Mrs Caroline Spelman - Standards and Privileges Committee Contents

Written evidence received by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

1.  Press Notice issued by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, 9 June 2008

The Parliamentary Commissioner has received representations from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP that he should investigate the circumstances of the employment of her then secretary in 1997.

The Commissioner is considering carefully this matter against the procedures agreed by the Committee on Standards and Privileges for the investigation of complaints against Members. This includes the nature of the information he has received, the passage of time since the circumstances in question and acting on a referral from the Member concerned rather than a complainant. It would be exceptional for the Commissioner to institute an inquiry into matters which go back more than 7 years. It would also be exceptional for him to do so on a self-referral. In either of these circumstances, the procedure is that the Commissioner consults the Committee on Standards and Privileges before deciding to initiate an inquiry.

9 June 2008

2.  Press Notice issued by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, 17 June 2008

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has been authorised by the Committee on Standards and Privileges to undertake an inquiry into whether Mrs Caroline Spelman MP breached the rules of the House in the arrangements she made for the employment of a secretarial assistant who was also her children's nanny for a period from 1997.

The Commissioner had a meeting with Mrs Spelman on 9 June to discuss this matter with her. He undertook to consider carefully her request that he undertake an inquiry, despite having received no formal complaint about her conduct and that the events complained of were more than seven years ago. Such an inquiry would be exceptional and would require the agreement of the Committee.

Having carefully considered the matter the Commissioner has recommended to the Committee that exceptionally he should conduct an inquiry. The Committee has accepted that recommendation.

The Commissioner is therefore initiating an inquiry into whether the circumstances of Mrs Spelman's employment of her secretarial assistant from 1997 breached the rules of the House in force at the time.

17 June 2008

3.  Letter to the Commissioner from the Acting Director of Operations, Department of Resources, 12 June 2008

Thank you for your letter of 10 June concerning the employment of Mrs Tina Haynes by Mrs Spelman.

You have asked for any information we hold about the employment of Mrs Haynes and any other employees employed between 1997 and 1999.

We hold no records, electronic or paper, which gives any information about the nature of the employment of Mrs Haynes. We transferred our computer records in April 2003 to a new payroll and financial system and we no longer have access to the previous payroll system. In line with the Department's retention of records policy, paper records have also been destroyed for all staff that ceased employment prior to 2004, so these are not available for scrutiny.

Our pension records, which are kept for a longer period, show that no payments were made on behalf of Mrs Haynes to a personal pension fund. This is not unusual as in 1997 staff were required to set up a plan of their own. If Mrs Haynes did not set up a plan then no contribution would have been paid.

Our electronic records do not show the details of any member of staff employed prior to 17 July 2000 which is outside the period you are looking at.

I am sorry that I cannot be of any assistance in this matter, but I enclose a copy of the 1999 Green Book as requested.

12 June 2008

4.  Letter to Mrs Caroline Spelman MP from the Commissioner, 17 June 2008

This letter is to confirm that, with the agreement of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, I have decided to accept your invitation to undertake an inquiry into the arrangements for the employment for a period from 1997 of your constituency secretarial assistant who was at the same time your children's nanny.

In essence, the allegation is that you subsidised the cost of nannying services out of parliamentary allowances and that your secretarial assistant did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

During the period in question, payments for secretarial expenses were made under the Office Costs Allowance (OCA). The Green Book on Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Pensions published in May 1997 made the following relevant provisions for the use of the OCA in Section 10:

10.1  The purpose of the OCA is to provide Members with the necessary funds to cover office, secretarial and research expenses incurred in connection with their Parliamentary duties.

10.7  All claims against the OCA are subject to the certification that the expenses have been "wholly, exclusively and necessarily" incurred in connection with a Member's Parliamentary duties. Items of a personal or political nature are clearly inadmissible as a charge against public funds.

