Examination of Witness (Questions 300
TUESDAY 7 NOVEMBER 2000
300. As to the conversation that we are told
that was held with you about making, first of all, Kevin available,
did a conversation like that take place? Was it a misunderstood
conversation or was it a non-conversation?
(Dr Reid) I will tell you openly and truthfully what
happened. The original conversation was not with Alex Rowley.
It was a strategy meeting, as Ms Filkin has reported. What happened
in the course of it is that we were discussing two things. One
was the budget negotiated with Labour Party headquarters. Incidentally,
here I can explain one of Ms Filkin's queeries, which is why did
the Labour Party have budget document number one in Scotland and
not in London. That is because that was the document on which
we in Scotland were going to negotiate with London; it is negotiation.
We did not give them our bargaining position. It was a bargaining
position we had in that first budget. That is exactly why we had
everybody marked down as full-time, and we had people in it that
we never got. It is what we all do in negotiations. During the
course of that we were discussing how we can get resources in
to do this, that and the next thing. One of the things that came
up, naturally, is who is committed to the Labour Party. People
who are committed to the Labour Party are sometimes working for
labour organisations, MPs, all the rest of it, that came up. I
gave Ms Filkin the minute showing two things; one, that that came
up; and secondly, that it was in the immediate contextshe
did not point this out, unfortunately, in her Reportof
the next item. The next item on the Agenda was funding and the
budget, which we were to get from Labour Party headquarters. When
I raised the question of Kevin, it was fully in that context.
When I said, "We will get the money for him", it was
in the context of the next item in the agenda. It is as plain
as a pikestaff if you look at that agenda page. It is in there,
but again you did not see it. It is in the documents I gave to
Ms Filkin. What I said in the course of this conversation, when
they said they were looking for somebody for media monitoring
I said, "My son is going to have time to spare, I will ask
him if he will come in and help". The reason he had time
to spare is that that meeting happened on 28th April and Kevin
was finishing his university classes within a fortnight. So instead
of working at university and for me he could work for the Labour
Party and me. I had to ask Kevin if he was willing to do it because
it would mean him having to sacrifice going out looking for a
new career, as that is logically what he would have done. Alex
Rowley was never party to those discussions, Paul McKinney was
at themPaul McKinney whose evidence I am more than happy
to accept, because McKinney himself will verify what I am saying.
It is Mr Nelson's handwritten note of what he says McKinney said
that is subtly different, where he said I would pay him. When
I said that then I had a number of conversations with Alex Rowley.
I want you to understand the context of them. They were not like
this, they were not very formal meetings, they were mainly snatched
conversations, some time in the middle of a busy Labour Party
headquarters, where I would be visitingas sometimes we
do at headquartersfor two or three minutes, nipping in.
I said to Alex, "Kevin will come in. He is prepared to do
the work here. He can be flexible in his hours but," this
is the important point, "Alex, I want him to have a separate
contract. I want him to have a separate contract because I do
not want any implication that he is not being paid for the work
that he does for you". Of course if Kevin had a contract
for three hours, like any Labour Party supporter or any Conservative
or any Independent supporter he would not sign off exactly after
the three hours. He could give some voluntary time, if he wished.
This is the important matter, there was never anything said, communicated,
winked at, nudged to Alex Rowley which said, "He will not
have to do anything for me". That is the crucial point. That
is the conversation we had. Alex Rowley has obviously, from what
I have seen, come to the view, based apparently on his previous
experience, that that must have meant they were not doing anything
for us. He is wrong in that, as the evidence shows.
301. Thank you for the answer. I am trying to
separate the two things. First of all, I am trying to discover
whether, and in what way, people in conversation with you might
have understood that they were getting the advantage of a paid
person, which would then reduce the amount of money which the
Scottish Labour Party or Millbank would have to pay them. That
is my first aim. What I think you have said to us is that the
first conversation was not with Alex Rowley, it was with Paul
(Dr Reid) No, it was at a meeting at which Paul McKinney
was present. It was a general statement one would make, "My
son is finishing university, he will have some free time. I will
talk to him and see if he can do it".
302. The result of that was, in a formal and
a practical sense, the Labour Party was paying him at the rate
of £4,000 a year for 15 hours a week, which is about £5
(Dr Reid) That is right.
