50. Written statement, on behalf of
Mr Iain Duncan Smith, by Mr Richard Gordon QC, 4 February
Submitted by Richard Gordon QC
Re: Complaint against Mr Iain Duncan Smith MP
1. The purpose of these submissions is twofold,
i) enable the Parliamentary Commissioner for
Standards('PCS') to understand fully the concerns of Mr Iain Duncan
Smith ('IDS') in respect of the complaints made against him by
Mr Michael Crick ('Crick') and,
ii) analyse the evidence with the suggested approach
that should be taken to it by the PCS.
2. In essence, and foreshadowing the points developed
below, three main propositions are advanced:
i) The several complaints put forward by Crick
are without foundation and there should be a recommendation that
they be dismissed.
ii) Where credibility is in issue the PCS should
reach a clear conclusion as to whether the truth is being told
in fairness to IDS in order to vindicate his public reputation.
iii) The inquiry process
has operated unfairly to IDS. That has two consequences. The first
is that the systemic defects in the process should be recorded
and emphasised in the PCS' Report to the Committee on Standards
(CS).Secondly, however, there should be a separate recommendation
for dismissal of the complaints on the basis of that unfairness
3. Our submissions are structured as follows:
i) Part 2 summarises the relevant background
and analysis by reference to certain subject headings, namely:
(a) the complaints and the shifting nature of those complaints,
(b) the media disclosure aspects and their significance to the
inquiry process, (c) the difficulties of addressing the complaints
as they evolved, (d) the PCS' full inquiry, (e) Vanessa Gearson
('VG'), (f) Mark MacGregor ('MM'), (g) why the complaints should,
in any event, be dismissed on due process grounds.
ii) Part 3 addresses those aspects of Crick's
complaint that relate to work performed by IDS' wife.
iii) Part 4 addresses issues relating to the
basis upon which Christine Watson ('CW'), Annabelle Eyre ('AE')
and IDS' wife were paid.
iv) Part 5 sets out our Conclusions.
Part 2Relevant Background and Analysis
Crick's complaints and their shifting nature
4. The original, and sole, complaint filed by
Crick was that, between September 2001 and December 31 2002, IDS
had paid his wife out of Parliamentary funds when she had done
no work ('the first complaint'). Although the merits
of the first complaint will, of course, be addressed since it
has never formally been abandoned it is now clear that it is,
and was, wholly without merit.
5. That is why, we suggest, it has been elided
with the quite separate complaint ('the second complaint')
that whilst Mrs Duncan Smith ('BDS') may have done some work that
work did not justify the payment that was made to her. Even the
second complaint must (as revised by Crick) be sub-divided into
an alternative complaint that either: (a) the tasks performed
by BDS were minimal in character and so should not have been paid
for at all or that (b) such tasks did not amount to 25 hours a
week (see PCS' letter dated October 20 2003 to IDS).
6. In fact, the logic that gives the lie to the
first complaint also erodes the second. The reason why the first
complaint cannot be sustained is that all that Crick and his witnesses
can say is that, at most, they did not see the fruits of BDS'
work. However, none of them goes so far as positively to assert
that she did no work. But if that is right it follows that the
only positive evidence is that BDS did work and is that
of BDS herself and the witnesses that support her evidence. If
that is right and in the absence of a finding by the PCS that
each and every one of them is lying, it must also follow that
the quantum of work about which BDS and those witnesses
give evidence is also to be accepted. So, the second complaint
by Crick (and its sub-divisions as earlier set out) is as ill-founded
as the first.
7. Nonetheless, at the time of making his complaint
Crick did not, of course, know the evidence that was to come.
His first complaint was based on conjecture and surmise and when,
on the same day that he made the first complaint, rebuttal evidence
began to emerge thenfor all practical purposeshe
8. What happened then was that Crick developed
an entirely new series of allegations. Not only did he expand
upon, and diversify, his 'no work' allegations against BDS (see
above) he also suggested that any work that she did was party
political in nature and so did not qualify for payment from IDS'
Parliamentary allowance ('the third complaint'). Such allegation,
to stand independently, presupposes that BDS did do the work that
she and her witnesses say that she did but that it was paid from
an inappropriate source. Again, however, this allegation falls
away logically once it is appreciated that neither Crick nor his
witnesses can say what work BDS was doing. Only BDS and
her witnesses can do so. And if (the same premise as above) her
evidence and her supporting evidence is truthful then the nature
of her work did qualify for a Parliamentary allowance.
9. Finally, Crick complained of the source of
payments in respect of the work performed by CW and AE ('the
fourth complaint').This was, as Crick himself recognised,
a very different type of complaint from the first three involving,
as it did, clarification of the relevant Parliamentary guidance.
Whilst recommendations from the PCS lead to valuable guidance
for the future it is submitted that there is no factual foundation
for a finding of culpability in relation to payments made by IDS
in respect of CW and AE (or BDS).
Media disclosure and effect on inquiry process
10. It is an unhappy feature of these complaints,
and one that we understand to be fully appreciated by the PCS,
that it is clear that the complaints as they evolved and the material
detail of the case alleged against IDS were quite deliberately
'leaked' by Crick and others supportive of his position to the
media prior to, and throughout, the inquiry. In particular, IDS
identifies MM and VG as among Crick's primary sources and neither
MM or VG deny that is the case (paragraphs 15, 26-28 IDS' 2ndWS).
11. Appendix 1
to these submissions contains over 30 articles that have appeared
in national newspapers from about the time of the complaint to
the present day. This disclosure has continued to the time of
drafting these submissions the latest example being an article
published in the Sunday Telegraph on 25 January 2004. Crick has
himself written an article in the Sunday Telegraph about the complaint
and has during the course of these proceedings appeared on the
BBC's 'This Week' programme to discuss the inquiry. These leaks
have continued despite the fact that each witness has been told
by the PCS not to discuss their evidence. Further material can
be produced should the PCS wish to see it.
12. As can be seen from this exemplary material,
at the very start of the process Crick gave details of the dossier
collected by him and the evidence that he was about to submit
to the PCS in an article written in the Telegraph on October l2
2003.Subsequently, he gave further details of evidence being given
to the PCS by others to the press.
13. CW's memorandum to VG is described in an
article in the Daily Telegraph of October 15 2003 as being 'a
leaked memo prepared by the secretary who claimed she was "solely"
responsible for running his office'. The content of this memorandum
is extensively cited in an article published in The Times on the
same day. In an article on the following day (October 16 2003)
in the Daily Telegraph references are made to the content of emails
and memos that it is said VG intends to hand over to the PCS.
14. In the light of this, and other, material
the public was made intimately aware of the nature and detail
of the case being launched against IDS as it unfolded and progressed.
The fact of such disclosure is and was, of course, entirely contrary
to the published procedures of the CS and PCS. It constituted
a contempt of the House. That elementary fact must have been known
to Crick and others (as, for example, VG) who wereon the
face of the articles themselvesat least ostensibly responsible
for disclosure of various matters referred to therein.
15. The significance of that type of disclosure
in the present context cannot be emphasised enough. The context
of complaints made to the PCS will necessarily differ. Publicity
will always be strictly forbidden but its damaging effects will
by no means be the same in each case.
16. In the present case the effect of the disclosures
deliberately orchestrated by Crick and others was so obviously
damaging as not to require detailing. However, it had at least
i) It has proved highly damaging to IDS' public
reputation. This is a consequence anticipated in the PCS published
Procedure Notes. In the instant case the material was used as
ballast for, and as part of, a concerted campaign to remove IDS
from his position as Leader of the Opposition. This was, of course,
a consequence of which Crick and others must have been fully aware.
Indeed, Crick states his belief that it was the very object towards
which some of his primary sources were colluding (Sunday Telegraph
12 October 2003; see also letter from Reynolds Porter Chamberlain
to PCS dated 13 January 2004).
ii) It has placed IDS at an incalculable disadvantage
in defending himself in this inquiry. This is particularly the
case because despite the actions of others he and his witnesses
did comply with the procedural rules and therefore could
not respond to disclosures publicly. Putting one's case before
the PCS alone is one thing. It is quite another to have to defend
oneself against public opinion. The calm and rational disputation
of evidence which would have been available to IDS and his wife
had the inquiry really been conducted in private was not available
to him. In reality, much of the inquiry was not conducted in private.
It was conducted in the glare of public debate. That is not in
any way the fault of the PCS but it is an inequality built into
the process. The strain affected many witnesses and they may not
always have been able to present their evidence as effectively
as they might otherwise have done.
iii) Finally, the effect of the inquiry being
conducted under the public spotlight has put unfair pressure on
the PCS himself. He will, undoubtedly, have felt under additional
strain to carry out the fullest possible inquiry. However, there
is the very real danger thatin order to fulfil public expectationsthe
inquiry has now become impossibly wide-ranging. This aspect has
particular resonance in respect of VG's evidence. This has, regrettably,
become a trial within a trial. Whilst (see below) VG says very
little in substance that has any bearing whatever on the true
issues she has made highly damaging allegations about the conduct
of IDS which have been publicly aired whilst still forming part
of the inquiry process and to which IDS has (mindful of public
opinion) had to respond in testimony.
