Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Written Evidence

4.  Letter to Mr Iain Duncan Smith from the Commissioner, 20 October 2003

Complaint by Michael Crick

Further to my letters of the 13th and 14th October, I am writing to let you have, as promised, as clear an indication as I can at this stage in my inquiry of the matters which have been raised with me by Mr Crick as part of his complaint. I am also enclosing a copy of the material on which Mr Crick relies in support of his complaint. I discuss below each of these matters in turn.

As regards the matters which have been raised with me by Mr Crick, the core of his complaint relates to the continued employment and payment of your wife from Parliamentary sources after your election as Leader in September 2001 until 31 December 2002. There are several related strands to this complaint which it may be helpful if I identify as follows:—

1.  that during the period in question, Mrs Duncan Smith was employed under a contract with a job title of Diary Secretary, but did not obviously perform any duties in this role, or in any other staffing capacity;

2.  that to the extent that she may have undertaken any tasks, they were minimal in character and such as might have been expected (for example, in terms of reconciling the domestic diary with your official commitments) to be undertaken (unpaid) by the spouse of any other prominent Member;

3.  that any work undertaken did not amount to 25 hours a week and so did not justify the salary she was paid;

4.  that it appears that at least some of any work which may have been undertaken (as described in your published response to Mr Crick's initial allegations) was party political in nature (related to your position as Leader) and so did not qualify for payment from your parliamentary allowance.

There is a further strand to Mr Crick's complaint which relates to Annabelle Eyre (AE) and Christine Watson (CW). The basis of this is statements in Christine Watson's memorandum to Vanessa Gearson of 24 October 2002. Its essence is that both AE and CW were paid for periods out of your Parliamentary allowance when they should not have been because they were undertaking party political rather than parliamentary duties. The memorandum also appears to suggest that there were financial matters relating to your "Constituency and Members' Allowances and Re-imbursements" which may not have been in order.

As you know, I did not receive all the material Mr Crick wished to offer me in support of his complaint on Monday of last week. However, when I saw him last Thursday afternoon, I was able to check both the nature of his complaint and whether I had by then received all the supporting material he wished to send me. The summary of his complaint which I have set out above is my own, but I believe it accurately describes the issues he has raised. As regards documentation, Mr Crick confirmed that what he had sent me was all that he was able to submit, at the time we met, in support of his complaint.

I am enclosing with this letter a set of the documentation in support of his complaint which I have had from Mr Crick. A list of this is enclosed.[9] Some of the material I have already sent you with my initial letter of the 13th October.

As you know, I am currently engaged in interviewing a number of people whom I have reason to believe may be able to shed useful light on the allegations against you. As soon as I have been able to assess what they tell me, I shall be in touch with you again to put to you any relevant matters.

If in the meantime you wish to comment on any of the matters Mr Crick has raised, please feel free to do so. You may, however, prefer to await my further letter.

There is one other matter on which you may think some preliminary work helpful. At the heart of the complaint is the allegation that your wife did no or very little work during the period in question.

You have already denied this and pointed me to others who would support that denial. You have also given me some examples of e-mails and other work by your wife. Hard evidence of such work (in the form of entries in diaries, letters/e-mails written and received; telephone calls or messages logged) is clearly very relevant to the matters into which I am inquiring, and any further evidence of this sort you can give me would be most helpful. I will pick this up when I write again but it is something to which you may wish to be giving further attention meanwhile.

As requested, I am copying this letter and enclosures to Mr Hooper.

20 October 2003

9   Not appended by the Commissioner. Back

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