I would be grateful for your comments on the allegation in the light of the relevant rules at the time. In particular, it would be helpful if you could cover the following matters, including identifying the source of any documentary or corroborating evidence you may be able to provide for me:

1.  the circumstances in which you came to offer your children's nanny the post of secretarial assistant;

2.  the dates of her employment by you as your secretarial assistant, the hours she was contracted to work as your secretarial assistant, the financial and other remuneration she received and the place or places where she worked and any variations according to school terms and holiday times;

3.  similar information in respect of your employment of her as your children's nanny;

4.  the nature and volume of the secretarial work you required of her together with any evidence you can offer me that she carried it out;

5.  any qualifications she had for undertaking the work of a secretarial assistant;

6.  how the arrangements of her dual appointment worked in practice;

7.  the circumstances in which you came to terminate this arrangement;

8.  what arrangements you put in its place, both for provision of a secretarial assistant and for the continuing employment of your children's nanny, including any changes to the hours she worked as your children's nanny and to her remuneration;

9.  what other staff you employed, and what were their job titles and responsibilities, over the period in question;

10.  whether at any time you consulted the House authorities (the Fees Office) about your staffing arrangements.

I appreciate that, at this remove in time, it is likely to be difficult to provide much in the way of documentary evidence (and I am aware that there is none available from the Department of Resources' records) so it would be particularly helpful if you could identify any witnesses who might be able to help me in establishing the arrangements which you made.

Any other comments you may wish to make to assist in my inquiry would, of course, be very welcome.

I attach a Note which sets out the procedures I follow. They will, of course, have to be modified in as much as there is no complainant in respect of this allegation. If you would like a word about any of this at any time, please contact me at the House or give me a call.

I am grateful for your help with this inquiry.

5.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP, 3 July 2008

I write in response to your letter of 17 June 2008.

I should like to state at the outset that I strenuously deny the allegations set out in your letter being made against me and any wrongdoing on my part. I did not during the period 1997-1999 (or thereafter) subsidise the cost of nannying services out of parliamentary allowances and I confirm that my nanny at that time did carry out administrative duties to the extent for which she was paid.

Before I turn to respond to the specific points raised in your letter, I would like to provide you with some background to the events in question. These events took place during an extremely demanding period—taking over after the sudden death of the previous MP for Meriden and dealing on my arrival with the resulting backlog of work in a constituency which is very demanding in terms of casework, adjusting to the House as a new MP with no previous experience of parliamentary life and the upheaval for my family of moving my family home and three young children from Kent to the midlands. This was all at a time when the Party was unable to provide much by way of induction to the House rules (or guidance for women MPs with dependent children on recovering the costs arising from seeking to meet the competing demands of meeting parliamentary, constituency and family commitments) given that we were in the midst of a leadership contest immediately following the May election. My employment of Tina Haynes to provide both administrative support and childcare gave me what I considered to be a workable solution at that time within the rules of the House. I should point out that I was entirely open about this arrangement with my Party, fellow MPs and the House officials and yet, to my knowledge, no formal complaints were made to any Party or House officials about this arrangement at that time and no-one from the Party or the House spoke to me at any time to say that by employing such an arrangement I was considered to be breaking any House rules.

As far as I was aware, there was no prohibition at that time against an individual undertaking a dual role (that is, to perform both childcare and an administrative/secretarial function) provided the two roles could be distinguished. As you have stated in your letter the requirements were that the expenses be "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred in connection with a Member's parliamentary duties" (under section 10.7 of the Green Book on Parliamentary Salaries, Allowances and Pensions). My interpretation of these rules was that provided I was able to distinguish the work which was being done and paid for as parliamentary work, I saw no reason why I should not employ someone to perform a dual function. Indeed, it seemed to me to provide the most sensible workable solution to the demands and constraints I faced at that time. The dual role arrangement was a very common practice amongst the male MPs at that time (and has continued to be), with wives/partners looking after their children whilst also being paid to perform administrative/secretarial work—the only difference in my case being that as both myself and my husband worked, we had to actually employ someone to undertake the childcare function too. I also understand there were other female MPs who came into Parliament in 1997 and had to make similar arrangements.