17. So, properly analysed, media disclosure in
itself has made it impossible for IDS to have a hearing that conforms
to the legal notion of natural justice. Elementarily, a hearing
must not only be fair, it must also be seen to be fair.
18. This appears to be an issue for the CS. In
terms of process there seems to be no mechanism for preventing
media disclosure in an inquiry of the present kind. It is noted,
and accepted, that the PCS has deprecated the disclosure that
has occurred and intends to raise it before the CS. However, the
mechanism that the PCS proposed at the time (see his letter to
Reynolds Porter Chamberlain dated October 23 2003: "
your client believes that the behaviour of anyone involved constitutes
a breach of the privileges of the House, he may raise the matter
by way of a privilege application to Mr Speaker" is,
we suggest, inadequate in terms of procedural protection available
to IDS from the person responsible for the conduct of the inquiry.
19. Further, the lack of systemic protection
for IDS from the media leaks that have been engineered by the
complainant, Crick et al, also means that he has had an inquiry
in violation of the principles of natural justice. That is why,
we suggest, the PCS shouldaside from commenting
on this important aspect of the current inquiry processmake
a specific recommendation to the CS that the complaints should
be dismissed on this ground alone.
Difficulties of addressing complaints as they
20. Crick's first complaint was made by letter
to the PCS dated October 12th 2003.It contained the positive assertion
(as opposed to what is now, at best, suggested inference) that
'[w]e have uncovered considerable evidence that she [BDS] did
not, in fact, work for him during this period, which I understand
is contrary to House of Commons rules.' The letter was accompanied
by a number of enclosures including material from three anonymous
21. The PCS notified IDS of the first complaint
by letter dated October 13th 2003. Enclosed with the letter were
many of the enclosures that Crick had submitted with his complaint.
The PCS did not enclose the anonymous material at that time.
It was only received with the PCS's letter of 20 October. Importantly,
in his letter to IDS the PCS cited the passage set out above,
thus making it clear that there was but a single complaint laid
against IDS which was that BDS had done no work during the relevant
period (September 2001 to December 31 2002).
22. When IDS met the PCS later that day (October
13th 2003) the PCS' record of that meeting (in fact made on October
31 2003 but based on notes taken at the time) discloses that he
rightly considered the essence of Crick's complaint to be one
of improper use of Parliamentary allowances. Indeed, had BDS done
no work it would have been grossly improper for IDS to have paid
her out of his Parliamentary allowance.
23. Unsurprisingly, the record shows that IDS
was extremely angry about the first complaint which he said was
'groundless' He expressed anger about being 'condemned
in the media.'
24. From IDS' perspective, though, he was still
then only facing a single (and misconceived) complaint. At that
stage he had not yet received the material sent to him by the
PCS since that letter had not yet reached him. He addressed the
complaint as best he could but, necessarily, in general terms.
25. The PCS had to make a decision as to whether
to embark upon a full inquiry. He made the decision to do so on
October 14th 2003. The Press Statement issued by the PCS reads,
'I have studied carefully both the complaint I
have received from Mr Michael Crick and Mr Iain Duncan Smith #
response to that complaint. The nature of the information given
to mesome of which is from anonymous sourcesmakes
it necessary that I should undertake further inquiries before
reaching a conclusion on the complaint.
In view of the public interest in Mr Crick's complaint,
I expect to report the result of my inquiries to the Committee
on Standards and Privileges ...'.
26. It clearly appears from the above extract
that part of the information received from Crick that had persuaded
the PCS to proceed to a full inquiry, rather than simply dismiss
the first complaint as he could then have done, was the material
from anonymous sources. Of course, IDS had not at that date been
shown any of that material and was, therefore, unable to comment
on it at all. Subsequently, after IDS received those materials
with the PCS' letter of 20 October, IDS had no difficulty identifying
'source A' as MM and 'source C' as VG.
27. Further, it seems also that Crick had supplied
additional material to the PCS on the morning of the day (14 October)
that the Press Statement was issued (see the PCS' letters to IDS'
solicitors dated, respectively, October 23rd and October 30th
2003).This material included a memorandum of CW dated October
24th 2002 to VG and a submission from Crick commenting on the
memorandum and a further note from Crick commenting on IDS' public
defence that he had been compelled to issue.
28. So, much of the material that was instrumental
in persuading the PCS to embark on a full inquiry on October 14th
2003 was material of which IDS had never seen and had no opportunity
29. Importantly, too, this additional material
raised entirely new allegations. The PCS elicited from Crick that
this new material did raise new allegations in an interview with
Crick that took place on October 16th 2003.The question and answer
session with Crick on that day demonstrates that Crick was changing
his position. For example: the PCS drew out of the material that
had been submitted five separate possible allegations and this
exchange then followed:
'... I want to be as clear as I can from your lips what you
think are the issues about which you are registering a complaint.
I am sorry to have gone on at such length but you can see what
I am getting at.'
MC: 'I understand exactly
the point you are making and I think the distinctions you make
are interesting and important ones. I am sorry, I should have
written them down....'.
30. There then followed a discussion about material
supplied to the PCS from the anonymous sources (not disclosed
to IDS at that stage: see above) and, during the course of the
meeting, the remainder of the complaints as summarised earlier
31. We are unable to say whetherin terms
of his procedural remitthe PCS was compelled to take the
course that he did. However, we so submit that if it was a necessary
part of the inquiry process it put IDS in an impossible position
at the very start of the inquiry.
32. In essence, IDS was subjected to the rigours
of a full investigation that would, inevitably, only damage his
public reputation at a time when his position as Leader of the
Opposition was under challenge. He was subjected to that process
without sight of highly relevant material including entirely new
complaints which were never put to him in advance and comments
by his accuser that were never put to him in advance.
33. It seems that in deciding to embark on a
full investigation the PCS was influenced by the fact that the
matter was one of public interest. It was, of course, largely
a matter of public interest because of the media disclosure
by the complainant and his sources that had occurred and was
deliberately being orchestrated as the PCS was reaching his crucial
decisions. However, it is a matter of great concern that the PCS
procedure should expose a person in the position of IDS to a full
inquiry merely because the matter had become public in that way.
Indeed, it is a matter of great concernif it be sothat
the PCS procedure has to result in a full investigation even in
a matter of major public interest without the opportunity being
given to the person being complained of to see all relevant material
in advance and to be able to respond to it. That opportunity was
denied to IDS.
34. The unfairness to IDS is obvious. In terms
of natural justice it is a truism that information known only
to a decision-maker must be disclosed to an affected party if
such information is instrumental to a decision about to be made:
see, of the many cases, Mahon v. Air New Zealand  A.
C. 808; R v. Mental Health Review Tribunal, ex p. Clatworthy 
3 All ER. 699; R v. Kensington and Chelsea RLBC, exp. Campbell
(1996) 28 HL.R. 160.
The PCS full inquiry
35. The process involved in the PCS full inquiry
contained two significant systemic defects. First, there
is no clarification of the standard of proof. It appears to be
a matter of judgment for the PCS from case to case rather than,
as it is submitted it ought to be, a standard known in advance
to the person against whom a complaint is made. So it was that
having embarked on his full inquiry the PCS stated in his letter
to Reynolds Porter Chamberlain dated October 23 2003 (in response
to their raising the point):
'At this stage in my inquiry, I have formed no
view on which standard of proof may be appropriate ... I agree
with your observation that "different thresholds of proof
may be relevant to different complaints" (or, I would add,
different aspects of the same complaint).'
36. There is, in our respectful submission, certainly
warrant for a higher standard of proof in relation to serious
charges. But ifas herethe complaints relating to
BDS clearly raise an 'implication of dishonesty' (that
is, here, the criminal offence of obtaining a pecuniary advantage
by deception) the correct standard of proof should be the criminal
standard. So, too, a complaint that does not raise questions of
impropriety may be assessed in accordance with a lower standard
37. On any view, it is submitted that IDS and
his advisers should have been informed of the standard of proof
that was going to be applied by the PCS in advance. At
the time of drafting these submissions we still do not know the
relevant threshold of proof that the PCS proposes to apply to
each and every complaint (or, indeed, to any of the complaints).
38. This absence of information strikes at the
integrity of the inquiry process. To begin with, it makes it impossible
for IDS to know how much (if any) information/evidence to adduce
in his defence. Further, the PCS cannot properly evaluate the
evidence as it emerges unless he knows the relevant legal touchstone
against which it is to be tested. As interviews are conducted
by him he knows not what questions it is necessary to ask because
many questions will be entirely irrelevant if the standard of
proof is to be the criminal standard.
