10. Written statement by Miss Annabelle
Eyre, 12 November 2003|
[See also Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 8]
1. I make this statement in response to various
letters I have received from Sir Philip Mawer regarding aspects
of my employment with Iain Duncan Smith MP, and in particular
having read the memorandum from Christine Watson to Vanessa Gearson
of 24th October 2002.
2. I attach Addendum A, a note I have prepared
setting out as completely as possible my role as private secretary
to Iain Duncan Smith during 1997 to 2002. In August 2002, I was
appointed as Head of Planning and Tours to the Leader of the Opposition.
I attach at Addendum B, a copy of my contract of employment.
3. I have been provided with a copy of Christine
Watson's memorandum by Sir Phillip Mawer under cover of his letter
of 20 October 2003. I had not previously been aware of the existence
of the memorandum before extracts of it had been published in
The Times last month. Prior to commenting in detail upon the specific
paragraphs within the memorandum to which Sir Philip Mawer has
drawn my attention, I wish to make some general comments on the
contents of the memorandum as a whole, in particular in response
to the criticisms raised in it regarding my filing, the post,
the keeping of Iain's diary and the Golden Jubilee present
a) In order to start work in October 2001 as
Constituency Secretary, Christine had to take over the files.
There was a perfectly ordinary filing system in force (see para
6 of addendum A) Until June 2001, the time of the start of the
Leadership election, documents were filed regularly using the
system that I had established. During the leadership campaign,
Iain was understandably distracted from the daytoday
constituency work so the burden as constituency secretary increasedIain
had no time to respond to constituency correspondence or telephone
calls. Consequently, there were not enough hours in the day to
keep on top of all the constituency filing.
b) Iain took over as Leader on 13th September
2001. Immediately following Iain's appointment, the constituency
office was packed up in its entirety by some of the House of Commons'
staff and put in crates. To give an idea as to the sheer volume
of documentation that was packed up, the crates alone took up
the space of one and a half offices. This task took one intern
and staff from the House of Commons a fortnight. These were not
unpacked until we had taken over the offices in the Shadow Cabinet
c) On the evening of 13th September, Iain's office
was set up at 34 Smith Square. The immediacy for this was his
need to respond to a statement in the House of Commons on 14th
d) I was also appointed as his private secretary
to Iain on 13th September and I was responsible for setting up
the new office at Central Office. As a result of my new role as
private secretary, from the day of Iain's appointment my day was
taken up with work for the Leader of the Opposition rather than
dealing with day-to-day constituency matters. An intern was brought
in during that period to help respond to constituency calls and
opened the letters to monitor important cases.
e) The crates were delivered to the top floor
of the Shadow Cabinet wing at the end of September. They were
temporarily stored there until we had decided which offices we
were to occupy. The crates were not unpacked until Christine's
appointment and her move into the House of Commons' offices in
Octoberno-one simply had the time to do itthe annual
party conference took place at the beginning of October and consequently
Iain was very preoccupied focusing on that which meant that we
were left to deal with much of the parliamentary business without
f) About the time of the end of the annual conference
at the beginning of October 2001, Christine took over the constituency
office. During this time, and while we waited for her office to
be vacated, Christine shared an office with Andrew and me at 34
Smith Square. To help Christine deal with all the constituency
correspondence and casework, I continued to oversee the constituency
and would liaise with her regularly. I also helped with Betsy
Duncan Smith to organise visits in the constituency and continued
to liaise with the local press until an agent was appointed in
g) Once the offices in the House of Commons were
ready for our occupation, Christine among others moved in. As
all of the crates contained documentation relating to constituency
matters, Christine had the role of supervising the unpacking of
the crates. Christine would call me regularlyby which I
mean twice a day on averageto ask me about constituency
casework particularly with regard to benefit queries and which
Council offices should be contacted for particular matters. Although
Christine and I discussed the volume of documents that needed
to be unpacked and archived, she did not complain about thisit
being a reality of moving offices. If I had been working in the
same offices all day with her, I would have had the opportunity
to assist her. In hindsight, with the background to the packing
up of the documents, I had great sympathy for her in her task
of having to set up a new filing system in the new office with
all the documents in the crates.
h) Once Christine had unpacked all the documents,
she handed to me the documents relating to the financial allowances.
