Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
Complaint against Dr John Reid and Mr John Maxton



Was Mr Reid working full-time for the Labour Party during the period when he was employed as Dr Reid`s Parliamentary researcher?

77.  Mr Alex Rowley, General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party from May 1998 to May 1999, told me that in his opinion Kevin Reid was working full-time for the Labour Party from April 1998 onwards (Annex 129, Q 3). He added that when he arrived in the office at about 7.45 am. Mr Reid would already be there and that he stayed until between 1.30 pm and 2.00 pm. This impression was confirmed by both Mr John Rafferty, the Labour Party Campaign Co-ordinator between January and May 1999 (Annex 151, p.6), and Mr Willie Sullivan, the Labour Party`s Scottish Development Officer between August 1998 and December 1999 (Annex 172, p.3). The evidence of Ms Lesley Quinn, then Assistant General Secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, differed as to Mr Reid`s normal departure time—putting it between 11.30 am and 12.00 pm (Annex 179, p.6).

78.  Indeed, Mr Rafferty went further, claiming that Mr Reid was well into his work when he (Mr Rafferty) arrived at 7.00 am (Annex 151, pp. 6 and 7) and that, in common with other Party staff, he put in "very, very long hours" during the last few weeks of the campaign. Mr Sullivan thought that, within these unusual hours, the equivalent of a full day`s work for the Party was being done by Mr Reid.

79.  Mr Rowley`s belief was that in the period from May to mid-October 1998 (when Mr Reid left his father`s employment), his Parliamentary researcher`s salary was effectively being used to top up his salary from the Labour Party. This, according to Mr Rowley, reflected the reality of Mr Reid`s full-time commitment to the Party. Mr Rowley added: "I believe Kevin Reid worked full-time for the Party on a salary which was half funded by the Party and half funded by John Reid" (Annex 129, Q 3). Ms Quinn, however, disputed this assessment of Mr Reid`s hours, implying that it did not amount to a full-time commitment (Annex 178, pp. 4 and 5).

80.  Mr Kevin Reid`s response to these allegations was that initially his work for the Party involved only a few hours in the early part of the morning but that, even when his duties were later expanded to take in the lunchtime media digest, this still left the bulk of the afternoon for his Parliamentary responsibilities. There was also frequently a gap in mid-morning between the two tranches of media analysis which could be used for non-Party work (Annex 85).

81.  Mr Reid added that there was no connection between any additional hours worked for the Party and his ability to fulfil his Parliamentary duties: neither was a 9 to 5 job and both contracts allowed for flexibility. It was therefore quite untrue that he had not fully met his 20 hours a week commitment to his father. Indeed the effort he had put in was "over and above" this requirement.

82.  Nor did Mr Reid have any reason to believe that either of the other two House of Commons researchers mentioned in the complaint had failed to meet their contractual obligations.

83.  Dr Reid, for his part, described the complaint as groundless and stated that his son`s performance of his tasks as a House of Commons researcher had been "entirely satisfactory". The terms of Kevin Reid`s contract with him had been fully carried out and no breach of House of Commons rules had occurred (Annex 8).

84.  I wrote to Mr Reid to seek corroborative evidence, whether in documentary form or otherwise, which might support his account of the volume of work he did for Dr Reid. I also put the same request to Dr Reid. In particular, I wished to obtain examples of the type, quantity and frequency of the material he produced for Dr Reid.

85.  Mr Reid replied by saying that he had shredded any papers relating to his work for Dr Reid and that therefore it was for Dr Reid to provide me with any relevant material he might have. Subsequently, as part of his full response to my written questions,[70] Dr Reid supplied me with a folder of some documents which, he said, illustrated the work done for him by his son. Neither Dr Reid nor Mr Reid provided me with any other records such as diary entries or expense claims.

86.  The documentary evidence supplied by Dr Reid to illustrate the work done for him by Kevin Reid consisted of some examples, covering the period February to October 1998, of:

    (i)  press and media monitoring, both local and national (10 examples)
    (ii)  press releases (20 examples)
    (iii)  ideas for, and drafts of, speeches (3 examples)
    (iv)  political analysis (1 example)
    (v)  other material (12 examples)

Was Ms Hilliard working full-time for the Labour Party throughout the period in question?

