Response submitted by Mr John Maxton MP
The Evidence appearing to support Dean Nelson`s
allegations about John Maxton MP
The Committee will note Miss Filkin`s view in paragraph
9 of her draft memorandum that the "standard of proof I have
adopted is the balance of probability." In my view that is
a clear indication that she has little "evidence" and
she does not even attempt to meet her own supposed standards.
Again Mr Goudie deals with this at considerable length
and with a legal skill that I cannot match. He shows how Miss
Filkin should not have applied this standard of proof and then
having applied it fails to attain it.
There are two issues involved in the evidence that
Miss Filkin has collected during the course of the last 8 months.
First is the evidence itself and whether there is sufficient to
prove the allegation. Second is Miss Filkin`s interpretation and
analysis of the evidence in the draft memorandum I have seen.
Within the memorandum or report Miss Filkin identifies
four witnesses whose evidence appears to support Mr Nelson`s allegations
against Dr Reid and myself. They are Paul McKinney, Alex Rowley,
John Rafferty and Willie Sullivan. All of them were employees
of the Labour Party for some or all of the time under consideration.
She also encloses the notes (all names taken out)
of interviews done by Mr Nelson. She does NOT include either copies
or transcripts of the tapes that figured so strongly in her earlier
letters to me. Why not?
Miss Filkin also obtained budget documents from Mr
Rowley that she claims are relevant to the case.
The references in Mr Nelson`s notes concerning myself
and Chris Winslow are very few and very irrelevant. (References
to my employment of Miss Hilliard are not relevant, as I did not
employ Miss Hilliard until AFTER the Scottish elections were over
and Miss Filkin in her memorandum implicitly accepts this.)
Paul McKinney`s evidence makes no mention of Chris
Winslow or myself. This is hardly surprising since his employment
by the Labour Party and my employment of Mr Winslow overlapped
by only a few days.
Mr Sullivan`s "evidence" relates entirely
to the election period itself and I will deal with that matter
Mr Rafferty in his evidence makes it clear that on
several occasions Mr Winslow told him that he was undertaking
research for me and indeed had asked for latitude over deadlines
for Party work in order to be able to give precedence to his Parliamentary
The only evidence he gives that in any way supports
the allegation is his description of remarks made by Mr Winslow
during a conference call after the election that "he hoped
that the media would not start making mischief with the fact that
he and Kevin Reid had for a while been simultaneously employed
by the Labour Party and by Members of the House of Commons as
researchers" (see John Reid`s submission for a more detailed
analysis of this).
Mr Winslow has provided an explanation of his remarks
with which Mr Rafferty agreed in the first interview with Miss
Filkin. That he then changed his evidence is a matter for him
but it does not give his later claims great credence. Mr Rafferty
also claimed he informed the late Donald Dewar, then First Minister
in Scotland, of this conversation. In a letter to the Commissioner
Mr Dewar stated that he had no memory of such a conversation with
Mr Rafferty. I spoke to Mr Dewar personally and he made it very
clear to me that if he had had such a conversation then he would
have remembered it. Those of you who knew Donald knew his reputation
for gritty honesty. As a close friend of Donald`s I find Miss
Filkin`s inference that he was lying to her extremely distasteful.
Thus the Committee must either accept Mr Winslow`s
explanation or Mr Rafferty`s third explanation of the remarks
Mr Winslow made. Miss Filkin places some emphasis on the fact
that Mr Winslow did not supply her with the names of the others
involved in the conference call. Firstly I can find NO evidence
in her letters or interview with Mr Winslow that she ever asked
him for the names and secondly and more importantly Mr Rafferty
failed to give her the other names.
Thus the only evidence that in any way appears to
support the allegation made against myself by Mr Nelson is that
from Alex Rowley, the General Secretary of the Labour Party in
Scotland during the period and the budget documents that he provided
to the Commissioner.
The evidence from Mr Rowley is summarised in paragraphs
51 & 52 of the draft memorandum. All Mr Rowley`s evidence
in relation to Mr Winslow and myself is dependent on his claim
that the first offer of help with staff for the Party`s election
campaign was made by myself to Ms Annmarie Whyte, the office manager
at Labour Party headquarters. Miss Filkin in paragraph 51 refers
to Annex 148A. This is a report of a telephone conversation she
had with Mr Rowley on the 4th September 2000. In no previous evidence
had Mr Rowley been so precise in his statements.
Why did it take so long for him to give this information
and the Committee will note that it was at Miss Filkin`s prompting?