I deal with this documentation in more detail below.
5. Post: As with the system under the
previous Leader, the post was collected by the Leader of the Opposition's
Correspondence Unit. I then oversaw the division of the post into
political, constituency, private and invitations. The constituency-post
was brought over to Christine at the House by one of the members
of the office. I never had any reason to think that this caused
Christine any difficulty.
6. Diary: From the beginning, Christine
was given twice-weekly slots in Iain's diary. There was no question
of rationing her or keeping her at a distance, it was simply the
existing system. Sometimes this had to be rescheduled,
perhaps because Iain needed that time for a meeting with some
particular individual. At her request, Iain decided to change
the system so that she was to have a slot when she needed one.
There was no reproach implied in the change, it was simply a decision
to make a change in the light of circumstances.
7. Jubilee-Present: I was delegated the
task of arranging the purchase of a present for HM Queen to congratulate
her on her Golden Jubilee. Consequently, the Shadow Cabinet wrote
cheques to me personally, or in some cases gave me cash. I was
concerned that the cheques would not be banked (or the cash paid
into my account) until the present, which was to be specially
designed, was actually ready for collection. The gift was a gold
pill box designed by Simon Benney of Walton Street. As the present
required intricate detail it was not ready until December 2002.
As a result I did not cash the cheques until December 2002. I
started collecting money from Members of the Shadow Cabinet in
July 2002. As I received a substantial number of cheques, as well
as payments in cash, I asked Christine to store both the cash
and the cheques in the safe until such time as the present was
8. I turn now to the specific matters raised
in the memorandum by Sir Philip Mawer regarding the Parliamentary
Allowances. I break these into the following sub-headings: (a)
my salary, (b) Betsy's salary, (c) use of parliamentary allowances.
9. The payment of my salary:
a) I attach a copy of my employment contract
which was filed with the Fees Office and Addendum A which explains
the details of my role as private secretary to Iain Duncan Smith.
b) Providing secretarial support for Iain Duncan
Smith's parliamentary role has always been a job for more than
one individual. This remained the case after the post of Constituency
Secretary was created. There never came a moment when it was possible
to classify the work of one secretary as purely constituency,
and the work of another as purely other, both because of the nature
of Iain's role, and because of the way in which, for practical
reasons, the secretaries and the support staff had to work.
c) It is important to re-emphasise the different
roles that Iain assumed as Leader of the OppositionParliamentary,
which included his role as Member of Parliament for Chingford
and Woodford Green; Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the
Party. The work that I carried out as Iain's private secretary
incorporated the first two roles, and only the third as a very
minor part of my duties. (para 13 of Addendum A)
d) Until August 2002 I was paid out of Iain's
staffing allowance. In the summer of 2002 I had a couple of conversations
with the Former Chief Executive, Mark MacGregor, regarding the
payment of my salary. At the time I was concerned that I was paid
out of Iain's parliamentary allowance and thought I should be
paid from Short Money. The Short Money is paid to the Conservative
Party and administered by them. Mark MacGregor never indicated
to me that there was a problem and I believe he never raised the
matter with Iain.
e) In August 2002 when I was appointed as Head
of Tours and Planning to the Leader of the Opposition, I began
to be paid out of the Short Money.
f) I am aware of the rules in the "Green
Book" which state that the Parliamentary Allowances (Office
Costs, Staffing Allowances and JEP) are for the use of Members
of Parliament to carry out their Parliamentary duties and therefore
it was quite correct that I was paid out of the Parliamentary
Allowance as I was employed to and carried out Parliamentary duties.
