2. Letter to Mr Iain Duncan Smith
from the Commissioner, 13 October 2003|
Re: Complaint by Mr Michael Crick
I write to confirm the nature of the complaint against
you which I have received from Mr Michael Crick.
The complaint arises from the results of an investigation
for the BBC Newsnight programme, begun last May. To quote Mr Crick,
the complaint "
concerns the fact that for the period
from September 2001 to December 31 2002, Mr Duncan Smith paid
his wife Betsy from his Parliamentary Staffing Allowance. We have
uncovered considerable evidence that she did not, in fact, work
for him during this period, which I understand is contrary to
the House of Commons rules."
The evidence in support of the complaint forwarded
by Mr Crick consists of:
1. 3 notes of interviews with what Mr Crick describes
as "top-rank anonymous Conservative sources."
I have not enclosed these for the present, as I have pointed out
to Mr Crick that the anonymity of these sources makes it very
difficult for me to weigh/test their evidence.
I will let you know as soon as I can what transpires
in relation to these sources. Suffice it to say for now that the
burden of their evidence is that Mrs Duncan Smith was being paid
to December 2002 ostensibly as your diary secretary but was not
in fact working as such or undertaking any other active role in
2. A note of an on-the record interview with
your agent (Rikki Radford) in which, in response to a question
"as far as you're aware, she [Mrs Duncan Smith] doesn't
have any professional role for him [Mr Duncan Smith] since he
became leader", Mr Radford replies "As far as
I'm awareand I can be absolute it's not 'as far as I'm
aware', I know for sure she doesn't". A copy of this
note is enclosed and I have a tape-recording of the original interview.
3. A copy of an e-mail dated 30 January 2003
from Vanessa Gearson to Mark MacGregor and others, a copy of which
I also enclose (though I assume this is already available to you).
4. Transcripts of interviews (enclosed) with
6 Conservative Chingford Councillors, who say they have seen no
sign of your wife working with you since you became party leader.
5. A note of a telephone conversation with Councillor
John Gover (enclosed) in which it is claimed that he too makes
6. Notes (enclosed) of contacts with 19 organisations
in Chingford contacted by the BBC with whom you had dealings during
2002 (18 of which you visited), only one of which can recall having
had any contact with your wife. Many remembered, however, dealings
with other members of your staff whom they could name.
I am sending this material to you immediately so
that you can be aware of the nature of the allegations made against
you, and can let me have any comments you may wish to offer on
the material. In his letter to me covering the material, Mr Crick
says that he hopes to send me further material within the next
few days. I will, of course, let you know of any such material
the moment I receive it, or indeed of any other relevant material
I may unearth in the course of my inquiries.
In considering the complaint, I shall have in mind
in particular the provision of the Code of Conduct for Members
"No improper use shall be made of any payment
or allowance made to Members for public purposes and the administrative
rules which apply to such payments and allowances must be strictly
The Green Book on Members' Allowances, etc requires
that allowable expenditure is that which is;
"wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred
on parliamentary duties".
At the heart of the complaint are clearly the questions
what duties Mrs Duncan Smith was being paid to undertake; whether
the expenditure in question was "allowable"; and was
she actually undertaking parliamentary work sufficient to justify
the payments made to her from the public purse?
I look forward to having the opportunity to discuss
these matters with you when we meet later today.
13 October 2003
1 See PCS Written Submission 42. Back
See PCS Written Submission 46. Back
See PCS Written Submission 30. Back
See PCS Written Submission 31. Back
See PCS Written Submission 44. Back