In this response I set out Lord Lester’s assertions and my responses, and use the following abbreviations:
R = my Report and appendices [appendices documents have not been published]
C = my Comments on the Grounds of Appeal
N = Lord Lester’s Note on ‘Fresh Evidence’, received on 31 October
That late evidence should be admitted as it shows that my findings are unsafe
Lord Lester’s note repeats several points made in his Grounds of Appeal; which he says should be considered by the Committee, even though they rely on evidence that he did not produce during the investigation. I have previously dealt with this in my Comments (C 34-41). I am concerned that Lord Lester has not dealt with my comments in this note, so I now deal in more detail with the unlikeliness of one of the assertions that depends on the ‘new’ evidence: that he first met the complainant on [REDACTED—4 days before the Herne Hill events], rather than several months earlier.
In his evidence during the investigation Lord Lester has said: ‘I first met [REDACTED] in my Chambers in September or October [REDACTED]’ (R96 at para 3) [reference is to a document that has not been published]; that it was ‘then or soon thereafter that I agreed to go [REDACTED] to launch her book’; and that before he invited [REDACTED] to spend the night at his house she had been working with him ‘for a few weeks’(R 97 at para 7) [reference is to a document that has not been published]. In his second statement, dated 25 May, he confirms that when he first met the complainant was in about September ‘after I came back from our family home in West Cork when I invited her to my Chambers to discuss her book [REDACTED]. (R109 at 15) [reference is to a document that has not been published].
This seems a more plausible scenario than that he agreed to go to her book launch without ever having met her or spoken to her, and that he invited her to the event on [REDACTED—date of the Herne Hill events], and the dinner afterwards having only met her 4 days before, and then to spend the night at his house after having only met her once before (a weekend intervened between [REDACTED—dates 4 days apart]).
In support of an earlier first meeting, I note that in her interview with me Lady Lester recalled that before the complainant stayed the night ‘she and Anthony had had quite a bit to do with each other’ (R122 at 20). Reference is to a document which has not been published.
He also said that after first meeting her, she ‘continued to come to meetings in Parliament organised to rally support for the [REDACTED] (R97 at para 13) [reference is to a document that has not been published]; and that these meetings took place ‘before Christmas.’ He recalls that it was at one of these meetings that Baroness Butler-Sloss said that he should involve S, who was at the meeting, as she was a rising star. (R109 at 25). Reference is to a document which has not been published.
In her evidence S includes an email which shows that Baroness Butler-Sloss raised this with S in December, which supports the accuracy of Lord Lester’s recollection that the complainant was attending meetings with him before Christmas.
If I had had Lord Lester’s diary during the course of the investigation, all the discrepancies between what Lord Lester originally said and what he is now saying could have been explored.
When I interviewed Lord Lester on 10 April I asked him if he had any records of meetings, and he said he did not know. (R110/111). [reference is to a document that has not been published] He knew it was important, but apparently did not take the suggestion seriously until after he received my report. His Chambers diary, not produced until yesterday, would have been extremely helpful during the investigation. However, his late production of this evidence, for no good reason that I can see, has now made it impossible for me to test it with witnesses or others mentioned in the diary. It would be grossly unfair to rely on the evidence produced after the end of the investigation to reject my findings.
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]) up until the [REDACTED—media event] on [REDACTED] (a six-day period).
The footnote to this assertion shows that Lord Lester is relying on C85. C83-85 show that my finding was the opposite of this:
“Lord Lester has introduced new evidence, which he says undermines some of the complainant’s claims even more than he considers the previous evidence had done. I have dealt with the general unfairness of this above, and now deal with his assertion, based on new material, that the complainant’s claim to have been excluded from meetings ‘for several weeks’ cannot have been true. (R Appendix A p8 at para 31, GA 42-44). [reference is to a document that has not been published].
His claim entirely relies on the complainant’s original belief that she spent the night in his house in [REDACTED—around 2 or 3 months before the actual date], and that the alleged exclusion must have been before the [REDACTED- media event] on [REDACTED]. Once it was established that the night at the house was on [REDACTED], there was clearly no time between then and [REDACTED - media event] for the complainant to have been excluded for several weeks.
However, the complainant’s statement does not say that the exclusion happened before the [REDACTED—media event] on [REDACTED], but that it occurred with ‘the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] fast approaching’. The House of Lords [REDACTED—parliamentary business] took place on [REDACTED], so there were 12 days between the night at Lord Lester’s house and the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] during which I accept the complainant could not have been excluded ‘for several weeks’. However, there were then the further stages of the [REDACTED—parliamentary business] during which there would have been meetings to which the complainant could have contributed.”
‘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—6 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]..
I never said or suggested this.
Lord Lester refers to R168, which sets out the recollection of one of the complainant’s witnesses as to the order in which events took place, and an email exchange between me and Lord Lester about a conversation that he had had with S in which he alleged that the complainant had felt ‘edged out’ by her. S recalled that this conversation had taken place between [REDACTED—the day of the Herne Hill events] and an event in [REDACTED] which S gives as [REDACTED - around 7 weeks after the Herne Hill events] (R145). [reference is to a document that has not been published] Two points arise:
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) and Appendix S to the Report, pages 134-5. [reference is to a document that has not been published]
These exchanges were not about whether the exclusions happened before the [REDACTED—media event], but when the harassment started.
The remaining assertions in this late submission were made in the Grounds of Appeal and responded to in my Comments. I refer to C 34-37 and my responses above in relation to the assertions in LS 9-12, and C92-99 in relation to the assertions in LS 13 and 14.