10. Betsy's salary:
I refer to my previous statement regarding my knowledge
of Betsy's work.
a) Betsy's salary continued to be paid from the
Staffing Allowance of the new Office Costs Allowance. This was
the correct source for her to be paid from because her work had
comprised of and continued to comprise of Parliamentary and Constituency
work. I had no reason to have any concerns about this and at no
point was it raised with me by anyone either in the private office
or externally. The first time that I was aware that concerns had
been raised was when Newsnight contacted the Leader's Office.
11. Use of Parliamentary Allowances:
a) During the period in my role as constituency
secretary between 1997-2001 I would deal with claims to the Office
Costs' Allowance. These would be in respect of payments for stationeryprinter
cartridges, paper, computer equipment, constituency newspapersas
well as mobile phone bills. They would generally be submitted
on a monthly basis and copies of the submissions would be filed
chronologically. I cannot recall dealing with any other types
b) During that period, Iain would maintain his
own system for submitting claims for motor-mileage and the Additional
Costs Allowance. I had no part in the submission of these claims
other than occasionally putting them in an envelope.
c) In 2001, when Iain was appointed as Leader,
I took responsibility for overseeing the claims to the Allowances.
In July 2001, Iain transferred to the Office Costs Allowance to
the new system of Staffing Allowance and IEP. I took control of
the allowances' paperwork when the crates were unpacked in October
2001this meant separate files for the Office Costs Allowance
and the Additional Costs Allowance. The Office Costs Allowance
file comprised of copies of the monthly submission with copies
of the relevant paperwork attached. The monthly submissions dated
back to 1997 and were in respect of claims for stationery, constituency
newspapers and mobile phone bills as above these comprised between
two and four inches of paperwork. The Additional Costs Allowance
files comprised of monthly submissions dating back to at least
d) Once Iain became Leader, no motor-mileage
claims were filed as he had his own Government car. The only use
of his Parliamentary Allowance of which I am aware during his
appointment in 2001 and my change of role in 2002 was for Additional
Costs Allowance. This was in respect of costs incurred for accommodation
and was in line with the guidelines as set out by the Fees Office.
I prepared the claim at the beginning of every month which was
signed off by Iain and sent off to the Fees Office for reimbursement.
e) In respect of the IEP, during this period
the sporadic claims were minimal because much of the office's
equipment was provided by Conservative Central Office and because
the salaries were paid out of the Staffing Allowance automatically.
These salaries were in respect of me, Betsy Duncan Smith and Christine
Watson. The salary allowance was £70,000 a year gross of
tax and employer national insurance.
f) Once Iain became Leader of the Opposition,
almost all the office stationery for the office in Swanbourne
came from Conservative Central Office. We often sent down equipment/files
in the car when Iain returned home at weekends.
g) In May 2002, arrangements were made for Iain
to pay 20% of the costs of the staff and office expenses from
his constituency office from the IEP as approved by the Fees Office.
This was an annual total of £8,000, paid quarterly. The only
other office costs allowance claims were various stationery items
and constituency newspapers.
h) I handed over all the financial paperwork
to Christine Watson in August 2002 when I moved to take up the
position of Head of Tours and Planning.
12. I refer specifically to the two bullet points
highlighted by Sir Philip Mawer in his letter of 20th October.
I have dealt with the majority of what Christine Watson says in
these two bullet points above. However there are two specific
sentences upon which I wish to comment on. Christine says "I
have spoken to VG regarding this sensitive matter", I have
no idea to what she is referring. I have no concerns about the
sensitivity over the use of any of the allowances. I have still
seen no indication to what she is referring to and would be more
willing to address any concerns that Christine had at the time.
13. With regard to her assertion that there must
be more papers, I gave Christine all the relevant paperwork in
August 2002. As a rule, I would generally shred out of date documentation,
this may include allowance claims, as I knew a record was kept
by the Fees Office. I believe that I gave her the allowances'
paperwork for the period of my employment as the constituency
secretary dating back to 1997.
