File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
Mr John Maxton
10 April 2000
Further lengthy telephone conversation with Mr Maxton...
... Revisiting issues that he had raised previously
and which I had answered in the same vein. He believes the process
is totally unfair and that he is being treated unfairly and that
I should not have begun the inquiry because I had no evidence
to do so. He believes he should now be able to see the evidence
which the complainant provided which lead me to believe I had
sufficient evidence to open an inquiry. I explained to him that
I would not be able to provide him with any evidence that was
at variance with hisprior to our proposed meeting for next
week. I explained that I had written to him to ask him if he was
still willing for it to go ahead on that basis or whether he wished
to postpone it until that evidence was available. I said I wished
it to go ahead as it would allow me to clarify his statement to
me and I would then arrange another meeting for him when I could
give him any evidence that was at variance with his.
He said that other people would have to decide in
due course whether I had had sufficient evidence to begin my inquiry
although he acknowledged that my view was that it was my decision.
I said that it was entirely up to him whether he raised the matter
with others. He said he felt he should be being provided with
funds to give him legal advice. He asked if my office would pay
for somebody to travel to accompany him to a meeting with him.
I said we would do that. He proposes to invite either his brothera
solicitor whose practice is in York, or he suggested he might
bring another MP. I suggested he think carefully about whether
it was appropriate to bring another MP but that as far as I was
concerned he could choose to bring whom ever he liked as a friend,
although I would not expect the friend to represent him because
I wished to hear directly from him on these matters.
He felt I was treating him very unfairly. The young
researchers had given me evidence because the matter was hanging
over their heads and I was refusing to bring the inquiry to a
conclusion. I said I did not feel it was hanging over their heads
because they were not being investigated, all that had been required
of them was that they saw me and told me the truth. I said I had
to inform them that the Committee could choose to see them themselvesbecause
that was a fact and that it would have been wrong not to have
informed them of that fact. He said he supposed he agreed with
that but that I had no understanding of human nature if I thought
that didn`t mean they felt the matter was hanging over their heads.
This was particularly difficult at this time for Suzanne Hilliard
who was a final year university student. I said I appreciated
this and I would bring the inquiry to a close as soon as I could
but I had not concluded my interviews since one of the interviewees
had been ill and had had to postpone our meeting.
At several points during the discussion Mr Maxton
purported to tell me what I thought of things and I had to inform
him I did not think what he thought I did. I suggested to him
at a number of occasions that there were matters on which we disagreed
and that we must leave it like that for the time being. Mr Maxton
made it clear to me that he thought the whole inquiry and my responses
to him were quite unsatisfactory.
I told him that my letter to him concerning the issue
of provision to him of evidence was in typing and would be sent
to him the next day.