Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 145

E-mail to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Alex Rowley

To:The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
From:Alex Rowley
Date:04 July 2000 16:31

As per my message this morning I am copying an account of my discussion with John Reid re your investigation. I can make the tape available if you so require.


      Hello J, its A.

      How are you doing?

      Alright. Been in bed all afternoon.

      I left a message, I thought you'd paged me, but it was Lesley apparently

      I spoke to her about two o'clock

      Aye, Cos I said...parliamentary investigation. I said did A speak to you today? He paged me. She said No, I paged you, I said I phoned him eight away...anyway...

      A: The parliamentary commissioner, I had to speak to her again the other week, and she sent me a letter...She's in Scotland tomorrow on Wednesday, so I'm going to meet her tomorrow...I talked to Leslie, I was concerned because a couple of people spokes to me at the weekend, asking to speak to me, saying it was being put about that I was trying to damage you.

      J: No

      A: It was people in senior positions in Scotland, I was like saying that's not true. I've always been accountable for things I've done wrong, but I've always been clear about it. There was no­one more surprised than me when it came out. That was worrying me, so I spoke to Lesley about it earlier in the week and spoke to her this morning again, because earlier in the week she said there were some people putting it about because they've become paranoid....

      J: When are you seeing her?

      A: Tomorrow night

      J: Are you taking somebody with you?

      A: Aye...

      J: Take someone you trust in with you...Basically what I said to her, I said to her Kevin had worked for me on and off for a period, which is true. Actually since 1989. He'd been working for me for three or four years on contract...When the Labour Party were looking to get (media monitoring?) and I suggested Kevin Reid because he had free time. The reason he had time was because up till May 98 he was working for me but he was also doing a degree. And in May 98 he finished his degree....But Kevin worked from May until October 1998 on a part­time basis...a part time contract for 15 hours a week from May to October....but at the same time in the evenings and at weekends....but as far as you are concerned, whatever he did for me, as long as he honoured (?) the party contract, which he did, as far as you're concerned you don't know what he did. In the October of that year....Kevin couldn't go full time for them if he was still working for me. Right? So from October to May, the election, he was full time. That's what I'm telling you. You don't have to tell any lies. Do you know what I mean? at the end of October he had two part time contracts, one for me and he was working or the Labour Party and the Labour Party and at the end of October which was six months before the election...and at that time I said to you if Kevin has to...then he has to be on a full time contract

      A: And you don't ken about you saying....

      J: Well, what you can say is in November you went to a full time operation and that I said to you if Kevin was going to go into a full time contract because if he wasn't I was concerned it would be a breach of parliamentary rules and would be used to attack the Labour Party, right? Which is basically what I said to you. You don't have to mention the Tory thing.

      Because I said in my letter to her, I don't have the letter in front of me.

      I said in the October of that year the Labour Party was going on to a full time footing and that I insisted that Kevin be put onto a full time contract if he was going to do those hours because not to do so would have left me and Kevin and the Labour Party open to criticism and it was precisely in order to observe the proprieties that he couldn't be paid part time by me while working full time for the Labour Party that I insisted that that happen. Now if, between the October, the May and October, Kevin

      8th/18th October.......So that was the period between May and October and around October time, Kevin and everybody was required to work for a longer period for the last six months, around October time and at that stage I said he had to go onto a full time contract...[otherwise there would be] criticism. He went onto a full time contract....At the end of October...he didn't receive any more money, he was never on a full time contract....

      A: I said to your lawyer I didn't have a clue who you'd actually taken on after Kevin. I knew you'd taken somebody on

      J: After Kevin?

      A: Aye, because remember after Kevin went we continued to get someone to replace him with that came with your support. I said to your lawyer that I didn't know who. The newspaper said Suzanne Hilliard, I don't know, I can't recollect every conversation with Suzanne


      But the fact that you continued to use somebody else through this {situation?] with John Reid.

