Jacqui Smith - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents



14.  LETTER TO RT HON JACQUI SMITH MP FROM THE COMMISSIONER, 22 APRIL 2009

Thank you very much for all the help you gave in identifying your overnight stays from your official and personal diaries.

I enclose a summary of the position as we discussed it on the basis of an analysis of these diaries and the information provided by your office on 21 April. As you will see, the figures are very close to the ones which you sent me with your letter of 26 March. You will see also that, as you pointed out in that letter, a comparatively small number of nights spent in Redditch (or in the final year in London) would have a significant effect on the overall figures. You will know also that, because understandably your diaries often did not specifically identify where you spent each night, a significant proportion of the conclusions were based on a reasonable estimate of where you were likely to have spent the night and, for a small number of nights the diaries provided insufficient evidence to make a wholly reliable judgement based on the diaries alone. For 2007-08 and 2008--09 the number of nights for which there is insufficient diary evidence could affect significantly the overall balance across the year.

In the light of all this, I have considered further whether I need to ask the police to check whether they have any reliable information about your overnight stays during your period as Home Secretary. I recognize and was grateful for the advice which you secured from senior officials about this. I recognize too their preference that police records should be used only as a last resort, and your own view that the most accurate records available are your Ministerial and personal diaries, supported by your recollections.

After careful consideration, I have concluded that it is necessary for me to ask the police whether they can reliably provide such information. While I would not describe this as a last resort, it is, I believe, necessary in view of the comparatively narrow gap between the London and Redditch locations in 2007-08 and 2008-09, the proportion of overnight stays which were necessarily estimated from your diaries and the potential impact the most uncertain nights could have on the overall figures. I have therefore written to the Commissioner to ask for his help on this aspect of my inquiry. I have emphasised to him that I would only want this information if it can be produced with a high degree of assurance as to its accuracy and if it can be produced within a reasonable timescale and at a manageable cost.

I am also writing to your sister as I mentioned when we met. I am showing her the relevant information you gave me in your letter of 24 February and inviting her to confirm it with any evidence she may have to help me.

I am writing also to the complainant for any additional evidence she may wish to submit, and to the Department of Resources for their advice as to the interpretation of the relevant rules in the light of the analysis of your overnight stays which we have produced and which I am forwarding to them.

I shall let you know when I receive responses to these further inquiries.

22 April 2009

ANALYSIS OF OVERNIGHT LOCATIONS FOR RT HON JACQUI SMITH MP
 Total London Total RedditchTotal elsewhere Total for yearDifference between London and Redditch nights
2005-06 (from 10 May 2005)        
Original figures142 13055 32712
Revised figures139 12858 32511
2006-07       
Original figures150 13382 36517
Revised figures151 13183 36520
2007-08       
Original figures157 14762 36610
Revised figures157 14564 36612
2008-09       
Original figures146 15564 365-9
Revised figures145 15466 365-9



 
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Prepared 12 October 2009