Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Written Evidence


21.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mr Mike Penning, 4 December 2003

Following alleged newspaper comments by Belinda McCammon in the New Zealand press I thought it important that I should set out (1) Belinda's role in Iain Duncan Smith's leadership campaign office of 2001 and (2) the short period that she was in the Leader's office following Iain's victory.

(1) Belinda's role in Iain Duncan Smith's leadership campaign office of 2001

Belinda joined the campaign team as a paid employee in a three person press team and was directly answerable to me as Head of Media in the campaign. Two weeks before the end of the leadership contest my deputy left to take up employment elsewhere. For the last two weeks of the campaign the media operation was run by Belinda and myself.

(2) The short period that she was in the Leader's office following Iain's victory

Following Iain's victory Belinda was employed in the Leader's office which was then based in Conservative Central Office.

I do not know what Belinda's job status was in the Leader's office but she was clearly not employed as a press office. All press officers were based on the second floor of CCO under the jurisdiction of Nick Wood, the Director of Media. To my knowledge Belinda would not have had access to—or involvement in—any constituency business or correspondence. She would not have been present at any meetings of a privileged nature. Her alleged critical comments of Iain Duncan Smith's employment of Mrs Duncan Smith could not have been based in any knowledge of Mr Duncan Smith's constituency affairs.

4 December 2003


 
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