Letter to Mr Keith from Jonathan Calvert
of the Sunday Times, Tuesday 17 March 2009
Dear Mr Keith,
The two missed conversations with Lord Moonie
and Lord Taylor should have been recorded on a mini-disc which
was kept permanently in my office (while the other conversations
were recorded on a portable digital recorder which I kept with
It was connected to the phone via a black box
which, by mistake, had been turned to play rather than record
when I made the telephone call to Lord Moonie on Tuesday 21 January
2009. I didn't realise the machine wasn't working until after
I had used the same mini-disc for the call to Lord Taylor on Thursday
We still have the disc. On tracks three and
four there is the January 15 conversation with Lord Taylor. There
are then five empty tracks before we corrected the problem. My
colleague Claire Newell next used the recorder for her conversation
with Lord Moonie on Friday 24 2009. Only two blank tracks are
of significant length and they are almost certainly the conversation
with Lord Moonie and Lord Taylor.
My recollection of the Lord Moonie conversation
is very much as I wrote in the document we submitted to your committee
earlier. It was the first time we had contacted Lord Moonie since
our meeting in the House of Lords a week earlier. I told him that
we had discussed the prospect of employing him with our fictional
client, Mr Jiang, the Chinese businessman. I said that Mr Jiang
was particularly keen to get an ex-minister on board and would
be delighted to employ him. I enquired whether he has talked to
Lord *** about the type of work he might be able to do for us.
Lord Moonie said he hadn't but he had talked to other colleagues
and there didn't seem to be a problem to work for us. I reminded
him that we wanted him to help amend the Business Rates Supplement
Bill. I recall he asked whether the work was just related to the
amendment or if there was going to be other work, as we had mentioned
in our meeting. I would have said that the work was initially
just the amendment but there was the prospect of further work
at some point in the future. He agreed that he would be able to
identify and contact members of both houses who might help push
the amendment through. I asked if he knew John Healey, the local
government minister in charge of the bill, and he said he did.
He agreed to contact Healey on our behalf about the amendment.
My recollection is that he said he would contact John Healey in
person, rather than in writing as Lord Moonie later claimed in
his telephone conversation with Michael Gillard. I certainly do
not recall any discussion about whether he should or should not
use House of Lords headed writing paper. When I asked him about
what fee he wanted, he said he would come back to me.
My recollection of the Lord Taylor conversation
is very similar to the account we sent you earlier. Although,
listening to the recordings that preceded it, it is possible the
call may have been made on the evening of Wednesday January 21
rather than the following day.
On Wednesday January 21, Lord Taylor left three
messages on my answer phone in which he had claimed to have spoken
to Peter Mandelson, Baroness Andrews and Yvette Cooper about the
amendment to the Business Rate Supplement Bill. The purpose of
my call to Lord Taylor was to find out how those meetings had
gone. My recollection is that he talked about meeting the ministers
and had made our case for the amendment but he was a little vague
on specific details from the conversations. He said he was 25%
along the way to amending the Bill but kept asking me to be patient
as he had a further meeting set up the following week. I recall
we also discussed meeting the head of the Bill team and his work
for Cantxx and Experian.
The Sunday Times.