I wish to state categorically that I had no meetings, telephone
calls or any other contact on this matter with Ms Annmarie Whyte
or indeed any other member of the Labour Party staff either prior
or during my employment of Chris Winslow. Ms Whyte also has stated
that she had no contact with me at the time in question or after.
(See the statement from Ms Whyte attached to John Reid`s submission.)
Indeed if I had made such an offer to make it would
be very odd to contact the Party`s office manager rather than
the General Secretary of the Party and make such an arrangement
Miss Filkin has chosen to believe Mr Rowley in this
matter rather than myself and Ms Whyte. She has nothing to corroborate
Mr Rowley`s statements. Indeed all they show is that Mr Winslow
worked for the Labour Party. They do not prove that he was not
working for me at the same time. I do not believe the unsubstantiated
word of one witness is sufficient to allow the Committee to accept
my guilt on the allegation made against me.
Even Mr Rowley`s interpretation of the budget documents
depends on the truth or otherwise of the above. If there was no
such arrangement between myself and Ms Whyte then his view of
the budget papers does not stand up to careful analysis. So again
for Mr Rowley`s interpretation to be believed then the Committee
must accept his version of events rather than those of myself
and Ms Whyte. (See the accountant`s analysis in John Reid`s submission
I find it very interesting that Miss Filkin so clearly
accepts Mr Rowley`s view of these budget documents rather than
those of the most senior staff in the Finance Department of the
House of Commons. Included in the evidence provided there are
copies of the extensive correspondence between the Commissioner`s
office and the Finance department.
Andrew Walker and his staff carried out an exhaustive
analysis of the budget documents. They are responsible both for
the payment of Member`s Office Costs Allowance and for ensuring
that it is properly spent. They are qualified to carry out the
analysis they did. Yet Miss Filkin seems determined to believe
only Mr Rowley`s account. As far as I know Mr Rowley has no qualification
in accountancy. I note that Miss Filkin claims that Mr Rowley
gave her the budget papers at her request. I have very carefully
read all papers relating to the Mr Rowley`s evidence and can find
no reference to such a request. There are also discrepancies between
the dates on the provision of the budget papers. The first reference
to them is in an e-mail dated 20th April from Mr Rowley to which
the documents are attached. Yet Miss Filkin refers to them in
letters dated the 17th and 19th April.
On April 17th Mr Rowley failed to obtain the Labour
Party nomination for the Parliamentary seat of Central Fife, which
is his home constituency. If Miss Filkin did not ask for the documents
why did Mr Rowley offer he documents that he had no right to have
let alone give to someone else.
Lastly I will turn to what I would call the negative
evidence the Commissioner brings in support of the case against
She has persistently asked that I prove my innocence
despite there being nothing but unsubstantiated allegations made
against me by asking me to provide evidence of work done. Miss
Filkin refers to frequent requests for evidence of the work carried
out by Mr Winslow for myself. She also refers to the fact that
I did not meet with her to discuss the allegations.
I did inform Miss Filkin in a phone call very early
in the enquiry that I would try and obtain examples of work done
by Mr Winslow but it would be very difficult since much of it
was of a transitory nature and since we had both obtained new
computers since the work was done there would not necessarily
be any evidence left.
On the basis that the only evidence I had received
from Miss Filkin prior to the 19th May was the letter from Mr
Nelson which was a completely unsubstantiated allegation, I could
see no reason to spend time and effort collecting evidence to
prove my innocence of such a charge. In the letter of 19th May
Miss Filkin does ask for this information but since then she has
made no further request for it either from myself or Mr Winslow.
Certainly there have not been repeated requests as she suggests.
When I heard nothing from her after 22nd June then
I assumed obviously wrongly that she had no need for such evidence.
This is was a very fair assumption given that I knew that since
then Miss Filkin has written frequent letters to Miss Hilliard`s
solicitors concerning telephone accounts and the Chairman on behalf
of the Committee had written to various witnesses asking them
to supply the evidence Miss Filkin was seeking. Neither Mr Winslow
or I received such letters.
Again following my submission of 14th June to the
Commissioner and the subsequent letters ending on 23rd June I
expected Miss Filkin to contact me to arrange a meeting with her
to discuss it. She never did so as the documents show. It is therefore
incorrect for her to infer that I had refused to see her.
I believe the above show that Miss Filkin has failed
to produce any substantial evidence in support of the allegation
made by Mr Nelson. I am concerned, however, at the way in which
she seems determined to do so. I fear that she has lost her objectivity
in this matter. Member of the Committee will wish to read very
carefully the memorandum and the evidence to see the relevance
of my argument.