      But again that's nothing to do with you. The position is that when Kevin left, right, what you didn't know, because nobody knew was, when Kevin left in October, I said Ok, I didn`t know Suzanne Hilliard at all. Kevin left, he recommended...he was going full time right? I did what he said to do, put   down to take Kevin's wage, So I took Suzanne Hilliard on and the idea was that she would do what Kevin had been doing, that was from the November, But what happened at the same time was that

      ………………….So I was left without Kevin, who had gone onto the full time contract and Suzanne, who I'd originally took on to...because she couldn't do my work and the party's work and the university work, so she gave up university from November and what she did was she worked for me and in the afternoon she worked for the Labour Party. so I don't have a problem with any of that. Now I don't think you have a problem [either].

      A: I'm a little's the amount of time when we switched Kevin to the full time contract that we were bringing somebody else in to the arrangement, that's what I'm saying to you, we were bringing someone else in to the arrangement. What you're saying is that Suzanne was there in a voluntary basis


      I just can't handle that because I've got to be careful because I'm still convinced  that people that are telling them the inside story to all this.

      But they can't

      I'm just trying to be very careful about. I'm not repeating the discussion we had..

      Whoever is in there doesn't...I can prove Kevin did work for me...I needed the work anyway. Suzanne...I was minister of transport. I had meetings every day and every night. I had no constituency secretary. I get something like 300 constituency letters a week. I get 30 or 40...I need to deal with, I just could not do that.

      A: What I'm trying to cover myself here is that, if I was asked the question Did Suzanne work in the party offices, yeah, she was there every day. What I'm saying is that at the point where it was decided to take Kevin and put him full time, what we agreed is that we would continue to use the resource if you like that had been there to support Kevin working in the party and I'm just not going to get myself caught up with this.

      J: You don't say anything to do with that at all. Because there is no agreement of [any kind] with Suzanne. That is not your job at all. All I have said is that when Kevin went full time he recommended to me a girl who was working in a voluntary capacity for the party. That's the truth, it was Kevin who first mentioned her name to me. I got Suzanne Hilliard to take Kevin's place to do the work for me. That's nothing to do with you. You don't know what she did for me or anything else. You may vaguely remember that Suzanne was working for me, you don't know what she was doing or anything. This girl Suzanne Hilliard, can you remember exactly when she was in? You can't remember when she was in? She was in in the afternoon, which was the truth.

      A: I know she did a lot of the afternoon stuff but when Kevin broke his arm she took that on doing the morning stuff. She used to complain to me at night, she was also in there most nights..

      J: Suzanne did my stuff in the morning

      A: All I'm saying to you J is, I'm just trying to watch myself here, I could not say to anybody, yeah, we used the money that was previously being paid to Kevin to employ Suzanne Hilliard. When you and I had the discussion

      Get it out of your mind that you used any money from me. It's nothing to do with you what I did with my money. My money was to pay Kevin for working for me. That's what he did. Kevin was paid by me. Long before I mentioned ot you the work for the Labour Party. That money had nothing to do with the Labour Party. then he went to the Labour Party at 15 hours a week and you paid him x thousand pounds a year.

      A: When I renegotiated his contract with Millbank to say we wanted to put him onto the full time contract because you raised it with me and raised your concerns with me, at that time we did a number of things. For example, we increased Chris Winslow's money. The way it worked was that Chris Winslow was getting more from the party and less off John Maxton and when Kevin went onto the higher wage we shifted the whole thing about, the budget papers show that, we adjusted the budget so both were getting the same amount of money. What I'm saying to you is I don't want to end up in a situation where I'm getting put up on something where someone else is going to walk in the next day and say No, I can show this and I can prove that.

      J: They cannot prove anything Alex. Because what you've said they can prove is a lie. Kevin Reid worked for me. He worked for me.

      A: All I'm saying to you is as I said to you last week, I don't know what Kevin did when he went home.

