Letter to the Rt Hon Dr John Reid MP from
the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
I apologise for beginning this letter on a formal
note. I should, however, remind you that you should not discuss,
or seek to discuss, with any other person (except your own legal
advisers) the form or content of your evidence to me or that of
any other person in connection with my investigation into the
complaint made against you by Mr Nelson.
As you will recall, I undertook to write to you more
fully once I was in a position to set out the evidence I have
received which seems to be at variance with your own account,
in order to give you an opportunity to respond in detail before
I come to any conclusion on these matters and to ensure I have
a complete response from you, informed by the material I have
received from others, to put before the Standards and Privileges
I am therefore enclosing the following documents:
(i) A paper summarising
in narrative form the evidence relating to the complaint against
you. This is in two parts. The first contains the essential facts
concerning the three researchers (Mr Reid, Ms Hilliard and Mr
Winslow) which do not appear to be in dispute. The second sets
out the relevant portions of the statements by other witnesses
which, if true, tend to support the complaints.
(ii) Transcripts of interviews or telephone conversations
conducted by me with:
a) Mr Alex Rowley
b) Mr John Rafferty (3 transcripts)
c) Mr Paul McKinney
d) Mr Willie Sullivan
(iii) Transcripts (provided as background information)
of interviews by me with:
a) Mr Kevin Reid
b) Ms Suzanne Hilliard
c) Mr Chris Winslow.
(iv) Record and transcript of interviews conducted
by Mr Nelson with Mr McKinney. As you know, Mr Nelson stated in
his original complaint letter (dated 26 January 2000) that he
was reliably informed that you offered your son`s services to
the Party campaign, saying that you "would find a way of
paying him". From my interviews with a number of Labour Party
employees (or former employees) I concluded that Mr Nelson`s informant
was Mr McKinney. Mr Nelson had previously agreed to provide me
with tapes and transcripts only where the evidence I collected
appeared to differ in a material way from the information which
he had published in his original article or provided in his complaint
letter. On that basis I asked Mr Nelson to provide me with the
transcript of his conversation with Mr McKinney and he agreed
to do so.
(v) Copies, supplied at my request by Mr Rowley,
of budgetary projections (Document 1 (May 1998); Document 2 (October
1998); and Document 3 (January 1999)) for the Scottish Labour
Party`s election campaign for the Scottish Parliament, together
with related briefing notes.
(vi) Tables (prepared in my office) showing (A)
projected monthly salary payments by the Labour Party to Mr Reid
and Mr Winslow, which have been extracted from item (iv) and (B)
projected monthly salaries paid by the Labour Party to Mr Reid
and Mr Winslow together with the corresponding contracted monthly
Parliamentary researcher`s salary from the Fees Office.
(vii) Letter from Mr John McLaren.
I should add that, in relation to the SLP budget
documents, I am still awaiting replies on certain matters of clarification
from the Labour Party. I will let you have any further information
as soon as I receive it.
You will, I am sure, understand that it has been
difficult for Mr Rowley, Mr Rafferty and Mr Sullivan to provide
information to me which might cast doubt on your account of events.
But they have accepted that their duty to give evidence to a Parliamentary
inquiry outweighs other loyalties they have.
When you have had a chance to consider this material
I would be grateful if you could provide answers to the attached
list of questionswhich arise largely from the evidence
contained in the transcripts and from the budget documents. It
would also be helpful if you would take this opportunity to draw
to my attention any other information which you think is relevant
to my investigation of the complaint against you. I refer in particular
to any evidence, whether documentary or otherwise, which would
support your statement that both your son and Ms Hilliard fully
met their obligations to you as Parliamentary researchers. I have
also written to Mr Reid and Ms Hilliard asking them to supply
me with any evidence they have of the work they carried out for
you during the period in question.
Although you said you wished to make a written response
in the first instance. I may later wish to ask you to come to
talk to me in person. This is so that my eventual Report to the
Standards and Privileges Committee fully sets out the facts and
your position. You may of course, see me at any time or discuss
any matter over the telephone, if you would find that helpful.
I appreciate that you will need time to prepare your
reply carefully. Equally, it is in the interests of all concerned
that my investigation should be brought to a conclusion as soon
as possible. Could I therefore ask for your response by Monday
12 June, please?
19 May 2000