12 November 2003
Miss Annabelle Eyre's role as Mr Iain Duncan Smith's
1. I started working for Iain Duncan Smith at
7 Millbank (and subsequently at Norman Shaw North) shortly after
the General Election in May 1997, having previously worked as
political researcher and then as a secretary for 2 other Members
2. My job-description was Private Secretary,
but it was a matter only of terminology: in all essential respects
I was acting as a constituency-secretary. My role was to:
with constituency correspondence and casework
to telephone-calls from constituents, party workers, journalists
press-releases and columns for local papers
3. However, his office was extremely busy, and
also needed a diary and support secretary. This role had been
taken since 1992 by Betsy Duncan Smith, and consisted at that
visits in the constituency and (once he was appointed to the Shadow
Cabinet) around the country
4. There was also a researcher whose role was
to assist on social security matters, subsequently with defence,
and occasionally with detailed constituency casework.
5. On a typical day, I did the following:
all the post, which was then split into private, brief-related
(social security or defence), constituency and invitations
with telephone-messages and make calls
up any issues that Iain had raised.
with BDS with regard to meetings, invitations, arrangements for
visits and tours etc.
6. I was responsible for the main filing-system.
There was nothing original about it, it was completely conventional:
post was copied and filed alphabetically.
mattersdefence, Europe, &c., were filed under subject-headings.
for the Office Costs Allowance was kept and filed (Iain maintained
the papers for his motor-mileage and ACA claims).
paperwork was filed separately.
7. Iain was appointed to the Shadow Cabinet in
June 1997 and from then on my role also included:
with the Leader's office with regard to Shadow Cabinet matters
meetings and briefings for his team
with correspondence related to his brief and assisting in organising
visits relating to his brief
8. After the General Election in 2001, Iain stood
for the leadership of the party. I continued as his Private Secretary
during that period, but with my main role, just as before, continuing
in reality to be helping with the constituency-work. BDS remained
in post and continued to provide secretarial and diary support
during that period.
9. In September 2001, after Iain Duncan Smith
was elected as Leader of the Conservative Party, I continued as
his Private Secretary. His private office was to be situated at
34 Smith Square (his constituency office was to be based in the
Shadow Cabinet wing of the House), but we moved over to House
at lunch-time on a daily basis when Parliament was sitting. (This
was a practice that was inherited from William Hague's time as
Leader.) It was very unsettling to have to move office twice a
dayonce at lunchtime and back again in the evening to prepare
for the following morning. In addition, it meant that Christine
was alone in the House of Commons' office for much of the day.
This set-up was continued until Iain decided that it would be
better to remain in one office.
10. The day after Iain's election as Leader,
he had to respond to a statement in the House by the Prime Minister,
so it was necessary to establish our office immediately. This
was done "from scratch"there was no staff left
behind from the previous regime or handover notes. I think it's
important to recognise that Iain's office had to be transformed
from the office of a front bench parliamentarian to that of the
alternative Prime Minister and that it took sometime for the arrangements
to settle down. Many of those who worked on Iain's leadership
campaign were brought in to work in the office, mostly on temporary
contracts so that we could see how the office could be organised.
Betsy remained to provide diary and secretarial support for the
newly appointed diary secretary, Andrew Whitby-Collins, and for
me. She continued to progress-chase as she had done previously.
11. My role as Private Secretary changed little
from what I had done previously except of course as Private Secretary
to Leader of the Opposition I was dealing with new issues and
12. The office was incredibly busy, particularly
after Iain's election as Leader. His days were full of meetings
with colleagues and others who wanted to advise him, as well as
policy and strategy meetings to decide the future direction of
13. As my contract with Iain stated, I was employed
to work 44.5 hours a week (09:30-18:00).While Iain was in the
Shadow Cabinet, I estimate that I would have worked those hours,
possibly coming in earlier or on occasion leaving after 18:00.
However once he became Leader of the Opposition, my hours changed
dramatically. Most mornings I would be in the office before 08:00
and it was quite normal to still be at work at 20:00 and often
much later. I certainly worked 60 hours a week and often worked
at weekends. I was always "on call". I would estimate
that over 90% of the work that I carried out in my position as
Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition was of a parliamentary
nature in support of Iain as a parliamentarian.
