Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


Response submitted by Mr John Maxton MP


The Objectivity of the Witnesses

During our submissions to the Commissioner John Reid and I both rightly raised questions about the objectivity of the four witnesses who gave evidence that appeared to contradict our own and seemed to be evidence in support of Mr Nelson`s allegations. We also stated that Mr Nelson was not the most reliable journalist given the way he entrapped John Reid`s son during the "Lobbygate" affair.

Dr Reid presented considerable evidence on this as he was much more directly involved than I was in the affairs of the Labour Party both then and now. He will, I am sure, present further evidence to show that the Commissioner should have at least accepted the evidence of her four witnesses with some healthy scepticism.

I will limit myself to a few comments. As I have shown above Mr Rowley is the only witness whose evidence appears to contradict mine on the complaint made by Mr Nelson. The budget documents on which miss Filkin places such weight were produced by him the day after he had failed to obtain the nomination in Central Fife, his home constituency. Yet Miss Filkin accepts his word that he was a loyal Party member who was seeking to be a Parliamentary candidate.

In paragraph 149 of the draft memorandum Miss Filkin states "these allegations were introduced by Dr Reid and Mr Maxton only in their main responses to the complaint in other words after they had been informed by me of the evidence in conflict with their accounts given by the witnesses concerned."

However until I received the evidence to which Miss Filkin refers I had no idea who the witnesses were in this matter. As my lengthy correspondence with the Commissioner shows I asked for such information but was never given it. It would therefore have been impossible for me to comment on the veracity or otherwise of the witnesses. Miss Filkin`s observations again illustrate her lack of objectivity in this matter.

This is shown again in the way in which she dealt with allegations made by Dr Reid and myself about the trustworthiness of the witnesses given the manner in which they had left the employment of the Labour Party. She simply approached each of them, told them of the allegations and then without apparent any questions accepted their explanation of events.

This is in stark contrast to the way in which she had pursued relentlessly, indeed obsessively, any evidence that supported their evidence against us. The Committee will note that she made no effort to contract the Labour Party either in Scotland or within the UK to establish the truth or otherwise of these allegations. She includes in the relationship that most MPs have with their employees such written evidence would not be the norm.

The lack of objectivity that Miss Filkin has shown throughout this enquiry is nowhere better illustrated than in this matter.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 22 December 2000