39. Some of these difficulties were alluded to
in the Reid inquiry. Had the correct standard of proof
been applied by the PCS in that case it would not have been necessary
for the persons against whom various complaints were made to deal
with much of the evidence. Those observations have a particular
application, it may be thought, to the present inquiry where over
36 witnesses (as we understand it) have given evidence to the
Commissioner both nationally and internationally (including evidence
from New Zealand).
40. We do not accept that such an extensive inquiry
would have been warranted had the applicable standard of proof
been known to all in advance. It is also backtofront
to investigate the various complaints prior to determining the
applicable standard of proof
41. The PCS was, we recognise, in a difficult
position as was the PCS in Reid since no clear principles
appear to have been distilled towards defining the relevant standard
of proof. Had we known, for example, that the PCS proposed to
apply a criminal standard the presentation of our defence would
have been very different. It has been necessary to embark on a
detailed response to allegations not forming the subject of any
complaint (the VG evidence) in case the PCS thought that VG's
evidence was (on the standard of proof that he would decide to
apply) remotely relevant. If the correct standard had been known
in advance it is questionable whether the PCS would have entertained
her evidence or investigated the detail of it in the way that
42. The second systemic defect in the full inquiry
process is, and was, that the PCS has refused to give IDS and
his legal advisers sight of all the evidence presented to him.
The PCS has, rather, agreed only to disclose the evidence that,
in his judgment, forms part of the case against IDS. In this,
the PCS appears to have applied a more restrictive approach than
the Committee approved in the Reid case.
43. Again, we submit that there should be, and
have been, clearly defined disclosure rules in the PCS inquiry
process to address this problem. The difficulty with part disclosure,
namely only disclosure of that which the PCS believes is the case
adverse to IDS is that real unfairness has been caused to IDS.
44. The point is this. The PCS does not know
what IDS knows. IDS does not know what the PCS knows. Had IDS
had sight of all the material available to the PCS he might have
been able to point out internal inconsistencies in the evidence
or to have relied on positive statements in his favour to rebut
other evidence. He might even have been able to point the PCS
to further helpful lines of inquiry.
45. Take, for example, an entirely hypothetical
example. The PCS has evidence (say) from witness 'A' who says
that another unidentified witness who had attended a meeting with
IDS could give definitive evidence in support of DS. The PCS,
seeing this as merely supporting evidence, does not disclose it
to IDS. But if IDS had known of that evidence he could (from the
description of the meeting) have identified the unidentified person
and so provided additional positive evidence.
46. This example should not be taken literally.
It is merely illustrative of the proposition that part disclosure
may have created very real unfairness in this inquiry through
no fault of the PCS but merely because the PCS does not know what
47. The systemic defects identified above have
placed both the PCS and IDS in a very difficult position. From
IDS' perspective he has seen only edited material; edited, we
accept, in good faith and even that against an unknown standard
of proof. These should be matters of the gravest concern to CS.
48. A great many pages of unnecessary evidence
have been taken up with this evidence. On analysis (see below)
the Gearson allegations should be firmly rejected.
49. It is, perhaps, tempting to put VG's evidence
to one side and simply to dismiss the complaints without reference
to it. Certainlyas will be shownthat evidence takes
Crick's complaints nowhere.
50. However, the public damage done to IDS as
a consequence of what we submit to be, at times, unfounded and
malicious allegations is considerable. The PCS is, therefore,
invited to make clear his view of VG's credibility as a witness
at least in general terms where it conflicts with that of other
witnesses (most notably Mr Tim Montgomerie: see below).
51. Without rehearsing the detail of her evidence
now it is, we submit, simply unbelievable that the email of January
30th 2003 came to be distributed in the way that it was without
52. The circumstances of how that email came
to be drafted, let alone leaked, are themselves strange. IDS was
not made aware of it even though on her testimony VG was trying
to protect him. VG accepts, as she must, that it was wholly unjustified
to put the information that she did on an email and that IDS was
right to rebuke her for it. Why, then, did she do it? She
is anything but politically naiveyet it was an act of striking
naivety if she is to be believed. Why was the issue of BDS being
raised at that time when it was no longer a live issue?
53. And there is the CW memo and its leak to
the media. How did that come into Crick's possession so that it
was submitted to the PCS on October l4th? It was a memo addressed
to VG and marked "Strictly Private and Confidential".
We know that the memo was leaked to the Daily Telegraph (see above)
and was published in an article in that newspaper the following
day. It was, therefore, likely to have been leaked by VG the previous
daythat is, the same day that it reached the PCS and formed
part of the information leading him to embark on a full inquiry
54. Further, VG's interview with the PCS (and
written Statement) leaves him with the words of the Reid standard
of proof as her parting shot. VG says that she is as entitled
as any member of the public to read public reports of inquiries.
So she is. But the insinuation of those words into her evidence
is, we suggest, all of a piece and of a type with the leaks to
the media of the CW memo (and email).
55. IDS haswe submit unsurprisinglyreacted
strongly to the allegations of VG and to the way in which her
evidence has been leaked in advance and presented. It might be
said that he could have afforded to disregard it so peripheral
is it, in fact, to the central issues raised by the complaints.
But we have taken the view that VG has calculated the content
of her evidence, its manner of presentation and, in all probability,
some of the leaks to the media in a deliberate attempt to cause
maximum damage to IDS including possible collaboration with his
accuser. For the sake of the public recordwhich VG has
herself deliberately invokedwe submit that her lack of
credibility should, in the public interest, be exposed on issues
where she seeks to impugn IDS' character.
56. That is we suggest the true, and only, relevance
of VG's evidence to this inquiry. Her allegations, having been
made, should be examined and rejected. But her allegations, at
best, do nothing to advance the complaints against IDS.
57. Although Mark MacGregor was not a complainant
he enthusiastically adopts Cricks complaints (and, of course,
IDS identifies him as one of Crick's sources). In particular he
seeks to support the allegation that IDS applied improper pressure
upon VG and he also supports the allegation that BDS ceased work
because of the publication of the allegations against Michael
Trend. The press coverage of his testimony also raises questions
of whether he colluded in the leaking of his evidence to the media.
Most recently this is raised by the contents of the article in
the Sunday Telegraph 25 January 2004 which refers to both his
evidence and that of VG. In this context it is equally important
to reach a finding on his evidence. MM's evidence is commented
on in detail in both of IDS' witness statements. By way of example
MM gives conflicting accounts of when he first heard about BDS'
employment. It is significant that VG is also ignorant of the
details of BDS' employment (e.g. the salary was not £18,000)
at 30 January 2003 when she sent the e-mail. If she had heard
about them from CW then she would likely have had the correct
information. It is far more likely that she learned of BDS' employment
from MM who knew of it from the early summer (from Jenny Ungless,
on his testimony)after all it is MM's testimony that he
suggested to VG that she apply for a position in the Leader's
Office and they must have had discussions about that.
58. IDS has further raised in his witness statements
the possibility that there was collusion between MM and VG prior
to and during this inquiry which, if true, would have a bearing
on their testimony. Key indicators suggestive of collusion are
(1) they have the same solicitor (Healys) and MM was on the circulation
list for the letter (as indicated on the face of the letter) sent
to IDS on 10 October 2003 by that solicitor on behalf of VG (at
a time when MM had no position in CCO) (2) their original (false)
testimony regarding the timing and effect of the Trend revelations
(3) how their testimony on the Trend revelations has developed,
in tandem, in response to IDS' testimony according to their most
recent letters to the PCS (4) the leaking of elements of their
latest testimony to the PCS in the same article appearing in The
Sunday Telegraph (25 January 2004) (5) that they are both among
Crick's original 'anonymous' sourcesa matter which neither
of them deny in their most recent testimony to the PCS. Again,
for the sake of the public recordgiven the conflict of
evidence between them and IDS on the Trend issuewe submit
that their lack of credibility should, in the public interest,
be exposed on issues where they seek to impugn IDS' character.
We would accept, however, that it is unnecessary to reach a firm
finding of collusion in order to find that VG's and MM's allegations
concerning Trend are without foundation.
