Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 80

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr John Maxton MP

I acknowledge receipt of your letter of June 16th.

My questions to you were questions not observations and I expected answers to them not further evasions. In particular you cannot say that you had informal conversations with witnesses and then use material gained in these informal interviews during the formal questioning of other witnesses. I am entitled to know who told you that Suzanne Hilliard allegedly said, "I have got Maxton`s money" if you intend to put Miss Hilliard`s transcript as evidence before the Committee.

There is little point in asking you further questions because as has been the case since January 27th, you will refuse to give me straight answers. I do however want to know why, if you were prepared to meet me on April 17th on the basis that you had nearly completed your investigation why two months later you are still seeking further information. I can only conclude that none of the evidence you have collected so far even remotely proves the allegations made against me. Certainly none you have sent me does so.

Normally two exclamation marks after a sentence indicate irony. When I said that I solemnly promised not to contact or intimidate witnesses I was being sarcastic. It is very insulting that you should imagine that I would even consider intimidating witnesses.

Turning to your specific points

    1.  I can only tell you again that I was not involved in any discussions on these budgets and have no knowledge of them. I cannot comment on Mr Rowley`s interpretation of them as I have never discussed them with Mr Rowley. It is his opinion. It obviously it is not supported by any other employee of the Labour Party or I presume you would have sent me that evidence. I had to briefly discuss this with Labour Party officials on receipt of your letter since they were the only ones who could give me any information.

They inform me that the reference in the notes is to explain that my employment of Chris Winslow allowed him to work for the Labour Party. In other words he could not afford to live on the salary paid to him by the Labour Party. Having two employers allowed him to work for both. It may be that this whole absurd episode comes from that obvious misunderstanding.

    2.  I was astonished to read that you do not appear to know anything of relations between your main witnesses and the Labour Party. I cannot give you details as I was not involved in any staff matters relating to the Labour Party. However Paul McKinney, Alex Rowley and Willie Sullivan all left the Labour Party before this inquiry started. My source of information is the Scottish media which described all three as having been sacked. (I enclose a press cutting concerning Willie Sullivan which also makes reference to Alex Rowley and John Rafferty.) As I have informed you I am in Scotland all this week and therefore not able to access the Library facilities. I am sure if you were to ask them to do a media search on these three they would be able to show you what happened in each case. Of course John Rafferty was also dismissed as Special Advisor to Donald Dewar.

I am surprised you never asked any of them why they had left their employment with the Labour Party. Surely such facts were relevant to your investigation.

I repeat again that the material you have sent me contains no evidence to substantiate the allegation made by Dean Nelson or indeed to prove any wrongdoing on my part. Indeed my legal advisors find it laughable that you should take six months to collect so little. I therefore insist that you bring the matter to an end and inform the Committee next Tuesday that you are dismissing the case against me.

As I have told you I am not in this country from July 3rd to July 24th.

20 June 2000

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