I would also ask you to bear in mind that these events took place over 11 years ago. Whilst I have been doing my best to remember what happened, my recollection of precise details has been inevitably hampered by the lengthy passage of time since the events in question. This has not been helped by the fact that there are, not surprisingly, few contemporaneous documents, which still exist today and it is a time consuming task to locate them. Therefore, the statements made below are made to the best of my recollection and belief.

I should also like to confirm, for the avoidance of doubt, that where I have named an individual as being willing to assist with your enquiry, no pressure has been brought to bear either by me personally nor, so far as I am aware, by anyone connected with me in order to influence their decision to do so.

1.1 In January 1997 the MP for Meriden, Mr Iain Mills, died. Following his death, I put myself forward for selection as the Conservative Candidate for the Meriden constituency. The selection process took place during February 1997. At that time I was living with my husband and three young children in Kent. As part of the selection process and my willingness to show my commitment to the constituency, I undertook to those involved in my selection that, were I to be selected as the Conservative candidate, I would move to Meriden and would educate my children in the local schools (as confirmed in writing by the Association President) [WE 6]. I was selected as the prospective Conservative candidate on 5th February 1997. Under normal circumstances I would then have had 12 months or more from selection to prepare and campaign for the next election, but owing to Iain's untimely death and the election being called for 1 May 1997, I had just 11 weeks from selection until election day.

1.2 Inevitably this was an extremely busy period of campaigning. I moved up to Meriden immediately and lodged with a local councillor and his wife. My children remained in Kent staying in the family home looked after by our au pair until the end of the summer school term in July 1997. However, I realised that in order to actually make good my promise to move the family to Meriden, if elected, I needed to put in place quite rapidly a plan for how I would be able to take on my new role as MP as well as ensuring the children were looked after.

1.3 In essence this meant that I was going to be schooling my children some 120 miles away from what was to be my place of work from Monday to Thursday. Given my husband's role as a global partner at […] which requires him to frequently travel internationally, this meant trying to find a local nanny with sufficient experience to take sole charge of three young children including overnight during the week. At the same time, as a new MP on a tiny majority of 582, I needed to maintain a clear anchor in the constituency, somebody who, to avoid unnecessary delays in correspondence, could quickly assess and redirect correspondence so that my constituents received the best possible service from the outset.

1.4 Given that the children were to be in full-time education, including my youngest child who had morning and afternoon sessions of nursery per day covering the 9am to 3pm period, it was clear to me that the person employed to look after the children would have six clear hours at his/her disposal each day. I believed that, given my needs in the constituency, it would be most sensible if this person could devote part of this time to address the administrative tasks of a secretarial assistant based in the constituency. To support the fact that my children were enrolled at full-time local school, I have received a statement from […], the current Head Teacher of Knowle C of E Primary School which my children attended …[WE10] and a letter from […], Head Teacher of the school during the relevant period [WE 9].

1.5 I asked around the area for names of people who might fit the bill and I was given the name of Tina Haynes (née Rawlins). From the references provided to me, it was clear that Tina had previously worked in quite demanding roles, and this included a stint working for a family with three children …during which time Tina had provided childcare support to the family and had effectively taken responsibility for running the household. She had, therefore, demonstrated her capacity to carry out duties of an administrative nature and make responsible decisions in the absence of either parent.

1.6 I interviewed Tina at the house I was then renting in Meriden and explained the two roles which I needed her to assist me with. I also explained that I could not offer her any promises that I would be able to employ her at that stage as the election was by far from a foregone conclusion.

1.7 There were three further additional reasons why I saw it as sensible at the time to have my nanny undertake administrative functions for me. The first of these was that the local party Association secretary was not able to provide much support to me at that time. The minutes of the meeting in July 1997 [WE 7] confirm that the Association secretary, Mrs Paula Monkhouse, was at that time "inundated with work from and for the Branches". Therefore, it was not feasible for the local Association secretary to act as my "anchor" given her extensive other commitments at that time. The Association was also unable to provide any office space. I should also add that the local Association office was not in my constituency, but in the Solihull constituency. Given my commitment to Meriden and my determination to overcome being seen as "not local", I considered it important to have a proper base in my own constituency. There was insufficient funding to open an independent constituency office and so it seemed by far the most appropriate, if not the only, solution to use my rented home as my constituency office.