Why the complaints should be rejected on due
process grounds alone
59. In summary:
i) A decision was held to embark on a full inquiry
without IDS being shown and asked to respond to highly relevant
material that influenced the PCS in arriving at that decision.
ii) It was decided to embark on a full inquiry
into allegations that had not been put to IDS and of which he
was ignorant at the time of that decision.
iii) A decision was made to embark on a full
inquiry taking into account anonymous material that had not been
disclosed to IDS precisely because it was said, at that stage,
to be irrelevant.
iv) Prior to the inquiry, at its inception, at
the start of the full inquiry and throughout its course media
disclosure has infected the whole proceedings. IDS has been told
that his only remedy is to take the matter up with the Speaker.
v) The full inquiry has been conducted without
IDS being informed of what standard of proof the PCS proposed
to apply to any of the complaints. This has necessarily affected
the preparation of his evidence and the manner in which evidence
has been received by the PCS. Finally,
vi) The full inquiry has been conducted with
IDS being given only a partial sight of the evidence on the footing
that the PCS was disclosing only that which he considered to be
relevant to the case against IDS. This has necessarily affected
IDS' ability properly to advance his defence and, in turn, deprived
the PSC of obtaining a full evidential picture.
60. We say that for these reasons alone the complaints
should be dismissed.
61. However, we propose to analyse the evidence
briefly so as to suggest that the complaints have not been made
out. As we are in ignorance of the standard of proof proposed
to be applied we arefor practical purposesadopting
the Reid standard in respect of the dishonesty complaints and
a balance of probability standard in respect of those complaints
which appearon their facenot to raise the implication
62. This is without prejudice to our submission
that in a case where there is, as here, a plain allegation of
criminal misconduct, the appropriate standard of proof should
be the criminal standardthat is, beyond reasonable doubt.
If and to the extent thatcontrary to our case and contrary
to our understanding of the complaintit is suggested that
by paying CW and AE (or BDS) from an incorrect source IDS acted
improperly in the sense of acting dishonestly then we submit that
the same criminal standard of proof should be applied.
Part 3The BDS Complaints
The first complaint
63. This can be addressed shortly. Crick started
by asserting positive evidence that during the period September
2001 to December 31 2002 BDS had done no work but had, nonetheless,
been paid by IDS out of his Parliamentary allowance (see above).That
complaint, if established, constitutes the offence of obtaining
a pecuniary advantage by deception under the Theft Act 1968.
64. The simple answer to the complaint is that
there is no positive evidence in support of this allegation. On
the contrary, no witness (so far as we are aware) has asserted
other than that he or she did not see the fruits of any work performed
by BDS. If there is no positive evidence (leave alone the 'considerable
evidence' asserted by Crick) then the first complaintas
65. The evidence in respect of BDS' employment
(let alone any of the relevant complaints) by those other than
BDS and the witnesses who assert positively that she was working
to a substantial degree is exemplified by the following:
i) "While l am in no position to confirm
the details of Betsy Duncan Smith's employment, o[r] the substance
or intensity of that employment, I was left in no doubt of the
fact of her employment" (Baverstock Statement
of October 15 2003).
ii) "I have never had any sense from
lain, never had the slightest shred of concern demonstrated by
him in relation to what Betsy had been doing for him, nor a concern,
for some reason, this situation had gone on because it was somehow
financially advantageous to lain and that was all he was concerned
about. I have absolutely no sense of that whatever" (Burt
iii) "it is my hunch, it is my strong
belief that [BDS] probably was not doing any work, of any substantial
nature anyway" (Crick transcript 4 days after indicating
his 'considerable positive' evidence that BDS had done
no work whatever during the relevant period).
iv) "All I am saying about these councillors
is that overall what they are saying is that they do not recall
any dealings with her during that period I don't know how long
he has been a councillor, perhaps I should go away and check"
(Crick, same interview, same point).
v) "... I never received any sense at
all that [BDS] no longer played the same role in relation to Mr
Duncan Smith's arrangements and Parliamentary duties that she
had done in the period before September 2001 when I had the same
type of dealings with her" (Quentin Davies MP unsolicited
letter dated October 15th 2003 and not known by IDS or his staff
or advisers to have been sent to the PCS).
vi) "As far as I was aware Betsy was
working for her husband organising his appointments"
(Finlayson, local Councillor, Statement October 15th 2003).
vii) "I do not contend, as I say in my
submission, that [BDS] did nothing. I never visited Swanbourne
and it would be unreasonable of me to say that she did nothing
at all" (Gearson, transcript).
66. It is, perhaps, unnecessary to continue to
proceed through an alphabetical litany of the various witnesses
since VG is the high water mark of Crick's complaints. The first
complaint is, plainly, without any merit whatever since no one
asserts any positive evidence to the effect that BDS did no work
or even that an inference should be drawn to that effect.
The second complaint(s)
67. There is a further important reason why the
first complaint must be rejected. It is that, for it to be accepted,
it compels the conclusion that BDS, AB, Andrew Whitby-Collins
('AWC'), Rikki Radford ('RR') and CW (to say the least) are lying.
Such suggestion would: (a) be an odd one, (b) (paraphrasing Reid)
be much less likely to be true than likely to be false, and (materially)
(c) at least have to be made for it to be required to be considered:
however, no suggestion of this kind hasat least as far
as we are awareever been made openly by anyone: not even
68. But once it is accepted that BDS et al
are not lying but are, rather, telling the truth then the second
complaint(s) must also be rejected. This is because once it is
accepted that the second complaint(s) against BDS rely solely
upon inference then any inference that needed to be rebutted by
positive evidence has been rebutted by positive evidence.
69. This is an important point that needs to
be addressed explicitly. It is one thing to examine the strength
of an inference by reference to the absence of rebutting evidence.
It is quite another to continue to treat the same evidence as
constituting a legitimate inference when it has been rebutted
by positive evidence. There is no longer any inference to examine.
70. It is, of course, legitimate to test the
credibility of a witness by reference to the evidence (even indirect
evidence) of another witness or witnesses. But unless the suggested
inference is, for all practical purposes, irrebuttable or unless
there is some independent reason to suppose that a particular
witness or witnesses is or are obviously lying it is difficult
to see how the strong and positive testimony of four prima
facie truthful people (AB, AWC, RR and CW) that the suggested
inference is wrong can amount to anything other than a rebuttal
of the inference. A fortiori when there is no suggestion
that those witnesses are lying.
71. As already noted, VG does not assert a positive
case that BDS was not working at Swanbourne. VG never visited
Swanbourne so, obviously, she cannot say. Once it is appreciated
that no one mounts a positive case that BDS did not work at Swanbourne
then the sole questions can only be: (a) is there positive evidence
to the effect that BDS did work at Swanbourne?, (b) is there positive
evidence that her work there was more than minimal?, (c) is there
positive evidence that her work there justified the salary she
was paid?, (d) is the evidence in relation to the last two questions
to be believed?
72. If the answers to those questions are "yes"
then the second complaint(s) necessarily fall away. They must
be dismissed. It is not proposed to recite the positive evidence
in detail but, rather, to seek to summarise its essential features
with references where needed.
73. BDS has explained, both in her Statement
and in her interview with the PCS, that in the period before IDS
became Leader she was more in the 'front line' than she became
afterwards. She wasin the pre Leader phasemore involved
in facetoface contact with members of the public
or, indeed, with significant figures in the Chingford constituency.
74. After IDS became Leader, however, BDS played
a more supportive role But that role was still immensely important.
In order to understand her role in the Leader phase it is necessary
to understand what was really (as opposed to syntactically) involved
in assisting with IDS' diary.
75. The point will not be laboured here because,
in his questioning of BDS, the PCS has demonstrated that he understands
the pressures on the diary in a private Governmental office (see,
e.g., BDS transcript at p. 10 and the reference by the PCS himself
to the need for 'thinking/breathing space').It is, though,
emphasised that those pressures were (as one would, perhaps, expect)
at their most extreme in the case of the Leader of the Opposition.
This aspect is developed at some length in the evidence of IDS
76. The gist of BDS' evidence is outlined below.
We emphasise that during her long questioning by the PCS she was
entirely consistent in the account that she gave in her main Statement
dated December 5th 2003. At the meeting she produced (though she
was under no obligation to do so and has requested privacy in
relation to the material) sample telephone bills, emails and other
documentation for the PCS to inspect. We rely on that sample material
as providing further support for her evidence and simply make
the point that she was not asked to keep records and obviously
had no idea that these complaints would be made.
77. BDS explains, in some detail, the nature
of her work in her main Statement from paragraph 12.From that
account it is apparent that the processes involved included progress
chasing which became increasingly important as IDS' workload as
Leader increased, assisting with IDS' diary (see also above) including
regular up-dating meetings with AWC and AE, secretarial work and
constituency case work and correspondence. Her working day was
not neatly compartmentalised but was certainly considerably in
excess of 25 hours a week in the period under scrutiny. She spent
from 10.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. on week days in the office at Swanbourne.
She gives a clear and detailed account of her day to day activities
including notably her work in the evenings, late at night and
at the weekend in her Statement at paragraphs 29-40.
