File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
Dr J Reid and Mr J Maxton
12 June 2000
Telephone call from Mr Maxton...
...Mr Maxton telephoned me to say a variety of things
in criticism of me, my inquiry, the evidence that I had sent him
and the way in which I was proceeding.
He said I shouldn`t have sent him any evidence which
refers to Dr Reid. He said the evidence that I had sent him of
the transcript of the conversation between Mr Nelson and Mr Mc
Kinney was actionable and libellous and he might take action about
it. I told Mr Maxton as I had in my letter, that this information
had only gone to him and to Dr Reid in absolute confidence and
I could not believe that since it had only gone to two senior
Members of the House of Commons that there was any question of
it undermining Dr Reid in any way.
He said that he wanted to make it clear that his
letter of last week was indeed his response, that he was making
no further response and that he was not going to answer any of
my questions any further than he had done so already.
He said that he believed my procedures had been wrong
from the outset and he repeated his contention that I had not
followed the procedures set out in the Code of Conduct and that
I had had no evidence which would allow me to undertake an inquiry.
I explained once again that it was for my judgment
as to whether I thought there was enough information to require
further investigation and this was my judgment in this case and
that I had not changed my views to date. I again repeated that
undertaking an investigation is just a method of getting to the
bottom of a complaint, it does not imply that there is anything
Mr Maxton said that he didn`t believe me, that I
had had no evidence, and that I had not heard the tapes. He also
believed that I had deliberately misled him (he has repeated this
on several occasions) by telling him that I had sufficient evidence
and had implied to him that I had heard the tapes when I had not.
I said I had only told him that I had heard the tapes when I had
heard them and I had certainly not tried to mislead him in any
way, I could not understand why he believed that I had, but I
was firmly of the opinion that I had sufficient evidence on which
to inquire into the matter and that was all I was doing.
He said he was definitely not coming to see me and
he would see the Committee if necessary to tell them how I had
contravened the procedures but that he was certainly not
seeing me. I said I regretted that but if that was his decision
perhaps he would put that in writing. I explained that I wished
to give him the opportunity to answer the questions so that I
could deal with the matter fairly and report accurately to the
Standards and Privileges Committee. However, he went on at length
saying that he did not believe me, he thought that I was trying
to prove a case and that I had breached the Code of Conduct. I
stressed to him that I had not been trying to prove the case one
way or the other and was still not trying to do so. I explained
that what my job was, was to investigate a complaint and get hold
of the facts so that I could take a view and provide my advice
to the Committee.
Mr Maxton said he would try and write to me this
afternoon but he didn`t know when he would be able to do so as
he had to go to a lunch but he would try and that I should report
to the Committee immediately that I was dismissing the complaint.
I said that I was sorry that I could not do that and I had to
have his response before I could make any report to the Committee
whatsoever but that if he wrote to me and told me that he was
not going to see me, I would of course make that known to the
Committee because they might wish to use their powers to encourage
him to answer the questions.
Mr Maxton said that he intended to sue me if it was
at all possible once the investigation was over.
The whole conversation was characterised by Mr Maxton`s
sounding very intemperate and angry and he told me at one point
during the conversation that he had had to go to the Doctor for
stress because of this inquiry. I said I was sorry to hear that
and I shared his view that it would be good to bring the inquiry
to an end as soon as possible but that I could not do that without
his response and without pieces of information that I was still
I said to Mr Maxton that I didn`t think it was sensible
for us to go on having this same discussion over and over again
and that I had written to him and I had said these thing to him
previously but that perhaps he would write to me to give me his
final response to my letters. We agreed that he would do that.