14. By October 2001, it was apparent that it
would be necessary to have an additional secretary: there were
now to be many more meetings, Prime Minister's questions, speeches
to prepare, &c. The decision was taken to appoint a separate
Constituency Secretary. I was instrumental in choosing Christine
Watson. She appeared to have the following qualifications:
had worked in the House of Commons previously and had a knowledge
and experience of how to run a Member's office.
references were excellent.
15. Her role was to deal with:
16. This of course changed my role, precisely
as was intended. My role with respect to constituency-work was:
oversee the constituency-office, with Betsy giving help and advice
to Christine as required.
· To assist
in arranging visits to the constituency.
17. Betsy's role also changed, though perhaps
not so much because of the re-organisation as because of the change
in Iain's role:
Leader's diary was co-ordinated by Andrew Whitby-Collins in the
private office, with Betsy working with him with regard to Iain's
appointments and invitations.
continued to 'progress-chase'ensuring that we contacted
people for meetings, to arrange lunches or dinners, to pass on
messages to other members of staff.
· I continued
to liaise on a daily basis with her. She assisted as a support
for Andrew and me. She was used by Iain as a means of passing
information to us and by us to raise matters with him. Much of
the work she did was with Iain each evening, and at weekends the
office would send down documents, papers and correspondence for
him to review, sign or comment on. At the beginning of the following
week, she would contact Andrew, me or often both to direct us
as to what Iain's response was.
18. In July 2002, a start had already been made
on moving Iain's office from 34 Smith Square to be based permanently
in the Leader's Office in the House of Commons. That meant moving
the files. In order to do that, I placed the files into carrier-bags,
and brought them across in my car. This was simply a practical
method of transporting the files, it was not some kind of symptom
19. It was never disputed that improvements to
the filing-system were long overdue, and at Iain's suggestion
Christine and I worked together to establish a parliamentary political
20. The system established was:
political members (MPs, Peers, MSPs, Ams, MEPs) had separate files
in relation to Parliamentary matters.
papers were separated according to subject/country
filing for private/domestic correspondence
21. Christine went on holiday in August 2002,
and while she was away I separated the paperwork into the relevant
sections and continued doing what was needed.
Replacement by Christine
22. Christine replaced me as Private Secretary
in August 2002, and I was appointed Head of Tours and Planning
to co-ordinate Iain's visits and events around the country and
23. I left to go on holiday the day after Christine
had returned from her summer holiday. The intention was for her
to settle in to her new role during the late summer which was
generally a quiet period and that I would advise or discuss any
problems with her on my return. I was always available on my telephone
during my holiday and I recall speaking to the office on a number
of occasions. Andrew Whitby-Collins remained in the office once
I left, and he helped assist Christine during the first couple
of months in her new role.
24. Just after I left for my holiday towards
the end of August * * *, returning shortly before the party conference
at the beginning of October. My father remained bed-ridden until
his death in early January 2003. During that time I had to spend
a considerable amount of time supporting my mother as a result
some of the work that I otherwise would have been doing at that
time fell on Christine, and of course I was not there to help
her in any way. AWC, Betsy and I had worked closely together before
this, so he continued to help Christine as he had helped me.
25. After the party conference, Iain embarked
on a 3-week national tour. He was out of the office every day
except Wednesdays when he was required to be in Westminster to
attend Prime Minister's Question Time. It was clearly a difficult
time for those trying to co-ordinate matters in the private office,
particularly as Iain and the tour-team were very much out and
about and did not often have access to office facilities. Betsy
assumed much of the role of supporting Iain with his work Parliamentary
work as most of it had to be dealt with at the weekends. The task
of writing the necessary letters fell on Christine, exactly as
it had done on me when I was Private Secretary before her.
26. Meanwhile, though, I was less involved in
the day-to-day running of the constituency work, I continued to
liaise with BDS in her role of giving secretarial and diary support
for the office, and I oversaw the constituency office. I continued
to liaise with Iain's office based in Chingford.
13 November 2003
61 Not appended by the Commissioner. Back
Not appended by the Commissioner. Back