Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Second Report


Further memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

The submissions to the Committee from Dr Reid and Mr Maxton

1.    Dr Reid has made a submission to the Committee dated October 2000 in response to my memorandum (which I had provided to him on 6 September 2000 in draft, minus the section entitled "Conclusions", with a request that he provide me with any corrections of fact and further comment by 25 September). The submission consists of:

    (i)  a covering letter from Dr Reid
    (ii)  a legal opinion from Mr James Goudie QC
    (iii)  analysis by Atkinson, Donnelly, chartered accountants
    (iv)  part of Dr Reid`s earlier submission to me, which has been included as Annex 27 with my memorandum to the Committee
    (v)  statements made, since my memorandum was drafted, by Ms Whyte, Ms Hilliard and Ms Quinn.

2.    Mr Maxton (who was also provided with my memorandum in draft on the same terms as Dr Reid) has also made a submission, consisting of a letter dated 19 October 2000 and a number of annexes.

3.    I have read with care all these documents. Nothing contained in them (with very minor exceptions relating to corrections of fact) causes me to revise either my analysis or my conclusions.

4.    In view of the volume of this new material submitted to the Committee, I thought it might be helpful if I provided, in the form of this note, a brief response to the more salient points. In approaching this task, I took the view that no purpose would be served—the Committee already has enough paper to contend with—by my embarking upon a mechanical, point by point, commentary on every paragraph in each document submitted by Dr Reid and Mr Maxton. In any case, much of the material contained in the documents is either trivial, internally repetitious or reproduces information already provided to the Committee with my memorandum.

5.    Where an error of fact has been pointed out I have acknowledged this. I dealt with the mistake concerning the date of the Lobbygate affair at the Committee`s meeting on 24 October and have corrected my memorandum accordingly. This correction does not have a material bearing on my conclusions.

6.    I would, by way of introduction to my note, make some general observations.

7.    The Committee is being invited to conclude that the procedure I adopted was contrary to natural justice, in that it did not incorporate the safeguards for a defendant which are enshrined in a criminal investigation or trial, and that it was "fundamentally and fatally flawed". I explain in the memorandum why I believe this approach is based on an equally fundamental misconception of my role in the investigating process which has been adopted by the House. I would suggest that the Committee considers the following questions:

    —   did my investigation represent a fair way of establishing the truth in relation to the complaints?

    —   did I provide both Dr Reid and Mr Maxton with information about the process?

    —   was the position of the two Members properly protected by the provision to them of all relevant evidence, by my offering meetings throughout the investigation so that the Members could explain their position and seek clarification on any matters of concern, by the submission to them for comment or correction of schedules of disputed and undisputed evidence, and by the opportunity for them, if they wished, to provide corrections of fact and to comment on my memorandum, minus the conclusions, in draft?

    —   were sufficient safeguards built into the process, in terms, for example, of witnesses being shown, and allowed to comment on, any relevant evidence from others at variance with their own account?

I.    Dr Reid`s covering letter

8.    Dr Reid suggested that I should have asked myself four questions, the answers to which could have led me to dismiss the complaint. My comments on these questions are:

II.    Dr Reid`s statement

9.    Paragraphs

1-3    This misses the point—the memorandum says this is largely irrelevant once evidence of an improper arrangement to misuse OCA funds has been established (ie on the basis of Mr Rowley`s evidence, supported by Mr Rafferty, and the notes to the budget documents).

4 & 5  The point is not that Ms Hilliard was diverted away from her work for Dr Reid immediately and completely, but rather progressively as the election approached.

6    This is a red herring. The memorandum explicitly acknowledges the fact that researchers are allowed to do other, outside work—but it must not be at the expense of those hours of Parliamentary work paid for by the OCA. Members are expressly prohibited from using staff hours paid for by the OCA for party political work.

