Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


APPENDIX 2

Improved transcript of the taped telephone conversation between Dr John Reid and Mr Alex Rowley on 20 March 2000

(new material in italics)


JR:Hello
AR: Hello John, it's Alex.
JR:Hi, Alex, how are you doing?
AR: Alright. Been in bed all afternoon.
JR: I left a message, I thought you'd paged me, but it was Lesley apparently.
AR: Aye, I spoke to her about two o'clock
JR: Aye, Cos I said.[ AR coughing] ... parliamentary investigation. I said did Alex speak to you today? He paged me. She said "No, I paged you, I spoke to him", I said "I phoned him right away"...anyway...
AR:... I've got tonsilitis ...the parliamentary commissioner, I had to speak to her again the other week, and she sent me a letter, a letter, setting out...She's in Scotland tomorrow on Wednesday, so I'm going to be meeting her tomorrow... the thing is, I talked to Leslie, I was concerned because a couple of people spoke to me ... at the weekend, asking to speak to me, they were saying it was being put about everywhere that I was, like, trying to damage you.
JR:No ...
AR: It was people in senior positions in Scotland, and I was like, I was saying that's not true. I've always been accountable for this thing from day one, but I've always been clear about is that the story did not come from me. There was nobody more surprised than me when it came out. So that was worrying me, so I spoke to Lesley about it earlier in the week and I spoke to her this morning again, because earlier in the week she just said to me, well, there were some people that are putting it about because they've become paranoid.... and I was saying, well, ... caught in the middle here ... the sooner I speak to this woman the better ...
JR:When are you seeing her?
AR: Tomorrow night
JR:Are you taking somebody with you?
AR: Aye, I'm thinking of taking somebody with me, just to be on the safe side.
JR: Take someone you trust in with you...Basically what I said to her is, I said to her that Kevin had worked for me on and off for a period, which is true. Actually since 1989. He'd been working for me for three or four years on contract...When the Labour Party were looking to get ... (media monitoring?) and I suggested Kevin Reid because he had free time. The reason he had time was because up till May of 98 he was working for me but he was also doing a degree. And in May 98 he stopped his classes, he finished his degree...
...
... but Kevin worked from May until October 1998 on a part­time basis...
...
... a part time contract for 15 hours a week from May to October....
...
... but at the same time in the evenings and at weekends....
...
... but as far as you are concerned, whatever he did for me, as long as he honoured the party contract, which he did, as far as you're concerned you don't know what he did. In the October of that year, I said...
...
...Kevin couldn't go full time for them if he was still working for me. Right? So from October to May, the election, he was full time ... That's what I'm telling you. You don't have to tell any lies. Do you know what I mean? ...so at the end of October he had two part time contracts, one for me and he was working for the Labour Party and the Labour Party and at the end of October which was six months before the election...and at that time I said to you if Kevin has to...then he has to be on a full time contract
AR:And you don't ken about you saying about ....
JR: Well, what you can say is in November you went to a full time operation and ... I said to you if Kevin was going to go into a ... full time contract because if he wasn't then I was concerned that it would be a breach of parliamentary rules and would be used to attack the Labour Party, right? Which is basically what I said to you. You don't have to mention the Tory thing...
...
... nothing I'm saying obliges you to tell a lie, do you know what I mean... because I said in my letter to her, I don't have the letter in front of me .... I said in October of that year the Labour Party was going on to a full time footing ... and that I insisted that Kevin be put onto a full time contract if he was going to do those hours because I said not to do so would have left me and Kevin and the Labour Party open to criticism and it was precisely in order to observe the proprieties, you know, that he couldn't be paid part time by me while working full time for the Labour Party that I insisted that that happen. Now if, between the October, the May and October, Kevin ...
...
AR:...
JR:...
... so that was the period between May and October and around October time, Kevin and everybody was required to work for a longer period for the last six months, around October time ... and at that stage I said he had to go onto a full time contract...otherwise he would be open to criticism. He went onto a full time contract.... now, at the end of October...he didn't receive any more money, he was never on a full time contract....
AR:I said to your lawyer that I didn't have a clue who you'd actually taken on after Kevin. I knew that you'd taken somebody on
JR:After Kevin?
AR:Aye, because when Kevin went, remember ... we continued to use, to get somebody to replace him with that came with your support. I said to your lawyer that I didn't know who. The newspaper said Suzanne Hilliard, ... I can't recollect every conversation with Suzanne
JR:yes
AR:but ... the fact that you continued to use somebody else through this ...
