Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Annex 154A

Note of meeting between the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards and Mr John Rafferty on 18 April 2000

I saw Mr Rafferty again because I was still not clear about some of the matters which he had discussed with me when I had interviewed him on Wednesday 1 March and Friday 24 March 2000. I explained to Mr Rafferty that I needed him to be precise in his answers to my questions so that I could properly report on the detail to the Standards and Privileges Committee.

1.EF Please could you tell me whether you are of the view from the information that was conveyed to you that, for part of the time at least, Chris Winslow and Kevin Reid although being paid partially on Westminster salaries were using all their working hours on the Labour Party`s campaign?
JR I have to say that that was the impression that I gained because as far as I am concerned Chris Winslow and Kevin Reid worked full-time for the Labour Party for at least part of the campaign.
2.EF What sort of hours did they work for the Labour Party?
JR Kevin Reid and Chris Winslow worked full-time, very full-time for the campaign and it was my understanding that they were paid full-time salaries by the Labour Party and that their full-time salaries had been provided for in the budget.
3.EF How long was the period they used all their working time working for the Labour Party?
JR It is difficult to be exact but probably at least 4 weeks when we all worked very, very long hours.
4.EF If I put to you that the budget printouts of the Labour Party show that although there were employed on a full-time wage the actual money allocated was below that wage, what would you say?
JR I am surprised, I thought they were both being paid full-time by the Labour Party.
5.EF Did you know that during some periods all three were employed for part of their time by Members of Parliament?
JR I knew Chris Winslow did some work for John Maxton during the campaign. I did not know that Kevin Reid or Suzanne Hilliard were employed by MPs at all until the conference call. Indeed I knew nothing about Suzanne Hilliard`s employment for an MP until I saw the Observer article. I do not know whether they did regular work for Members of Parliament but I have no reason to believe they did, with the exception of Chris Winslow who did do some work for John Maxton. They never mentioned they worked for MPs and certainly did no work in the office other than for the Labour Party.
6.EF Did they have enough spare time to do a half-time job on top of their Labour Party job?
JR Not in the last four weeks, at least, when everyone worked all the hours there were.
7.EF You worked those long hours too?
JR More.
8.EF So you would have been aware they were working such long hours?
JR I made them work those long hours and Labour Party contract or protocol requires it in the last few weeks.
9.EF Do you think it was the case then that for some of their time when they were working full-time for the Labour Party, very full-time, their salaries were being paid from Westminster allowances?
JR I can`t say whether they did manage to work in their spare time for these Members of Parliament. But if they didn`t then it`s the only logical conclusion.
10.EF You informed me during our interview that Chris Winslow alerted you to serious concerns he had about employment arrangements. Would you please tell me in detail how concerned he was and what his concern conveyed to you?
JR When Chris Winslow told me of his serious concerns in the conference call alarm bells started to ring for me. It seemed to me from what he said, and how he said it, that it possibly was the case that Westminster salaries had been used to carry out campaign work.
11.EF Did you have any conversation with him to clarify whether that was the case?
JR Not in a particular conversation but I was in no doubt, and I was left with the distinct impression that there may have been a very serious problem from the way in which Chris Winslow raised the issue.
12.EF I understand. You knew they had been working very full-time on the Labour Party campaign. When Chris Winslow shared his anxiety you were concerned that if some of their salaries had come from Westminster allowances there would have been misuse of public funds?
JR I was left in no doubt given Chris Winslow`s anxiety on the conference call and my immediate concern was that there may have been a misuse of public funds if the period on which they worked on the campaign and the period when they were employed by MPs overlapped.
13.EF When Chris Winslow had conveyed his concern to you what did you do with that information? Who did you tell?
JR I of course reported the concern to Donald Dewar.
14.EF Was Donald Dewar worried about it?
JR Yes, he was worried about what the media would make of it if the information was made available to them in any way. And following our discussion Donald Dewar suggested I talk to the advisers about it. It was for that reason that I had a conversation with all the advisers to tell them that they must not pass on the concerns which Chris Winslow had raised.
15.EF Can I be clear, Chris Winslow clearly implied that when he had been working on the campaign and when Kevin Reid had been working on the campaign for some time part of their salaries were carried by a Westminster allowance?
JR I did not have the detailed facts concerning their employment arrangements but I was lead to believe by Chris Winslow`s anxiety that there may have been misuse of public funds if some of their salaries had come from Westminster allowances. I was very concerned about this and this is why I reported it to Donald Dewar.
16.EF To be clear, you are saying that the way in which Chris Winslow raised his concern lead you to believe that for part of the time he had been working on the campaign his salary may have been funded from the Westminster allowances and that this was probably true of Kevin Reid as well?
JR Yes, that was the clear impression that I got from the conversation and that is why I reported it to Donald Dewar in those terms.

18 April 2000

Elizabeth Filkin

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