Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
from Mr Nigel Griffiths MP
Thank you for forwarding a copy of the complaint
by Jacqui Lait MP. I have not received any correspondence from
As you know, I am leading an international trade
delegation and will be abroad for the next week. I am keen to
avoid any delay in your investigation of this complaint.
The Scotsman newspaper published a story remarking
that I had used my Constituency Office during the election without
the permission of the Fees Office. I accept this and have apologized
for not alerting the Fees Office in this instance, and for its
use in the past without alerting them.
Ms Lait has asked whether there has been past use
of the Office for political campaigning and whether I have made
any financial contribution. I am keen to confirm immediately that
in almost every year since I was elected, I have contributed several
thousands of pounds to the costs of running my office.
Mr Archie Cameron in the Fees Office confirmed the
facts and approved a statement I issued. I supplied you with a
copy. Mr Cameron confirmed that a substantial proportion of my
non-staff costs last year were met by me, and not by Parliament.
I am confident that my own contributions to the office costs in
previous years includes all occasions when my Office has been
used for political work.
Allegation 1: Use of Constituency Office without
informing the Fees Office. I accept this and have apologized.
Allegation 2: Failure to reimburse the Fees Office
for any 'political' use of the Constituency Office. I reject this
as untrue, and submit both the statement I agreed with Mr Cameron
on Wednesday and the summary of the OCA balance which Mr Cameron
supplied me with.
My contribution in the last year of £21,392
towards the costs of my Edinburgh office covers 1999, 2000 and
part of 2001. This supplemented the OCA.
The Fees Office has confirmed that there is no set
formula for splitting political costs from non-political costs
with reference to office costs. I am confident that my contribution
covers a fair proportion of all the costs associated with running
my office. I consider it impractical to disaggregate the costs,
and I believe that I have 'over contributed' to avoid any suggestion
of funding political activities out of public funds. I have also
contributed thousands of pounds in previous years.
If you wish further confirmation of the above, please
contact Bernadette Reilly on *** or Mr Archie Cameron.
I regret that at no stage has Ms Lait had the courtesy
to alert me to her complaint, since I would have been pleased
to have the Fees Office provide her with this information. I hope
that you are able to reach conclusion by a verifying this information
with the Fees Office today and confirm that you will not need
to investigate this further. If you require any further information,
please do not hesitate to contact me.
In view of the allegation in the Scotsman newspaper
that I have committed a "serious breach of parliamentary
rules". I would welcome a ruling from you that clears
me of this charge.
9 November 2001