34. Written statement by Councillor
John Gover, 13 October 2003|
I joined the then Conservative & Unionist Party
in about 1962 in 1964. I entered the Party's professional service
as a trainee. In 1966, having in the meantime achieved lesser
qualifications I was awarded, by examination, the Certificate
to Practice as a political agent in the service of the Conservative
& Unionist Party. I followed that profession in four separate
constituencies until 1970, when of my own volition I left the
Party's employ to pursue a career in industry.
Statement of Substance
Knowing I had the requisite skills and in the absence
of an alternative qualified resource, Chingford Conservative Association
asked me to act as election agent to Mr Iain Duncan Smith at the
General Elections of 1997 and 2001. I willingly did so and for
only nominal remuneration.
In that role I obviously became personally acquainted
with Mr Duncan Smith and his wife Elizabeth, usually known as
Betsy. It is my clear recollection that during the approach to
the 2001 general election campaign and during it, Betsy had a
significant administrative role in Mr Duncan Smith's day-to-day
Later in 2001, Mr Duncan Smith was elected Leader
of the Conservative Party. After that, during 2002, I spoke
with Betsy on several occasions about constituency matters particularly
concerning Mr Duncan Smith's constituency presence and related
overnight accommodation. Those discussions could not have happened
unless she, Betsy, had a role in her husband's political life,
and was aware of his movements as Party Leader. I suppose
Betsy spoke to me in addition to others because of the acquaintance
formed during the general elections.
During the general elections I was aware that Betsy
worked from an office at home. She would have had to because parliamentary
offices are not available to MPs whilst Parliament is dissolved.
I believe that in any event it was her practice to divide her
working time between the parliamentary office and home-based facilities.
I had landline telephone numbers for both locations.
It may however be relevant to state that most of
the conversations in 2002 took place by mobile telephone. Whilst
it has not been used during 2003, what I believe to be Betsy's
mobile telephone number is still, at this moment, stored in my
device, as it was at the relevant time(s). I do not know whether
the number has changed.
Being aware of the reason why I have been asked to
make this statement, I would say that I do not have and never
have had any knowledge of how Mr Duncan Smith deploys or has deployed
the annual financial allowance available to him as an MP for secretarial/administrative
assistance, so far as Betsy or anyone else is concerned.
13 October 2003