8    This does not add anything to the analysis of the budget figures contained both in the memorandum and Dr Reid`s own earlier submission. The budget figures themselves are not relied on as conclusive evidence—they are, however, not inconsistent with there having been an improper use of the Office Costs Allowance (OCA) and therefore do not undermine the other evidence adduced to support that proposition. In addition, it was the person who was responsible for the budget documents, Mr Rowley, who provided the documents, at my request, to demonstrate the arrangement to which he was party and which he had included in his budgetary planning.

9    This is fully dealt with in the memorandum (paragraph 187, p.39).

10    There was a confusion of dates here for which I have apologised. I corrected the error at the Committee`s meeting on 24 October. The only reference should have been to the press coverage of allegations of the alleged misuse of the OCA by Conservative MPs in the latter half of 1998. In fact, this is more relevant to, and supportive of, the idea that the timing of Kevin Reid`s switch to a full-time Party contract was not co-incidental.

13    Mr Rowley`s importance as a witness is as the person responsible for the Scottish Labour Party`s staffing and budget who was party to the arrangement to misuse the OCA, in that he knew of it and built it into his budgetary planning.

 14 & 15  Of course, people can do second jobs at the week-end—but the memorandum makes clear my view that the researchers` minimum level of commitment to the Party (which is supported by direct evidence) would have left them virtually no spare time, and would have become progressively harder to sustain for more than a week or so.

16    This is all dealt with in the memorandum and in my comments at item 8 above.

18    This is all dealt with in the memorandum.

19    The evidence of threats by Dr Reid to Mr Rowley is reported factually as having been provided to me by Mr Rowley. The memorandum expressly states that there is no evidence of such threats from the transcript of the conversation with Dr Reid taped by Mr Rowley. It is the approach adopted by Dr Reid towards Mr Rowley`s co-operation with the inquiry (eg discouraging the giving of evidence on oath and suggesting that certain relevant matters should not be mentioned) which surprised me and which I criticise in the memorandum.

     20    The credibility of witnesses, particularly Mr Rowley, is assessed at length in the memorandum. I was aware of the circumstances under which both Mr Rowley and Mr Rafferty left their posts.

21    I provided Dr Reid, in the document sent to him on 19 May 2000, with all the information I had collected which appeared to be at variance with his account. In addition, Dr Reid saw the draft memorandum (minus conclusions) which contained all the matters to which he now takes exception.

III.  Advice by James Goudie QC


10.  It is not difficult for a barrister—indeed it is part of his professional training—to find examples of errors of fact, or passages which might have been more precisely expressed in a document as long and unavoidably complex as my memorandum to the Committee.

11.  Mr Goudie`s document is interesting, however, in that it does not address the issue of substance in the memorandum, namely whether Dr Reid entered into an arrangement to allow some staff hours paid for by the OCA to be used in the Labour Party`s election campaign, but instead attempts to criticise the fact-finding process and the wording of the memorandum.

12.  Paragraphs

7    This misunderstands the point of the question quoted from Annex 14. From their answers to my questions, I am confident that the witnesses did not misunderstand this question or the rule. The rule referred to prohibits Members from allowing researchers to be used for party political work during hours paid for by the OCA (my emphasis). The difficulty of deciding what constitutes "hours paid for by the OCA" is acknowledged in the memorandum.

 8-13  These are matters for the Committee to consider. In my view the proceedings were fair to all concerned. Dr Reid chose not to avail himself of the opportunity to influence the final content of my memorandum or to meet me, as invited, during my inquiry.

16-20  This point was also addressed in my memorandum. The concept of what constitutes "sufficient evidence" to justify taking a complaint further is described in paragraph 69 of the Guide to the Rules and the Code of Conduct although no strict definition is given. Mr Nelson did not make unsubstantiated allegations. He had, through his own investigative efforts, assembled information which led me to believe that if I approached certain witnesses they would give truthful evidence on the issues he had raised with me. It was my duty to investigate whether or not those accounts supported the complaints. Given the amount of relevant evidence from a variety of witnesses which my investigation has produced—whatever view one takes about my eventual conclusions—it is not possible, in my opinion, to argue I had no duty to make inquiries into the complaints.

