Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report

Transcription of the tape of an interview with Mr Kevin Reid held on Monday 3 April 2000

  Ms Filkin: Quite a number of the questions which relate to these events, I have already asked you and you have answered. Obviously you have had time to think about the questions and you may have had chance to look things up or do whatever you wish. Do not feel at all concerned if you have given me part of the answer before and now you want to give me the whole of the answer, that is fine. This is what I shall rely on. I know that you switched from working for Dr Reid—you were working part time for him and part time for the Party—onto a full-time contract in October 1998. Would you take me through the precise reasons for that change?

  Mr Reid: The reasons for the change in contract were that the Labour Party was employing a number of people and I was one of the number of people they were going to bring in full time. From my perspective, I had had a few conversations with my father, explaining that I was working these set hours and the work was intensifying. My hours were not increasing but there was a full-time job available there, because they wanted to do the monitoring, which is the job I did, for longer hours. He then said to me that several people were coming in so it was likely that I would be moved onto a full-time contract and therefore would cease employment with him because I would not be able to do both jobs. The next I heard was a conversation with Alex Rowley which clarified it.

  Ms Filkin: What did he say to you?

  Mr Reid: He just said that he wanted to move media monitoring. They said they wanted to move it almost 24 hours, they wanted to move it more than just a morning brief and a lunchtime brief. They wanted to monitor the broadcasts right through the day and they wanted me to step that up.

  Ms Filkin: Was any other reason given to you by Alex Rowley?

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: One of the witnesses whom I have already interviewed has told me that the main reason for the change was concern by the Party that the Conservatives were being attacked in the press for employing people part time on Party activities while they were employed from public funds as Members' research assistants and that the Labour Party was in danger of being criticised on similar grounds. Is this true?

  Mr Reid: Not as far as I am aware. I am not aware of that being true, but I just do not know about it. It is true that there were stories in the press with criticism of the Conservatives for it, but I am not aware of any reason of that nature.

  Ms Filkin: Did you discuss that matter with anyone?

  Mr Reid: I possibly discussed it with my father, but in passing. My job was monitoring media, so I may have discussed it with him as on what was in the papers.

  Ms Filkin: Do you recall how you discussed it with him?

  Mr Reid: It would have been over the phone. I should like to clarify that I cannot remember discussing it. I discussed a million things with him, so I may have, but I cannot remember a specific conversation.

  Ms Filkin: And you did not discuss it with anybody else.

  Mr Reid: Not that I can recall.

  Ms Filkin: Am I right then, from what you have just told me, that your change in contract was only discussed by you with Alex Rowley and with your father?

  Mr Reid: Yes. There were obviously personnel issues as well with the change of contract, etcetera. I am sure I had a conversation with the office manager just to say this is ...

  Ms Filkin: Who did you have conversations with?

  Mr Reid: I would have dealt probably with Anne-Marie White over the time and date of the change in contract, but it would not have been a clarification or actually dealing with the issue, it would just have been that this was going to happen.

  Ms Filkin: So you did not discuss with Anne-Marie White this matter of the concern that some people were having about what Conservatives were doing.

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: Was it discussed with Jonathan Upton?

  Mr Reid: I have never had a conversation with Jonathan Upton.

  Ms Filkin: Did you discuss it with John Rafferty?

  Mr Reid: No, I do not think John Rafferty was in the Labour Party at that time. He did not start until December I think it was, or January.

  Ms Filkin: Did you ever have a conversation with Paul McKinney about this?

  Mr Reid: Paul McKinney left the Labour Party two days before I actually started working for them.

  Ms Filkin: You did not ever have any conversation with him.

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: You said that the hours you worked for the Labour Party, between April 1998 and October 1998 allowed you more than sufficient time to fulfil your obligations as your father's research assistant. Talk me through that. How much time was available on average every week for your parliamentary duties?

  Mr Reid: I did not start working for the Labour Party until May 1998. I did not work for the Labour Party in April 1998. As you will be aware, the role of an MP's researcher is not a nine to five job. Shall I take you through the hours I worked for the Labour Party?