1.8 The second reason was that the Office Costs Allowance did not stretch to employing two full time secretaries - one in the House and one in the constituency. Therefore, I had to choose where most sensibly to deploy the limited resources available to me and I chose to employ an experienced Commons secretary in London and opt for more junior administrative support in my constituency.

Thirdly, I was conscious of the strain the move to Meriden placed upon my children at a time when both my husband and I were often away during the week. I hoped that by employing a person in a dual capacity my young children would adjust to a consistent presence within the household. The limited space available in our initial house in the constituency was also a factor as it simply would not have been practical to have two employees working in our home.

  • Details of Tina Haynes' employment as secretarial assistant

2.1 As stated above, it is difficult at this stage (without any contractual documentation) to remember the precise details surrounding Tina's employment. I have been unable to locate a copy of Tina's contract and the Fees Office has confirmed that they have no records going back before 2005/2006. As far as I can recall, Tina had to give four weeks notice after I offered her a job on being elected on 1 May 1997 and I therefore believe that she must have taken up her post around 1 June 1997. I was unable to offer her a job before this time because, as I have said, my election was not a foregone conclusion - in the event I succeeded with a majority of just 582 (after two recounts).

2.2 I cannot state with certainty what administrative/secretarial role Tina would have been designated on her contract as I recall that the definitions of the type of employee an MP could have were more variable in those days. I recall they included the terms both "research assistant" and I believe, "administrative assistant". I do not believe that Tina was described as my secretary as that attribution was given to the House of Commons secretary only.

2.3 I have a recollection that Tina was required to undertake 18 hours of administrative work for me per week. I believed this to be entirely reasonable to expect during the 30 hours of free time she had during the children's schooling. However, I did not expect a rigid number of hours per day because the nature of the tasks she undertook would vary, provided that the weekly total number was achieved.

2.4 For the most part, school holidays coincided with parliamentary recess. This meant that I was based back in Meriden, particularly as I took on a lot of constituency-based engagements in recess to help me establish myself locally, something which I had had so little time for before the election. This meant that I was able to share the childcare with Tina and she could continue to work flexibly to undertake the same administrative functions that she did in term-time.

2.5 So far as I can recall, Tina received the statutory 4 weeks' holiday per year because, even in parliamentary recess, there was still work to be done in the constituency. Therefore, I needed her to he around doing the administration work for as much of the time as possible.

2.6 I cannot now recall the amount that Tina received for this role, as this would have been paid to Tina directly by the Fees Office. There were no guideline rates in force at that time. However, Mr Alan Marskell, senior Accountant at the Fees Office in 1997 (now retired) has confirmed that they undertook a due diligence process at that time and would refuse to pay any salary which they felt was unreasonable. No such issues were raised regarding Tina's salary and capacity to under take the work required of her.

2.7 Tina was based in Meriden when performing administrative functions. She worked from our home there, which, as I said above, also served also as my constituency office for that period. She was not based in Kent, although during my first four weeks as an MP she travelled to and from Kent with me to assist in transferring my office and at the same time familiarising herself with the children. Solihull Council confirm that the council taxed me at […], Knowle, from 5 March 1997 and subsequently at […] which we purchased [Memorandum of Sale not reproduced here]. A television producer, Linda McDougall has written to confirm visiting my address at […] which I occupied for around six months from 5 March 1997 in the constituency and her letter makes clear that our constituency house was our family home and the logic of that is that Tina would clearly have been resident in the constituency rather than Kent. [WE 8]

2.8 Tina ceased any administrative work on the parliamentary payroll by 1 June 1999 at the latest, although the arrangement may have concluded earlier in the previous month, as outlined in paragraph 7 below. I have been able to locate a fully made up PAYE form for the month of June 1999 [not reproduced here] and importantly I also have the Meriden Conservative Association accounts which show that when the arrangement changed I began paying the Association secretary for the time devoted wholly and exclusively to parliamentary activity which she recorded on time sheets reflecting the fact that there was a transfer of administrative work from Tina at that time which resulted in an additional cost charged by the Association secretary. The paperwork relating to this arrangement is limited but I have located an invoice which shows that by January 2000, I had started to pay the Association £10 per hour for 14 hours each week of Paula Monkhouse's time and costs, and this was for work done in helping me with constituency administration. [Invoice not reproduced here.]