 18    I did no deal with Mr Nelson. I decided I had a duty to investigate these allegations on the basis of Mr Nelson`s letter, list of names and notes of his conversations. He said he would provide me with the relevant tape recordings of any of those interviews if I identified any individuals who gave me what appeared to be information at variance with the account they had given to him. The purpose of this was to enable me to put any such conflict of evidence to the witness concerned.

22-24  It is a truism to say that the Members against whom complaints have been made are "accused" of breaking the rules of the House. The point made in the memorandum is that the investigation process set up by the House was expressly designed not to mimic all the adversarial features of a criminal process. Indeed it is predicated on the assumption that matters requiring such a process would be referred elsewhere. The purpose of the Commissioner`s inquiry is to establish the facts, not to pit one side against another. Such inquiries are based on the assumption that Members will provide truthful evidence. Morever, Mr Goudie ignores the role of the Committee as the body to whom I report and without whose agreement no adverse finding can be made, nor any penalty recommended to the House, in respect of any individual Member.

25    I make no allegation of fraud. Had I thought this complaint might amount to an allegation of fraud I would have referred it to the appropriate authorities.

27    Nothing in the memorandum suggests otherwise.

28    I had received information that the evidence of the researchers might have been concerted by one or both of the two Members. It was my duty to establish whether this was the case by putting that point directly to witnesses in questioning. Had I reached the conclusion that concerting of the evidence had taken place without first having put that proposition to the relevant witnesses I would have been open to criticism. In the event, I did not reach such a conclusion (though I did suggest that, in their approach to my inquiries, some witnesses appeared to have acted under pressure).

 29 & 30  The question put to Kevin Reid was a reasonable paraphrase of what other witnesses had said to me. (See Annex 129, memorandum paragraph 87; Annex 151, memorandum paragraph 87; Annex 154A, memorandum paragraph 101).

 31 & 32  Whatever the precise wording of the question, Mr Rafferty was in no doubt (from previous conversations with me and other witnesses` statements) as to what was being alleged about the researchers. This was not a question sprung on Mr Rafferty by a clever barrister in open court: he had time to reflect on the matter and to ensure that it accurately conveyed his account of the events of which he had knowledge. Mr Rafferty is a senior professional who would certainly have denied the statement had he thought it untrue.

33    This criticism is misplaced. Witnesses were given an opportunity to comment on any relevant evidence from others, or from documents, which appeared to challenge or contradict their account. It would have been pointless and wasteful to put every piece of evidence to every witness when they were not the subject of the inquiry.

34    Ms Whyte cannot have been in any doubt from the documents and other evidence sent to her that Mr Rowley`s account was fundamentally at odds with hers. The reference to `dishonest information` was Mr Rowley`s attempt to show that what he regarded as improper pressure had been put on other witnesses to give me either misleading or less than full and accurate information.

35    The background to Mr Rafferty`s dismissal was acknowledged in the memorandum (paragraphs 148-157, p.32-34). His credibility as a witness was also examined.

 36-70    These paragraphs add nothing to Dr Reid`s full submission to me which I took fully into account in reaching my conclusions. But the following specific comments are relevant:

 49    In relation to the specific point raised in paragraph 49: I had already spoken to a number of witnesses on the telephone, while setting up formal interviews, who had led me to believe that this (ie the proposition I put to Mr Rafferty) might be the case. I wished to check this with Mr Rafferty.

71-75  This misrepresents the thrust of the complaint. The complaint is a complex one and its formulation is necessarily lengthy. There may be occasions where, to avoid undue prolixity, the wording has been compressed. But in the example quoted it is obvious that the words "for at least some of their time" must be read as "for at least some of the hours when they were being paid from the OCA". It is clear that Dr Reid understood perfectly well what was, and what was not, being alleged against him when he gave his initial response at the outset of my investigation (Annex 8). It was only at a much later stage, when he put in his full submission to me, that he claimed that the complaint had been wrongly formulated (ie that it alleged conduct which was not prohibited by the rules of the House). Dr Reid has now repeated this claim in his submission to the Committee (although paragraph 2 of his statement implies that he has fully understood the thrust of the complaint). In any case, paragraph 265 of my memorandum expressly deals with this point. No one reading that paragraph could possibly imagine that I had based my entire investigation on a misunderstanding of the rules relating to the use of the OCA.

