Statement of Lesley Quinn taken by D Sandison
on 3 October 2000
I am Lesley Quinn. I am aged 36 and live at
. I have been employed as General Secretary of
the Labour Party in Scotland since November 1999. I have worked
with the Labour Party here since 1981 and I was Assistant Secretary
when Alex became the General Secretary in May 1998.
Ann-Marie Whyte is our office manager with responsibility
for Admin staff. She has no responsibility over the employment
of non Admin staff.
When I worked with Alex the only time I ever remember
discussing with him much the employment of staff was Willie Sullivan.
I had difficulties with Willie`s employment. Alex told me he wanted
Willie to work as a Development Officer and Willie was meant to
report to me as Line Manager but spent much of his time with responsibilities
from Alex, i.e. driving him to meetings, speaking to people etc.
I found this difficult. As General Secretary it was up to Alex
to decide on what staff was needed, i.e. Kevin or Chris. I would
only be involved with staff in strategic seats and party organisation.
When Kevin was here part time he was doing media monitoring. He
would report to Alex and I do remember Alex saying at one stage
he wanted Kevin to go full time and he was thinking of making
him part of my team and I thought Kevin could do a lot for me
in that area. Kevin in fact never became part of my team because
the media monitoring needed more focus with the election the next
year. In about October or November 1998 we got secondments from
Millbank and other offices. We were hotting up towards the work
for the Scottish elections. These were the Scottish Elections,
European elections and local elections.
I never had any discussions with anyone about Kevin
being taken on full time to avoid any suggestion of impropriety.
It was never raised with me. When Kevin was media monitoring officer
I knew Kevin was working for his father and I remember one specific
occasion when Kevin mentioned the sort of thing he would for his
father. It was when I was getting a train in to the office and
it was a very hot day, it was delayed and I made some moaning
I knew Kevin worked part time here and part time
for his father. Clearly he was working more in the office when
he changed to full time work. You would be aware of Kevin being
here because of his personality.
I would also point out that I have never heard John
refer to Kevin as "my boy". I was never put under any
pressure by anyone in connection with the Parliamentary Commissioner`s
Inquiry and I was never asked to remove any financial information.
The person who I most spoke to about this inquiry
by the Parliamentary Commissioner was Alex Rowley. We were constantly
calling each other. I tried to support him when he became involved
with the Commissioner.
I did confirm to the Commissioner that we had a reference
for Kevin to get a mortgage. The reason I know this is because
I checked the records now. The only reference given to Kevin was
the one in 1999 and there was no reference in 1998.
I have never felt under any pressure in relation
to this inquiry nor have the staff. The only time I felt pressure
was with Miss Filkin because I felt she did not believe me when
she interviewed me.
I remember Alex was phoning me because he was very
worried about meeting with the Commissioner in March 2000. He
met her on Tuesday 21 March and up until then he was contacting
me to talk things through and to get support and ask what he would
do. I felt sorry for him. When he was here he would often leave
a lot of his correspondence unanswered and he was not a very organised
person and I tried to help him. He spoke to me a lot about the
fact he had received a letter from Miss Filkin although he did
not show it to me. He lives in and we never actually
met but he told me he had received a letter in February from the
Commissioner and he was worried about certain points of the letter
to do with the contracts of Kevin Reid, Suzanne Hilliard and Chris
Winslow and how many hours they were working for us. I told him
to tell the truth and said it was not his concern what people
did when they left the office because he could not know what they
I know that Alex saw the Commissioner on Tuesday
21 March and I spoke to him on 22 March. I phoned him at his house
to see how he had got on. He said he had got on fine and she was
a really nice person. He mentioned that he had got a friend to
go with him (I note that when I went to see the Commissioner she
never invited me to bring a friend although I took Mr Murray Elder).
The Commissioner had also tried to see me on 21 March
and in fact asked me to come to the meeting at 7 o`clock in the
morning but I could not do this because I have a 4 year old daughter
to look after. The Commissioner was up in Scotland for a couple
Before Alex`s meeting with the Commissioner on 21
March he had phoned me on Monday 20 March. I think I was in Glasgow
and he phoned me to say that he was anxious about the meeting
with Miss Filkin. He had heard a rumour also that he was getting
taken off the panel of candidates and not being selected as a
candidate in Central Fife. I said I had never heard this. He was
really frightened about seeing her and about being taken off the
National Parliamentary panel and he also said he was worried the
NEC would take him off the list of candidates. I reassured Alex
and just told him to tell the truth. He said he needed to contact
John Reid. I suggested that I page John because I was worried
that Alex in fact would not phone John. I felt that it would be
good for him to speak to John for additional support. I also knew
he probably did not have John`s pager number to hand so I paged
John to phone Alex at home. I understand that John then did contact
Alex but this was at my request. As stated I phoned Alex on 22
March to see how he had got on.
At no stage did Alex ever suggest that John had threatened
him. Alex also never mentioned anything to me about possible criminal
prosecution. Alex did not actually say to me on 22 March that
he had spoken to John on the phone on Monday 21 March.
After Alex spoke to Miss Filkin he stopped calling
Another point I remember is that Alex was very worried
about taking an oath. I told him I did not want to either as I
remembered the only other time I swore an oath was when my mother
died intestate and I had to go to the Sheriff Court to do this.
John only phoned Alex because I asked him to do so.
Alex never said John had been trying to contact him.
I remember that on about 10 or 11 March it was the
Scottish Labour Party Conference at the EICC. I was coming back
from the Conference to go to the Balmoral Hotel and I met Alex
with him friend Catriona and Alex mentioned to me that he had
had a really good discussion with John and he felt a lot better
because of this. He said nothing as I have mentioned already about
any possible criminal prosecution and he was clearly very happy
about whatever conversation he had had with John. Catriona Renton
would not have heard this because she stepped back when I was
speaking to him.
There is no way that Kevin, Chris or Suzanne were
working full time for the Party when getting paid partly by Labour
and partly by the MPs.
I do not remember seeing any document at the time
about concerns that Parliamentary staff were being used for Party
research. It may have been circulated in the office but I do not
I remember Kevin used to leave the office at about
11.30 or 12 pm.
Regarding Willie Sullivan, I had the opportunity
to extend his contract and decided not to do this.
Mr McKinney was with us for a very short time.
John Reid was always very supportive of Alex. Alex
once told me that John was a great guy.
On 16 April 2000 Alex did not get selected for the
Central Fife Constituency as a Parliamentary Candidate. John McDougall
got selected instead. Henry McLeish was stepping down as Parliamentary
Candidate because he was an MSP. I phoned Alex on 18 April to
see if he was OK and he was fine.
I understand that Alex has budget information on
this office. He should not have this information when he no longer
is employed by the Party. We have confidentiality statements which
we all sign when joining as Party employees and I have obtained
a copy of Alex`s confidentiality statement which he signed. He
should not retain any documentation when he leaves the Party and
he should not divulge any information.