303. That changed then in October. Before the
run up to the election, he became a full-time employee and ceased
to be on your paid staff; is that right?
(Dr Reid) Well, it is slightly more complex than that.
304. Do you want to tell us about that?
(Dr Reid) Yes, I do. Mr Rowley talks about "full-time".
Was everything static? It was not. I will explain to you in great
detail how this happened and developed. Kevin Reid was contracted
to work 15 hours, that was three hours every morning, to start
media monitoring. There was no media monitoring before. Secondly,
it was situated in the old Labour Party building, Keir Hardie
House in Glasgow during May, June, July and part of August, if
my memory serves me correctly. In that building Alex Rowley was
in the floor above. He was not even on the same floor as Kevin.
Kevin came in to start with for three hours a day. He started
it, not even doing broadcasts, but going through the morning press
only and he would mark out things in the morning papers. He did
not have a television, he did not have a radio. He sat there with
a computer typing out the main press stories. He did that during
May, June and July. By the time they moved to the new building
in August he had had to bring in his own television, a radio and
earphones. He had established a system. He was beginning to get
student volunteers to come in for a few hours every daylater
on Suzanne Hilliard was one of themand they by then had
decided to move from covering just the morning press to covering
the morning broadcasts, because he now had a television, and then
to do the lunchtime broadcast. By about the August period he was
doing three hours a day up until that and after that he did the
morning broadcast and press, then he went off for a break for
an hour or an hour and a half and he came back and he covered
the 1 o'clock news essentially. He was at the office for a span
of about six, six and a half hours, during which he did about
four and a half hours work. That was the period in August and
September when it was indicated to me, "We are now nine months
off the election and we want to build it up further again, we
want to extend media monitoring to cover the evening broadcast.
Kevin is doing a brilliant job, we would like him to do it".
At that point I said, "No, is he already doing sufficient
for you, if you want him to do any more for you in terms of the
evening broadcast as the monitoring manager", which is a
genuine full-time job for the Labour Party during a campaign 12
or 13 hours a day, "he cannot stay on my books". I said
this several times to Mr Rowley. Not at the beginning of those
conversations, but in the course of them I sent him a fax. The
fax did not initiate it, but it bolstered the arguments I was
using that "You cannot have this guy working for you full-time
if he is being paid by me." That is exactly how it came about.
Eventually we agreed to put Kevin on full-time and I had to find
somebody else for myself. Those are roughly the same facts that
would have been given by Mr Rowley to Miss Filkin, but there is
an entirely different interpretation and inference on those facts
than the one that has been put on them.
305. Can I ask a question? When Kevin Reid became
a full-time employee of the Labour Party, Susan Hilliard, who
by that time had already been a volunteer for the Labour Party,
remained as an unpaid volunteer with the Labour Party working
extended hours, if I can put it that way?
(Dr Reid) Not at that time, she was not working extended
hours. What Kevin did was he had a shift of volunteers. You know
what political parties are like, you have to get as much voluntary
work as possible. He established media monitoring from the press,
then he brought in the technology to do it on radio and the media,
then it was extended to cover the lunchtime broadcast. At that
stage he could not cover it all and he started looking for volunteers.
Many of them were studentssome of them like Councillor
Pat Walters and others, I can give you the names of themthey
came in on shifts and they would do roughly four hours as volunteers.
Susan Hilliard was doing that. She was one of a group of university
students coming in and Kevin was organising it. She was doing
those shifts. There is no indication at all that she was doing
long hours in September, October and November of 1998.
306. At the time she became a member of your
House of Commons staff, you would argue it was fairly clear she
had the time to do it, there was a need to do it and she had the
time to do it?
(Dr Reid) Yes. Within three weeks she gave up her
university classes. Within three weeks of working for me she stopped
going to her university classes.
307. If we take the period of the month running
up to the Scottish election, would you describe it in the same
way or had things changed?
