Memorandum submitted by Dr John Reid MP
I have set out in the following 22 paragraphs a number
of my views on Ms Filkin`s draft report. I have not been provided
as yet with her final report or her conclusions. However the tenor
of her views concerning my position in her investigation is very
apparent. My statement should be read as being in addition to
the submission I made to Ms Filkin in early July 2000. A number
of the observations can only be made now that I have seen Ms Filkin`s
I am innocent of the complaint. I urge members to
examine Ms Filkin`s report carefully as I am wholly unable to
find within it any proof or evidence that I was engaged in the
behaviours set out in the complaint in any way. Surely I am not
to be judged on the basis of speculation and innuendo.
Dr John Reid MP
1. It is said by the complainer that I used
my employment of first Kevin Reid (KR) and then Suzanne Hilliard
(SH) improperly to in effect subsidise the Labour Party`s effort
for the Scottish elections in May 1999.
2. I did not do so. Both KR and SH carried
out their contracted work for me. In the whole report there is
no finding that either KR or SH did no work for me. That is of
course correct. The complaint therefore must be that they did
not do their full contracted work for me. That is untrue.
In the report the final point appears to be that neither KR nor
SH could do their full work for me as they were too busy
on Labour Party business.
3. I am being put in the position it appears
of having to show what KR and SH required to do for me and then
show that they did it. Of course I did not record these details
at the time, as I had no idea I would be asked about these matters.
Ms Filkin does not appear to understand that she is asking me
to prove KR and SH did the work rather than her investigating
whether I set up the improper arrangement the complaint asserts.
4. Firstly I would say that it was impossible
for me as a Minister and Scottish MP to do my work without assistance.
Ms Filkin seems to think I could simply do without assistance
not just for a week or two but for a year, from May 1998 to May
1999. She does not understand the demands made on a minister with
a Scottish constituency in terms of speeches, research and constituency
business and correspondence.
5. Nowhere is it explained how and why during
a year and a half in whichmy wife died and was buried (January
98), I was taken into hospital, underwent a hernia operation and
recuperation (February and March 98), my Constituency Secretary
fell ill, (February-October 98), eventually was permanently unavailable
for work (Dec. 98-May 99), I was given the additional responsibility
of the Scottish Elections (April May 98) and a new Cabinet portfolio
(Transport, July 98)that I should have wanted or managed
to cope with constituency work by dispensing with any staff assistance.
The proposition by any standards is just incredible.
6. There was, of course, no House regulation
prohibiting any of my employees taking a further job, paid or
voluntary, political or non-political. I checked this with the
Fees Office at the time, and had it explicitly confirmed by the
Fees Office by letter on the 25th May this year. This letter,
addressing this specific and important point was supplied to Ms
Filkin in July. I am surprised that it appears not to have been
supplied by her to Committee members to avoid any ambiguity on
this point or any inference that this was an improper arrangement.
I am concerned that this potentially negative impression is thus
allowed to run implicitly throughout the report. A copy of the
Fees Office letter is set out in Annex B of this submission.
7. Ms Filkin appears to think I set up some
conspiratorial arrangement in May 1998 regarding KR and then in
October 1998 regarding SH. I did not. For this to have occurred
it would have required not only that KR and SH accept this but
also that the Labour Party personnel accept the arrangement. A
similar conspiracy would presumably have to have been put in place
by John Maxton MP. There is of course no evidence of any such
conspiracy as there was none. As Mr Goudie QC points out the conspiracy
would have required to involve not only me KR and SH but also,
according to the report, John Maxton MP his researcher Chris Winslow,
Annmarie Whyte and Alex Rowley of the Scottish Labour Party and
Jonathan Upton of the UK Labour Party. This is unbalanced theorising.
8. In support of this theory Ms Filkin introduces
another equally unsubstantiated theory vizthat documents
described as budget papers indicate cross-subsidy. It is also
illustrative of Ms Filkin`s approach. On the one hand, the theory
is denied by Annmarie Whyte, by Jonathan Upton, and by the Director
of Finance of the House of Commons (despite being pressed 3 times)
who regard the documents as "completely innocent" in
their interpretation. It is also rejected by an independent account
(See Section 3). However, Ms Filkin rejects all others in favour
of Mr Rowley despite the fact that he (a) himself admits that
he is not in full command of the materials and (b) warns against
reading too much into the budgets. In her Summary, she thus embarks
on a tortuous section of analysis, with incorrect figures (comparing
figures which include National Insurance Contributions with those
which exclude them), surprising omissions (she omits the obvious
comparison of Kevin Reid`s combined incomeOCA and Labour
Partyof £14,200, supposedly for "full time"
work, with the actual full-time salary of £18,200 he received
when later working full time) and with unfounded assertions about
"broad similarities" which cannot be sustained even
on her incorrect and incomplete figures.