78. Given that BDS was working from home, it
was inevitable that there was a relatively limited number of people
she worked with at the Westminster office. She explains this in
her Statement at paragraphs 74-81.Her evidence is supported by
those she worked with. For example, BDS worked closely with, amongst
others, AWC until October 2002.This is, indeed, confirmed by AWC
(see his Statement generally).In particular, he testifies positively
that 'Elizabeth Duncan Smith was essential to enable me to
do my job as Diary Secretary for the Leader of the Opposition'
(ibid at paragraph 4).According to his evidence, BDS discussed
IDS' arrangements for the day and reported back to AWC. She downloaded
documents emailed to her by AWC. Every week she received, by email,
the detailed diary for the 6 months ahead as well as the diary
for the following week. She would work through it with IDS over
the weekend and report back to AWC on the Monday (see ibid
at paragraphs 4-5).She was, he says, an essential part 0/the
team working with Iain Duncan Smith and it would have been hard
for me to have done my work without her assistance' (ibid
at paragraph 8).
79. A similar picture is given by AE. When IDS
became Leader, AEwho had been his Constituency Secretarytook
over as his Private Secretary. In her Statement she explains that
she worked closely with BDS, AWC and CW from September 13 2001
to October 2002.She also gives positive testimony as to the work
undertaken by BDS from Swanbourne.
80. AE points out in her Statement (see paragraph
5) that BDS had access to full office facilities at Swanbourne.
This should nowfollowing the PCS' visit to Swanbournebe
uncontroversial (see, e.g., BDS' main Statement at paragraphs
41-52) though, for a time, it was suggested that because extensive
work in the form of additional office provision was carried out
at Swanbourne after BDS ceased to work for IDS that meant
that there were no relevant office facilities at Swanbourne to
which she could have had access when she was working for him.
This is simply a non sequitur and is another example of
an inference sought to be raised by VG but, in fact, fully rebutted
by the evidence.
81. Materially, AE says this: 'Elizabeth Duncan
Smith was essential during the period that I was working as Private
Secretary to coordinate the passage of information between
me and Andrew Whitby-Collins and lain Duncan Smith' (see her
Statement at paragraph 6).As to the content of the work performed
by BDS, AE gives similar evidence in her Statement at paragraphs
6-8 to that of AWC. When questioned by the PCS AE indicated (see
pp. 27-28 of the transcript)
that in her judgment BDS did work the equivalent of 25 hours a
week. She based this judgment on her own interaction with BDS,
the frequency of that interaction and the results of what she
saw as BDS' effect on the work she had done for IDS, the results
in terms of the answers that came to points that AE had asked
BDS to chase up, the emails that were sent by BDS to AE and related
observations of this type .
82. This judgment is significant. The fact that
AE was not present at Swanbourne means, of course, that she did
not see everything first-hand. But she was 'the principal point
of contact' (see transcript at p. 24)
with BDS.AE is, therefore, in a good position to give positive
83. It must also be borne in mind that a precise
estimation of the hours worked by BDS is very difficult. As is
referred to below, the Leader's office was not run on clearly
defined, managerial lines. Its effective operation depended on
the personalities involved, the 'chemistry' between them and the
fact that the new Leader had virtually to start afresh. BDS worked
in a way that fully justified her salary. That is the evidence
of AE. It is important evidence.
84. Further, as already emphasised, AE's positive
and corroborative evidence does not stand alone. It is supported
by AWC (see above). It is also supported by RR and by CW.
85. In his interview with the PCS RR explains
that he had fairly frequent contact with BDS up to the time of
the local government elections. It was not social contact but
involved questions of organisation ("shall you do this?",
"shall I do this?"). It was not the kind of thing that
any spouse would be ringing up about. Because of the conversations
that he had, RR said that he knew that BDS was chasing things
up with AWC and AE.RR said, in his Statement at paragraph 6, that
he knew first hand that BDS was active in her employed role until
86. CW began working with IDS on October 15th
2001.In July 2002 she became IDS' Private Secretary, taking over
this duty from AL. Her Statement makes it clear that CW was aware
of what she terms BDS' 'close management' of IDS' diary
(see Statement at paragraph 6) even though she could not speak
as authoritatively as AE on the subject. In order to find out
what TDS was doing at any particular time she (CW) would telephone
BDS because (see interview transcript at p. 25)
'she was doing diary support and she would be one of the obvious
people, other than [AE] with the knowledge' (see, also, 2nd
transcript of CW interview at pp. 1718).
87. Finally, at paragraph 54 of her second Statement
CW says this: 'Vanessa [Gearson] was wrong when she said that
Mrs Duncan Smith did not do any regular work/or Mr Duncan Smith
and that her basis for concluding this was that Mrs Duncan Smith
was not in touch with her on a regular basis. Mrs Duncan Smith
was in touch with me, Annabelle and Ricki Radford on a regular
88. IDS entirely supports BDS' evidence and the
evidence of those who corroborate her evidence. In his interview
with the PCS he also makes a number of highly relevant points.
See, for example, his observations about home working and the
attitude towards those who do not work rigid office hours (Interview
at pp. 20-21),
the fact that because BDS worked from home she was 'less visible'
(ibid p 21), the close but limited working relationships
that subsist in a private office and the sense of exclusion that
others might feel (ibid pp. 21-22).
89. Not only were the pressures on the Leader
of the Opposition diary (to use BDS' word) 'enormous' in
general terms they were, in the particular case, intensified or
maximised further because of the prevailing difficulties in the
office whenand for a considerable time afterIDS
took over as Leader. Additional support of the kind provided by
BDS was self-evidently necessary.
90. This is made clear by a variety of evidence.
Note, simply by way of example, the following:
i) "... My only recollection was that
in talking to [C W], observing what I observed, I thought, 'Here
is a structural problem. No wonder this guy is working under a
mountain', because you have six months trying to find your feet.
in any job that is the crucial six months, you need to hit the
ground running in a big job ..." (Burt Statement at p.
ii) "There were a number of changes and
re-organisations in the staff and one needs to appreciate that
the Leader of the Opposition's office was being set up from scratch".
iii) "it is the nature 0/the concept
0/Leader of the Oppositionthat you have to discover who
works best with who while you are doing it; there is not a system
that sits there and comes in around you. That is what causes that
transitional problem I was re/erring to, and the need to use Betsy
through that because I could rely on her completely to help get
those things done in a way that perhaps I could not with a lot
of others" (IDS Interview with the PCS at p. 17).
iv) "... It was not a smooth running
operation. There had been quite a rapid turnover. As inevitably
happens, when Mr Duncan Smith became Leader he brought in a team
0/people who did an interim job for him while he established his
new office ... the roles were very ill-defined and people did
not really know what their job was, and this resulted in some
particular operational difficulties ... we felt that the Leader's
diary was a mess; he was doing far too many things. There was
no reason why he was accepting certain invitations and not others,
so we felt there were issues there" (Gilbert Interview
transcript at pp. 5-6).
91. We respectfully submit that the positive
case for BDS performing work that was of a substantial nature
and that fully entitled her to payment for 25 hours work a week
is overwhelming. Unless the former Leader of the Opposition, his
wife and all the witnesses referred to above are deliberately
lying the second and third complaints are entirely without foundation.
92. It is against that background that the negative
inferences sought to be drawn (most notably by VG) fall to be
assessed. The point has already been madeand it is absolutely
fundamentalthat if the evidence set out in the previous
Section is believed then VG's assertions are evidentially irrelevant.
They are irrelevant because they raise no more than (at best)
an inference that BDS was not working. Once the inference is rebutted
that is the end of the relevant complaints. VG's evidence cannot,
logically, lead to the inference that the various witnesses who
give positive testimony are all lying. As she is driven to concedeshe
has never visited Swanbourne.
93. VG's evidence is founded on innuendo and,
it may be thought, some of it rather nasty innuendo at that. In
terms of underlying impression she suggests that IDS was seeking
to pressurise her into lying. Why (so, presumably, her argument
runs) would he do that if there was not truth in the suggestion
that BDS was doing littleif anywork? It is, crudely,
a "no smoke without fire" approach. But it is misconceived.
It is misconceived because there is a raft of supporting and positive
evidence (summarised above) to the effect that BDS was certainly
working to a substantial degree. Conversely VG's testimony demonstrates
that she is not a material witness on the issue of BDS' work
94. The issues raised by VG are either: (a) demonstrably
factually incorrect (as, e.g., her allegations relating to the
provision of office facilities at Swanbourne), (b) analytically
irrelevant and deliberate lies (as, e.g., the suggestion that
she was pressurised by IDS to retract her email of January 30th
2003) or (c) rebutted by positive evidence.
95. It is a matter of surprise that VG should
be at such ostensible pains to drive home the present complaints.
After all, she is not the complainant.
