Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Written Evidence

38.  Letter to the Commissioner from Councillor Linda Huggett, 23 October 2003

Complaint against Mr lain Duncan Smith MP

I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 20th October 2003.

I have read through the "purported" transcript of the telephone conversation that took place between myself and Louise Weston of BBC Newsnight in September this year. I do recall having a conversation with her although she did not disclose her surname and I cannot remember the exact date.

I would like to place on record that at no time during that conversation did she advise me that the conversation was being taped and if she had done so I would not have spoken to her. I am a fully qualified solicitor and it is my understanding that obtaining so called "evidence" in this manner is quite clearly in breach of the guidelines contained in the Data Protection Act 1998 which state that the consent of the person making the statement must be given first. It is therefore my opinion that any "evidence" obtained in this way is inadmissible.

Turning now to the transcript itself it appears to have been "chopped and changed around" so much it is almost totally unrecognisable from what I originally said. I am not a Chingford Councillor and to my recollection of what was said the written transcript has been typed in the wrong order. It has been altered in such a way that it is completely inaccurate. It has taken any comments I made completely out of context and in some parts the wording does not appear to make any sense whatsoever.

Although I am a Monkhams Ward Councillor for the London Borough of Redbridge I have never had any actual knowledge of how Mr Iain Duncan Smith runs his office or what his working or secretarial arrangements are. There has never been any reason why I should need this information as if I want to contact him now I do so through his Constituency Office at Chingford or through his Parliamentary Agent Mr R Radford.

It is extremely difficult to remember when I last spoke to Mrs Duncan Smith at the House of Commons. During the last two year period since Mr Duncan Smith was elected as Conservative Leader I remember having spoken to her once at his office at the House of Commons. I believe that this was sometime after he had been elected as Leader between September and October 2001. Although I cannot recall the exact date I remember that I was on holiday with my family in Cyprus when the Twin Towers at New York were destroyed and Mr Duncan Smith was elected as Leader.

I returned from holiday on September 16th 2001 and I needed to contact Mr Duncan Smith fairly urgently to ask him to support the local campaign to save the "Sir James Hawkey Hall" from closure and inform him about various important local issues that had arisen in the Monkhams Ward before our local "Common Sense" leaflet was prepared (of which I was a co-author) and sent out to local residents. I therefore telephoned the office and spoke to Mrs Duncan Smith at the House of Commons who said that she would relay the information on to her husband and I also offered her my congratulations on Mr Duncan Smith being elected as Leader. I enclose a copy of the Common Sense leaflet setting out the various local matters which I hope is of assistance as it will help in establishing the time.

I do not feel there is anything more that I can factually remember but I have no objection to your telephoning me either on my direct line at my office on *** or at my home on ***.

23 October 2003

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