Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 81

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

Thank you for your further letter of 20 June. I must say I am loath to become involved in a series of exchanges of correspondence about procedures and individual witnesses` evidence which, in essence, are covering the same points as before. Indeed, I had understood your letter of 4 June to be your full, formal response to my written questions.

However, in an effort to be helpful, let me repeat the following essential principles governing the way I have proceeded with my investigation in so far as your own position is concerned:

    (i)  I have already put to you all the evidence I have so far received which may be at variance with your own account. What you have received from me are the formal statements made to me by witnesses which they have confirmed as correct and are prepared to repeat to the Committee, if necessary; you also have, in the transcripts, my own questions to those witnesses. I do not consider that you need to see any informal information given to me by witnesses on which my questions to them were based as it is only the confirmed information which is in question.

    (ii)  I have reached no conclusions on the relevance, importance or credibility of any evidence and will only do so when I am satisfied that I have obtained all the information I need. As I have told you on several occasions, a number of pieces of evidence are still outstanding and I will put these to you if they appear to be at variance with your account as soon as they are given to me.

    (iii)  I will send you a draft of my report before I reach my conclusions and before I submit it to the Committee. You will be able to challenge or comment on my draft and I will make sure that any such response you care to make is included in my report to the Committee.

To deal briefly with some of your specific points:

I have noted your explanation for the notes in the Scottish Labour Party budget documents which refer to Mr Reid`s and Mr Winslow`s employment by Dr Reid and yourself. I am still awaiting clarification on this point from the Scottish Labour Party.

I felt obliged to ask you about the alleged dismissal from the Labour Party of certain witnesses to my inquiry since you have said in your formal response paper that 3 out of 4 had been dismissed and you felt you "appear to be the unlucky and unwitting victim of a grudge". It seemed from your comment that you regarded this as an important point. Since you had mentioned the matter I felt it necessary for me to know precisely to whom you were referring and the circumstances in which the alleged dismissals took place.

Any delay in my investigation which has occurred since April, when I first offered to meet you, has occurred solely because evidence from certain witnesses which had been promised by them has still not reached me. I am taking steps to expedite this process.

I hope that I will be able to draw up my report in the near future. I trust that now you are aware of the reasons for the delay you will understand why I am unable to meet the timetable you request.

I note that you will be out of the country from 3 to 24 July. I would be grateful for information as to how to contact you during that period.

22 June 2000

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