Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
Complaint against Dr John Reid and Mr John Maxton



18.  The undisputed facts concerning Mr Kevin Reid, Ms Suzanne Hilliard and Mr Chris Winslow are set out in the following paragraphs.

(i)    Mr Kevin Reid

19.  Between September 1997 and October 1998 Mr Kevin Reid worked part-time as a Parliamentary researcher for his father whilst completing an LL.B course at Strathclyde University. For the period covered by the complaint (beginning with April 1998) up to October 1998, Mr Reid was contracted to work 20 hours per week for his father on a fixed salary of £10,200 per annum, with no provision for overtime or bonuses. The job consisted of reading the Scottish press and following the broadcast media in order to be able to provide Dr Reid with briefings on political developments in Scotland. Mr Reid also provided his father with assistance in drafting press releases and speeches. This work was carried out either from home or in the Strathclyde University Library.

20.  Following the completion of his degree course in May 1998, Mr Reid also started working for the Labour Party at its Scottish headquarters in Glasgow. His contract with the Party was for 15 hours per week, for which the salary was £4,000 per annum. The duties consisted of assisting the media monitoring unit in producing a digest of the morning press and other media output, which, according to Mr Reid`s statement ( Annex 85), involved attendance in the Party offices from early to about mid-morning. Mr Reid`s work for his father (which he continued to do after becoming employed by the Party) then had to be accommodated in what remained of the day.

21.  On 12 October 1998, Mr Reid switched to working full-time for the Party at a new annual salary of £18,132 and at that point he ceased to be employed by his father. His place as Dr Reid`s Parliamentary researcher was taken by Ms Hilliard. Dr Reid agreed to waive the usual notice period and continued to pay his son, in lieu of leave entitlement, from 12 October until the end of that month. The Fees Office has confirmed that there was nothing irregular about this practice. At the end of May 1999, Mr Reid left the Labour Party`s employment and took up a post in the media. In recognition of his services during the closing stages of the election campaign Mr Reid was paid a bonus of £406.78 by the Party.[60]

22.  The following chart summarises Mr Kevin Reid`s employment and academic commitments during the period between April 1998 and June 1999 inclusive:—

(ii)  Ms Suzanne Hilliard

23.  Ms Hilliard has been a Labour Party volunteer worker since starting a degree course at the University of Strathclyde in 1995. She has been particularly active since the 1997 General Election campaign but, although receiving basic expenses, she has never been an employee of the Labour Party. From September 1998 she worked in the Party`s media monitoring unit under the direction of Kevin Reid. Initially Ms Hilliard worked on the morning media briefing but later moved over to producing the analysis of the lunchtime media output. This involved afternoon attendance at Party headquarters (Annex 108). Although not contracted to the Party, Ms Hilliard received a bonus equal to that paid to Mr Reid, as a reward for her efforts on the campaign.[61]

24.  At the start of November 1998, Ms Hilliard took up her employment with Dr Reid, replacing Mr Kevin Reid in his post as a Parliamentary researcher. As in Mr Reid`s case, the contract was for 20 hours per week at a salary of £10,200 per annum and, initially, the duties were broadly similar. After a few weeks, however, Ms Hilliard took on the additional task of assisting Dr Reid in handling his constituency mail, following the illness of his constituency assistant, who was absent from duty from early December 1998 until February 1999 and thereafter worked part-time until July 1999 when she resumed full-time work. All of Ms Hilliard`s work for Dr Reid was carried out by Ms Hilliard from home during the morning.

25.  After returning to university in October 1998 Ms Hilliard attempted for a while to combine her studies with both her work for the Party and her job with Dr Reid. This became increasingly impractical and in early 1999 Ms Hilliard sought and obtained from the university authorities a one year voluntary suspension from the degree course.

26.  After ceasing to be Dr Reid`s researcher in June 1999, Ms Hilliard took up a similar post with Mr Maxton, but at an increased weekly commitment of 25 hours. The salary for 25 hours, however, was lower—£7,200 per annum. The contract with Mr Maxton came to an end in September 1999.

27.  The following chart summarises Ms Hilliard`s commitments to the Labour Party and to Dr Reid and Mr Maxton, as well as her academic studies, during the period from April 1998 to September 1999.

(iii)  Mr Chris Winslow

28.  After studying politics at Glasgow University Mr Winslow took up a post as Mr Maxton`s Parliamentary researcher on 1 June 1998 on a part-time contract for "20 hours variable" per week, for which the annual salary was £6,600. In the middle of the same month Mr Winslow started work with the Labour Party in Glasgow, with a commitment to 15 hours per week at a salary of £6000.

29.  Mr Winslow`s work for Mr Maxton consisted mainly of carrying out policy research, involving a mixture of regular daily tasks, ad hoc requests for information and long term projects. In fulfilling these obligations Mr Winslow worked mainly from home, but also occasionally from Labour Party headquarters, drawing as necessary on the facilities of the House of Commons Library. In addition, he kept track of the local print and broadcast media in order to be able to brief Mr Maxton on political events in Scotland.

30.  The duties performed by Mr Winslow for the Labour Party included policy research and drafting speeches, as well as contributions to policy forums and manifesto production.

31.  In his statement (Annex 101) Mr Winslow explained that he spent most of the day at his Labour Party office where he worked on both his Parliamentary and his Party commitments. In addition he would work at home in the evenings and at weekends.

32.  In early November 1998, as a result of the increasing workload as the Scottish Parliamentary elections approached, Mr Winslow`s contract with the Party was doubled from 15 to 30 hours per week, on top of his continuing commitment of 20 hours per week to Mr Maxton. The salary paid by the Party to Mr Winslow also doubled in November 1998 to £12,000 per annum. From November 1998, therefore, Mr Winslow was contracted in total for 50 hours work per week for both employers and earned in total £18,600.

33.  Mr Winslow ended his employment with both Mr Maxton and the Labour Party at the end of May 1999 in order to take up a post as a special adviser in the newly formed Scottish Executive. Mr Winslow also received a bonus from the Party of £406.78 for the extra work he carried out during the last few weeks of the campaign.[62]

34.  The following chart summarises Mr Winslow`s employment and academic commitments between April 1998 and June 1999:—

The Scottish Parliament Elections

35.  The first elections to the Scottish Parliament were held on 6 May 1999. The arrangements for the elections were set out in an Order[63] made under the Scotland Act 1998. The Order specified a limit of £1.5 million for expenditure by any one registered political party "on account of or in respect of the conduct or management of the election". On 14 January 1999, in anticipation of the Order, the registered political parties in Scotland entered into a voluntary agreement to observe this limit (£1.5 million) on spending. Although the Order came into force only on11 March 1999, it applied to any relevant expenditure by a political party, whether or not incurred before 14 January 1999.

36.  These voluntary arrangements were monitored by the Scottish Election Commission, chaired by Professor Anthony King, which required the political parties to file expenditure returns, itemised under a number of detailed headings, including staff wages, salaries and expenses.

37.  As a letter, dated 13 August 1998 (Annex 188, Appendix C), to Mr Rowley from Mr David Pitt-Watson, Director of Finance for the Labour Party, made clear, the Party`s budget for the Scottish Parliament election campaign was a little under £1.4 million. This figure assumed a contribution of £42,000 from Members of Parliament and MEPs.

60  See paragraphs 73 and 74. Back

61  See paragraphs 73 and 74. Back

62  See paragraphs 73 and 74. Back

63  The Scottish Parliament (Elections etc) Order 1999 (S.I., 1999, No 787). Back

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