Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from The Lord Coe OBE
I am writing further to my letter of 21 February
and my visit to William Hague's constituency last weekend.
As Tina Stowell in this office indicated to you on
the telephone last night, my further enquiries have served only
to confirm what I reported in my letter of 21 February. Namely,
that the manner in which advice was sought from professionals
in Mr Hague's constituency was informal and there is no written
record of any conversations that would have occurred. As busy
professionals, those who initially offered assistance did not
make the creation of a charitable trust a priority. As I explained
in my earlier letter, Mr Hague's Constituency Secretary, Claire
Gibson, was also at this time under immense family pressures *
* * *. It is therefore fair to say, as I have previously, that
she did not pursue the creation of the trust as vigorously as
she might because of these pressures and, without any evidence
of urgency from Claire, the professionals were content not to
make it a priority.
I am confident from my enquiries, as I have reported
to Mr Hague, that the confusion relating to his entry in the Register
of Members' Interests was a result of miscommunication and misunderstanding
between his two offices. It is true that his entry in the Register
was incorrect. But I do think it important to point out that none
of the monies that were donated for charitable purposes were in
excess of the amount you guide Members to consider registering
following speaking engagements or media work (ref: your recommendation
to the Standards and Privileges Committee on 8 March 2000).
It could be argued, therefore, that Mr Hague's desire to be open
about how any monies received for speaking engagements would be
redirected, was in fact, well beyond what is required by Parliament.
As you know, any charitable donations that organisations
wish to make on Mr Hague's behalf are now sent direct to a nominated
charity. Mr Hague does not and never has sought payment for any
speech, article or appearance.
Finally, you may be interested to know that, having
learnt last month that none of the cheques made payable to the
trust were ever cashed, Mr Hague was concerned that no charity
benefited from the donations. He has decided, therefore, to make
personal donations to charities and good causes in his constituency
totalling £1,750 (the total amount of cheques made payable
to the Charitable Trust). I will provide you with written details
of the recipients and the individual amounts donated by Mr Hague
as soon as possible.
I do hope that it will be possible to bring this
matter to a speedy conclusion.
9 March 2001