87.  Mr Rowley told me that, at least during the closing weeks of the Scottish Parliamentary election campaign, none of the three researchers "had any spare time at all", and that Ms Hilliard had complained of being "under extreme pressure" (Annex 129, Q 13). Mr Rafferty supported this description of Ms Hilliard`s workload, in that she had worked on a shift basis which was "quite arduous" (Annex 151, pp 8 and 9). This certainly, in Mr Rafferty`s view, amounted to a full-time effort as the campaign reached its height, when all the staff at Party headquarters worked "lots and lots and lots of hours" (ibid, p.11). Mr Sullivan also viewed Ms Hilliard as a full-time member of staff who was not, as far as he was aware, doing work for anyone else at the same time (Annex 172, p.3). Ms Quinn`s recollection was that Ms Hilliard arrived at the Labour Party offices at about 1.30 or 2.00 pm and stayed "until early evening". She added that "nobody could say she was here full-time as much as Chris [Winslow] or Kevin [Reid]." (Annex 179, pp. 5 and 7).

88.  In response, Ms Hilliard denied categorically that she had been available to work, or had in fact worked, full-time for the Labour Party. She had done everything asked of her by Dr Reid. That work had been carried out from home in the mornings before she went to Delta House (the Labour Party offices). It was therefore not surprising that no one there was aware of her performing other duties whilst engaged on Party business: she had not done so. There were no set times for either job and this flexibility allowed her to arrange her respective duties for the Party and Dr Reid so as to avoid any overlap (Annex 108).

89.  Ms Hilliard maintained that this remained the case even when, as the election approached, her commitment to the Party increased to 6 or 7 hours a day. She said that although during that period the number of hours she worked for Dr Reid probably dropped to an average of about 12 to 15 per week, she was still able to do everything he asked of her.

90.  As regards the remark attributed to her about being under extreme pressure, Ms Hilliard told me that at the period in question (the run-up to the election) she was working long hours (though not excessively so), sometimes late at night and on her own. The task of media monitoring was important and a high standard of accuracy was required. In that limited sense she had felt under pressure (Annex 111, p.12).

91.  Dr Reid supported Ms Hilliard`s denial that, because she was working such long hours for the Party, she was unable to carry out the duties for which she was employed by him. He questioned how those who claimed otherwise were in a position to know how Ms Hilliard managed her time in the mornings when she was not at Labour Party headquarters. And Dr Reid pointed to the fact that Ms Hilliard had carried out—entirely to his satisfaction—a particularly heavy case-load of constituency work during the period between December 1998 and June 1999 when his office was understaffed owing to illness (Annex 8).

92.  I sought from Ms Hilliard, as with Mr Reid, corroborative evidence, whether in documentary form or otherwise, which might support her account of the volume of work she did for Dr Reid. I also put the same request to Dr Reid. In particular, I wished to obtain examples of the type, quantity and frequency of the material she produced for Dr Reid. Additionally in Ms Hilliard`s case, I requested copies of both mobile and landline telephone accounts which might show the volume of calls which she maintained she made to Dr Reid whilst working for him from home, and of any expenses claims she made to Dr Reid to cover the cost of the calls. She had explained in her interview with me on 7 April 2000 (Annex 111, pp. 9 and 10) that she would page Dr Reid for him to call her but that, "more often" he would ring her on her mobile telephone. At the end of the same interview Ms Hilliard agreed to provide me with the relevant telephone accounts (ibid, p. 21). In a subsequent note she revised her original statement, saying that it was "almost always" Dr Reid who made the first contact.

93.  Ms Hilliard has not responded to my request to provide me with documentary evidence of her work for Dr Reid, but he has included some examples in his formal submission (Annex 27).

94.  The documentary evidence supplied by Dr Reid to illustrate the work done for him by Ms Hilliard consisted of a few examples, covering the period February to October 1998, of:

    (i)  letters to constituents of Dr Reid sent in early 1999 indicating that Dr Reid`s personal assistant was off sick and that, at the beginning of February 1999, she was working part-time only

    (ii)  examples of constituency correspondence covering 23 cases during the period between November 1998 and June 1999, including:

      (i)  standard letters of acknowledgment
      (ii)  letters passing cases onto the appropriate Government department or agency
      (iii)  letters informing constituents of any action taken
      (iv)  letters arranging or confirming meetings on constituency business
    (iii)  a letter from the Susan Hamilton Parliamentary secretarial agency (who did Dr Reid`s typing) indicating that:

      (i)  the agency kept Members` files for only six months
      (ii)  it was estimated that the agency had typed some 444 letters for Dr Reid during 1999.

