Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 77

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr John Maxton MP

As promised here is a hard copy. May I emphasise my expectation that you will dismiss my case before the Committee next week.

Answers to questions put to me by the Commissioner for Standards. From John Maxton.

Please put these answers together with my earlier responses to your letters.

Mr Nelson referred in his original letter to having tapes of interviews with many senior Labour officials and politicians who "would confirm the truth of the arrangements described above". In your letter to me you claim you had listened to these tapes. None of the witnesses whose transcripts you have sent me and upon whom what flimsy case there is rests can be described as "senior Labour officials or politicians". Am I right in assuming that you therefore have no evidence that contradicts mine from anyone else? I asked whether the evidence from Ann-Marie Whyte confirmed Mr Rowley`s version of events and conversations. Can I assume that, as you have not included her evidence, that she did not do so?

    1.    You ask if I was aware of the rules of the House forbidding the misuse of Parliamentary researchers for political purposes. While I am aware of the general rules on all Parliamentary Allowances and expenses I wonder if you could tell me to which specific rules you are referring. The only reference you have given me is the paragraph below from the Code of Conduct.

      No improper use shall be made of any payment or allowance made to Members for public purposes and the administrative rules which apply to such payments and allowances must be strictly observed.

    You will note that paragraph makes no reference to either Parliamentary researchers or to political purposes. Are there other rules?

    2.    I expected him to do the work that he was asked to do by me. When, where and how he did it was a matter for him. That is how sensible employers work. I explained this in my initial response and so did Mr Winslow both orally and in writing. You also agree it in the Memorandum you sent me with the transcripts as evidence not challenged by any witness.

    3.    I had no knowledge of Mr Winslow`s contract with the Labour Party.

    4.    For a young intelligent, hard working Labour Party member it would be unusual for him at a very important time in the Party`s history not to work long hours for the Party but he was quite capable and willing to do the work required by me.

    5.    No. I had no idea that there had been an increase in Mr Winslow`s hours for the Labour Party.

    6.    I had no knowledge of Mr Winslow`s contract with the Labour Party.

    7.    That is Mr Rowley`s view. Since at no time have I ever discussed Mr Winslow`s employment by me with Mr Rowley (indeed I do not believe I discussed anything with Mr Rowley during the period he was employed by the Labour Party) I have no idea how he thinks he can give a view on the matter. Ann-Marie Whyte clearly does NOT confirm this conversation or arrangement.

    8.    I did not know that such an arrangement had been made, as it had no relevance to me.

    9.    I had no knowledge of this until I read about it in the evidence you sent me.

    10.  Only Mr Winslow can answer that and he had done so in his evidence to you. Since it took place at a time when journalists (including Mr Nelson) had deliberately entrapped Dr Reid`s son and then deliberately twisted remarks he had made, everyone in public life in Scotland was very uneasy about the way the press appeared able and willing to misinterpret the most innocent events. Indeed I would suggest you examine in detail that episode including the evidence presented to a Committee of the Scottish Parliament. If you do then you might at least give less credence to the evidence provided by Mr Nelson. He clearly does not always have scruples when looking for a story and a good headline.

    I note that Mr Rafferty changed his version of this conversation during the interviews he did. I would ask why he did this.

    I have spoken to Mr Dewar about this and he has no memory of discussing this matter with Mr Rafferty. More importantly he insists that if he had had such a conversation on such a subject then he would have remembered it. Knowing Mr Dewar`s punctilious regard for truth and honesty I believe him. So why did Mr Rafferty insist he had spoken to him.

    11, 12 and 13 I had no knowledge of these so-called budget papers until you sent them to me. I did not discuss them with any person at SLP headquarters or elsewhere. As I have already told you I did not discuss any of this with any Labour Party officials.

    14.  Not at all during the year to which the inquiry refers. Since January of this year when Dean Nelson made the unsubstantiated allegations I have obviously spoken to Dr Reid. But this has no relevance to your investigation.

    15.  I have already informed you that Mr Winslow had 18 days holiday to take (three working weeks and 3 days) and as he was leaving my employment I let him take his holidays then. During that time he did continue to do some on-going work for me despite being on leave. If he used his holidays to work very long hours for the Labour Party then he is to be admired not criticised. As Mr Rafferty confirms he still did work for me during that time. It appears to me that while you have evidence that Mr Winslow worked hard for the Labour Party you have no evidence to prove that he did not work for me.

    16.  This is an insulting question. It insults my integrity as a Member of Parliament. I had no knowledge of any bonuses paid to Mr Winslow and the time he worked during the election period is explained in answer to question 15.

    17.  Yes although I find the question very insulting.

    18.  Yes but since any discussions were post the event I do not believe they have any relevance. For information only I have discussed these matters with Dr Reid, Suzanne Hilliard and Chris Winslow. However it is insulting that you are prepared to believe that I or any Member of Parliament would seek to "intimidate" witnesses which is implicit in this question and in your last letter.

    19.  My version of events is not different from Mr Rowley`s, Mr Rafferty`s, Mr McKinney and Mr Sullivan. I never met nor discussed with any of the above my employment of Chris Winslow. None of them suggest that I did. None of them produce any evidence which shows that I did not employ Mr Winslow in the way described in my letter to you of March 2 and agreed by you in the Memorandum you sent me with the transcripts as evidence not challenged by any witness. Since I never spoke to them I do not know how they can tell you about the contract Mr Winslow had with me.

    Indeed I would not know Mr Sullivan if I met him. Mr McKinney`s evidence does not mention me. While I have briefly met Mr Rowley I am not sure I would recognise him now. I know John Rafferty better but again I spoke very little to him during the time he worked for the Labour Party.

Lastly I would point out that the Labour Party dismissed three of the above and they apparently bear a grudge against Dr Reid as a result. I appear to be the unlucky and unwitting victim of that grudge.

You have not produced any evidence to substantiate Mr Nelson`s allegations against me and I now again ask that you inform the Committee immediately that you are dismissing the allegations.

14 June 2000

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 22 December 2000