  • Details of Tina Haynes' employment as nanny

3.1 Tina's position as my children's nanny began on the same date as her administrative functions (that is, sometime in June 1997). As I have already explained, her role was a dual one from the outset. She lived in our home from Monday through to Thursday night and then went home to her parents' house in […] after finishing work on a Friday. Her role as nanny was to look after my children, who at that time were aged 6, 4 and 2.

3.2 I sought a place at Knowle CE Primary School immediately after my election as I had missed the February application date, but they were granted places and in the September following my election, the children commenced at the primary school. I have a written note from the Headmaster of the Kent School wishing them good luck and that is dated at the beginning of July 1997. The children moved up to the constituency during the summer holidays of 1997. All the children were in full time education there from the beginning of the autumn term 1997, including my youngest who did a morning and afternoon session with lunch in the on-site nursery at the school. From this point, Meriden was the children's full time home.

3.3 I have referred above to a letter I have received from […], the former Head Teacher of Knowle C of E Primary School confirming my children's attendance at the school. This letter also confirms [the Head Teacher's] belief that Tina undertook both childcare and administrative functions for me at that time [WE 9].

3.4 For her role as nanny, Tina was provided with free board and accommodation, the use of a car and all expenses. She was allowed to use the car for her own purposes when not working.

3.5 Tina worked through the school holidays except for 2 weeks in August, 1 week at Christmas and 1 week at Easter when our own family holidays and hers coincided.

3.6 Tina worked for us as a nanny for 5½ years, until September 2002, as when my eldest child entered secondary education, I transferred all of the children to schools in London. This was done with the agreement of my local Party Association and meant that I no longer had need of a nanny in the constituency and by this stage the administrative functions had been transferred to Paula Monkhouse.

  • Nature/volume of secretarial work

4.1 As I have said above, Tina's duties were more administrative than secretarial. I did not expect her to type letters and nor, to my knowledge, did she do this. My full time Commons based secretary at that time felt strongly that only one person should be responsible for output to constituents to avoid any risk of duplication. In addition, Tina was not qualified as a secretary. However, she was perfectly capable of undertaking administrative support in the constituency.

4.2 I did not have a separate constituency office. This meant that any constituent would visit or telephone my home at any time of day. Tina's role was to be around during the day to deal with this: to answer the door and telephone when required. She was responsible for dealing with incoming calls, answer machine messages, opening post and transferring paperwork as required. I should point out that I did not take over as MP until four months after Mr Mills' death so there was a large back-log of constituency post to be dealt with. I recall there being five black sacks full of post, which needed opening and sorting. Tina helped with this. Tina's local knowledge of the constituency also helped me plan where I had to be to attend local functions and meetings, providing travel directions and a map before GPS existed. Tina would also act as a driver and chaperone for staff and others visiting from London on parliamentary business. My Commons-based secretary lacked this local knowledge and I had to rely on Tina for advice on how much travel time I needed between constituency engagements and where places were located. My constituency is a large, rural constituency up to 45 minutes from North to South and realistically I didn't have the local knowledge I needed to carry out my constituency duties without the aid of Tina's local knowledge.

4.3 Tina also performed a valuable function in judging the degree of urgency in messages/letters received and passing these on to me directly. This was particularly useful when I was first elected and was based in the Whips' Office without a parliamentary office elsewhere on the Estate. Tina also had to use her judgement as to when messages left for me needed urgent action by local Councillors, the local Party Association or our Member of the European Parliament. Tina acted as a message liaison with the Association office and my London-based Commons secretary as necessary.