JR:But again that's nothing to do with you. Because the position is that when Kevin left, right, what you didn't know, because nobody knew was, when Kevin left in October, I said Ok ... I didn't know Suzanne Hilliard at all. Kevin left, he recommended ... he was going full time right? I did what he said to do ... Kevin's wage, so I took Suzanne Hilliard on and the idea was that she would do what Kevin had been doing, that was from the November, But what happened at the same time was that [ ...][2] ... So I was left without Kevin, who had gone onto the full time contract and Suzanne, who I'd originally took on to do research ... but because she couldn't do my work and the party's work and the university work ... so she gave up university from November and what she did was she worked for me and in the afternoon she worked for the Labour Party. so I don't have a problem with any of that. Now I don't think you have a problem because ...
AR: I'm a little bit ..., so that's to say, it's the amount of time when we switched Kevin to the full time contract that we were bringing somebody else into the place ...
JR:Hang on ... Suzanne ...
AR: arrangement, I'm aware of that ... , that's what I'm saying to you, we were bringing someone else in to the arrangement. What you're saying is that Suzanne was there on a voluntary basis
JR:Aye
AR:I just can't handle that because I've got to be careful because I'm still convinced that we've got people that are telling them the inside story to all this.
JR:But they can't ...
AR:I'm just trying to be very careful how ... I'm not repeating the discussion we had, the discussion....
JR:Whoever is in there thinks this ... they didn't know Kevin worked for me, I can prove Kevin did work for me. They didn't know that I had taken Suzanne ... because they never asked me ... I needed the work anyway. For instance, Suzanne...I was minister of transport. I had meetings every day and every night. And I had no constituency secretary. I get something like 300 constituency letters a week. I get 30 or 40...
...
... I need to deal with, I just could not do that. I've checked ... agency ... they've given me ..
AR:What I'm trying to cover myself here is that, if I was asked the question Did Suzanne work in the Labour Party offices, yeah, she was there every day.
JR:... she came in in the afternoon ...
AR:... help out ...
JR: ... truth ...
AR:...What I'm saying is that at the point where it was decided to take Kevin and put him full time, what we agreed at that point was that we would continue to use the resource if you like that had been there to support Kevin working in the party and I'm just not going to get myself caught up with this.
JR:You don't say anything to do with that at all. Because there is no agreement of any kind with Suzanne. That is not your job. All I have said is that when Kevin went full time he recommended to me a girl who was working in a voluntary capacity for the party. That's the truth, it was Kevin who first mentioned her name to me. I got Suzanne Hilliard to take Kevin's place to do the work for me. That's nothing to do with you. You don't know what work she did for me or anything else. You may vaguely remember that Suzanne was working for me, you don't know what she was doing or anything ...
...
This girl Suzanne Hilliard, can you remember exactly when she was in? You can't remember when she was in? ... She was in in the afternoon, which was the truth.
AR: I know she did a lot of the afternoon stuff but then when Kevin broke his arm she took that on doing the morning stuff. She used to complain to me at night, she was also in there most nights ... because she did ... we did ...
JR:Suzanne did my stuff in the morning
AR:All I'm saying to you John is that, I'm just trying to watch myself here, I could not say to anybody, yeah, we used the money that previously was being paid to Kevin to employ Suzanne Hilliard. When you and I had the discussion that, about ...
JR:Get it out of your mind that you used any money from me. It's nothing to do with you what I did with my money. My money was to pay Kevin for working for me. That's what he did ... Kevin was paid by me. Long before I mentioned to you the work for the Labour Party ... That money had nothing to do with the Labour Party. Then he went to the Labour Party at 15 hours a week and you paid him x thousand pounds a year ...
AR:...When I renegotiated his contract with Millbank to say we wanted to put him onto the full time contract because you raised it with me and raised your concerns with me, at that time we did a number of things. For example, we increased Chris Winslow's money. Chris Winslow was getting, the way it worked was that Chris Winslow was getting more from the party and less off John Maxton and so when Kevin went onto the higher wage, and remember we shifted the whole thing round about, the budget papers show that, so we adjusted the budget so both were getting the same amount of money.
JR:...
AR:What I'm saying to you is I don't want to end up in a situation where I'm getting myself put up on something where someone else is going to walk in the next day and say No, I can show this and I can prove that.
JR:They cannot prove anything Alex. Because what you've said they can prove is a lie. Kevin Reid worked for me. He worked for me.
AR:All I'm saying to you is as I said to you last week, I don't know what Kevin did when he went home.
JR:That's right.
AR:...