.Nor has she made a complaint to the PCS, requiring resolution,
about being put under improper pressure by IDS. She has responded
in great detail to the evidence presented on behalf of IDS. But
what is her stance? Is she asserting that BDS and the witnesses
who support her case are deliberately lying to the PCS? If she
is not advancing that suggestion then why does she not accept
that although (albeit very surprising to her) she did not see
the fruits of BDS' work there is no further factual foundation
to the relevant complaints?
96. Other questions arise (and have earlier been
foreshadowed).Why write an email after the event that could only
expose IDS to political embarrassment? How did it come about that
this document and another document that were plainly intended
to embarrass (the CW memo) were leaked to the media thus exposing
IDS to maximum political embarrassment? And what a time to choose
97. The PCS will, perhaps, understand why IDS
has attempted to grapple with at least some of these issues in
his evidence. There are three possibilities, we suggest, so far
as the above materials are concerned. They are that: (a) VG's
email and all the leaked material personal to her were drafted
and/or leaked entirely innocently by her and that the ostensibly
intended damage to IDS was not intended at all but was (rather)
a misguided attempt to protect him or (b) such leaks as there
were did not come from VG and her email of January 30th 2003 was
sent for no obvious reason or that (c) there has, at least in
part, been orchestrated leaks of some information or material
by VG (as well as by Crick and MM). We submit that the latter
is (to paraphrase VG's paraphrase of Reid) significantly
more likely to be true than it is to be false. And if the latter
is true then it raises the question of whether VG has told the
truth to the PCS in all respects. If she has not then this should
be determined as a matter of public record in the interests of
98. It may be relevant for the PCS to separate
out those parts of VG's evidence which are (as the philosophers
might say) true but uninteresting from other parts which are either
untrue, inaccurate or malicious. For example, it appears to be
the case that VG made comment, sometimes emphatic comment, about
whether BDS was performing a substantial employment role. On the
other hand (see below) the value of that evidence towards establishing
the complaints is nil. Other evidence (though similarly irrelevant)
is fabrication (as, e.g., IDS forcing her to write the email of
January 31st 2003 or putting improper pressure on her to make
a statement).VG's exact motive for sending the 30th January
email may be obscure
but the motive (whoever did it) in distributing that email
and the CW memo to the media for public consumption is both obvious
and malicious. It is emphasised that both the email and the CW
memo have the common element that VG is either the sender or recipient
in each case.
99. We propose to address the VG issues by outlining
the gist of what she says with a brief response immediately below.
Our summary is based on what we believe to be the main points
raised by VG. It should not be thought by the PCS that the fact
that we omit large parts of VG's evidence means that we accept
it. That is far from the case but we cannot cover everything:
i) I do not contend that Mrs Duncan Smith
could not have worked/or Mr Duncan Smith during this period but
rather that I saw absolutely no evidence of the work carried out
by Mrs Duncan Smith and cannot establish by analysing the distribution
of tasks and responsibilities within the two offices, what work
she was effectively carrying out".
VG does not say that BDS did not work for IDS but,
rather, that she 'saw no evidence' of this. We submit, therefore,
that VG simply is not in a position to dispute the evidence of
the witnesses who give positive evidence as to the substantial
work that BDS was doing. It is to be remembered that VG was only
appointed in the autumn of 2002 and herself had, we accept, minimal
direct contact with BDS. We also consider that VG would have had
little opportunity to overhear conversations between BDS and CW.
It also seems clear from at least some of the materials seen by
the PCS and Ms Barry that BDS wouldif she had to deal with
matters relevant to VGcontact CW rather than VG herself
(see BDS Interview transcript at p. 50).Further,
even the circumstantial evidence suggests that VG may not have
been in a particularly good position to observe what was going
on (see, e.g., letter dated December 1st 2003 from Tim Montgomerie
to the PCS who suggests that VG's chair and desk 'were not
well suited for an adequate understanding of what else was taking
place in the office'). It may also be that VG has failed to
place in relevant context the occasions on which BDS' name is
likely to have come up in conversation (see IDS Interview at pp.
60-62 where this possibility is discussed).
Since she has never suggested that the witnesses supporting BDS'
case as to the work done (and BDS herself) are lying it is not
easy to see how VG's evidence in this respect advances the relevant
ii) "Mrs Duncan Smith states she set
up a functional office in Swanbourne 'which was fully equipped'.
It is my understanding that the office Mrs Duncan Smith describes
was in fact set up in the last months of her employment as demonstrated
by the information set out below" (ibid p. 6)
The PCS has now seen the premises at Swanbourne and
will appreciate that VG's evidence is founded here on a misunderstanding.
True it is that work was undertaken at Swanbourne at the end of
BDS' employment but there were fully functioning office facilities
there throughout the relevant period of the complaints from which
iii) Having set out the 'information ... below'
VG says this: 'Although I have not visited Swanbourne, it is my
considered view in light of the above evidence that it is difficult
to accept Mr Duncan Smith's assertion that Mrs Duncan Smith was
working/or him in a parliamentary capacity from a fully functional
office at their home'.
Whether 'considered' or not, VG' s 'view'
is wrong. Whilst purporting to be more than Crick's 'hunch'
it isas the PCS now knowsbased upon the entirely
incorrect assertion that there were no office facilities in situ
at Swanbourne during throughout the relevant period.
iv) How the Matter regarding Mrs Duncan Smith's
employment was dealt with (ibid pp 9-10).
Here, VG makes three points, namely that: (a) she raised concerns
about BDS' employment being paid out of a Office Costs Allowance
('OCA') within one hour of its being drawn to her attention, (b)
Mr Owen Paterson ('OP') said that he would take the matter up
immediately with IDS, and (c) by mid November 2003 the
Trend allegations had been made public and this strengthened VG's
resolve: VG raised the issue again at an unminuted meeting
at that timeno one questioned VG's assertion that BDS was
not doing any work in return for her salary.
VG's evidence itself is, with respect, potentially
confused. She says
that the concerns that she raised were over BDS' salary being
paid out of the OCA. She does not say that she was expressing
concern over (an assertion) the fact that BDS wason VG's
versiondoing no work. The only reference to VG mentioning
this in her Statement was at a meeting, the content of
which is not recorded, in November 2003.Whilst we do not contest
the fact that she may have expressed concerns to certain people
(e.g. Gilbert and MacGregor) we simply note that there is no written
contemporaneous evidence of her concerns and so the manner of
their expression to different persons is not known. In addition,
she does not give any plausible explanation of why she
did not raise it with AWC, AL, CW or indeed with BDS herself as
she could easily have done. Both these points are important to
an understanding of why there was not an immediate assertion that
BDS did have a positive and very definite employment role as set
out above. Furtherand this is a matter of public recordthe
Trend allegations were only made public in mid December rather
than in mid November.
OP in his Statement accepts that, in the autumn of
2002, VG queried whether BDS was really doing work and he said
that he would take the matter up with IDS. It is clear from paragraph
35 of his Statement that OP raised this with IDS as a 'routine
issue' but that he was not overly concerned. It is accepted
that VG raised a query with OP but we do say that she was not,
at that time, on her Statement evidence pursuing the issue
as one of potential impropriety on IDS' part at least to OP. Similarly,
OP accepts that the query may also have surfaced at a later meeting
along with many other issues (see OP Statement at paragraph 36).When
the matter was raised with IDS by OP it was made clear that BDS'
employment was intended to end (OP Statement paragraph 37). It
is, perhaps, unsurprising that a four month period went by without
concerns being expressed by OP over VG's considered views over
BDS' alleged lack of work. There is a subtle but important difference
between a factual and considered assertion on the one hand and
a question (see immediately below) on the other. However VG put
matters to Mr MacGregor or Mr Gilbert the evidence appears to
be that her concerns were not expressed as forcefully to OP.
The analysis suggested in the previous paragraph
is strengthened by the fact that VG never raised the issue directly
with IDS himself (see IDS' main Statement at paragraph 67).There
was, therefore, nothing to alert IDS to the fact that this was
a query (that he had answered directly to OP) and that had not
been answered to VG's satisfaction.
Nor is there evidence that OP was pressed by VG or anyone else
for a further response. Rather, VG's testimony (letter of 12 January
2004) is that OP told her, well before the Trend allegations became
public in mid December, that "the matter was being dealt
We do not suggest that VG had not expressed concerns
over BDS' role to certain people or at certain meetings. It seems
that she had to Mr Gilbert and Mr MacGregor (see above and fn
the answer that BDS was performing a positive role could reasonably
be expected to be answered by the Leader himself. Had he appreciated
that there was a real concern on VG's part he could and clearly
would have answered it as he has done by evidence in the present
Importantly, and finally on this aspect, it is emphasised
that VG's concerns are, so far as relates to the issues raised
before the PCS, historic. They have been answered by the evidence
of several witnesses as outlined above.
v) The context of the emails (ibid.
pp. 10-12).Here, VG says that: (a) the fact that BDS' employment
had ceased did not entirely alleviate her concerns, so (b) she
sent the email dated January 30th 2003, (c) IDS was very angry
about VG raising such sensitive subjects in an email, (d) he advised
VG in the strongest terms to send out an immediate response, (e)
believing that the only alternative was resignation VG drafted
a retraction (the January 31 email) that wasin effectdictated
by IDS, (f) her evidence as to this is corroborated by Mr MacGregor
(and possibly by Mr Gilbert) and her state of distress following
the meeting with IDS can be attested to by CW and Miss Layton.
