Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 169

  (iv) Record of an interview conducted by Mr Nelson with Mr McKinney

Paul McKinney:

There was no money from the Labour Party at the time.

He was cutting the newspapers in the morning. Came in at 8 am, cut the newspapers and photocopied them. Started on an ad-hoc basis, but he was around for the rest of the day, answering the phones. He was very eager to learn and help.

I think his Dad said I will help out. You can have my boy and I will pay for him. John Reid said I want to help and be a part of this outfit. This was in April 98. I`m pretty certain. Reid was hanging around at the weekend strategy meetings, brought in by Number Ten to keep an eye on Gordon Brown. He didn`t do very much. After two or three weeks I was beginning to report to these meetings that while they were sitting around talking, there`s only me here. He (Reid) said my boy`s not doing anything, he can come in and I will find a way of paying him. I think he would have come in, might have been end of April. The impression I had was that it was voluntary. It was the sort of thing which traditionally went on for a long time.

Everyone in the office was working full time. The strategy meeting was on the top floor of Keir Hardie House on a Sunday morning. Donald Dewar, Brian Wilson, Alex Rowley had just started. I don`t know if Gordon was there, I think he was. Gordon Brown, Donald Dewar, me, John Reid in the corner with the ashtray, Brian Wilson.

[Handwritten note: This is a transcript of a contemporaneous shorthand taken during an interview with Paul McKinney in the week beginning January 17th 2000. This interview, I believe, was conducted on the 19th, but was certainly the night before a second tape recorded interview with Mr McKinney.

Signed: Dean Nelson]

  (iv) Transcript of interview conducted by Mr Nelson with Mr McKinney

I run the gist of what you said past a couple of people who would know, obviously not mentioning your name, and it seems to be confirmed. What I`ve established is that, there`s a bit of a grey area in it, but the offer was made by Reid at this meeting as you said..

DN:I`ll help out, I want to be a part of it, here`s my boy, he`s doing bugger all, you can have him and I`ll pay him. But the actual deal was worked out in detail between Alex Rowley and Reid.
DN:because Rowley was general secretary I suppose it would have had to have gone through him.
PM:One of the things you have to remember is that the place was such a shambolic place, people could walk in and out and do whatever they want to. That may have been the case later on after I left. My memory of it is that it would have all been pretty informal.
DN:I believe that Donald was aware of the deal at the time. Having thought about it, with how much certainty could you actually say whether he was in at the meeting when Reid made the offer.
PM:None. I couldn`t. I think Donald would have been there that day but whether the offer came at the end of the meeting or, I was actually trying to check to see whether I had a note last night but I don`t, which might suggest it was at the end of the meeting.
DN:As people were filing out?
DN:You`ve no doubt in your mind he actually made the offer in that way?
PM:Oh no, no, no.
DN:I suppose it`s naivety on my part, that I was amazed that it was made in that way, but I suppose if it was always done that way, it wouldn`t have been a big deal?
PM:No it wasn`t. Far from it. Remember, it`s in the context of the Labour Party. It`s got no money.
DN:Yeah, was this at a stage when Millbank were being really pissey about giving any money?
PM:Mmm, aha.
DN:I suppose I`m nervous, knowing what Reid`s like, I don`t know if I mentioned this. After the Lobbygate story, he briefed through Elrick a story saying I`d basically murdered his
PM:His unborn child.
DN:I don`t deal with many people like that, so I`m anxious to make sure I...
PM:That`s the mark of the charm of the man (laughs)
DN:How did you get on with him?
PM:Reid is a shit.
PM:That`s only my personal opinion.
DN:He`s got a bruiser kind of vibe about him?
PM:That meeting or the meeting after he offered his delightful assistance, which was supposed to be private, three hours later I was taking calls from the press, describing our strategy. Somebody had leaked it
DN:Why would he have done that?
PM:To make him look important, John Reid comes to the rescue.
DN:Right, Reid rides in...
DN:He likes that. Kvaerner in embryo.
PM:I wish I had a more detailed knowledge and memory of it, but I really don`t. I have been trying to think and I hoped I might have a note, but I don`t.
DN:I know there was a panic during the lobbygate story where they thought it might come out then, and I know they changed the arrangement after you left, in October, they suddenly panicked that it might emerge
DN:But as far as I`m aware they just separated the father-son link and moved his money onto somebody else
PM:I don`t want to make it sound uncommon, it wasn`t in the past.
DN:This is all post-Neil
PM:That`s right.
DN:And all that kind of thing... If, and I ask you this just because I know what he`s like, I don`t think he would sue, because he would know the truth of it and it would be more damaging to sue and lose than to just let it pass, but if he did sue, and we subpoenaed you or something like that, to make it look like you weren`t volunteering, would you be happy to give evidence on that basis?
PM:It certainly wouldn`t suit me in my current life to be in that situation, no. And also I would have to say what I said to you last night whilst on the whole I was pretty certain...what I can say is this is my recollection that at some stage in the month of April, towards the end of April that what offer was made...and that`d be the truth, but I just don`t know that I could go further than that.
PM:You know my position

I wouldn`t want to drag you into it, but if it come to it,

[Handwritten note: Partial transcript of tape recorded interview with Paul McKinney. I believe it took place on the Thursday of the week beginning 17th January, but it was certainly in that week in any case.

Signed: Dean Nelson]

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