4.4 In those days we had two deliveries of post a day, and Tina's job was to open the post and sort it for me. She devised a system of categorisation: constituency, other political and general, which I still use today. If in her judgement, a letter was so urgent that it needed to be faxed, she would do this on her own initiative or if I was urgently waiting for a document, I would ring her and ask her to look out for it in the post. The Association secretary has provided a written statement of her own recollection of the interaction she had with Tina who would both collect post as well as deliver post where appropriate to the Association office [WE 11]. There is also a written statement from the wife of our local MEP about her own recollection of Tina's administrative role [WE12]. I believe that is particularly insightful because [she] performs a similar anchorman role for her parliamentary husband.

4.5 The one thing which the local Association secretary, Paula Monkhouse, did do for me was arrange my regular Friday evening and Saturday morning surgeries for constituents. However, I took the surgery notes home with me after the surgeries and went through with Tina anything that needed to be redirected. For example, constituents would quite often drop off documents they did not want to risk in the post such as birth certificates, passport applications or bulky items. They preferred to hand these over in person to Tina at our home in the knowledge that they would come directly to me. Tina would then pass them on either to me or would take them to the Association office, as necessary [WE 13]. All my surgeries were conducted with a borough councillor present on a rota of about nine of them, as quite often constituents brought council matters rather than parliamentary matters to me, and also for security. At the end of the surgery we would agree which of us would take the matter forward and the councillors would report back to me the outcome of their actions, usually through Tina as demonstrated in the letter from [a councillor] [WE 14].

4.6 As I have mentioned, at that time, the local Association office was not in the constituency but was in Solihull so delivering and collecting post/messages that needed to be taken there and brought back meant a drive between our home in Meriden and Solihull (approximately a 10 mile round-trip).

4.7 A number of local organisations like church groups, cricket clubs and suchlike preferred to ring my home number rather than make a trunk call to London. In particular, I recall the local branch chairman of the NFU locally always used Tina and our home phone number to arrange meetings. I have asked for confirmation from him and other farmers who attended these kitchen table meetings which took place in their homes and mine with Tina's help that they can also be approached.

  • Qualifications

5.1 Tina was not qualified as a secretary but her referees had made it clear that she had the practical and intellectual capacity to undertake administrative and supportive tasks over and above childcare, which is what I employed her for. She was reliable, trustworthy with money, a safe and responsible driver and dedicated to the fulfilment of tasks set for her, which included looking after other people's personal details and keeping confidences. None of my constituents or the local Association officials ever raised a complaint regarding Tina's role or the way in which she carried it out and like me, I believe they found her reliable. I have a letter from one of my constituents who contacted me when he read the allegations in the media, in which he confirms his dealings with Tina in regard to his constituency case were perfectly satisfactory [WE 13].

  • Dual Role in practice

6.1 I have explained above how the two roles operated and in addition the gentleman who helps me with my garden has written with his recollections of how the arrangement would work [WE 18]. In summary, Tina would drop the children off at school and then would use the time during school hours to perform basic administrative tasks. The nature of these varied on a day-to-day basis so there was no set routine. However, they included staffing the home (constituency) telephone, opening and sorting post, performing administrative errands and liaising between constituents, the local Association office, my parliamentary secretary and myself, as necessary. Tina would also carry out some of these duties after the children had gone to bed. For example, I used to call Tina routinely from London each evening to get an update on matters arising in my constituency that needed to be actioned by me.

6.2 Tina was able to continue these administrative tasks during school holidays, as I was also at home then. She continued to fit these in flexibly around the requirements of childcare.

6.3 I would add that the arrangement worked extremely well during my first two years as an MP, as a practical solution to the problem that there were insufficient funds in the allowances at the time for two full time secretaries, one in London, one in the Constituency.

6.4 Furthermore, as I have said above, the local Association secretary has made it clear in her written statement that she had no capacity to take on extra work for me during the period May 1997-April 1999 because her eldest child was not yet in nursery.