It is surprising, and it has not been explained,
how it came about that at the time when she would (on her story)
have been most concerned about BDS' role there is no written trace
of VG's concern. The concern only emerges en passant and after
the 'crisis' has (so to speak) passed. Further, there is no reference
whatever referring back to VG's earlier concerns not having been
addressed. Nor is there any explanation of why a matter of obvious
political sensitivity that VG had, apparently, never put to IDS
himself was sent out by email or why OP (with whom she had raised
a query in the past) was not copied in to the January 30th email.
All that we can really say about the/act of the January 30 email
is that we are highly suspicious of VG's motive. Its subsequent
leaking to the press (with the CW memo) is, we suggest, undeniably
malevolent and done with motive. For all we know it is the same
motive as that which promoted the publication of the email in
the first place.
IDS' evidence as to what happened when that email
was sent is in his main Statement at paragraphs 69-71. It was
obviously the caseas IDS suggests and VG impliedly acceptsthat
sending the email of 30th January was, to say the least (if it
was not deliberately manipulative) 'an act of striking political
naiveté. 'Whatever VG's precise motives it is, we suggest,
entirely believable that she should have apologised to IDS as
he says that she did
and to have wanted to put the matter right.It
was, we suggest, in those circumstances that VG came to write
her email of January 31 retracting the earlier email.
It may well be that VG was distressed following the
meeting with IDS on January 31 2003. This would be entirely understandable
given that she realised that she rightly deserved rebuke for what
she had done. There is, however, no suggestion from either Mr
MacGregor or Mr Gilbert (who have given evidence as to the second
email) that IDS dictated a new email for VG to sign. Further,
it may be thought that on her own evidence VG would notat
least consistently with the approach she apparently takes to related
mattershave lied in order to keep her job or to protect
Finally, of course, there is no complaint before
the PCS as to IDS putting improper pressure on VG to retract her
earlier email. The existence, or removal, of VG's concerns over
BDS' role are in terms of analysis of the facts completely irrelevant
to the complaints that have been made against IDS.
vi) Events leading up, to the presentation
of the complaint (ibid pp. 12-17)
In essence, VG says that: (a) IDS made four improper
approaches to her when the Crick storm was breaking in September-October
2003 to give a statement under oath stating that she was 'entirely
satisfied' as to the arrangements over BDS' employment, (b)
VG expressed concerns to senior figures that she was being pressurised
to make a statement but indicated that she simply could not support
IDS' position because this would constitute the offence of perjury.
Tellingly, VG says nothing in her description of
the allegedly relevant events leading to the presentation of her
complaint in her Statement of her relationship with Crick or of
the leak to the media of highly sensitive documents.
The suggestion that IDS put pressure on her to lie
is simply untrue. If (see above) he had not put pressure on her
to retract the 30th January email it is clear that the email sent
the following day is a truthful document and that, by that date
at least, VG was satisfied over the arrangements relating to BDS
It is not easy to reconstruct the swift passage of
events at this time. However, VG seems to have told Mrs May ('TM')
the then Chairman of the Party on October 6th 2003 that IDS had
asked her to make a statement to say that she was happy with the
second email expressing satisfaction with the BDS arrangements
but that she had refused though VG told TM that she hadin
an earlier meeting with TM and Tim Montgomeriesaid that
she was happy with the second email. According to TM's evidence
VG told TM that her earlier willingness to say she was happy with
the second email might have been a mistake. TM's impression, when
she spoke to IDS by telephone on the last day of the Party Conference
was that up to the point at which IDS received a letter from VG's
lawyers he at least was unaware that she (VG) was not willing
to make a statement. It must be clear that IDS was unaware that
there was any issue over sending the e-mail of 31st January or
VG's willingness to make a statement. IDS took VG's comments to
him, and subsequently to Tim Montgomerie, that she was happy to
send the second e-mail in order to put things right, at face value.
At no point did VG express any concern to IDS or Tim Montgomerie
about sending the second e-mail. Indeed, the first time VG raised
this issue with IDS was in the letter dated 10 October 2003 from
her solicitors to IDS. Accordingly, he could have had no reason
to place any pressure on VG, and indeed never did so (see above).
Overall, TM' s evidence suggests that the conversations
that she had had did not suggest that VG was being required to
make any statement. Further, the Statement of Tim Montgomerie
supports this. Mr Montgomerie states that the meeting which he
attended on October 1 2003 with IDS and VG was 'very relaxed'.
He states positively that at no time did VG contradict IDS' recollection
of events or subject VG to any pressure. Over the days following
that meeting VG apparently told Mr Montgomerie that she regretted
that her email had caused difficulties for IDS and that she had,
indeed, been persuaded that the concerns in her email had been
answered. IDS is also adamant that he did not put any pressure
on VG at any time.
So, properly analysed, there is independent evidence
that IDS did not put any improper pressure on VG to make a Statement.
Had he done so it is inevitable, on VG's account, that Tim Montgomerie's
evidence is untrue. Indeed, that is what VG says in her oral evidence
to the PCS (see Interview transcript at 60-62).This
is not a matter on which Mr Montgomerie can be mistaken. He is
either telling the truth or he is lying.
We suggest that there is absolutely no possible motive
on Mr Montgomerie's part to lie. Not only is VG's evidence materially
untrue on this aspect of matters but it is designed as a direct
smear on IDS' character. We invite the PCS to make an express
finding rejecting her evidence on this important issue as untruthful.
If her evidence on this aspect is untruthful her reliability as
a witness on other matters should also be treated with great caution.
100. That is really the sum total of VG's evidence
in relation to the complaints under analysis here. Following the
interview process IDS has filed a second Statement and VG has
put in a further long letter dated January 12th 2004 with myriad
appendices. It is not proposed to analyse that material in depth
here since it adds little to the overall weight of the evidence
and is largely argumentative .
101. For the reasons set out above we respectfully
invite the PCS to dismiss the first three complaints on the evidence
and to make a specific finding that VG is lying when she accuses
IDS of putting improper pressure on her at any time.
Part 4The Source of Payments Issues
102. The complaints here (the third and fourth
complaints) relate to whether or not IDS paid CW, AL and/or BDS
out of the correct source. Put shortly, should he have paid them
out of his Parliamentary allowance or ought they to have been
paid from Party funds or Short Money?
103. By the time one reaches this stage of the
analysis one has travelled, at least as far as BDS is concerned,
a long way from allegations of impropriety. So far as we can tell
it has not been suggested that IDS was deliberately misusing his
Parliamentary allowance. If such a suggestion were to be made
we would most certainly wish to have the further opportunity of
addressing it in Written Submissions prior to the PCS submitting
a draft Report to the CS because such an allegation has never
been put to IDS or any of his witnesses.
104. For that reason we address these issues
very briefly. Some time, in the early stages of the PCS' inquiry,
was devoted by Reynolds Porter Chamberlain to persuading the PCS
to deal with these matters separately because they are, in truth,
very different in nature from the first and second complaints.
105. It is understood that IDS has written to
the PCS very recently about these issues in the light of the recently
received material from Mr A Walker of the Department of Finance
and Administration. Our submissions here, therefore, simply focus
on the main points of principle so far as the third and fourth
complaints are concerned. In other words, our submissions are
directed towards the central proposition that, absent clearly
defined rules, IDS (and others in a similar position) has acted
perfectly properly in paying CW, AL and BDS as he did.
106. IDS' clear understanding is that both his
Parliamentary Allowance and Short Money may only be paid for the
performance of Parliamentary duties (including, it seems, research)
but cannot be paid in relation to party political work. The difficulty
lies in defining the distinction between the two. We understand
this much to be uncontroversial.
107. On that footing IDS addresses some of these
issues in his main Statement at paragraphs 48-49.