95.  So far as the telephone evidence was concerned, I wrote to Ms Hilliard again on 11 April (Annex 112) asking her to provide the relevant accounts for both her flat and her mobile, which she had agreed to let me have when we met on 7 April. She replied on 18 April (Annex 113) indicating that she was unable to obtain her telephone records for the period in question and that the telephone at the flat was a payphone.

96.  I wrote to her again on 2 May (Annex 114), followed, in the absence of any response, by a further letter on 15 May (Annex 116) asking Ms Hilliard urgently to provide me with evidence in the form of her landline telephone accounts and details of her mobile phone accounts which would corroborate her account of the frequency of the communication she had had with Dr Reid whilst working for him from her flat.

97.  In a reply dated 12 May (Annex 115) which crossed with my letter of 15 May, Ms Hilliard again told me that she had been unable to find the information I needed. I therefore asked her, in a further letter dated 23 May (Annex 117), to supply me with the telephone number, the name of the telephone company and the name and address of her landlord so that I could seek to obtain the relevant accounts myself. Having received no reply to that letter, my office telephoned Ms Hilliard`s solicitors, to be told that Ms Hilliard did not know the telephone number or the telephone company (Annex 120). In a letter dated 26 June (Annex 123), Ms Hilliard`s solicitors told me the number of the telephone in her flat, but stated that Ms Hilliard did not know the identity of the account-holder, as the telephone was a payphone, nor did she know the name of the company who owned it.

98.  I wrote again on 27 June to Ms Hilliard`s solicitors (Annex 124) repeating my request for the outstanding information about the payphone and pointing out that I had had no answer to my request for details of Ms Hilliard`s mobile telephone accounts. I had at this stage already reported to the Committee the difficulty and delay I was experiencing in seeking to obtain information from Ms Hilliard and the Chairman wrote, with the agreement of the Committee, to Ms Hilliard on 26 June (Annex 122) emphasising the need for her to co-operate fully with my inquiries. Ms Hilliard`s solicitors replied to the Chairman on 4 July (Annex 125) claiming that Ms Hilliard had now provided all the information requested of her—but the letter omitted to supply the details I still awaited concerning the mobile telephone accounts. Finally, on 19 September 2000, Ms Hilliard`s solicitors wrote to me (Annex 127A) to say that Ms Hilliard had been able to obtain a copy of her itemised mobile telephone invoice detailing calls made during the period 4 April to 1 June 1999. But an attached letter from the telephone company stated that itemised invoices for the period for December 1998 to March 1999 were no longer available. In a further letter dated 22 September 2000 (Annex 127B), Ms Hilliard`s solicitors told me, however, that none of the itemised calls shown in the invoice covering the period April-June 1999 were made to Dr Reid.

99.  My office checked with BT the information provided by Ms Hilliard. I was informed that, while invoices from November 1998 to March 1999 no longer appeared on their data systems, invoice records from the start of an account were held by them and an account holder could request copies (Annex 127C).

100.  To date, Ms Hilliard has not provided any other corroborative evidence, such as any expenses claims submitted to cover the cost of the telephone calls she claims to have made to Dr Reid.

Was Mr Winslow working full-time for the Labour Party throughout the period in question?

101.  Mr Rowley told me that Ms Annmarie Whyte, the Office Manager, had declared Mr Winslow to be "available full-time" for Party work (Annex 129, Q 3). Mr Rafferty certainly regarded him as such during the latter part of the campaign, even though, as he explained, Mr Winslow frequently worked from home (Annex 151, p. 11). On the scale of effort put in by Mr Winslow on behalf of the Party, Mr Rowley thought that he had done "a very hard year`s work" (Annex 129, Q 3). Mr Rafferty`s perception was that Mr Winslow had worked "very, very long hours" and that he was frequently already at his desk when Mr Rafferty arrived (Annex 151, p.7). This had amounted to a full-time commitment "for at least part of the campaign", to the point where it was difficult to see, in Mr Rafferty`s judgment, how Mr Winslow could have managed a second job for Mr Maxton in the very limited spare time available to him (Annex 154A, Q 1 and 6).

