1.The Commissioner states that the Committee should only have regard to evidence that was not before the Commissioner if that evidence was not available at the time of the investigation, and if it shows that the Commissioner’s findings are unsafe. She states that I have not explained why I have referred to new documents in my appeal. I respond in this note, since I do not have time to do so in the half hour allocated to me to make a statement.
2.The Committee will recall that the Commissioner found that I abused my power by excluding the complainant from relevant meetings about the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] between the events in Herne Hill (now agreed to be on [REDACTED—date]) up until the [REDACTED—media event] on [REDACTED—date] (a six-day period). The Commissioner says this was a twelve-day period, taking as the end point the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] on [REDACTED—date].
3.The complainant’s original allegation was that this period of exclusion from meetings was for a number of weeks, between [REDACTED—two dates around three months apart]. When I saw this in the complaint, I asked my part time personal assistant to search the Odysseus Trust archive of documents to see if there was still any relevant material (the office having closed more than two years ago) relating to the complainant or the [REDACTED—parliamentary business]. She found a historic email inbox and searched the archive index and found some briefings about the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] but nothing else relevant.
4.The Commissioner then found, for the first time in the Report, that the correct timeframe for any possible exclusion was in fact only between [REDACTED] (now agreed to be the date on which the complainant stayed in Herne Hill) and the [REDACTED—media event] on [REDACTED—date six days after the Herne Hill events] or in the run up to the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] on [REDACTED—11 days after the Herne Hill events].
5.As David Perry QC explains (and I explained in my Grounds), having found that those were the only relevant days in which there could have been an exclusion, the Commissioner did not investigate whether there was any evidence of meetings from which I had, or could have excluded the complaint during those days, and incorrectly concluded that nothing turned on the revised dates.
6.When I saw the Commissioner’s conclusion that those were in fact the relevant dates but that nothing turned on them, I asked my current personal assistant to search every single email over that time period. The Commissioner never asked me to do so, never asked my whereabouts on those dates, or asked or otherwise investigated whether there were any meetings about the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] on those dates.
7.The documents we found are summarised at paragraphs 40-47 and 56 of the Grounds of Appeal. They show the following.
8.First, that it is overwhelmingly likely that I met the complainant for the first time four days before she came to stay in Herne Hill when she says I harassed her sexually. The documents show that the complainant’s first contact with me was an invitation on [REDACTED—around two months before the book launch] for me to come to her book launch on [REDACTED—8 days after the Herne Hill events] (which I did). My diary confirms that I met her in chambers on [REDACTED—4 days before the Herne Hill events]. There is no suggestion of a meeting before then, indeed I was only in London for a week during that period. The fact that I had almost certainly met her for the first time only four days before makes the complainant’s allegations extremely hard to believe.
9.Second, there is an electronic ticket showing that I flew from Gatwick Airport to Strasbourg on [REDACTED—the day after the Herne Hill events] and returned the next evening. This makes M’s (untested) evidence that I was in a taxi making unwanted sexual advances on [REDACTED - the day after the Herne Hill events] impossible. I was on trains from Herne Hill to Victoria and from Victoria to Gatwick Airport to fly to Strasbourg at 11.00am.
10.It also shows that there were only two possible days on which I could have “excluded” the complainant from [REDACTED—parliamentary business] meetings, and no evidence of there being meetings on either day. There were only six days between the Herne Hill event and the [REDACTED—media event] during which she could have been excluded from meetings. One was a Saturday. As I now know, I was in Strasbourg for two of them.
11.Third, there is an email showing that on [REDACTED—7 days after the Herne Hill events], far from my excluding the complainant, my office manager and personal assistant at the time Evie Jamieson arranged, at my instigation, for the complainant to sit below the Bar during the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] on [REDACTED—date], and I [REDACTED—information relating to the parliamentary business].
12.Fourth, an email of [REDACTED—date around 3 months after the Herne Hill events] shows that I agreed to write a letter in support of the complainant’s application for a grant from the [REDACTED—name of organisation] at that time, illustrating our normal and cordial relationship at that time.
13.Finally, there are eleven statements written about my character by people who have worked with me closely. This evidence was not before the Commissioner because she declined to interview my character witnesses.
14.We retrieved these documents in response to the Commissioner’s findings in the Report. The documents provide further evidence of what Mr Perry identifies as the Commissioner’s failure to investigate.
15.This is not a criminal Court of Appeal considering the fairness of admitting fresh evidence after a full police investigation, jury trial, cross examination, and all of the other safeguards. The issue is whether this Committee should endorse findings made by the Commissioner in light of this material, after an investigation with none of those features, and in which the Commissioner herself noted the absence of experienced colleagues to assist her.
16.It would be wholly unfair in this context for the Commissioner’s findings and the proposed penalty of expulsion to be endorsed by this Committee where there now exists objective evidence demonstrating that some of the key and most serious allegations are not correct. That is so even if it were the case that any of the material could have been found earlier. It would be troubling if the Commissioner were suggesting otherwise.
213 Comments on the Appeal, paras 34-41.
214 Comments on the Appeal, paragraph 85
215 Report paragraph 23 (pages 17-18); Appendix A to the Report paragraphs 31 and 33 (pages 62 and 65) [reference is to a document that has not been published]; Appendix S to the Report pages 134-5.
216 Report page 168. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
217 Appeal Bundle tab 5. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
218 As my diary shows, I was in Strasbourg from [REDACTED—dates], Ireland [REDACTED—dates], Paris [REDACTED—dates] and Mexico [REDACTED—dates]
219 Grounds of Appeal paragraph 46.
220 Appeal Bundle tab 6. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
221 Grounds of Appeal, paragraph 47.
222 The complainant’s allegation is that the exclusion from meetings ended with the [REDACTED—media event] on [REDACTED—6 days after the Herne Hill events]. See Appendix A to the Report, paragraph 33 (page 65) [reference is to a document that has not been published] and Appendix S to the Report, pages 134-5. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
223 Appeal Bundle tabs 3 and 9. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
224 Appeal Bundle tab 3. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
225 Appeal Bundle 8. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
226 Grounds paragraphs 51 – 56.
227 Report, paragraph 90.