Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex F

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


18 JULY 2001


Having written the letter of 18 July 2001 to Mr Maxton the office followed our usual practice as he had requested previously of telephoning him to alert him to its imminent arrival.

5:30pm, 18th July, Mr Maxton telephoned me in response to the message. I informed him that, at the Committee's meeting today, I had been requested to follow up my preliminary enquiries on this new complaint and I had therefore written to him to ask him to reply to my letter of April 19th 2001.

Mr Maxton was cross. He said "What power do you now have over me, I am now retired." I replied that I had never had any power over him, I was only trying to carry out my tasks. He said this was untrue, that I "had persecuted me (him) for 18 months" and I could not now persecute him as he was not now a Member of Parliament. That he would not reply to my letters because there was no reason for him to do so now he was not a Member of Parliament.

I explained that this was his choice but that I felt he ought to have the opportunity to answer my letter of April 19th in the hope that he could settle the matter and that therefore I would not need to take it any further.

He said this was quite untrue, that whatever explanation he gave me, I did not believe him and reported this to the Committee.

He said "are you recording this conversation as you always do?". I said "I have never recorded a conversation with you."

Mr Maxton asked me who was the new Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee. I said Sir George Young and he said "I will speak to Sir George Young". I said he was at liberty to do so but I had felt I should alert him to the letter that was in the post to him. He said he was going on holiday and would not receive any letter from me for fortnight and that he would not be replying to it.

Mr Maxton said "what can the Committee do to me now" and I said as far as I knew neither I nor the Committee were trying to do anything to Mr Maxton, what they were trying to get at was accurate answers on the matters which had been raised which related to him. Mr Maxton said this was untrue, that I had been trying to "get at" him for 18 months. I said I was sorry that he felt like this as it was certainly not the case but that I did have to bring this matter to his attention and to the Committee's attention.

Mr Maxton said it was not the Committee's decision to pursue this matter. He said the Committee had only taken this matter forward because I had reported it to them. I said that it was my duty to report on matters which were outstanding from their last meeting. I assured him that it was a Committee decision to take the matter forward now. He said he did not believe me. Mr Maxton said there was no point in talking to me further and he would talk to Sir George Young.

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