File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
Telephone call from Mr Maxton16 March 2000
Alan Williams had alerted me to the conversation
he had with Mr Maxton at lunchtime today. Mr Maxton had been very
aerated about the investigation which he thought was groundless
and improper. Alan Williams had convinced him that he could not
get involved in matters to do with an investigation as that was
my area of responsibility. Alan Williams had suggested that the
sensible thing would be for him to sit down with me and try to
work things out with me and that anyway this would stand him in
good stead if the matter came to the Committee in due course.
He said he believed Mr Maxton would contact me.
Mr Maxton began by saying that he would like to see
me and we agreed a time and date but he then went off at great
length about how I had not replied to his questions from his e-mails
and how I was not following the rules which I was subject to.
I confirmed to him that I had sufficient evidence to make an inquiry.
That did not in anyway mean I thought I had evidence which found
against him in any way. What I was required to do was to have
sufficient evidence to justify taking the matter further and that
was what I was doing. I would continue to do that until I was
satisfied either that there was nothing further to do. If I found
nothing I would report that to the Committee, or if there was
something that I ought to report in more detail to the Committee
I would do that. I again assured him that if there was any evidence
which supported a view that was different from his he would see
it in due course and would be able to comment on it.
He said he wanted to make it clear that he was only
coming to see me on a voluntary basis and it was entirely informal
and that he wanted to be shown and given any evidence that I had.
I said I was giving no undertaking to give him evidence at this
point. I was reviewing the evidence that I had and seeking evidence
from other people who might be able to corroborate or undermine
the evidence before deciding whether any of it had substance and
therefore should be put before him.
He said he felt I was not following the rules to
which I was subject and I was responsible to the Committee and
to the Speaker and they could supervise what I was doing. I agreed
with him that the Committee was responsible for the scrutiny of
the processes which I used and that they could criticise them
if they saw fit in due course. He then insisted that I agree that
the Speaker could do the same. I said that I believed the Speaker
put this responsibility squarely in the hands of the Committee
but of course it was entirely up to the Speaker if she wished
to put anything before the House. The House could always to decide
that it didn`t wish to employ me but I believed that they would
only do that on the recommendation of the Committee and I didn`t
feel that this was the point we were at currently.
I said I felt it was not helpful to continue with
this argument on the telephone and that it would be much better
if we sat down together and tried to work out a way forward. He
said it thought it was terrible that it had taken 4 months already.
I reminded him that it was only recently that he had provided
a response to me. He said this was because he had spent so much
time trying to get clear from me whether there was any basis other
than the letter from Dean Nelson for my pursuing the matter. I
said there was evidence in addition to the letter but I was not
ready to put that in front of him as yet I was testing that evidence
currently. He was most unhappy with this but said he would agree
to see me next week.