Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Written Evidence

39.  Letter to the Commissioner from Councillor Matthew Davis, October 2003

Thank you for your letter of 20th October regarding your investigation into a complaint made against Mr Iain Duncan Smith MP.

I have carefully reviewed the transcript, which you have supplied to me and I would like to make the following comments about it:

1) A telephone conversation did take place between Louise from Newsnight and myself. However the transcript is by no means at all a complete or accurate record of that conversation, indeed I feel it to be highly mendacious. It is also worth stating that at no time did Louise give any indication that she was either recording or taking verbatim notes of our conversation. I would point out that it is the law of the land that no telephone call may be recorded, by one party to it, without them informing the other party that such a recording is taking place.

2) There are a number of parts of our conversation, parts that I recall vividly, which are totally absent from the transcript. These would be:

a)  The introduction, which Louise gave to me, is not accurately reflected in the transcript. Specifically she stated that she was researching an item on how active MPs are in their constituencies and claimed that she had "heard" that Mr Duncan Smith was very active locally and that she wished to explore that particular issue. I then queried why they had chosen to pick the Leader of the Conservative Party for such an item and was unequivocally told that they were making the same enquiries regarding a number of MPs from all parties. This was, it is now obvious, patently untrue. None of this part of the conversation is in the transcript.

b)  I also stated that as a relatively newly elected Councillor I had never had the need to invite Mr Duncan Smith to any local event and as such I would only be able to speculate as to how I might go about doing this. This statement does not appear in the transcript. I feel that this is an especially important point since, having said that, I had made it plain that I had had no contact with anyone, ever, regarding Mr Duncan Smith's diary.

c)  Despite this Louise continued to push me towards making some kind of statement as to Mrs Duncan Smith's involvement in the scheduling of her husband's diary, and asked that same question several more times and in several more ways than is stated in the transcript.

d)  There is a gross distortion of my words regarding Mr Duncan Smith's office in the transcript. The transcript states that I said that Mr Duncan Smith "has staff to do that" in relation to the organisation of events. What I actually said was that Iain has an office, staffed by various people, including quite possibly his wife, to organise his schedule and that I did not know who worked in that office, although I was familiar with "the Annabelle's" (Annabelle Eyre, Annabelle Tuck) and our constituency agent Rikki Radford. That remains the case.

e)  My statement regarding the hypothetical question of "letting Iain know something" was in relation to informing him of issues within the constituency, and the Council, and not in relation to inviting him to anything. The transcript does not reflect this. Matters of this nature would naturally be handled by the Constituency Agent and not by a diary secretary.

In summation I would say again that I do not regard the transcript as an accurate or complete record of the conversation that took place, it has been deliberately skewed to make it appear that I had made a statement regarding Mrs Duncan Smith, which I most certainly had not.

Having only been elected in May 2002 I have not had the need to make contact with Mr Duncan Smith's office at any time, nor have I ever invited him to any event at all. As such I am unable to comment upon the position held by Mrs Duncan Smith since I have no direct knowledge of that, nor of who has at any point been responsible for Mr Duncan Smith's diary. However I do know that Mrs Duncan Smith has, on a number of occasions, herself contacted Cllr Geoff Walker, the Leader of the Conservative Councillors group on Waltham Forest Council, to ask him to stand in for Mr Duncan Smith at certain local events. This most definitely is the work of a diary secretary.

I hope that this will assist you in clarifying matters, should you wish any further information from me then please let me know.

Received 24 October 2003

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