77-80  I believe that most of these points have, in fact, been covered in my memorandum. To the extent that they have not, I do not regard any of them as relevant omissions and, indeed, I was fully aware of them. If Dr Reid believed they were of such fundamental importance as now claimed by Mr Goudie it is strange that they were not picked up and drawn to my attention on the two occasions when Dr Reid saw this part of the memorandum in draft—once, early on, in the form of a schedule of disputed and undisputed evidence and again, later in the process, in the form of the entire draft memorandum, minus conclusions.

81    This is another example of nit-picking over the exact wording of the complaint. In addition, this paragraph repeats the canard that, in upholding the complaints, it was necessary for me to show that the researchers did no work for the Members.

82-83  This adds nothing to Dr Reid`s earlier submission and the points are dealt with in the analysis section of the memorandum.

84    See my comment on paragraph 81.

85    Mr Goudie misses the key point. I was entitled to conclude, on the basis of evidence from Mr Rowley and others, that the hours being worked by Ms Hilliard and Mr Winslow—Mr Reid is in a slightly different category, as made clear in the memorandum—were so long, especially as the election approached, that it called into question their ability to fulfil the hours of work for which they were contracted under the OCA. (Again, I emphasise that this issue is secondary to the question of whether an improper arrangement was entered into to misuse OCA funds).

87    This perpetuates, once again, the misconceived approach adopted by Mr Goudie, on Dr Reid`s behalf, to the evidential significance of the hours worked for the Party by the two researchers (Ms Hilliard and Mr Winslow) as polling day approached and the implications of that commitment for their ability to meet their obligations to Parliament.

88-91  These paragraphs essentially repeat earlier points with which I have dealt, both in the memorandum and in this note. I must, however, strongly reject the claim by Mr Goudie that I have `manipulated` the budget figures. I have analysed them and I have set out my analysis for the Committee. Of course, it is perfectly possible that others will reach a different conclusion as to what they do or do not show. But that is not the same as `manipulation`. Nothing offered by Mr Goudie (or by Atkinson, Donnelly) remotely justifies such an accusation.

92-95  These are essentially matters for the Committee to address when considering my memorandum. I would make two brief observations:

    (i)  the balance of probabilities is normally regarded as the appropriate burden of proof in disciplinary cases

    (ii)  such a burden of proof, as I understand it, means "more likely than not to be true".

IV.  Analysis by Atkinson, Donnelly

a)    Letter, dated 12 October 2000 to Dr Reid

In my view this letter does not add anything to, or subtract from, the extensive analysis of the budget documents contained in the memorandum. A possible innocent explanation of the documents is specifically acknowledged. I note that reference is made to Mr Upton`s confirmation that it was Mr Rowley who was responsible for the Scottish Labour Party`s (SLP) budgetary arrangements. That, of course, is precisely why Mr Rowley`s evidence is so important.

b)  Analysis

In general, this does not seem to me to add anything either to Dr Reid`s submission to me or to Mr Goudie`s analysis. Specifically, however, I would observe:

V.  Analysis of evidence relating to the employment of Ms Hilliard and Mr Kevin Reid

This is the material already included in Dr Reid`s submission to me. No further comment by me is necessary.

VI.  Statements by Leslie Quinn, Annmarie Whyte and Jonathan Upton

13.  These additional statements by three witnesses do not contain anything new of substance which would lead me to reconsider my analysis of their evidence in my memorandum. I note the explanations now offered for the contacts between Mr Rowley and Dr Reid and Ms Quinn during the course of my inquiry. I note also the denials of improper pressure on witnesses. It is for the Committee to consider why these statements have been taken and submitted to the Committee at this late stage in the process.

