Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Written Evidence


27.  Written statement by Mr Andrew Whitby-Collins, 13 October 2003

[See alsoPCS Oral Evidence 24, Volume III]

Background

1.  I started to work for Iain Duncan Smith in the middle of the campaign for his election as leader of the Conservative Party in the summer of 2001. When he was elected as the Leader of the Opposition I continued to work for him. My official title was Diary Secretary. I worked for him until October 2002 when I left to assume my current job as Head of the Candidates Department for Conservative Central Office.

2.  From 13 September 2001 to October 2002 I worked very closely with Elizabeth Duncan Smith and Annabelle Eyre, who was then Private Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition.

Elizabeth Duncan Smith's work

3.  When Iain Duncan Smith was appointed Leader of the Opposition it was essential to get his office running as quickly as possible. The events of 11 September 2001 had just occurred and as a result Parliament was recalled. There was therefore no period in which we could establish the new offices but it was necessary in the immediate period merely to rely upon the existing staff working for Iain to handle the additional duties that resulted from his appointment as Leader of the Opposition.

4.  Elizabeth Duncan Smith was essential to enable me to do my job as Diary Secretary for the Leader of the Opposition. Due to Iain Duncan Smith's commitments during the day it was difficult for me to have the opportunity to speak to him about these matters. Elizabeth discussed the arrangements with Iain Duncan Smith and would report back to me on his wishes both in respect of the plans I was making and the arrangements that he would like me to make in the future. Elizabeth would speak to Iain Duncan Smith about the diary arrangements in the evenings or over the weekends and would let us know the following day. She would download documents that I e-mailed to Iain ready for his consideration over the weekends and she would e-mail back his responses.

5.  Every Friday I used to send her e-mails with the diary for the following six months and the detailed diary for the week ahead. Elizabeth used to work through it with Iain Duncan Smith over the weekend and would speak to me about them on Monday. She would let me know what information Iain Duncan Smith required for his meetings and engagements. She kept a list of the points outstanding and would contact me to make sure that certain appointments had been made or to report any changes that Iain Duncan Smith wanted to make. We did not work normal office hours. I remember that on one occasion Elizabeth Duncan Smith telephoned me after 12.10 am over the weekend with responses to my queries assuming that she would leave a message for me on my answer-phone. She had just finished working through the points with Iain and was responding so that I could follow them up on Monday morning.

6.  Following my departure my role was assumed and extended by Annabelle Eyre who assumed my responsibilities for planning and tours and Paula Malone who took over the management of all other aspects of Iain Duncan Smith's diary.

7.  I have not been approached by any journalists asking me about the work that Elizabeth Duncan Smith did with me during this period.

8.  I was not aware of any complaints having been made about Elizabeth Duncan Smith's work during her employment until I read the recent press coverage about it. I consider her to have been an essential part of the team working for Iain Duncan Smith and it would have been hard for me to have done my work without her assistance.

13 October 2003


 
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