File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
I had an arranged telephone conversation with Ms Judith Mayhew on 25 June following my letter to her of 5 June. In response to the questions in that letter Ms Mayhew said:
(1) the purpose of the meeting on 24 October 2000 had been to enable her to talk through with Mr McDonnell his concerns about the City's Bill. The Labour Party in the City was supportive of the Bill, which made Mr McDonnell's concerns about it the more curious.
The meeting had discussed the amendments to the Bill proposed by the City, although at this stage she could not recall the detail. Her recollection of the meeting was hazy: she had not kept a note of it.
(2)-4) Ms Mayhew did not recall Lord Brooke raising the question of Mr McDonnell's membership of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. If the matter had come up, she believed it would have done so arising from a remark by Mr McDonnell, which she did recall, that it was not unusual for him to be out of step with other parts of the Labour Party. He was always being done down by them and an example of this was that he could not get onto Committees.
Ms Mayhew said that Mr McDonnell's general tenor was of his continued opposition to the Bill. She recalled that he had been very grumpy: she thought he had come to the meeting from baby-sitting his son.
The City was careful to avoid any suggestion that it was offering Members inducements and was, with this in mind, scaling back hospitality it offered them.
In a further telephone conversation with Ms Mayhew on 26 June (following my meeting with Mr Double) Ms Mayhew repeated her view that if the question of the Select Committee had came up, it would have been in the context of Mr McDonnell complaining that his party treated him as an outcast. The meeting had gone through the amendments to the Bill: the tone had been civil throughout. She did not recall Mr McDonnell leaving it in a huff and would have recalled it had he done so.
She was a constitutional lawyer by training (indeed had lectured on the subject) and would have been shocked and remembered if any inducement had been offered, not least because a strict Code of Conduct was in operation in local government. She had also had experience of Mr McDonnell being difficult in the past, and so would have considered any attempt at an inducement not only improper but unwise.
5 July 2002 PM