  • Circumstances in which arrangement terminated

7.1 It was not until April 1999 as best I can recall, that the then Chief Whip spoke to me about the dual role arrangement I had in place. He said to me that the matter had come to his attention via a member of staff and that whilst this arrangement did not break the rules and indeed he was aware of other MPs who had similar arrangements, it was open to misrepresentation and advised me to split the childcare and administrative roles. I decided to act on this straightaway, by approaching the Association to take on the additional parliamentary work, which they were now able to do on the basis that I would pay them separately for these additional hours (which I then reclaimed). I paid Tina separately for her nannying role and the PAYE tax return I have demonstrates this was the case.

7.2 I should like to make very clear that there was no suggestion that I had broken any rule by using this arrangement. The concern was only one of perception. Nor did I change the arrangement because I believed or was concerned that I had broken a rule. I did so because of my commitment to absolute transparency and openness and as I did not want there to be any possible misinterpretation of the position, which indeed has turned out to be the case.

  • What arrangements were put in place subsequently

8.1 The Chief Whip advised me that the Association secretary could take over the parliamentary work providing she kept a clear separation between party political and parliamentary work. This was also something which worried me as I was conscious that this arrangement too could have been open to misinterpretation. I approached the Association secretary whose child had just entered nursery and she agreed to give me the extra time each week to take over the casework and correspondence received at the constituency end. Tina continued in the capacity of a nanny only, but in reality she still answered the phone and opened the post only this was now remunerated by me and not by Parliament. However, I regarded this as the price to be paid for my commitment to transparency.

  • Other staff

9.1 When I initially took office in May 1997 I was aware that the Office Costs Allowance would not accommodate two full time secretaries. As I have explained, after weighing this up, and reading of other MP's experiences, I considered that it was a wise course to have a full time secretary based in the Commons who understood Westminster rules and procedures and then use Tina to act as an administrative support in the constituency.

9.2 Therefore, I employed Georgina Perry as a full time secretary based at the House of Commons Secretarial from May 1997 to approximately March 1999. I cannot now recall her salary but it would have reflected her considerable experience and years in this role. There were issues with how much constituency correspondence (letters and phone calls) Georgina was willing to deal with, which had the effect of increasing Tina's workload. Georgina worked for me for one year and eleven months.

9.3 I considered the principle of having a full-time Commons secretary to be a good one and so I employed Sally Hammond in what I believe was the April of 1999, who had been working for Peter Ainsworth when Georgina Perry ceased working for me. Sally initially went to Peter Ainsworth to complain about my arrangement with Tina very soon after starting to work with me, and without giving any significant time to assess the practicality of the arrangement with Tina and how it worked. At this point I served in the Whips' office where my daily contact with Tina would have been unobserved by Sally, but colleagues who served with me at the time recall me getting a fax machine installed in order that I could receive communications from Tina [WE15].

9.4 To my recollection, neither Georgina nor Sally visited the constituency more than once. Accordingly, they did not undertake any constituency-located work and nor were they able to assess how much work Tina did there.

9.5 In September 1997 I had an intern paid by CARE to whom I provided free accommodation until the end of her internship in July 1998.

9.6 From February 1998 to the end of September 1998 I had pro bono help from a trainee barrister who undertook a project on the council estate in my constituency. He was paid for the one month he worked full time and saw the work that Tina did in the constituency [WE 16].

9.7 In September 1998 I had another intern called Tim Collins who was paid by CARE to whom I also provided free London accommodation. I should point out that Tim is my nephew but he has written a letter outlining his recollection of the time he was an intern with me, in light of the allegations that have been made [WE 17].

  • Consultation about staffing

10.1 In my first six weeks as an MP, I recall meeting the Head of the Fees Office to discuss my staffing arrangements in detail and I explained I had opted for a full time secretary in the Commons but needed some part time administrative support in the constituency where I had no other staff and where my local knowledge was extremely limited. 1 recall explaining that I was addressing this issue by employing one person to assist with childcare and administration. 1 was not told that the dual role breached the rules and as far as I am aware, the Fees Office authorised Tina's contract.

