Jacqui Smith - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents


Thank you for your letter. I see that you require the words of the Home Secretary to be corroborated and I am happy to do that for you.

My sister and I share a house, as we have done for many of the years during which she has been a Member of Parliament.

I can, as you request, confirm her description of the way we share the accommodation.

I can also confirm that she spends three, four, five or more nights a week here, depending on where her duties as a Minister and constituency MP take her. But no, I'm not sure that I can provide evidence for this, further than my word.

As for the Christmas period, I didn't think I would be able to offer more conclusive proof than the picture I understand she has submitted to you of the two of us and a huge turkey in our kitchen... but I can!

My [related individual] is a professional photographer and he spent Christmas with us. He gave me a long and complicated explanation of how the digital pictures he took, including one of Jacqui and her son in front of a Christmas tree, can be proven to have been taken at the time indicated on the computer file and not doctored (ie: he hasn't photoshopped in the Norwegian spruce) but I'll spare you that and just include the picture. Let me know if you would like more details.

The picture of us on the terrace of the House of Commons on New Year's Eve I can't improve on, I'm afraid... although I understand through my experience of court reporting that mobile telephone records can show the location of particular phones at particular times. Also, the security guard on duty that night might well remember having seen us.

Our next door neighbour would also be happy to confirm that Jacqui was here in […] at those times.

I see in her letter to you that Mrs Taplin insists that she and her husband understand exactly what the arrangements are for policing our home—although I would be surprised to hear that the Met has made that known to them. She also makes it clear that each and every night she or Mr Taplin—perhaps even both of them—check the outside of our home for proof of Jacqui's presence. That is quite a commitment as they live five doors—around thirty metres—away on the same side of the road and behind a fir tree.

Despite their best efforts and I assume late night trips up to our home to investigate who's in and who isn't, they have clearly got themselves confused.

The idea that weeks and months have gone by when Jacqui has been away from London—and away from our home here—is not true. The police may have disappeared for the two week holiday that we all took last August but the complainant's "clear and simple indicator" for when my sister "is in residence" has obviously let her down.

I see from the date on Mrs Taplin's letter that she only chose to write to you after contacting the Conservative Party for advice and after her extensive interview about us appeared in that great organ of truth and social justice, the Mail on Sunday.

As a journalist I have been amazed to see her story, unchecked, repeated so many times since you announced you would be carrying out the investigation.

Mrs Taplin describes the whole situation as being "based on untruths". I hope you will understand the damage that these words, not backed up by facts themselves, have caused,

These false allegations have had a direct impact on me. In the two and a half months this inquiry has already taken, three newspapers have attempted to run stories about my own finances, suggesting I don't pay income tax on money I receive from my sister. I do, although my accountant reckons I'm about the only person in Britain who does.

None of these papers have come to check this story with me. In fact only today the Evening Standard was due to run it. It's only because their photographer was taking pictures of our home late last night that we found out about their plans and were able to let them know that whoever is hawking this story around—with no doubt increasing desperation—is making it up.

Our … neighbour has said she would like the matter of Jacqui's primary residence to be fully investigated by you. I wonder if by giving (not selling, surely) her "facts" to a newspaper first, she may have encouraged a few people to have made up their minds about this matter already?

I hope this information helps.

30 April 2009

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