      J: That's right. I can tell you what Kevin did, but that's none of your business. Your business is what did Kevin Reid do for the Labour Party? Now Kevin Reid worked for me on and off for ten years. In May 1998 I said to you Kevin could work part time for the Labour Party, had free time because he was finishing his university. He worked from May to October in the mornings for the Labour Party. What he did with the rest of his time is upto him. Even if he worked four and a half hours in the morning for the Labour Party, 20 hours a week and paid for 15, he's got another 16 hours a week to work for me. That's none of your when Kevin said in October the hours are going to increase, I insisted Kevin get a full time contract, which is true, you put him on a full time contract, Kevin says to me there's another girl working there who could do the job he previously did. Your only interest in that is that Suzanne came in in the afternoons and she did my stuff in the morning and on Friday night, and on Saturday and on a Sunday. That's nothing to do with you. Do you know what I mean? No­one can have any proof that Suzanne did not work for me in the morning, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.

      A: I accept that. What I'm saying to you is a couple of things, I accept that nobody can say anywhere that people were doing when they weren't in working at the Labour Party.

      That's right.

      What I'm saying to you is that the types of discussion that took place at that time, with Chris Winslow, I remember that was the first one when he first came in, and it was explained to me by Anne Marie that John Maxton was prepared to take him on as a researcher, that if we made up half his wage, we could have him. And that was the agreement we had there.

      But he was working for John Maxton, John's got proof of that as well.

      I don't know what happened in his spare time, that's what happened at that point. And I was told that was what had previously happened before I came there. That same agreement was then basically reached with yourself, that Kevin would come and work for us. J: Wait a minute

      A: It was John  

      J: It was not. You said John Maxton agreed to take on Chris Winslow. It was not reached like that with Kevin. Kevin had been working for me since 1989. I didn't agree to take Kevin Reid on for anything. I offered Kevin to you part time, that's highly different from taking someone on to help the Labour Party.  You wouldn't take someone in 1989 to help the Labour party in 1998.

      A: When I went to Anne­Marie

      J: You've got it in your mind wrongly. Because in 1996 when Kevin took his first degree, Kevin Reid went on to do a part time contract doing research and media monitoring. He had done that for two and a half years before I mentioned to you that he could work for the Labour Party. That's what you've got to get into your had. You didn't know that.  But because you didn`t know that doesn't mean you say he wasn't there. He was there.

      A: I'm not saying anything about that John. I'm saying that when the point came where you said to me you wanted Kevin taken off it and put on the...

      J: That's the October

      A: Aye. At that point what I did was a number of things and had a discussion with him and had the same discussion with people like Geoff (Goerge?) Monkton and David Pitt­Watson had to go through the budgets and at that point there was concern ­ and thinking back other people, I remember Lorraine Davidson coming to speak to me about it ­ there was concern that this stuff with the tories, that concern was there and therefore we wanted to take Kevin off.

      J: What's that got to do with anything?

      A:  I'm just not wanting to go in there tomorrow and end up being up for perjury

      J: You're not going to be up for perjury, Alex.

      A: Perjury, aye

      J: You're not going to be up for perjury. I said that if Kevin is going to be working longer hours the last six months he had to be on a full time contract. That's all you need to say because that's the truth.. I said I was not prepared to be in a situation where I was open to attack, you were open to attack and the Labour Party was open to attack by saying for the last six months people were going to be working in the afternoons and the night as well, but you were not going to pay them for doing that. I wasn't going to do that. That's precisely why I said He's had a part­time contract with you and me up till now. If he was going to be working longer hours, he's got to have a full time contract.

      A: Which we did...we then put up Chris Winslow's salary that he was getting from us so that he's have a similar salary so that the whole thing was taken together.

      J: I genuinely don't know about Chris.

      A: but also at the time, we took somebody else on

      J: You've got to stick yourself absolutely to the facts and the facts are as follows: What you mustn't do it speculate on what he was doing in his spare time. I said to you, well I came to various people, that Kevin had free time, Kevin started in May because his classes...therefore to work part­time. Between May and October that it was he did. He worked sometimes till  one o'clock in the morning.

      A: I used to regularly go in there the back of seven, and either I was the first one in or Kevin was first one in....he would usually do the lunchtime bulletins and produce a brief.