102.  This latter view was endorsed by Mr Sullivan, who estimated the time spent by Party workers on the campaign at between 12 and 14 hours a day in the immediate run-up to the election (Annex 172, p. 5). Mr John McLaren, who occupied a senior position at Scottish Labour Party headquarters, estimated that Mr Winslow worked "at least 40 hours a week, usually more" as the campaign developed (Annex 202).

103.  On the other hand, Mr Rafferty accepted that Mr Winslow had, on a number of occasions, referred to research he was engaged in for Mr Maxton. Indeed, he had sometimes asked for latitude over deadlines for Party work in order to be able to give precedence to his Parliamentary duties (Annex 151, p. 6). Mr Rafferty added that Mr Winslow had an "enormous capacity for work" (ibid, p. 12). Ms Quinn`s evidence was that Mr Winslow fulfilled his contractual obligations, both before and after his hours for the Party were doubled in November 1998. She later added, however, that it was very difficult to keep an exact track of the hours put in by individual members of staff. As the elections approached, the working day extended to early evening—"maybe 6 or 7 o`clock" (Annex 179, pp 6 to 8).

104.  Mr Winslow confirmed that, during his initial period of employment with the Labour Party, he worked a total of around 45 hours a week on Party and Parliamentary duties combined (Annex 101). After his formal commitment to the Party was increased in November 1998, his weekly total of hours worked exceeded 50, particularly as the election period approached. He had been able effectively to compartmentalise his respective work for Mr Maxton and the Labour Party, even though, for convenience`s sake, he had often carried out both tasks from Party headquarters. Neither commitment had impinged in a harmful way on the other. There had been no overlap between the two, except to the extent that going through the press for Mr Maxton meant that the task need not be repeated as part of his duties for the Party.

105.  Mr Winslow conceded, however, that during the period of the campaign itself, there had perhaps been 3 or 4 weeks during which he had been unable to fulfil completely (in terms of hours) his contractual commitment to Mr Maxton. In those weeks his total effort for Mr Maxton might have fallen to 10 hours instead of 20—but equally, Mr Winslow maintained, there had been weeks outside the campaign period when the number of hours he had put in on his Parliamentary duties would have exceeded 20 (Annex 105, p. 9). Mr Winslow added that, by the time of the immediate run-up to the election, he had accumulated a certain amount of holiday entitlement in his contract with Mr Maxton (Annex 101).

106.  Mr Winslow acknowledged his receipt of a bonus of some £300 or £400 for his services during the election campaign. He said this would have been directly related to the number of additional hours worked for the Labour Party, although he had no idea of the precise calculation involved. I asked him: "Was there any system while you were employed in these posts, any of them, for accounting for the work you did in any way, clocking on, clocking off, making a record, turning in a time sheet, producing a list of evidence at the end of the month to demonstrate what you had done on any of these jobs?" He said: "During the short campaign we would note when we were there ... I kept a note of the time that I was in. We were asked at the end of the campaign .... about extra hours. I gave an indication on my own notes of what hours I thought I had done above my contract" (Annex 105, pp 17 and 18.)

107.  Mr Winslow maintained, however, that he had never worked on Labour Party business or campaigns during hours when he was paid by the Fees Office (ibid, p. 20).

108.  Mr Maxton explained to me that he was more concerned that Mr Winslow carried out efficiently the tasks given to him than whether he stuck strictly to a particular number of hours (Annex 40).

109.  I wrote to Mr Winslow to seek corroborative evidence, whether in documentary form or otherwise, which might support his account of the volume of work he did for Mr Maxton. I also put the same request to Mr Maxton. In particular, I wished to obtain examples of the type, quantity and frequency of the material Mr Winslow produced for Mr Maxton.

110.  Neither Mr Winslow nor Mr Maxton has responded to my request to supply me with documentary evidence of the work done by Mr Winslow for Mr Maxton. Nor have they provided any other corroborative evidence, such as expense claims. Neither have they provided me with the records which demonstrate accumulated holiday entitlement.

70  See paragraphs 120-136. Back

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