VII. Mr Maxton`s Submission

[I have described the sections in the same way as in Mr Maxton`s submission]

Was there sufficient evidence to warrant investigating the complaints?

14.  As will be clear from the extensive correspondence between Mr Maxton and myself, I explained to him on several occasions during the course of the inquiry why I was satisfied that the test laid down in paragraph 69 of the Guide to the Rules and the Code of Conduct for taking up a complaint had been met.

15.  Mr Nelson`s complaint was not a vague allegation submitted in a vacuum; his letter was detailed and set out the supporting material. He had, as a result of his own investigations, assembled information in the form of notes of conversations and tapes which indicated that people with direct knowledge of the events in question could provide relevant and truthful information. Mr Maxton is correct in stating that I had not, when deciding to take up the complaints, either heard the tapes made by Mr Nelson or, at that stage, obtained a copy of his notes. However, Mr Nelson had read his notes to me in full, so I was aware of their content and in addition, he had shown me the notes (with names removed), but without handing them over. Shortly afterwards he played the tapes to me. Equally importantly he had also, in his letter of 26 January 2000, supplied me with the names of those he believed were likely to provide me with accurate information.

Evidence appearing to support Mr Nelson`s allegations

16.  Mr Maxton asks why I did not attach as an Annex to my memorandum the complete transcript of Mr Nelson`s conversations with various officials of the Scottish Labour Party (SLP). The reason for this decision was explained in my memorandum, but I will repeat it for the avoidance of doubt. The information obtained by Mr Nelson through his conversations with senior SLP staff (and his notes on them) were sufficient to persuade me that further investigation of the complaint was necessary. During the investigation I believe I assembled evidence from all the people to whom Mr Nelson told me he had spoken, and that evidence was first-hand and given directly to me. Since I did not rely on Mr Nelson`s taped material in reaching my conclusions I did not need to annex it to my memorandum. The sole exception was in the case of Mr McKinney where I wished to show that what he had said on tape to Mr Nelson was at variance with what he said to me in evidence. Mr Nelson`s notes were attached to my memorandum as Annex 2.

17.  I cannot let pass Mr Maxton`s comment about the late Donald Dewar. In his letter to me, Mr Dewar said that he had "no recollection" of any conversation with Mr Rafferty about possible adverse media coverage of Mr Winslow`s position. Mr Dewar added that he had spent much of the campaign for the Scottish Parliament election travelling and so had had little contact with Mr Rafferty.

18.  Mr Dewar did not say, as he could have done, that the conversation did not take place, only that he could not recollect it. I accepted Mr Dewar`s statement without reservation. If one witness states that a meeting took place and another cannot remember it, it does not follow that one of them is lying. No one reading my memorandum could have formed the impression that I was suggesting this, nor am I.

19.  Mr Maxton says that I did not ask Mr Winslow to supply me with the names of the other special advisers who took part in the conference call. I accept that: I did not make such a specific request. But I repeatedly asked all the researchers (as well as the two Members) to let me have any evidence, whether documentary or otherwise, which would support their account. In particular, during our interview on 7 April I asked Mr Winslow to let me have details of any other person I might approach who might have relevant information. Mr Winslow did not take up this offer.

20.  Turning to Mr Rowley`s evidence, Mr Maxton says that Mr Rowley sent me the budget documents unsolicited. I am not clear what point Mr Maxton is seeking to make in claiming this. In any case he is wrong. In my first letter to him, dated 11 February 2000, I asked Mr Rowley whether he had any other information which might assist me in my investigation. I repeated the request at my first meeting with him, on 21 March (see Q21), when I referred explicitly to budgetary documents. He told me during that meeting that he had in his possession documentary material which supported the complaint. He was initially reluctant to provide this to me and I did not press him. But when it became clear that I could not bring my investigation to a proper conclusion without seeing the documents I asked Mr Rowley to send me copies, which he agreed to do.