  Ms Filkin: Yes. If you take me through the hours you worked for the Labour Party and then tell me what else you had to do, because I believe you were a student some of the time as well.

  Mr Reid: I finished my studies in the second or third week in May and then I started to work for the Labour Party. I was then no longer a student, so I was looking for a full-time job or another part-time job to add to the part-time one I had. Initially my hours for the Labour Party were around about eight o'clock to eleven o'clock in the morning. I merely went in and cut the papers up, made four copies and passed them around the office. That is what I did. Then, when Lorraine Davidson came in, who replaced Paul McKinney, it was suggested to me that something to do in my job would be to collate what was in the papers and write a one-page brief to give out. Because I had been monitoring the press for my Dad, I knew the job. So I started to type a one-page brief of what was in the papers in the morning and I gave it round the office. I could do that in a couple of hours, so that is what I did. As well as giving out press cuttings to everyone I summarised them and then it got quite popular. There is one done by the Labour Party in Millbank and they fax it out to MPs and it was suggested that we should do that with the Scottish one with a Scottish slant on it. So I started doing that, so that was my job. I had to cover the morning press and fax it out to whoever wanted it and give it round the office. So that was until about eleven o'clock. But within about eight weeks it was suggested that we should catch the lunchtime broadcasts as well. So there is the Evening Times which actually comes out at half past ten in Scotland and there are two television broadcasts, one at one o'clock and one for five minutes at half past one and the twelve o'clock news. What I would do was do the brief from round about seven, half past seven to nine in the morning. I would then have a couple of hours of my own because there was not anything for me to do and then I would return to the office—because I always went out for my lunch/breakfast—and do the twelve to half past one slot and do another brief and that would be my day over. Although during the period I was part time with the Party, my hours slightly changed. In actual fact I was still working about three and a half hours a day, although there was an hour's gap. Obviously as a part-time employee I did not get paid lunch or anything, so it was an hour and a half and then another hour and a half or two hours, which left me at half past one with my day over. I could be very, very disciplined about that because there was not actually anything else for me to do because my job was over. So there was not a problem with running late or staying on to three or four o'clock because by half past one my brief was complete. Then what I would do, was either go to my fiancée's house, my wife now, or my own home or my Dad's home through in Motherwell, wherever I was going that day; wherever my fiancée was to be honest. I would then start to work for my father, which was a separate job.

  Ms Filkin: That was for May and June. You talked about the first couple of months.

  Mr Reid: The first couple of months I worked until eleven o'clock. Then for the next few months, until I went full time in the Party—

  Ms Filkin: In October.

  Mr Reid:—until half past one. That was the break up, because there was not really a job for me to do for the first six weeks until the morning brief became popular and people asked why I did not do one at lunchtime broadcasts as well. So that is why I stepped up and I was finished by about half past one, quarter to two. My car was actually on a parking meter all the time, so I was very, very funny with my time.

  Ms Filkin: What kind of work were you doing as a researcher for your father during that period?

  Mr Reid: First of all I had been monitoring the press for my father in Scotland and although I was a media monitor for the Labour Party, it is different sorts of things you are looking for. My Dad's specific interest in Scotland would be defence and then it became transport and his constituency matters as well that he was interested in. So I would still monitor that for him and I would look at the weeklies as well, the weekly magazines which came out such as Private Eye, etcetera. I would also monitor the local press for him; there are five local papers, so I would monitor them and tell him what was in them. In addition to the press stuff, what I would do, any press releases which went out Mary McKenna would type but I would find the information for her. So it would be contacting Departments or getting a PLP briefing or finding the facts and figures for the press releases. She did a weekly update for my Dad, a weekly "What's happening in the constituency". I would put a political message into that. She would deal with who came to the surgeries, but I would say, for example, one of the key issues in the constituency were Chung Wa and LiteOn, which are two Korean companies. During the crisis in South East Asia there was a big issue in Scotland about inward investment. Hyundai was in trouble, or there was talk about whether there was going to be investment in Hyundai in the Dunfermline area and Fife which was relevant to my Dad's constituency, because he had two Korean companies in his constituency. So I would add things like that into it, sort of issues which were Scottish and national political issues which should have been added in.