In essence he says this:
i) His Parliamentary duties always extended beyond
his political duties to his constituency. As Leader of the Opposition
he had numerous Parliamentary duties beyond those owed to the
constituency because they also served the national interest. These
duties includedin addition to those of an MPspeaking
in the House, Prime Minister's Questions, speeches and visits
in the community as well as ceremonial and official functions
(Statement at paragraph 48).
ii) As the Reid Report evidences, there is not
always a clear dividing line between what is or is not party political
(see Reid Report at paragraph 45, 2nd Report and Statement
at paragraph 48).
iii) BDS did not assist IDS with his party political
tasks (Statement at paragraph 49). That is, in part, why her contacts
were limited and why (for example) she had next to no contact
with many of the witnesses who have given evidence to the PCS
108. IDS amplified this before the PCS in oral
interview (see Interview transcript at pp. 29-36). The main points
that emerged from the discussion are these:
i) According to IDS' understanding from the Green
Book, Short Money and the Parliamentary Allowance were, essentially,
similar in nature in that both are directed towards the undertaking
of Parliamentary functions (p. 30).
ii) IDS had three roles being: (a) a constituency
MP and a Parliamentarian,(b) Leader of the Oppositionessentially
a Parliamentary role and (c) the leader of a political party.
There are grey areas as to what is Parliamentary and what is party
political and the CS may wish to make more precise judgments.
It would, however, be wrong to apply such a judgment retrospectively
iii) The PCS accepted that there might be an
"issue" as to the proper use of Short Money and
said he was waiting to hear from the Finance and Administration
Department (which he has recently done: see above). However, IDS
emphasised that whatever that Department were to say the guidance
as to the use of Short Money had not been clear. The PCS said
that there was a "potential debate" around the
definition of "Parliamentary" and that a different definition
has been given in respect of Short Money from the definition in
the Green Book in respect of ordinary members' allowances. The
PCS further then said that: "... that wider definition
in respect of Short money stands, as it were, as the only definition
on offer. It has not, I think, formally been before the House/or
consideration." Ms Barry referred to it as 'a long running
discussion" (Interview transcript at pp. 33-35).Indeed,
the recent correspondence between IDS, Mr A Walker and the PCS
has established that there is no definition of "parliamentary
business" for the purposes of Short Money nor any guidance
on the parliamentary duties of the Leader of the Opposition.
109. In the light of that exchange it is, we
suggest, quite impossible to castigate IDS by way of complaint
for payments made out of his Parliamentary Allowance whether to
BDS, AL or CW. It is obviously an area of current fluidity where,
it would appear, insufficient clarification has been provided
to date. We would certainly welcome further guidance and/or recommendations
from the PCS and from the CS to rectify this situation.
110. We suggest, too, that in analysing these
particular complaints the PCS revisits the evidence of CW. In
her Second Statement CW makes it clear that she did not do party
political work of any kind (see paragraph 7). It was certainly
CW' s view that she was, on proper consideration, paid out of
the correct source of funds: note, especially, her question and
answer interview with the PCS at Interview transcript pp. 5-17
and her Second Statement at paragraph 23.
As can be seen, CW's understanding of the relevant payment rules
is substantially the same as that of IDS. To similar effect see
AE 2nd interview transcript especially at p.8:
'As far as I can see the rules as they stand.
I thought I was appropriately paid out of the appropriate pot
of money. If it is ruled that I was not appropriately paid, then
the rules need to be clarified. I do not think it is clear at
all as to who can be paid and who cannot be paid. It just says
"to help a Member of Parliament perform his parliamentary
duties ", and that is exactly what I was doing.'
111. That is, perhaps, an appropriate place to
end since that ison these complaintsour case.
112. We are conscious that these Written Submissions
can only add to the burden on the PCS of determining these sensitive
complaints. We apologise, in advance, for that.
113. In concluding, therefore, we wish merely
to make the following short bullet points and to thank the PCS
for addressing matters so conscientiously:
i) The PCS procedure is challenged on a systemic
basis. We understand the very great difficulty that a series of
complaints such as the present pose for the PCS. We submit, however,
that a procedure that lacks clear rules as to crucial matters
such as burden of proof, disclosure and separation of the necessary
stages of an inquiry operates, and has operated, unfairly to a
person such as IDS in (then at least) the most prominent of public
ii) If one strips the complaints bare there is
nothing in any of them. Unless highly reputable personssuch
as IDS, BDS, AE, AWC, AL, RR, and Mr Montgomerieare lying
there is simply no basis for any assertion of impropriety on the
part of IDS.
iii) Crick, VG and MM (singly and together) have
caused considerable embarrassment and maximum political damage
to IDS as well as greatly extending the time and costs of this
inquiry. In the interests of justice any lies that are clearly
shown to be lies should be exposed. In the case of VG she has
certainly lied in her allegation of improper pressure being put
on her by IDS. VG and MM's allegations that the Trend allegations
were known to IDS before they became public and that they were
material to IDS' decision that BDS would cease employment are
iv) The leaks that have occurred are iniquitous.
These, too, should be highlighted in the PCS' Report to the CS.
v) When everyone laboured under the belief that
payments were being paid from the appropriate source it would
be wrongwhatever the final clarificationfor any
blame to be laid at the door of TDS. These complaints were added
as a make-weight. They are the last straw.
114. We respectfully ask the PCS to recommend
dismissal of each and every one of the complaints laid against
4 February 2004
89 Note by author: It is emphasised that we
consider the defects to be systemic in nature in a case such as
the present. Thus, we fully recognise the pressures and obligations
imposed on the PCS as well as those placed upon IDS. Back
See PCS Written Submission 4. Back
Note by author: We do not address media disclosure other
than by example and have, for the e sake of brevity only, ignored
broadcasting disclosure and other plain breaches of the relevant
broadcasting Codes. Back
See PCS Written Submission 11. Back
Not appended by the Commissioner. Back
Note by author: The PCS' letter to IDS dated October 13th
2003 stated, materially, that: '
the anonymity of these
sources makes it difficult for me to weigh/test their evidence.' Back
Note by author: The PCS then made it quite clear that,
as is required, the fact that he was making further inquiries
and expected to report to the CS did not imply that he regarded
the allegations against IDS as substantiated. Back
Note by author: It was made clear that the allegation of
pressure being put by IDS on VG to retract her email of 30th
January 2003 was not being made the subject of a complaint
by Crick. Back
Not appended by the Commissioner. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 7. Back
Note by author: Note, too IDS Interview with the PCS at
p 19 ("
I have absolutely no doubt at all that my wife
worked more than 25 hours [a week] and the reason I have no doubt
is that she was working regularly at night, late into the evenings,
a number of hours every day, two or three hours most evenings
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 7. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 22. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 23. Back
Note by author: We do not propose to interpret the CW memo
further since CW-its author-has now given evidence as to what
was in her mind when she wrote it. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 5. Back
See PCS Written Submission 5. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 10. Back
Note by author: Despite the fact that she is not the complainant
(and has made no complaint) VG appears to be following the progress
of Crick's complaint with keen interest. Even though the only
complaint put before the PCS by October 16th 2003 was
that BDS had done no work during the relevant period, VG devotes
a large portion of her first statement to 'issues relating
to Mr Duncan Smith's Parliamentary Office Costs' (WS 13).
How had these issues come to her attention? We surmise that VG
must, at this time have been hand-in-glove with Crick. Yet this
was, according to her evidence, a lady seeking only to protect
the interests of IDS. Back
Note by author: A political motive is suggested by IDS
and VG was questioned about it in her interview with the PCS:
see Interview transcript at p 42. [See PCS Oral Evidence 9, Volume
See PCS Written Submission 13. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 2. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3. Back
See PCS Written Submission 13. Back
See PCS Written Submission 13. Back
See PCS Written Submission 13. Back
See PCS Written Submission 13. Back
See PCS Written Submission 19. Back
Note by author: We do not ignore the evidence of Mr Gilbert
who states, in interview with the PCS, that VG raised the issue
at some of the unrecorded communications meetings and that VG
also raised the issue with him and MacGregor on one occasion when
they were together (Gilbert Interview transcript at pp 9-11).
However, the urgency or otherwise with which VG raised the matter
with persons other than OP-who (we assume everyone knew) was going
to raise the matter with IDS or IDS himself is beside the point.
OP rarely attended communications meetings (see Gilbert Interview
p 11). There would be little point in a response to VG's concerns
ad interim. Similar observations apply to the evidence
of Mr MacGregor. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 10. Back
See PCS Written Statement 13. Back
See PCS Written Statement 13. Back
Note by author: VG suggests by implication when questioned
by the PCS about other matters that the leaking of the email did
not come from her: see Interview transcript at p 49. See, also,
her letter dated January 12th 2004 at pp 10-11. [See
PCS Oral Evidence 9, Volume III.] Back
Note by author: In IDS's statement it is pointed out that
allegations of pressure also featured in the Reid case. Such allegations
of pressure may have been necessary for VG to explain her concealment
of the e-mail of 31st January from Crick. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 9. Back
See PCS Written Submission 7. Back
Not appended by the Commissioner. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 3. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 23. Back
See PCS Written Submission 25. Back
See Volume III, PCS Oral Evidence 8. Back