37. Letter to the Commissioner from
Councillor John Gover, 20 October 2003|
Complaint against Mr Iain Duncan Smith MP (IDS)
Thank you for your letter of 20th October 2003 which
enclosed a transcript of an alleged telephone conversation between
one N Daigleish and me.
I have carefully read both your letter and the transcript
and firstly refer to that.
Daigleish contacted me on my mobile telephone whilst
I was in my car in Station Road Chingford during the middle part
of the day in question and said he was a BBC researcher. He went
on to say he understood I was IDS's constituency agent and that
he was doing research on how nationally known politicians juggle
their constituency responsibilities with their high profile ones
as party leaders etc, or words to that effect.
I told him I was not IDS's constituency agent and
he seemed surprised. To assist him, I explained that as one who
many years ago qualified to do so, I had acted as election agent
for IDS in 1997 and 2001 because he did not at those times have
a constituency agent. I made it clear that on both occasions my
role ceased immediately after the post campaign administrative
matters had been completed.
The forgoing is my recollection of the part of the
telephone conversation described as missing from the transcript.
It is my supposition that it is missing because subsequent developments
clearly show that Dalgleish gave a false reason for contacting
me. I take the strongest possible exception to that and am considering
With regard to the remainder of the transcript, the
generality of which is familiar to me, I would comment that it
is disjointed and does not make sense in certain paragraphs. The
third, eighth and ninth items on page two are good examples, as
are the fifth and seventh ones on page three.
In the fourth line on the last page, Dalgleish says
he was trying to find out whether Mrs Duncan Smith worked in the
constituency or not. That is obviously untrue. So far as I know
the allegations concern her role in IDS's parliamentary office
and contain nothing about her activities in the constituency.
Whilst I repeat that the generality of the transcript
is familiar to me I do not believe it has any evidential worth.
My recollection is insufficiently clear for me to be sure there
are no material omissions other than the one identified above.
The conversation took place at zero notice and Dalgleish told
me he was undertaking routine research.
In answer to whether I can further assist you, my
2002 contacts with Mrs Duncan Smith were as described in my substantive
statement, are not documented and took place by mobile telephone.
So far as date frames are concerned, to the best of my recollection
the contacts were around the 2002 local elections that took place
It may however be relevant to mention Christine Watson
who is referred to in item 8 of the first page of the transcript.
This, with the first three items of page two, attempts to imply
that I believe(d) Christine Watson managed IDS's diary. I have
never believed that. The incident referred to, and there was
only ever one in which I had dealings with Christine Watson, concerned
a dispute between a local residents forum and the railway company
that serves Chingford. It had attracted significant local press
coverage. After being contacted by a well-known local resident
who is also a former councillor, I discussed it with Christine
Watson, as a constituency issue, against the background of IDS's
possible role in it. IDS did, I believe at very short notice,
subsequently attend a decisive meeting on the matter but its
implications for his diary never featured in my discussions with
In item three of page one Dalgleish says he thought
Mrs Duncan Smith was IDS's constituency secretary and arranged
visits and so on. That exhibits a limited understanding of how
a high profile MP's parliamentary office works. The two things
are virtually mutually exclusive. In my experience a constituency
secretary provides administrative support to her MP in his constituency
role. This involves correspondence, analysing issues, making enquiries
and maintaining telephone contact with others involved, in addition
no doubt to much else. The role of a diary secretary is quite
different. She ensures that the MP always knows where he should
be, how to get there, at what time and is never double booked.
With a high profile MP, with constantly changing appointments
nation-wide and internationally, it is a major task. The two roles
are quite separate and in my view could be combined only in a
superhuman. I am aware that Christine Watson has held the job
of constituency secretary and that Betsy Duncan Smith has worked
as diary secretary. What I do not know is when either of them
began or ended those roles. I am aware only of the assertion
in your letter, I have no more knowledge of IDS's past or present
parliamentary office arrangements than mentioned in my statement
or in this letter. There is no reason why I or any other local
Conservative activist should. The parliamentary office and the
constituency are quite separate dimensions of an MPs life and
in my experience their paths hardly ever cross. It is my opinion
that your complainant should focus on what people know
about the issues that concern him. I am anecdotally aware of "evidence"
that the complainant has gathered from people in IDS's constituency.
This suggests to me that those questioned know little or nothing
of his parliamentary office. I cannot see how that assists your
investigation which I understand to be into aspects of personnel
and employment matters at that office.
20 October 2003