Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Written Evidence


17.  E-mail to the Commissioner from Ms Belinda McCammon, 22 December 2003

Subject: Re: Complaint against Iain Duncan Smith

My comments are in relation to the second paragraph only.

During my time in the Leaders office I undertook a number of press duties, including accompanying the Leader to interviews (ie Breakfast with Frost), a media trip to Portsmouth and advance recce work for future visits, which involved reporting to Nick Wood.

I am confused as to why Mr Penning does not consider this to be press work or thinks that in order to be a press secretary for the Leader you had to be seated with the other press secretaries when my role, with whatever job title was to be in the Leaders Office However it is of no surprise to me, rather a source of disappointment, that Mr Penning's lack of knowledge of what specifically my role was in the Leaders office But his comments are indicative of the state of affairs in the office at the time I can honestly say that most of us didn't know what our specific roles were during our time in the Leaders office, such was the chaos after the election.

The small team that occupied the leaders office lacked management and leadership. As a result there was much discussion within the team as to what work needed to be completed and who would be doing it, including conversations with those working directly on the diary as to what was happening. Consequently conversations about the diary and the work load did take place, albeit motivated through frustration and exasperation as to what was happening in the office and the wider roles we were all to play.

I would have thought that as the salary range that Mrs Duncan Smith is alleged to have drawn is not a lot less than the majority of those working at CCO (an average of 20,000 pds) her work as a paid staff member would have been mentioned or acknowledged beyond the role of her support as wife of the Leader.

On three occasions the structure of the office was discussed with me officially. (There were of course other occasions that informal conversations took place). I can not recall at any time Mrs Duncan Smith being described as an employee of the Leaders Office. The first meeting was a group meeting (all campaign staff) with David Maclean only days before the announcement of the leaders result. The second was with Stephen O'Brien, the MP assigned to run the Leaders office until a Chief of Staff was appointed. This conversation about the office structure and roles did not include Mrs Duncan Smith's involvement, other than that of general spousal support to the Leader.

The third occasion was when the Chief of Staff was appointed. Again no mention of Mrs Duncan Smiths role despite talking through the entire structure of the office.

I would also mention that during the campaign I fielded many calls from the media requesting interviews, information and photo opportunities with both Mrs Duncan Smith and the children. It was made very clear to me that Mrs Duncan Smith would not be available for any media opportunities at any time nor would she be actively involved other than the bare minimum of duties that the position of the wife of the Leader was obliged to fulfil.

22 December 2003


 
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