  Ms Filkin: So you were doing mainly press work for your father.

  Mr Reid: No. There was a lot of press work, but also if he had any speeches to do I would do all the research for speeches. It was a research role. There was one I can remember, a Fabian Society speech he had, and it must have been a month we were working on it because it was about Scottish identity and dual nationality being Scottish and British. A lot of work was put into that and that was historical work which I really liked because my first degree was history. So there was work like that as well.

  Ms Filkin: What led to the decision that you could do that work for him as a researcher as easily in Scotland as you could in England?

  Mr Reid: Sorry, I do not understand.

  Ms Filkin: Well you did that based in Edinburgh. You did that work as a researcher for your father based in Edinburgh, did you not?

  Mr Reid: Stirling. I did it from my university in Stirling.

  Ms Filkin: Sorry; I did not know where it was.

  Mr Reid: The reason I did it in Scotland was because you could only do it in Scotland. He does not get the Daily Record and the Scotsman and the Herald here. He does not get the Scottish broadcasts. He does not get his local press here. So I had actually to be in Scotland to do that job.

  Ms Filkin: I have at least two other witnesses who, contrary to what you have been telling me, say that you were working full time for the Labour Party during that period or at least part of it and that the two contracts you had as part-time worker overlapped and that you certainly were working full time for the Party during the time you were drawing a salary as a researcher. Is that untrue?

  Mr Reid: It is untrue to say that I did not complete my contract for my job for my father as a researcher. Completely untrue. It is untrue to say that I did not do my job for my father. I did it over and above; sometimes I did far more than 20 hours. I do not quite understand how someone could say that one to ten at night five days a week, and I even worked the hours on a Friday because it was agreed with the Labour Party that I would not work as many hours on Friday, so I would not do that lunchtime brief on a Friday. And Saturday and Sunday, every Scottish paper which comes out on Sunday being a different edition to the one you get in Westminster. I do not see the correlation between doing 10 hours extra a week for the Labour Party, if I did that, and not being able to do 20 hours for my father. I do not work nine to five; I never have worked nine to five. I do not understand why somebody would say he did an extra hour so that will have to come off the other job he did.

  Ms Filkin: That is not what I said to you. What I said to you was that some of the witnesses I have seen have said that for a period of time at least you were not working as a researcher for your father but you were working very full time for the Labour Party. I asked you a question as to whether that was untrue.

  Mr Reid: Yes, it is untrue. Sorry.

  Ms Filkin: That is quite all right. If you are denying those witnesses' claims, have you anything to put forward as to why they should make up that allegation?

  Mr Reid: I do not know who the witnesses are.

  Ms Filkin: No, you do not, but I am telling you that I have two witnesses who say that. It does not matter who they are. What matters is why anybody would make that up. Do you have any suggestion as to why anybody would make that up?

  Mr Reid: No. All I can say is that, as you are aware, there have been several claims about things I am supposed to have done and it was my job for the Labour Party.

  Ms Filkin: Yes, I have all that.

  Mr Reid: They were probably .  .  . I do not know. I could say to you that it is to get at my Dad because he is a politician. I genuinely do not know.

  Ms Filkin: I just thought you ought to have the opportunity to say whether you had anything you wanted to put to me about that. Suzanne Hillier took over from you as your father's assistant.

  Mr Reid: Yes.

  Ms Filkin: Did you brief her when she took over the job from you?

  Mr Reid: Yes.

  Ms Filkin: Could you take me through how you briefed her and what you told her the job would consist of?