JR: .... I can tell you what Kevin did, but that's none of your business. Your business is what did Kevin Reid do for the Labour Party? Now Kevin Reid worked for me on and off for ten years before he went in to work for the Labour Party. In May 1998 I said to you Kevin could work part time for the Labour Party, he had free time because he was finishing his university course. He worked from May to October for the Party in the mornings. What he did with the rest of his time is up to him. Even if he worked ... four and a half hours in the morning for the Labour Party, 20 hours a week and paid for 15, he's got another 16 hours a week to work for me. That's none of your business... you never asked me ... so when Kevin said in October, Kevin said that the hours are going to increase, I insisted that Kevin get a full time contract, which is true, you put him on a full time contract ... Kevin says to me there's another girl working there who could do the job he previously did ... Your only interest in that is that Suzanne came in in the afternoons, which she did, and she did my stuff in the morning and on a Friday night, and on a Saturday and on a Sunday. That's nothing to do with you. Do you know what I mean? Nobody can have any proof that Suzanne did not work for me in the morning, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday, because it isn't true.
AR:I accept that. What I'm saying to you is a couple of things ...
JR:...
AR:I accept that nobody can say anywhere that people were doing when they weren't in working at the Labour Party.
JR:That's right.
AR:What I'm saying to you is that the types of discussions that took place at that time, I don't know ... was that with Chris Winslow, I remember that was the first one when he first came in, and it was explained to me by Annmarie that John Maxton was prepared to take him on as a researcher, that if we made up half his wage, then we could have him. And that was the agreement we had there.
JR:But he was working for John Maxton, John's got proof of that as well
AR:I don't know what happened in his spare time, all I'm saying is that that's what happened at that point. And I was told that was what had previously happened before I came there. That same agreement was then basically reached with yourself, that Kevin would come and work for us.
JR:Wait a minute
AR: It was John
JR:It was not. You said John Maxton agreed to take on Chris Winslow. It was not reached like that with Kevin. Kevin had been working for me since 1989. I didn't agree to take Kevin on for anything. I offered Kevin to you part time, that's highly different from taking somebody on to help the Labour Party. You wouldn't take someone in 1989 to help the Labour party in 1998.
AR:When I went to Annmarie ...
JR:You've got it in your mind wrongly. Because in 1996 when Kevin took his first degree, Kevin Reid went on to do a part time contract to do research and media monitoring ... He had done that for two and a half years before I mentioned to you that he could work for the Labour Party. That's what you've got to get into your had. You didn't know that. But because you didn't know that doesn't mean you say he wasn't there. He was there.
AR:I'm not saying anything about that John. I'm saying that when the point came where you said to me you wanted Kevin taken off that arrangement and put on the...
JR:That's the October
AR:... full time contract ...Aye. At that point what I did was a number of things and had a discussion with him and had the same discussion with people like (?) Monkton and David Pitt­Watson had to go through the budgets and at that point that there was concern ­ and thinking back other people, at that time will remember Lorraine Davidson coming to speak to me about it ­ there was concern that this stuff with the Tories, that concern was there and therefore we wanted to take Kevin off.
JR:What's that got to do with anything?
AR:I'm just not wanting to go in there tomorrow and end up being up for perjury
JR:You're not going to be up for perjury, Alex.
AR:Perjury, aye
JR:You're not going to be up for perjury. I said to you that if Kevin is going to be working longer hours the last six months he had to be on a full time contract. That's all you need to say because that's the truth. I said to you I was not prepared to be in a situation where I was open to attack, you were open to attack and the Labour Party was open to attack by saying for the last six months people were going to be working in the afternoons and the night as well, but you were not going to pay them for doing that. I wasn't going to do that. That's precisely why I said He's had a part­time contract with you and me up till now. If he was going to be working longer hours ... he's got to have a full time contract.
AR:Which we did ...
JR:...
AR:...Which we did...we then put up Chris Winslow's salary that he was getting from us so that he would have a similar salary so that the whole thing was taken together
JR:I genuinely don't know about Chris...
AR:but also at the time, we took somebody else on ... media ...
JR:You've got to stick yourself absolutely to the facts and the facts are as follows: What you mustn't do is speculate on what he was doing in his spare time. The fact is, I came to you, well I came to various people, that Kevin had free time ... work for the Labour Party ... Kevin started in May because his classes...therefore to work part­time. Between May and October that is what he did. He worked in the morning sometimes till one o'clock ...
AR:I used to regularly go in there the back of seven, and I was either the first one in or Kevin was first one in....he would usually do the lunchtime bulletins and produce a brief.
JR:... lunchtime, Alex ...
AR:...
