressure she has been put under to lie".
This appears to be being relayed to us something like third hand,
but would you like to expand on that for us? Her testimony to
the Commissioner in the interview does not mention this pressure
to lie. What pressure do you think she was under?
(Mr Rowley) There was that one particular individual
who was close, and there are other people I have spoken to in
the Scottish Labour Party. The Scottish Labour Party is very small;
it is like a village up there and people talk to each other and
tend to know what is going on. That particular person was close
but there were other people who told me that Suzanne had gone
through an absolutely dreadful time with this whole affair. You
say "third hand", it is perhaps fourth hand given that
I got it from somebody else. I simply said to the Commissioner
that was the case, and that was what I had been toldthat
these people, in particular Suzanne Hilliard, were feeling under
immense pressure. I cannot prove that, but that is simply somebody
telling me that.
212. Do you think she did lie?
(Mr Rowley) I do not know because I do not know what
she said. I have not seen her evidence.
213. Do you think she is the sort of person
who might have succumbed to that sort of pressure?
(Mr Rowley) I think, for example, the person who is
office manager for the Labour Party in Scotland has not been absolutely
truthful in the letters that I have read coming from her. I think
that these young people who were working for the Labour Party
have been put under immense pressure. I know I am telling the
truth and, therefore, if people are coming down and saying something
different they certainly are not being truthful. They have been
put under immense pressure, there is no doubt about that.
214. I want to go back to the perception of
threats you mentioned earlier on today. You have said you felt
pressure was being put on you as regards getting selected in Central
(Mr Rowley) Not being selected after the selection.
215. You have been in the Labour Party a number
of years, anybody who is selected is not automatically the candidate,
because all selections have to be endorsed by the ExecutiveI
presume it is the Scottish Executive?
(Mr Rowley) The NEC.
216. As it is in England and Wales. You would
have known that?
(Mr Rowley) Yes.
217. How did you perceive that to be a threat?
(Mr Rowley) I have been a member of the Labour Party
since my teens so I know the rules of the Labour Party pretty
well. You are right, I did not need anyone to tell me that if
I was selected I still had to be endorsed. That was the whole
pointJohn Reid coming on to the phone and discussing this
particular case with me, and then reminding me that, even though
I was selected for Central Fife, I would have to be endorsed by
the NEC. That is why I took it as a threat. That is why in my
perception it was: this guy is threatening me; this guy is telling
me I have still to be endorsed. To answer your question, the point
you make is why I perceived it to be a threat.
218. The other point you mentioned was that
you could be prosecuted, yet it appears from the tapes of your
conversations with Dr John Reid he emphasises several times that
you cannot be done for perjury. That seems to be at odds with
what you have told us previously when you were saying you could
be done for something and in another conversation saying, "No,
no, no, you cannot be done for perjury".
(Mr Rowley) When I gave that tape to the Commissioner
we did not know what value it would have, if anybecause
I accept, as I said earlier, there are no threats on that. Given
that I decided to make that tape because of threats previously
then I decided to hand it over. In terms of a threat, the threat
was made, as I said earlier, in a hotel, I think, on a Saturday
morning at the Scottish Conference where he said to me something
along the lines of: if I admit any wrongdoing, and he does not
and he is clear, I could face criminal prosecution. That is what
he said to me.
219. It is almost as though he was saying you
were the one cooking the books?
(Mr Rowley) I think what he was saying was, "If
I say I did nothing wrong and I get cleared here and you go and
admit you did something wrong then you have admitted that".
I am absolutely clear he told me I could face criminal prosecution,
because I spoke to friends after it. I was very, very concerned
at that prospect and spoke to friends about that and decided,
yes, that was a threat. For me it was still about basically telling
the truth or not telling the truth.