  Mr Reid: Suzanne volunteered to do a couple of hours with me when I was media monitor. That is how I know Suzanne. She was aware of what I was doing for my father in addition, so she knew the job I was doing. When I moved to full time, Dad was obviously left without a researcher so he was looking for someone. I suggested Suzanne to him because the later hours I was then going to cover would mean that those were the hours Suzanne would cover before I was doing it for the Party anyway. He needed a researcher to do the job and she would be available so I suggested it to my Dad. I then told her about the job and asked her whether she might be interested. She said she would be interested and I then contacted my Dad and sorted the details.

  Ms Filkin: Did you give her the impression that when times were hard for the Party, that is when a lot of work was required, the job would be flexible and that she would be required to work full time for the Party?

  Mr Reid: No. I certainly told her that it was not a nine to five job working for my father and you can get phone calls at ten at night to go to get the first edition of the Daily Record in Scotland and read it to him. I said it was not a structured nine to five job. Actually initially what happened was my concern for her university studies because she was studying at university.

  Ms Filkin: Yes; absolutely.

  Mr Reid: I explained it probably would not get in the way of her studies because, as the contract says, there are no set hours, just so many hours a week, but there is nothing about having to be in the office at these times. No, I did not, but I did explain to her that things would be demanded which were outwith a normal nine to five job; it was not like that.

  Ms Filkin: Could she have been under any impression that she was being employed for anything other than a Westminster researcher job?

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: Not from anything you said to her?

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: When you were working in these various jobs what was your understanding of Chris Winslow's position?

  Mr Reid: I was aware that Chris was working for an MP because John Maxton used to call quite a lot. But to be honest Chris and I worked in different offices. Chris just did research.

  Ms Filkin: So you knew he was employed by Mr Maxton.

  Mr Reid: Yes, I knew he was but because of the hours I worked I did not see. I only had three or four hours when I was actually in an office where I did not see other people that much.

  Ms Filkin: Were you ever aware of any evidence to suggest that during the time he was being paid as Mr Maxton's research assistant he was working full time for the Party?

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: When you were employed as a researcher by Dr Reid, were you aware that during the period you were involved as a researcher you were prevented from using that time for party political activity?

  Mr Reid: I am sorry, I do not quite understand.

  Ms Filkin: When you had your research assistant contract, were you aware that it was a rule that it was associated with the pay for that contract that you could not take part in party political activities during the hours you were employed as a research assistant?

  Mr Reid: Yes.

  Ms Filkin: Would you say that most people in the Party headquarters understood that distinction?

  Mr Reid: I do not know. I would be speculating to say so. I would assume so but .  .  .

  Ms Filkin: Are you prepared to say, on oath if necessary to the Standards and Privileges Committee, that you have never worked on Labour Party business or campaign during the hours when you were paid by the Fees Office?

  Mr Reid: Yes.

  Ms Filkin: I have been given evidence that the answers to my enquiries from researchers have been coordinated by a lawyer. Are your answers to me being coordinated by a lawyer?

  Mr Reid: No. I drafted the statement which I gave you, which is a transcript, through a lawyer, but no I have not.

  Ms Filkin: Through a lawyer.

  Mr Reid: Through a lawyer.

  Ms Filkin: Who was that?

  Mr Reid: I shall send you his name.

  Ms Filkin: How did you come by him?

  Mr Reid: He was recommended by my family lawyer.

  Ms Filkin: He was recommended by .  .  .?

  Mr Reid: A family lawyer.

  Ms Filkin: Is that the same lawyer who has drafted the other researchers' .  .  .

  Mr Reid: I do not know.

  Ms Filkin: You have no knowledge of that.

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: Have you had any conversations with the other researchers?

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: Have you had any conversations with anybody else before coming to see me on these matters?

  Mr Reid: Obviously I have spoken to my father, just my father.

  Ms Filkin: Anybody else?

  Mr Reid: I have spoken to John McTernan.

  Ms Filkin: Nobody else.

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: Have you coordinated your response with anybody else's in any way?

  Mr Reid: No.

  Ms Filkin: Thank you very much indeed. I am sorry that has taken some time. What I need to say to you now is that I make the assumption that you have told me the truth. Could I ask you whether you have told me the whole truth?