JR:... anyway, the key thing Alex is that Kevin left there every afternoon, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday by early afternoon
AR: yeah
JR:That is a fact. He left there every afternoon by one o'clock or thereabouts. On a Friday he was left by 11 o' clock. In other words, Kevin had from two o'clock every day, 11 o' clock on a Friday and on Saturday and Sunday to do any work he had to do for me. Now, the whole thing in the investigation is, was he being paid by me for work he was doing for the Labour Party? He was not, he was being paid by me for work he was doing for me. And he had that time between May and October. Then, in the October, it became obvious that everybody was going to have to work later, you know, in his case that meant ... early afternoon ... for the last six months of the campaign. That was when I said they have got to put this on a regular footing so there's no comeback for me or for the Labour Party or for anybody else. That is all you have to say. That is the truth. That isn't a lie. You don't have to give great details about somebody phoning and saying the Tories are doing this, that and the next thing. You just say in October several people were coming in to go full time and John Reid insisted that Kevin Reid be given a full time contract. That is the truth.
AR:And I'll take somebody with me to take notes?
JR:Yeah. Just keep it simple.
AR: It also says in the letter "I shall ask if you prefer to give evidence to me under oath".
JR:Yeah, well, You can say no. I mean, John Rafferty said no. And take somebody with you. Say no, I mean I don't know the status of these meetings, where they're going. I will tell you what happened. I've no wish to take this on oath, this is not a court of law.
AR: I'll let you know how I get on.
JR:In the October, then I insisted he go full time. Now as far as you're concerned, there was somebody else who worked there, and if you didn't genuinely know at the time who it was, just say I don't know who it was but I know John had somebody to replace Kevin, it was a girl volunteer but I don't know much about her. And if you can't remember what hours they worked you must say I can't remember what hours. What you mustn't do is tell anything that isn't the truth. And what happened was that I took Suzanne Hilliard on originally to cover Kevin's job but eventually she had to cover [JR's constituency secretary]'s job. She gave up university in order to do that and then work for the party, but Suzanne used to come in late afternoon, sometimes in the evenings to do that shift.
AR:A lot of times she used to do the evening shift, the sort of tea­time shift.
JR:That's right, she would do that and she would use her other time, as Kevin did, to do anything she had to do for me. But she was on a contract, both of them had a contract which was 20 hours variable. So they could actually have done it all on a Saturday or Sunday. And they had plenty of time to do it, evenings, Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. As you know these things don't work anyway where you clock in.
AR:No, they don't
JR:Provided you stick to those central facts, then there isn't a problem. Where the problem comes is if you start speculating, Oh they did have spare time, but I know they didn't do this and I know they didn't do that. I mean, as far as you're concerned if you confine yourself to saying, "Well, yeah, Kevin came in at ... sometimes 7, sometimes he came in at 8 ... but he was always away by early afternoon, and I don't know what he did with the rest of his time, or on a Saturday or a Sunday, or on a Friday when he left early. And I don't know what Suzanne Hilliard did in the morning. I don't know what she did on a Saturday or Sunday."
AR:Which is true, she had the evening shift
JR:That's absolutely true, and if they say Was she doing this, was she doing that, you say Well I don't know. That's something between her and John Reid ... I knew John Reid had got her to replace Kevin but that's all I actually knew about it. In October John Reid made it absolutely plain that in order to protect himself and the party and everybody else, if Kevin was going to be working far more hours, he had to go on a full time contract. So we put him on a full time contract." It's as simple as that.
AR: OK, I'll let you know how I get on. I said I was worried about this stuff at the weekend. Because I've been victim to this before, just been totally smeared and done in.
JR:What was that on?
AR:They were saying at the conference that I was out to damage you and all this kind of stuff.
JR:Nobody thinks you did anything
AR:I didn't ...
JR:I know that, well I don't think that. The only thing I was worried about was that you'd speculate, you'd get it into your head that maybe I had put myself in a position where I was paying Kevin for work that wasn't done for me. And I wanted you to know that that isn't the case. He was doing work for me and so was Suzanne and I can prove that, right, but you weren't to know that. So you were kind of panicking, and thinking, so what she has to prove is the allegation that the money I paid to those two, I didn't get anything back from. That's what she has to prove, and that isn't the case. I did get that back from them. They did work for me. So as long as you keep to it. As long as you say, yeah, John Reid ... the one thing you cannot say is John Reid said that he would pay for them to work full time for the Labour Party and they would not have to do anything for him. You can even say, you know, say John said they could be flexible in terms of hours, or something like that. Because that's the truth, that's the discussion we had. Alright Alex?
AR:Alright, speak to you soon.



2  Reference to Dr Reid's constituency secretary's illness. Back


 
previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2000
Prepared 22 December 2000