9. The alleged conspiracy also has an odd
twist to it. I am supposed to have become concerned that my alleged
improper scheme regarding Kevin Reid would be found out. Ms Filkin
seems to think that it is likely that notwithstanding my apparent
concern I halted that scheme and immediately repeated the scheme
with Ms Hilliard. I cannot understand why she thinks this. It
is not only untrue but highly improbable.
10. She also thinks my motive for taking this
somewhat illogical action was because of my son`s involvement
in a media storm in Scotland known as "Lobbygate". This
cannot be true, since Kevin Reid left my employment
in October 1998 and "Lobbygate" did not occur
until almost one year later, in September 1999. This error
by Ms Filkin is fundamental. Without this alleged motive her assessment
is illogical and flawed as well as factually wrong.
11. The complaint against me is never made clear
in Ms Filkin`s reasoning. On one view it is a scheme to place
KR and then SH with the Labour Party. This underlies her reference
to some budgetary material for the Scottish Labour Party she has
obtained. On the other hand she appears to accept that KR and
SH did do work for me but presumably not enough. I cannot see
her basis for running these two lines against me.
12. Ms Filkin thinks she has shown "on the
balance of probabilities" that neither KR nor SH did their
contracted work for me. The fact that KR, SH and I say their duties
were carried out does not seem to count for anything. Why is this?
13. It seems that Ms Filkin prefers to rely on
what is said by Mr Rowley. Mr Rowley at no time had any involvement
or understanding of what KR or SH were doing for me. I find Ms
Filkin`s reliance on Mr Rowley as my principal accuser incomprehensible.
This is all the more so as Mr Rowley did not know, among other
things, that KR had been employed by me for years before May 1998,
or that I had taken advice from the Fees office, or that my constituency
secretary was off work from December 1998 to mid May 1999 due
to illness, or the nature of the work KR and SH did for me, oreven
as late as January 2000that SH had actually been on a part-time
contract with me. I find Ms Filkin`s reliance on Mr Rowley at
all times and on all matters at least perplexing, especially
since at no stage in any of the material provided does he actually
say that KR and SH did not work for me.
14. The other approach Ms Filkin adopts is to
question whether KR and SH could have met their contractual duties
to me. As regards KR, Ms Filkin carries out a purportedly precise
assessment. It is in fact based on vague generalities by Mr Rowley,
Mr Rafferty (who was not present at the relevant period) and Mr
Sullivan (who was not in a position to know.) She then misattribute
figures to me and proceeds to observe:
"It cannot be said with certainty that Mr Reid
could not have met both obligations (to me and the Labour Party)"(para
But even then what she has omitted to not is that
KR`s whole contractual duties to me of 20 hours could have
been carried out on Friday (from 11 am), Saturday and Sunday,
leaving aside his free-time to work for me every weekday afternoon.
It is only by excluding this available week-end time that Ms Filkin
introduces doubt (and an `extra` 4 hours a day work). As elsewhere,
she prefers to rely on her "impression" rather than
15. The same position arises with SH. Ms Filkin
does not appear to accept that SH could (and did) carry out her
duties to me on weekday mornings and sometimes at weekends. Like
KR her duty to me was 20hrs per week variable. Ms Filkin seems
driven to develop suspicions rather than to determine facts even
when to prove those suspicions requires an inventive manipulation
of data. These issues are covered in greater depth in Section
4 of this submission.
16. On the question of the supposed `cross-subsidy`,
Ms Filkin dismisses the views of the House of Commons authorities.
On the 8th May 2000 Director of Finance Andrew Walker wrote
on behalf of himself and Archie Cameron of The Fees Office:
"In summary, the evidence we have seen from our own records
and our dealings with Dr Reid and Mr Maxton is consistent with
the proper and acceptable use of Office costs allowance."
(Annex 205) Further, on the 23rd May, when pressed
again by Ms Filkin, he responded: "In summary, from the
documentation I have seen, I remain of the view that there is
no clear evidence of wrongdoing. Indeed, if anything I am a little
more inclined to favour an innocent explanation." (Annex
207). On 28th June, pressed again on the budget papers
he says "... the results are in line with what we would
expect ..." and later "... the explanations offered
by Annmarie Whyte are broadly consistent with the documentary
evidence which we have seen. We have not detected any obviously
suspicious elements." To summarise all this, as does
Ms Filkin in her Report, by saying that the view of the Director
of Finance was that the papers did not "in themselves"
prove cross subsidy demonstrates a curious unwillingness to accept
an independent view that suggests my innocence.