      J: The key thing Alex is that Kevin left there every afternoon, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday by early afternoon

      A: Yeah

      J: That is a fact. He left there by one o'clock or thereabouts. From two o'clock everyday, 11 o clock on a Friday and on Saturday and Sunday to do any work he had to do for me. the investigation is Was he being paid by me for work he was doing for the Labour Party? He was not. He was being paid by me for work he was doing for me. And he had that time between May and October. In October, it became obvious everyone was going to have to work later than early afternoon. That was when I said they have got to put this on a regular footing so there's no comeback for me or the Labour Party or anybody else. That is what you have to say. That is the truth. that is the truth. That isn't a lie.

        You don't have to give great details about somebody phoning and saying the Tories are doing this, that and the next thing. You just say in October several people were coming in to go full time and John Reid insisted that Kevin Reid be given a full time contract. That is the truth.

      A: And I'll take someone with me to take notes?

      J: Yeah. Just keep it simple.

      A: It also says in the letter I shall ask if you prefer to give evidence to me under oath.

      J: Yeah, well, You can say no. John Rafferty said no. And take somebody with you. Say no I don`t know the status of these meetings, where they're going. I will tell you what happened. I've no wish to take the oath, this is not a court of law.

      A: I'll let you know how I get on.

      J: In the October, I insisted he go full time. Now as far as you're concerned, there was somebody else who worked there, and if you didn't genuinely know who it was at the time, just say I don't know who it was but I know John had somebody to replace Kevin, it was a girl volunteer but I don't know much about her. And if you can't remember what hours they worked you must say I can't remember. What you mustn't do is tell anything that isn't the truth. And what happened was I took Suzanne Hilliard on originally to cover Kevin's job but ventually she had to cover X's job. She gave up university to do that and work for the party, but Suzanne used to come in way after business, sometimes in the evenings to do that shift.

      A: A lot of times she used to do the evening shift, the tea­time shift.J: Aye, she would use her other time, as Kevin did, to do anything she had to do for me. Both of them had a contract which was 20 hours variable. So they could actually have done it all on a Saturday or Sunday. They had plenty of time to do it, evenings, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday.  As you know these things don;t work where you clock in.

      Providing you stick to those central facts, then there isn't a problem. Where the problem comes is if you start speculating, Oh they did have spare time, but I know they didn't do this and I know they didn't do that. As far as you're concerned if you confine yourself to saying, "Well, yeah, Kevin came in at sometimes 7, sometimes he came in at 8, he was always away by early afternoon, and I don't know what he did with the rest of his time, or on a Saturday or Sunday, or on a Friday night. And I don't know what Suzanne Hilliard did in the morning. I don't know what she did on a Saturday or Sunday."

      A: Which is true, she had the evening shift.

      J: That's absolutely true, and if they say Was she doing this, was she doing that, you say Well I don't know. That's something between her and John Reid. I knew John Reid had got her to replace Kevin but that's all I know. In October John Reid made it absolutely plain that in order to protect himself and the party and everybody else, if Kevin was going to be working far more hours, he had to go on a full time contract. So we put him on a full time contract." It's as simple as that.

      A: I'll let you know how I get on. I said I was worried about this stuff at the weekend. I've been victim to this before, just been totally smeared and done in. They were saying at the conference that I was out to damage you and all this kind of stuff.

      J: Nobody thinks you did

      A: I didn't.

      J: I know that, I don't think that.  The only thing I was worried about was that you'd got it into your head that I had put myself in a position where I was paying Kevin for work that wasn't done for me. And I wanted you to know that that isn't the case. He was doing work for me and so was Suzanne and I can prove that. but you wouldn't know that. So you were kind of panicking, so what she has to prove is the allegation that the monies I paid to those two, I didn't get anything back from.  that's what she has to prove, and that isn't the case. They did work for me. So as long as you say...the one thing you cannot say is John Reid said he would pay for them to work full time for the Labour Party and they would not have to do anything for him. Say John said they could be flexible in terms of hours, something like that. That's the truth, that's the discussion we had. Alright Alex?

      A: Alright, speak to you soon.

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