Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Written Evidence

14.  Letter to the Commissioner from Dr Vanessa Gearson, 5 November 2003

Thank you for your letter of 27 October 2003 which, as a result of the postal strike, I only received today. I do apologise for any inconvenience the delay in my response may have caused.

With regard to the two questions you raise regarding my email of 30 January 2002, I can confirm that:

1.  I did not discuss whether or not to send the email with Mr MacGregor or anyone else. Indeed, I did not discuss the email in any context with anyone at all in advance of it being sent.

Explanatory note:

As I explained on p.11 of my written submission to you dated l6 October 2003,[76] I wrote the email in preparation for a planned meeting between the Chairman, Mrs May, the Chief Executive, Mr MacGregor, and Mr Duncan Smith's Parliamentary Private Secretary, Mr Paterson. This meeting is detailed on the first line of Appendix 1—the email of 30 January 2003.[77] The email was intended to advise them of issues which needed to be discussed and resolved.

2.  The idea to send the email was mine alone. The circulation was also my sole decision.

Explanatory note:

My objective in sending the email was to protect Mr Duncan Smith by ensuring that action was taken to resolve these outstanding issues as quickly as possible. I had previously and repeatedly raised the question of Mr Duncan Smith's financial arrangements in weekly communications meetings and, as such, all of the addressees of the email were aware of and involved in these issues. However, the matters had still not been resolved.

The email circulation list included the most senior members of Conservative Central Office at that time—the Chairman and Chief Executive (whose responsibilities required their direct involvement in the resolution of these matters) and the newly appointed Director of Communications, Mr Baverstock. As I noted on p.11 of my submission. I also blind-copied the email to my deputy, Miss Layton, as a matter of regular office procedure, in the event she might need to substitute for me in my absence.

As I said during our meeting (Transcript. pp. 37&38),[78] I did not know at that time that Mr Duncan Smith was planning to remove Mr MacGregor, or anyone else, from Conservative Central Office and therefore all correspondence was sent in absolute good faith.

I do hope my answers help to clarify these matters related to the email but, as ever, please do not hesitate to let me know if I can be of any further assistance.

5 November 2003

76   See PCS Written Submission 13. Back

77   See PCS Written Submission 46. Back

78   See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 9  Back

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