Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 80 - 99)



  80. Could you explain the background to your departure from the Labour Party post?
  (Mr Rafferty) I was engaged by the Labour Party from 12 January until 17 May, at which point I took up the post of special adviser to the First Minister in the Scottish Executive, until 10 December. So I was not engaged by the Labour Party I was engaged by the Scottish Executive in the latter part. There had been a great deal of press attention about me from the day of my appointment on 17 May. The First Minister and I were extremely close. It just built up from—actually, on 14 November last year they ran a series of very sensational stories about my children, and I became increasingly uncomfortable. Then, early in December, came another allegation from a newspaper that I had made exaggerated statements to them. The First Minister and I discussed this many times and in December we agreed that I should move on. That was the statement that he made publicly and to the Scottish Parliament.

  81. What did he make public?
  (Mr Rafferty) That we agreed that I would leave my post.

  82. Was there an allegation at any stage that you had been dishonest in the way you made some statements to the press?
  (Mr Rafferty) There was an allegation by one tabloid newspaper that I had made exaggerated statements to them.

  83. Were they found to be true?
  (Mr Rafferty) They were not investigated.

  84. That is not the question I asked. Were the allegations without any foundation that you had been less than frank with the press?
  (Mr Rafferty) It was not a question of being less than frank with the press. I believe a construction was placed on remarks that I made, perhaps ill advisedly, a construction was placed on them by the newspaper.

  85. It is just that with that in the air some might say "can you believe absolutely everything Mr Rafferty might wish to say?" That is a fair question, is it not? I only put it to you.
  (Mr Rafferty) I can understand that. It is a matter for you to judge that.

  86. You do not bear a grudge against any people involved in any of this, do you?
  (Mr Rafferty) Absolutely not. I do not know whether any impropriety has taken place here or not, I hope that it has not. I have known John Reid and John Maxton for a very long time, they have given outstanding service, but it is not for me to judge that.

  Mr Campbell-Savours: Fine. Okay, thank you.

Mr Levitt

  87. In your discussion with the Commissioner on 1 March you described Chris Winslow as having "an enormous capacity for work".
  (Mr Rafferty) Yes.

  88. And you said in your answer that you were aware when he was physically present at his desk that he was nevertheless doing some work for John Maxton.
  (Mr Rafferty) Yes.

  89. When did you first become aware that he was employed by John Maxton?
  (Mr Rafferty) There was never ever any discussion of the basis on which people were employed either by the Labour Party or by Mr Maxton. I think it may have been around the conference call when he said that he had been engaged by John Maxton, he had worked for John Maxton.

  90. So when he was in the Labour Party offices and "doing questions for John Maxton on to the House of Commons Library", you regarded that as normal?
  (Mr Rafferty) Yes. I did not know at that point that he was being paid from a parliamentary allowance.

  91. You did not know until after the election was over?
  (Mr Rafferty) I am sure that is the case.

  92. The same would apply to Suzanne Hilliard?
  (Mr Rafferty) I did not know anything about Suzanne Hilliard until I read the newspaper in January.

  Mr Levitt: Thank you.

Mr Williams

  93. You said that you raised the issue with the First Minister when you had received the alarming information. What precisely did you tell him, because you said you did not go into detail?
  (Mr Rafferty) I reported what Chris Winslow had said on the conference call and we discussed it. We had no way of knowing what the facts of the matter were at all. That was it. He was concerned that there should be no idle gossip or speculation in the absence of the facts.

  94. Did you suggest that it should be checked or did he suggest that it should be checked?
  (Mr Rafferty) We decided—he decided—that there should be no idle gossip or speculation in the absence of the facts. It was taken no further at that time.

  95. Then when Mr Nelson phoned you, you reported that to the General Secretary?
  (Mr Rafferty) Yes, I did.

  96. What did you say to the General Secretary?
  (Mr Rafferty) I said that I had received a telephone call asking questions about whether special advisers had been engaged by Members of Parliament, paid by Members of Parliament, whilst working on the Labour Party campaign.

  97. I realise that you cannot remember every part of every conversation but what was the general tone of the General Secretary's response to that?
  (Mr Rafferty) I remember exactly because I felt reassured. She said that some time, months before the campaign Kevin Reid had been engaged on a full-time contract by the Labour Party and I was aware that Chris Winslow had done some work for John Maxton because he told me that and, I must confess, I thought that would be an end to the matter.

  98. When Mr Nelson spoke to you, were you aware that he was taping the interview?
  (Mr Rafferty) I did not know anything about that.

  99. He gave no indication whatsoever?
  (Mr Rafferty) No.

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