21.  Mr Maxton mentions the fact that in mid April 2000 Mr Rowley was unsuccessful in his attempt to be selected as a Parliamentary candidate for the Labour Party, the implication being that this rejection embittered Mr Rowley and coloured his evidence to me. I can only say that, in my numerous dealings with him over an extended period, Mr Rowley gave no indication that this was the case. The thrust of his evidence after 17 April was the same as it had been before that date. As I have already said, my first interview with Mr Rowley was on 21 March.

22.  I have dealt at length in the memorandum with the issue of how much work the researchers (in particular Ms Hilliard and Mr Winslow) were able to do for the Members and how far this is relevant to my conclusion that an improper arrangement to misuse the OCA had been entered into. (See paragraphs 258 to 273).

23.  I have also given my detailed analysis of the budget documents and I have provided Mr Walker`s evidence as to their possible interpretation. In the end I concluded that the budget figures were, on their own, inconclusive: they neither supported nor undermined the complaint, although I pointed out that there were some unusual features for which I had not seen any convincing explanation which contradicted that provided by Mr Rowley. Chief amongst these were the notes referring to the salaries paid to Mr Reid and Mr Winslow by Dr Reid and Mr Maxton respectively. As I have said, in my view such information could not have been relevant for internal Labour Party planning purposes unless some account was intended to be taken of them in relation to the salaries to be paid to the researchers by the Party.

24.  As regards the issue of documentary evidence of the work claimed to have been done by Mr Winslow for Mr Maxton, I made a number of requests, both written and over the telephone, for Mr Maxton to let me have any material which might support his account. He did not respond to these requests, nor did he (other than at the very beginning of the inquiry) contact me to explain that there were any practical difficulties in gathering the information. Mr Maxton claims that I did not ask Mr Winslow directly to supply such material. This is incorrect. I wrote to him on 15 May making that request (Annex 107).

25.  On the question of how strongly I pressed him to provide me with documentary evidence supporting his account, Mr Maxton seeks to draw a contrast with my correspondence with Ms Hilliard`s solicitors. But this comparison is misleading. The reason for my frequent letters in Ms Hilliard`s case was that in response to my requests for basic information from telephone accounts which Ms Hilliard had agreed to provide, I was either told the information was unavailable, or I was given incomplete information. Each of these replies had to be followed up if I was to be sure that I had a complete picture. The Committee will see that it was not until 22 September, almost six months after Ms Hilliard undertook to provide details of the relevant telephone accounts that I finally established that there had been no outgoing calls to Dr Reid during the run-up to election day. Indeed, I then also established that BT could have provided the accounts for the earlier period, had they been asked by Ms Hilliard to do so.

26.  The Committee will form its own view as to whether it was I or Mr Maxton who was the stumbling block to a meeting between us. I would, however, point out that in successive letters included in the annexes to my memorandum, I made clear my willingness to see Mr Maxton and I also told him that, although I would prefer this to be after he had provided answers to my written questions, I would be happy, if he preferred, to go through the questions with him during the meeting itself. Mr Maxton declined to provide answers to my questions, or to make a formal submission to me. He did so only after the Chairman of the Committee had written to him.

27.  I have striven throughout to maintain an open mind about the evidence and to be as fair as possible to the complainant, to witnesses and to the two Members. I strongly reject Mr Maxton`s contention to the contrary.

The election campaign for the Scottish Parliament

28.  I have set out in detail in the memorandum why I believe that Mr Winslow`s increasing commitment to the Party (evidenced, for example, by the payment to him of a bonus) made it unlikely that he could have fulfilled his Parliamentary obligations during the approach to the elections. This was confirmed by Mr Winslow himself. Of course, no one has claimed that Mr Winslow did no work for Mr Maxton—such a negative proposition would be very difficult, if not impossible to prove. I do not make this claim at any point.

