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



143.  The case in support of the complaints can be summarised as follows:

    —  evidence provided by the Labour Party`s Scottish General Secretary throughout the period in question, who was responsible for the deployment of staff and the drawing up of budgets, that an arrangement had been entered into to cross-subsidise the Party`s campaign expenditure from the OCA;

    —  corroborative evidence provided by senior employees of the Labour Party responsible for deploying staff for the campaign and by others working in the campaign at the time to the effect that the work done by the three researchers for the Party was at least partly supported by payments from another source (the House of Commons); that this was reflected in the Party`s budgetary arrangements; and that, indeed, the budget projections were revised accordingly;

    —   notes appended to the budget documents referred to the salaries received by Mr Reid and Mr Winslow from Dr Reid and Mr Maxton;

    —  for a long period, and certainly during the last 4 to 6 weeks of the Scottish Parliamentary election campaign, Ms Hilliard and Mr Winslow were working long hours for the Labour Party, amounting at the very least to a full-time commitment;

    —   particularly during the election period, Ms Hilliard and Mr Winslow had no spare time and could not have effectively done another job (their Parliamentary research work) on top of their commitments to the Party;

    —  bonuses were paid to Mr Winslow (and Mr Reid) based on additional work of more than 25 hours a week above their contract during the last few weeks of the election campaign, which in Mr Winslow`s case confirmed a minimum commitment to the Party of 55 hours a week.

    —  a bonus was paid to Ms Hilliard of a similar amount for her "enormous effort", even though she was not a contracted Party employee;

    —  Ms Hilliard denied that she had been paid a bonus by the Party;

    —   in the case of Mr Reid and Mr Winslow there was concern about the employment arrangements for their positions; these concerns were discussed at a high level within the Labour Party and, as a result, Mr Reid`s contractual status was changed in October 1998 and staff were advised not to discuss Mr Winslow`s employment arrangements in June 1999;

    —  no documentary evidence of the work undertaken, time spent or expenses incurred by Mr Winslow has been provided by Mr Maxton or Mr Winslow;

    —   the documentary evidence which has been provided of the work undertaken by Mr Kevin Reid and Ms Hilliard as part of their Parliamentary duties was illustrative rather than comprehensive;

    —   no telephone accounts or expenses claims have been provided by Ms Hilliard which corroborate her original evidence of her telephone calls with Dr Reid whilst working for him from home;

    —  no other information has been provided to support Ms Hilliard`s evidence concerning the volume of telephone calls, eg diary records, expense claims, telephone records, or names of others who might confirm her version of events.

144.  The responses from Dr Reid and Mr Maxton to the evidence in support of the complaints can be summarised as follows:

    —   the complaints are groundless and are motivated by malice;

    —   the witnesses who gave evidence in support of the complaints are, according to Dr Reid and Mr Maxton, untrustworthy and driven by a grudge because of the circumstances in which they left the Labour Party;

    —   only Dr Reid and Mr Maxton are in a position to know whether the three researchers did the work asked of them and fulfilled their contractual obligations towards them;

    —   as far as Dr Reid and Mr Maxton are concerned, Mr Reid, Ms Hilliard and Mr Winslow all carried out their duties as House of Commons researchers fully and effectively and none of the evidence about the alleged number of hours worked by them for the Labour Party proves otherwise;

    —  the evidence of Ms Quinn and Ms Whyte, in so far as it is specific, tends to support the account of Dr Reid and Mr Maxton as regards the hours worked for the Party by the three researchers;

    —   the fact that the three researchers were simultaneously working for the Labour Party while on part-time contracts with Members of the House of Commons was open and above board; indeed considerable trouble was taken to ensure that all the necessary proprieties were observed.

    —  the budget documents are inconclusive on the question of whether the Party assumed that the researchers` salaries would be topped up from the Office Costs Allowance.

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