  Mr Reid: Yes.

  Ms Filkin: Is there anything else you feel that it would help me if you told me? Any other people I should contact, any other people who might have information to shed on this complaint, any other comments or information or written information you would like me to have so that I have a full picture?

  Mr Reid: I cannot think of any other written information at the moment, but if there is something I shall send it to you. The only thing I could add is that the people who can verify the job I did for my father are my father and Mary because they know the job I did. The people who can verify that I worked part time for the Labour Party would be Lesley Quinn directly in line with Lorraine Davidson and anybody standing with cigarettes outside the office because they saw me leaving at the same time every day. No, I am quite happy.

  Ms Filkin: Perhaps I could thank you then for coming.

  Mr McTernan: May I ask a question?

  Ms Filkin: Of course; do.

  Mr McTernan: It is about this process remaining. It is just that at the moment you have a situation where you have a couple of other witnesses who have said they have seen Kevin working full time, whose statements you have taken as evidence which say that Kevin was working more than part time, he was working full time. The main difficulty I see in this for Kevin is that you have two witnesses who say that and he says he is not doing that. The question is what would be a resolution to that? Are there other witnesses whom he should go away and think about suggesting in terms of people, colleagues he worked with, or superiors or other people in the team he was working with who could actually give you a statement? Clearly at the moment you have the witnesses you have called and some said one thing and others said another. It seems to me it is potentially a difficulty for Kevin.

  Ms Filkin: It is not a potential difficulty for Kevin. All that is required of Kevin is that he tell me the truth. He has not got a complaint against him and there is nothing, unless it transpired that he had not been telling the truth and then there would be problems. Assuming that he has told me the truth, there is no more issue for Kevin. The people who are complained about are Dr Reid and Mr Maxton. If, when I have seen all the people I have had people refer me to—and all the people I see refer me to other people—when I come to the view that I have heard everything that I need to hear from both sides, then I have to come to a conclusion as to who I believe. If I believe any of the people who are giving me statements which are at variance with the people who have complaints about them, then I obviously have to give them the opportunity of challenging that information. So I have to put that information in front of them so that they have the chance of challenging it before I come to any conclusion. Several people might want to give me another point of view or to produce other people or whatever. That is the process I go through. When I come to the end of that I have to make up my mind what I think about the complaints which have been made, which ones, if any, I think have any substance, which ones I think, if any, do not, and I then report back to the Standards and Privileges Committee. They have to decide whether they share my view of the world or not. They always publish my reports alongside theirs and there is no compunction on them if they choose not to to share my views. They often, when I report to them, before they come to a conclusion, want to see people, they often want to get me to get further evidence, so it can be quite a lengthy process. Often it is not, but in complicated cases where there are quite a lot of people.

  Mr Reid: If the press contact me on this issue, do I just say that there is an inquiry under way and nothing more? Obviously it is quite disconcerting to see my name in the Scottish press quite a lot.

  Ms Filkin: Of course and it is most concerning the way the press deal with some of these things, as you know. [Interrupted by test of buttons]It is a privileged inquiry therefore you cannot talk about it to anyone. If they contact this office that is what we shall say to people. We say we have nothing to say, there is an inquiry under way, we are interviewing people. We do not say, as some of the press said last week, that the inquiry has been stepped up. I know now where they got this idea from. It was because they had not done any of their checking in between, so they thought when they did ring up and find there was an investigation going on that in some way it had been stepped up. It was totally untrue and I had to put them right as soon as I could.

  Mr Reid: Because, you understand, it has happened before and my wife's family live abroad and it is a worry to them.

  Ms Filkin: Of course. It is a worry to everybody and it is quite a problem. The only little vignette I can tell you is that I am endlessly rung up by the press, indeed I see in the press, information which says I am conducting inquiries into things which I have not even had a complaint about [Recording stopped and then restarted]The person accompanying Kevin Reid was John McTernan M-c-T-E-R-N-A-N; accompanying Kevin Reid as a friend.

  (Agreed as correct 18 April 2000)

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