Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


Memorandum submitted by Dr John Reid MP



(1) Analysis of evidence and materials provided with Ms Filkin`s draft Report.
(2) Commentary of Ms Filkin`s draft Report Section

Letter to the Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP from Atkinson Donnelly, Chartered Accountants


In line with your request, we have carried out a review of the Scottish Labour Party budgets prepared in relation to the Scottish Parliament Elections, together with a review of the correspondence provided between Elizabeth Filkin and Alex Rowley, correspondence between Elizabeth Filkin and Annemarie Whyte, correspondence between Elizabeth Filkin and Jonathan Upton, and finally, correspondence between David Doig, Registrar of Members Interests, and Andrew Walker, Director of Finance and Administration for the House of Commons.

The main points we would wish to highlight from our review are as follows:


We would have to agree with the conclusion of Andrew Walker, the Director of Finance and Administration who states that "the SLP budget projections are consistent with an entirely innocent explanation" (letter of 23 May 2000 to David Doig).


In Alex Rowley`s e-mail of 20th April, Alex Rowley cautions Elizabeth Filkin against becoming confused by the budget papers. As Mr Rowley point out, the budget papers only show the way money was potentially planned to be spent by the Labour Party. Not the approved expenditure nor indeed actual expenditure.

In the e-mail of 20th April 2000 as well as pointing out the above, Mr Rowley makes some dangerous assumptions and conclusions which appears to be irrelevant. In the second paragraph under Chris Winslow, Mr Rowley states "... leads me to believe that he was being paid £550 per month from John Maxton." The pertinent points are

1)  The payment is surely acceptable if Mr Winslow was carrying out services on behalf of Mr Maxton?

2)  This totally innocent explanation appears to be cast in doubt by nothing more than Mr Rowley`s assumption which does not seem based in fact.

Mr Rowley also recognises that he is making assumptions on payments being made from other sources and acknowledges that he did not deal with the financing arrangements personally. We would therefore conclude that Mr Rowley`s assumptions and suggestions be discounted as by his own admission he was not in a position to make informative judgements.

Elizabeth Filkin then on the 4th May and subsequently on 12th May made additional queries of Alex Rowley in connection with detailed questions relating to payments made to Chris Winslow and Kevin Reid. Mr Rowley`s response opens with him declaring that with the benefit of time to study the questions in detail he feels that he is uncertain as to whether or not he can be of any help to Elizabeth Filkin.

It is a result, inconceivable that any evidence from Mr Rowley in connection to the budget figures could be of any relevance whatsoever. Mr Rowley acknowledges that he does not have the expertise, the experience, or the in-depth knowledge of the particular circumstances to afford any credible information.


On 11th of February Elizabeth Filkin wrote to Annemarie Whyte with 8 particular points relating to the contracts of employment issued to Mr Kevin Reid, Miss Suzanne Hilliard and Mr Chris Winslow together with specific points regarding their terms and conditions of employment. Annemarie Whyte answered these questions in a letter of 28th February 2000 with no significant points raised outwith the fact that Annemarie Whyte intended to be on maternity leave until June 2000.

On 19th May 2000 Elizabeth Filkin again wrote to Annemarie Whyte outlining the questions raised with Alex Rowley in the letter of 4th May and regurgitated in the letter to Annemarie Whyte. In the main, the response of Annemarie Whyte was to stipulate that the budgets produced, were precisely that, namely budgets which would change as circumstances changed. She also stated that Dr John Reid and John Maxton would in all probability have no knowledge of the budgets and were indeed unlikely to even see them. She also stipulates in her letter of 21st June 2000 that the Scottish Labour Party did not receive any payment from John Maxton or John Reid, nor did it regard itself as being subsidised by either MP.


There are numerous pieces of correspondence from Elizabeth Filkin`s letter of 17th April 2000 to Jonathan Upton`s final response on 16th June 2000.

On 17th April 2000, Elizabeth Filkin requested various documentation regarding the employment of Kevin Reid, Suzanne Hilliard and Chris Winslow. The information is provided in Jonathan Upon`s letter to Ms Filkin on 19th April 2000 which replaced the meeting scheduled for Thursday, 20th April. In a further letter of 20th April, Elizabeth Filkin requested further copies of printouts and recognised the "very proper request concerning confidentiality" raised by Mr Upton. On the same day, the 20th April 2000, Jonathan Upton wrote to Elizabeth Filkin and provided her with 11 printouts by fax. In addition, in his letter, Mr Upton stated that he could not "speculate on the authenticity of the documents sent to you". Further, Mr Upton stated "I would want to repeat my recommendation of caution in my earlier letter about drawing any conclusions from this document which is, at best, of doubtful provenance".

