The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn - Privileges Committee Contents

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 me).

  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 23 January.

  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.

  Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Calvert

Insight Editor

The Sunday Times.

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