Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 165

Questions for Mr Paul McKinney, Head of Communications April-May 1998 Scottish Labour Party, Meeting held at Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh 3 pm, 22 March 2000


      Paul McKinney

      Elizabeth Filkin

1.EF Were you contracted to take this post for 2 months or did you decide to leave after this period?
PM I was contracted from 6 April 1998 until a month after the Scottish Parliamentary Elections—June 1999. Although I had done the first piece of work at the end of March or right at the beginning of April. I worked until 21 May 1998 (my birthday). Although it was not announced until the end of May.
2.EF Did you work closely with Alex Rowley the General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party?
PM Alex Rowley was in post for 3 weeks or so overlapping with me. My first contact with him in his post as General Secretary was on or around 1 May 1998.
3.EF Were you satisfied with the financial and staff resources available to you and if not, whom did you approach for these to be increased?
PM My central reason for departure was that those needs were not understood or in place, although I had been taken on the basis of an understanding that they would be in place. In fact the Prime Minister offered me the job and told me that £3-400,000 would be available for the campaign. My remit was to professionalise the communications, particularly Donald Dewar`s planned election campaign. But it had not materialised when I started and it had not materialised—and that is why I resigned.
I had a number of discussions at strategy meetings about the lack of resources. I attended probably about 4 or 5 meetings I attended where usually there were 7 or 8 politicians in attendance. Donald Dewar attended some of them as did John Reid. I also raised the problem of staffing and resources with other staff. Ten days or so before I left I raised it at a meeting with the senior officials and advisers of the British Labour Party at Millbank and that was a meeting at which Alex Rowley was present. At that meeting I laid out the need for resources.
One of the strategy meetings that I raised it at was in Kier Hardy House and very much in the margins of the meeting John Reid told me that Kevin Reid could come and help.
4.EF What did he say exactly?
PM He said something like "my boy Kevin isn`t doing anything he could come and help".
5.EF So how long was he working there while you were?
PM Kevin Reid was working there for about 3 or 4 weeks when I was there I was under the impression he was studying. I think he may have actually sat exams during that period.
6.EF Were you aware who was paying?
PM No I was not aware that anybody was paying him I had the impression he was an unemployed volunteer.
7.EF How long did he work each day?
PM Some days 2 to 3 hours, some days much longer.
8.EF Did you have any financial control of or budget for those staff?
PM No it was one of the bug bears of the job, I had no financial control at all.
9.EF Was Gordon Brown party to that offer that John Reid made or could he have over heard it?
PM He may have been in the same room at the time but as far as I know he wasn`t aware of the offer.
10.EF At what point did you know that Kevin Reid was employed by John Reid and then by the Party?
PM I did not know that until I saw the newspaper article. I knew nothing about the employment arrangements.
11.EF Were you aware of any concern about Kevin Reid`s employment during this period?
PM No.
12.EF Was Chris Winslow working in the Party office during you time?
PM I had met Chris Winslow a year or perhaps 2 years before, he was part of the Labour students` organisation. During the last week of my employment there was some discussion about whether he would come and work in the office. Alex Rowley might have mentioned his name to me but he didn`t mention the question of funding.

(Agreed as correct by Paul McKinney, 27 March 2000)

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