17. The essential facts refute the complaint.
KR and SH did carry out their contractual duties to me. No amount
of vague assertion or misplaced suspicion changes that.
18. In the absence of facts suggesting the complaint
is made out Ms Filkin looks at extraneous or collateral matters
throughout her report and appears to attach great importance to
these. However she frequently misses the point. Mr McKinney who
is held out by her as being party to the initial alleged conspiracy
does not confirm what the complainer alleges against him.
He does not say I proposed a scheme whereby I would pay
for KR but have him in reality working for the Labour Party. Rather
he expressly steps away from such an allegationand this
from a person who quite plainly expresses his uncomplimentary
views of me in his taped conversations with the journalist/complainer.
19. Having spent a substantial amount of time
preparing submissions and data for Ms Filkin I am astounded to
read that she accuses me of attempting to frustrate her enquiry.
This proceeds on her interpretation of contact by Mr Rowley with
me. It is alleged wrongly that I threatened Mr Rowley in the course
of the investigation. I did not do so and I can find nothing in
the report that gives any basis for such an outrageous allegation.
It is true I told Mr Rowley to tell the truth to Ms Filkin. That
is not a threat. I did tell him not to speculate about matters
of which he was ignorant. It is interesting that when Mr Rowley
surreptitiously tape recorded my conversation with him nothing
said by me in that conversation could properly be construed as
a threat to him or pressure on him to lie. And yet Ms Filkin appears
to regard this tape recording as incriminating me. Her interpretations
could not be said to be balanced or proceeding on an impartial
basis. Ms Filkin includes the transcript in her Report. I urge
Members to look at this fairly and consider whether any threat
can be detected therein. It is also interesting that Mr Rowley`s
allegations that others, viz Lesley Quinn and Annmarie Whyte have
been in various ways put under pressure presumably by me or on
my behalf to act dishonestly are completely rejected by the individuals
involved. I have provided statements from those individuals since
Ms Filkin did not proceed to check these allegations with those
individuals, indicative as they may be to Mr Rowley`s stance in
her investigation. (See Annex A)
20. Mr Goudie QC describes Ms Filkin`s report
as "the more than shoddy outcome of an investigation that
was mishandled throughout." I agree with his view. In particular
Ms Filkin`s determination to believe against all others Mr Rowley
and also Mr Rafferty leave me bemused. If nothing else, any investigation
of Mr Rowley`s allegations about pressures on Lesley Quinn and
Annmarie Whyte would have revealed that Mr Rowley is not always
reliable. Investigation of why Mr Rowley left the employment of
the Labour Party might have revealed some insights into Mr Rowley`s
other statements. The merest investigation into the circumstances
of Mr Rafferty`s departure from employment with the late First
Minister in Scotland might have raised at least a question mark
over his credibility and reliability. None of this was done although
I pointed Ms Filkin in this direction. I of course did not know
of Mr Rowley`s allegations of pressures on others until I received
her draft report. I cannot understand why Ms Filkin did not take
elementary steps to test the veracity of these people whose allegations
are central to her findings.
21. Throughout her investigation I have had the
impression that the balance of Ms Filkin`s inquiries have always
been against me. The unwillingness on her part to reveal prior
to her draft report accusations against me and materials provided
by my accusers confirms this impression.
22. In support of my innocence of the complaint
against me I have included in this submission for Members consideration
the advice of a leading QC on the substance and conduct of this
enquiry, and an assessment by a professional accountant. I have
also enclosed for the assistance of Members an analysis of the
evidential basis of the complaint that formed part of my submission
to Ms Filkin in July 2000. Finally, in the absence of any attempt
by Ms Filkin to test the veracity of certain allegations by Mr
Rowley I have annexed statements from those involved in the allegations.
23. I fully support the role of the Committee
and that of a Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. I am however
entitled to expect that any complaint against me or any other
member is investigated in a fair, professional and competent manner.
Reading Mr Goudie`s Advice on Ms Filkin`s actings confirms my
strong sense I have not been dealt with fairly. Above all I am
extremely disappointed that where a baseless allegation has been
made against me, Ms Filkin`s investigation has failed to even
consider the untruth of the complaint.