(Dr Reid) Running up to an election things are always
different, of course they are. I am not going to sit here and
say they are not. Suzanne Hilliard herself in a statement to Ms
Filkin said that things are different in the two to three weeks
before the election. Incidentally in that same statement she also
said, "He used to phone me", as I did, "I very,
very rarely phoned him", so I do not quite understand why
there is all this fuss about whether or not a student used a mobile
phone to phone me when she said in her statement she very seldom
or very rarely used it. Anyway, if I was a student with a mobile
phone going into the Labour Party every day I know whose phone
I would use. Quite frankly, given the circumstance I was in, I
did not want people telephoning meI do not want Mary McKenna
telephoning me every day about a constituency caseshe had
time to do it. She thought that she would be able to do it with
university and then she decided that she could not. Within about
three weeks of starting with me she stopped going to university
classes. She did her work, all that I required of her, and she
worked for the Labour Party. In the last four weeks of the campaignI
do not know, but I have no reason to doubt a word she saidshe
said she was working maybe 12 or 15 hours rather than 20 hours.
If that is the case, there is nothing improper in that because
we have variable contracts. We have to be realistic about this,
when it comes to typing or when it comes to secretarial work it
is much easier to judge than people who are doing a variable contract,
which is precisely why we make it variable.
308. Can I ask two other questions? In the Scottish
Labour Party budget documents the two members of staffthere
are references to pay they are receiving from othersthe
only two, are the staff employed by you and by another Member
(Dr Reid) Yes.
309. Have you any observations to make on that?
(Dr Reid) I have two observations, the first is, I
thinkand Ms Filkin will correct me if I am wrongit
is not the only footnote to those budget statements. There are
other footnotes saying, "This person's salary is being negotiated,
or something..." The only other conclusion or observation
I would make is presumably they were added to those documents
on Mr Rowley's instructions. I do not know what Mr Rowley said.
I presume they were. Presumably he thought they were of some significance
because he took them from the Labour Party when he left the Labour
Party. Six months before this investigation he unlawfully took
them from the Labour Party, for what purpose I do not know.
310. The second question is, we understand that
Susan Hilliard received a bonus. So far as we know, we do not
know that any other volunteer received a bonus. Is that something
which you would have an observation on?
(Dr Reid) I do not know if anybody else did. I have
not asked other people, but Ms Filkin has said that, and I have
no reason to doubt that. The second thing is, the bonus was, as
I understand itagain, I do not know£406. The
important point is this, I think it is a matter that should be
dealt with some fairness. First of all, Susan Hilliard did not
receive a salary.
311. From the Labour Party?
(Dr Reid) From the Labour Party. I understand a bonus
to be in addition to salary. It is by definition an addition.
Whatever the Labour Party accounts department may have called
this, from the point of view of Susan it was not a bonus, it was
an ex gratia payment she got at the end. That is perfectly
understandable. So, I hope Ms Filkin does not mind me saying this,
to brand her on that basis a liar in a document that is to be
published I think is somewhat lacking in fairness. The second
thing I would say is this, it is particularly lacking in fairness
when on other occasions when people have said things that have
appeared problematic, Ms Filkin has taken the trouble to write
to them and ask them to clarify the remarks. One example that
sticks in my mind is when Mr Sullivan gave evidence that Susan
Hilliard was, in fact, being paid by John Maxton. There is a lovely
letter, which you may refer to in the appendix, where Ms Filkin
wrote to him because this statement was not very helpful. Presumably
he had given completely wrong information. In a most leading letter
she wrote saying, "You said that Mr Maxton was paying Susan
Hilliard, now that we know that that is not the case would you
like to reflect and change your views?" I think if Ms Filkin
was to reflect on what she has written there she would, at least,
in all fairness, have given Susan Hilliard the opportunity to
give you the explanation which I have just done speculatively.
The final point I make about the bonus is that this bonus was
£406 for ten months. That is how long she worked. So, it
was less than £10 a week. Since she was not obliged to be
working, she was unpaid for any hours and she was given a bonus
equivalent to £10 a week. It may mean she was working very
hard for the Labour Party. It may not mean that, it may mean she
was working harder, not longer than everybody else. If it meant
she was working 25 hours per week above what was required, which
is what everybody else was paid for, it meant she was working
only 25 hours a week in total. I have tried to point out that
Susan Hilliard from my calculations had of the order of 70 to
80 hours a week in which to complete her work for me. Kevin Reid
did as well. I find it difficult to understand that section of
Ms Filkin's reasoning, which says that they must have been working
four hours a day for me, only because Ms Filkin apparently decided
they could not have been working for me on a Saturday or Sunday,
which is when researchers do. If anyone tries to read the Sunday
press it takes several hours. They had all Saturday and Sunday
or in Kevin's case Fridays as well, because he did not work after
11 o'clock in the morning on a Friday. I think that is a bit unfair
of Ms Filkin.