On 4th May 2000, Elizabeth Filkin writes again to Mr Upton stating that "... it seems particularly strange that no record exists of a document which appears to be official and which has been prepared on the same basis and using the same style as the other two." Further in the letter, the same points, which had already been raised by Alex Rowley in the letter of 4th May and with Annemarie Whyte in the letter of 19th May, are raised with Mr Upton. The same points in the letter of 12th May 2000 to both Alex Rowley and Annemarie Whyte are further raised with Mr Upton.

On 15th May 2000, Jonathan Upton responds stating that the internal Scottish Labour Party working documents would have regularly have been updated and amended. The fact that the budgets would have been the responsibility of Alex Rowley, the Scottish General Secretary at the time, was also pointed out. As a result of this fact Jonathan Upton stated that he could not answer the detailed questions put to him. On the 18th of May Elizabeth Filkin requests information on the bonus paid, and this is provided in Mr Upton`s letter of 23rd May 2000. On 25th May 2000 Elizabeth Filkin requests Labour Party audited accounts containing the figures relating to salary payments. In response of 15th June 2000 Jonathan Upton gives his assurance that all labour party documentation shows that the information already provided is correct. He also speculates that his assurance should be sufficient for Elizabeth Filkin`s purposes. In the response of 15th June 2000 Elizabeth Filkin refuses Jonathan Upton`s assurance and reiterates a request for audited accounts and threatens to report Mr Upton to the Standards & Privileges Committee the following Tuesday. On 16th June, Jonathan Upton responds stating that the individual`s salary is confidential between the Labour Party and that individual. Whilst he recognises the confidentiality he nonetheless agrees to breach that confidentiality and provides photocopies to validate the assurance that had already been given regarding the amounts paid to Chris Winslow and Kevin Reid.

The above review leads us to question why Elizabeth Filkin seems to have difficulty in accepting Mr Upton`s word. Elizabeth Filkin implies in her letter of 4 May 2000 that something is amiss, "Seems particularly strange..." and refuses to accepts Mr Upton`s assurances indicated in the letter of 15 June 2000. Indeed in that letter she goes as far as to threaten Mr Upton. We see no basis for her apparent suspicions.

However, when you look at the substance of the correspondence, Mr Upton again advises Elizabeth Filkin that the budgets are working documents (letter of 15 May 2000) and the responsibility of Mr Rowley, and provides documentary evidence which supports the written correspondence provided to Elizabeth Filkin. In short, Elizabeth Filkin despite pressing Mr Upton establishes nothing untoward.


On 4th May 2000 David Doig of the Registrar of Members Interests wrote to Andrew Walker, Director of Finances Administration of the House of Commons. The request was basically that Andrew Walker could assist in analysing some financial documentation in connection with the current investigation into a complaint against Dr John Reid and Mr John Maxton. In the fourth paragraph a suggestion was outlined which was that the salaries of Mr Reid and Mr Winslow would be topped up from other sources, namely the fees office. There were a variety of other questions also raised for the Director of Finance and Administration`s comments. On 8th May 2000, Andrew Walker responded to David Doig, the final paragraph of which read "... in summary, the evidence we have seen from our own records and our dealings with Dr Reid and Mr Maxton is consistent with the proper and acceptable use of office costs allowance".

On 11th May 2000, Mr Doig again wrote to Andrew Walker asking to have a "brief analysis of both the innocent, as well as the more questionable, interpretation which might be placed upon them in the light of the main thrust of the complaint about alleged misuse of public funds." A further letter of 16th May enclosed some additional information and documentation to be considered by Andrew Walker.

In Andrew Walker`s response of 23rd May 2000 the Director of Finance and Administration stated that "the SLP budget projections are consistent with an entirely innocent explanation along the following lines: ...". The overall conclusion of Andrew Walker was "in summary, from the documentation I have seen, I remain of the view that there is no clear evidence of wrong doing. Indeed, if anything I am a little more inclined to favour an innocent explanation". On 26th June 2000 David Doig, again wrote a further letter with a final response being sent by Mr Walker on 28th June 2000 in which after considering the facts Mr Walker concluded "I hope this will enable the commissioner to progress a conclusion with her investigations".

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