Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 51

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Mr John Maxton
10 April 2000
Further lengthy telephone conversation with Mr Maxton...

... Revisiting issues that he had raised previously and which I had answered in the same vein. He believes the process is totally unfair and that he is being treated unfairly and that I should not have begun the inquiry because I had no evidence to do so. He believes he should now be able to see the evidence which the complainant provided which lead me to believe I had sufficient evidence to open an inquiry. I explained to him that I would not be able to provide him with any evidence that was at variance with his—prior to our proposed meeting for next week. I explained that I had written to him to ask him if he was still willing for it to go ahead on that basis or whether he wished to postpone it until that evidence was available. I said I wished it to go ahead as it would allow me to clarify his statement to me and I would then arrange another meeting for him when I could give him any evidence that was at variance with his.

He said that other people would have to decide in due course whether I had had sufficient evidence to begin my inquiry although he acknowledged that my view was that it was my decision. I said that it was entirely up to him whether he raised the matter with others. He said he felt he should be being provided with funds to give him legal advice. He asked if my office would pay for somebody to travel to accompany him to a meeting with him. I said we would do that. He proposes to invite either his brother—a solicitor whose practice is in York, or he suggested he might bring another MP. I suggested he think carefully about whether it was appropriate to bring another MP but that as far as I was concerned he could choose to bring whom ever he liked as a friend, although I would not expect the friend to represent him because I wished to hear directly from him on these matters.

He felt I was treating him very unfairly. The young researchers had given me evidence because the matter was hanging over their heads and I was refusing to bring the inquiry to a conclusion. I said I did not feel it was hanging over their heads because they were not being investigated, all that had been required of them was that they saw me and told me the truth. I said I had to inform them that the Committee could choose to see them themselves—because that was a fact and that it would have been wrong not to have informed them of that fact. He said he supposed he agreed with that but that I had no understanding of human nature if I thought that didn`t mean they felt the matter was hanging over their heads. This was particularly difficult at this time for Suzanne Hilliard who was a final year university student. I said I appreciated this and I would bring the inquiry to a close as soon as I could but I had not concluded my interviews since one of the interviewees had been ill and had had to postpone our meeting.

At several points during the discussion Mr Maxton purported to tell me what I thought of things and I had to inform him I did not think what he thought I did. I suggested to him at a number of occasions that there were matters on which we disagreed and that we must leave it like that for the time being. Mr Maxton made it clear to me that he thought the whole inquiry and my responses to him were quite unsatisfactory.

I told him that my letter to him concerning the issue of provision to him of evidence was in typing and would be sent to him the next day.

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