312. The questions to Dr Reid were to ask things
that followed from the two issues in front of us. My questions
have not been designed to answer any of his responses about other
(Dr Reid) Can I just ask for clarification, did I
not answer your questions?
313. I am just trying to put on the record that
it has not been my purpose or our role to try and answer things
you may have said, Dr Reid, about other people, it is just to
ask the questions and to get the answers about the two issues
in front of us.
(Dr Reid) I understand that. If I could just say one
thing, first of all, "full-time" is used throughout
this report in a meaningless sense, never defined. Secondly, even
if somebody was working "full-time", if that meant six
or seven hours a weekday then that would not preclude extra.
314. Are you arguing that all concerned fulfilled
their contracts to you? Yes?
(Dr Reid) Yes.
315. What the Fees Office paid for, you are
arguing, was for time for you, and you received that time?
(Dr Reid) Yes, insofar as you judge work that is done
by people who work for us all only the time. You do not always
judge it exactly, we make a judgment about how much time we think
is necessary to fulfil certain tasks. I think it is fair to say
that most of us judge people who work for us according to whether
they meet our requirements or not.
316. When I read the Commissioner's report,
which I am sure you have already done, and particularly I looked
at the brief produced by Mr Goudie as well, I got the feeling
that you felt that the Commissioner had made up her mind on the
question of the contractual hours worked for you when, in fact,
she seems to have made up her mind, on my interpretation of the
report, on the basis of the agreement and the existence of an
agreement. I wonder whether you have had the opportunity of seeing
what Mr Rowley said about that agreement between you and him?
(Dr Reid) Which paragraph is that?
317. If I could read the sections
(Dr Reid) If I have not seen it before I need time
to look at it. Which section is it?
318. I was going to read it to you. I was going
to read Mr Rowley's evidence, question 176, page 32. At the end
of that I was going to ask you to comment on what your interpretation
is of that agreement which he is referring to. He says "I
would be lying if I said anything other than I reached an agreement
with these people: John Maxton through Ann-Marie Whyte and John
Reid directly in discussions with him that both Kevin and Chris
would be working for the Labour Party full-time but we would be
paying half of the salary, a part-time salary of some sort or
another and the other part coming from here. I know that because
I was the person who was in charge of the monies of the Labour
Party in Scotland." He then goes on in paragraph 178. He
is asked "How do you know?" and he says "Because
I was there. I was the person who was in charge of the party.
I know the agreement we made with these people. We would have
Chris and Kevin working full-time for the Labour Party. We would
be paying them part-time and they would be paid part-time by both
John and by John Maxton." Then the next reference comes
(Dr Reid) I am sorry, I am trying to take down your
Mr Campbell-Savours: They are all essentially
about the same thing. Page 36, 188. Mr Rowley, top of page 36:
"I am telling the truth and I have told the truth from day
one: that the arrangement I made with John Reid was that Kevin
Reid would be employed by the party on a part-time basis, but
would work full-time for the party and his salary would be made
up by John's allowances. That was the arrangement by Westminster
that I made with John; the discussion I had with John; and if
I say anything that wavers from that I would be lying. That was
the arrangement that was put in place." The next reference
comes on page 38, question 193, where he says "... but all
I know is that when asked about the arrangements that I had then
made with his father, in terms of his employment, I have explained
them and have been truthful in that. When asked why Kevin Reid
was put on the books for the Labour Party full-time I have explained
that and been honest about that." He was asked then "It
would be possible...."
Chairman: Which one are you on now?
319. 194: "It would be possible that both
you and Dr Reid are telling the truth?" He replies, "No,
it could not be possible that both of us were telling the truth;
because John denies the arrangement that was made."
(Dr Reid) Can I say two things. I understand what
you are saying, what was the arrangement?