29.  In any case, as I have explained, this is putting the cart before the horse. It was the evidence that an improper arrangement to misuse the OCA was entered into which had, logically, to be considered first. Once that was established on the basis, amongst other things, of Mr Rowley`s evidence, I then gave my view as to whether the researchers could have fulfilled their contractual obligations to the House. But I made it absolutely clear that my conclusions on that point did not determine my findings about the making of the improper arrangement itself.

30.  I did not, it is true, specifically ask Mr Maxton to provide evidence of the arrangements relating to Mr Winslow`s accumulated holiday entitlement. On the other hand, as I indicated earlier in this note, I made a number of requests to Mr Maxton to let me have any documentary or other evidence which would support his original account of the volume of work he claimed Mr Winslow did for him (as well as showing the basis on which he argued that Mr Winslow`s leave entitlement freed him from his Parliamentary commitments during the election campaign). I am surprised that Mr Maxton did not volunteer this information to me and that he still has not done so.

The objectivity of the witnesses

31.  Mr Maxton, in his submission to the Committee, has returned to the credibility of the witnesses. I have explained why, once grounds for investigating the complaint were established, Mr Nelson`s own reliability became irrelevant. As regards the four main witnesses referred to by Mr Maxton (Mr Rowley, Mr Rafferty, Mr McKinney and Mr Sullivan), I have set out in the memorandum the reasons adduced by Dr Reid and Mr Maxton for doubting their reliability and my own reasons for finding their evidence on this matter credible. The Committee will no doubt reach its own judgment.

32.  I must correct Mr Maxton on one point of fact. He argues that I have been unfair in criticising him and Dr Reid for making attacks on the reliability of the main witnesses only after it became clear that they had given evidence in support of the complaint, since, Mr Maxton claims, he and Dr Reid only received the relevant evidence shortly before they completed their formal submission to me. This is not so. On 19 May, I sent to both Dr Reid and Mr Maxton, together with a list of written questions, schedules of the main evidence, categorised according to whether it was disputed or undisputed. I did not receive Dr Reid`s formal submission until 5 July and Mr Maxton`s until 14 June. If one of the main concerns of Dr Reid and Mr Maxton was the alleged unreliability of those witnesses giving evidence in support of the complaints, I should have expected to have received their responses on that point more promptly so that I could take them up with the witnesses concerned. Moreover, since Dr Reid was aware from his telephone conversation with Mr Rowley on 20 March (Annex 145) that I had asked Mr Rowley to give evidence, I would have expected Dr Reid to alert me at that point to any unreliability he perceived in Mr Rowley as a witness.

33.  On another factual point, Mr Maxton says I made no effort "to contact the Labour Party either in Scotland or within the UK to establish the truth or otherwise of these allegations". This is incorrect I did, of course, have extensive correspondence with Mr Upton at Labour Party HQ in London, and with Ms Whyte and Ms Quinn at the Party`s Scottish offices.

My relations with Ms Filkin during the inquiry

34.  It is for the Committee to judge, having read the correspondence and notes on telephone calls between us, where the truth lies regarding Mr Maxton`s conduct towards my inquiry. Mr Maxton again claims that I refused to answer his question about the level of evidence needed to mount an investigation into a complaint under paragraph 69 of the Guide to the Rules and the Code of Conduct. The record will show that I attempted on several occasions to explain the position to Mr Maxton (for example, see Annexes 37, 41, 43, 46, 47A, 49, 51, 58 and 63). He did not agree with my explanation (partly, I believe, because he is under the misapprehension that a journalist cannot bring a complaint if his motives are judged to be suspect)—but that is not the same as a refusal by me to answer his questions.

35.  I do not, as Mr Maxton claims, regard myself as "above criticism". I went out of my way to state in my memorandum that a Member has an absolute right to make reasonable inquiries about the mechanics or fairness of the investigation process. It was the volume and tone of Mr Maxton`s approaches which surprised me. Since I was receiving information from very early in the inquiry which indicated that some witnesses might be under pressure, I felt I must take the unusual step of making specific comments in my memorandum on the conduct of the Member who was the subject of the complaint.

26 October 2000

Elizabeth Filkin

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