10.2 My recollections are supported by those of Mr Alan Marskell, who was the senior Accountant in the Fees Office in 1997. Mr Marskell has confirmed that he remembers meeting with me on Wednesday 14 May and again on 21 and 30 July 1999. Mr Marskell voluntarily contacted my parliamentary office when he saw the news reports as he recalled meeting me and was confident the procedures in place at the time would have meant that the accusations could not be true owing to the safeguard procedures that were in place at the time. He gave permission for my member of staff to takes notes from the call and use his comments. Mr Marskell confirmed that the Fees Office would have scrutinised Tina's contract of employment and checked the hours to be worked, the location of that work and the nature of the role. The Fees Office themselves would then exercise a duty of care in checking that the amount being paid for that role was reasonable and that the employee, the nature of the work and the salary were all reasonable. He said these contracts would also be checked by the National Audit Office. Mr Marskell also confirmed there was no rule preventing MPs from having one employee who performed two roles, typically this was the case when MPs employed wives who would clearly provide administrative help for which they were salaried whilst also providing childcare and domestic duties. Mr Marskell confirmed that the advice he would give the MPs who had similar arrangements in 1997 was that it was within the rules to have a dual role employee as long as they segregated "in their heads and on paper" the two roles. This concurs with my own recollection of the conversation I had with the Fees Office about how and why I was employing Tina. I explained to the Fees Office that Tina would have 30 clear hours each week when the children were in school, and asking her to provide administrative work for me in 18 of those hours each week was reasonable. The Fees Office agreed and the contract was signed off by them. Mr Marskell told my member of staff that in 1997 the Fees Office could not get a definition of what was a legitimate parliamentary expense so they therefore had to use their own definition which was as follows "If it was Party Political or Personal/Private then it could not be parliamentary, but if they are asking for reimbursement it would be acceptable as long as it didn't come under one of those four 'Ps'". Mr Marskell confirmed that if the Fees Office had agreed the contract of employment they would have been satisfied that the nature of the role was not one of those four "Ps" and therefore perfectly permissible.

10.3 I would add that, in general terms, there was not much by way of induction as a new MP at that time. There was no formal induction programme, just a lecture on process given by the Clerks of the House in week 1 after election. The Party was also unable to provide much assistance at that time as it had been thrown into the leadership contest immediately following the election. However, from the advice which was available to me and which I took at that time, there was no suggestion that I was breaking any parliamentary rule.

As I hope to have made clear, I will co-operate in any way I can with this enquiry in order to clear my. name. In this letter I have confined my response to addressing the questions you raise in your letter of 17 June, and have not sought to correct the many unsubstantiated allegations made recently in the press, although in no way should that be interpreted as giving credence to such allegations.

In the interests of a prompt resolution of this matter, I am submitting this letter as early as possible. I hope that should I receive any further supporting evidence you will be willing to consider it.

This is an extremely difficult time for me, helped only by the letters of support I have received. I have attached one I feel to be of particular significance from an individual of standing in the community with observations which I would like you to have sight of and I have attached it ….

If there are any matters upon which you would like me to provide further comment/clarification, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Received 3 July 2008

6.  Letter to Mrs Caroline Spelman MP from the President, Meriden Conservative Association, 21 June 2008

As President of the Meriden Conservative Association in the Spring of 1997 I was present at all stages of the selection process to choose a candidate to stand at the forthcoming General Election.

I am certain that you were asked the question "where would you educate your children should you be elected as MP for Meriden". This was asked as I recall at the second stage of interviews in front of the Meriden Executive Committee by a gentleman who was a governor of one of the local junior schools in the constituency. You assured the Committee that you would and indeed all three of your children went on to attend the Knowle C of E Junior and Infant School.

I trust these recollections help to clear any confusion of events at the time.

21 June 2008

7.  Extract from Minutes of the Meriden Conservative Association, Finance & General Purposes Committee Meeting, 22 July 1997

5. Staffing of the Office

The Chairman said that Mrs Paula Monkhouse was currently inundated with work from and for the Branches. He would be grateful if each branch could take responsibility for their own clerical work - using machinery at HQ where necessary. Changes in the Conservative organisation were of course, in the air. Work for Mrs Spelman had now been defined.

22 July 1997

8.  Statement from Linda McDougall

In 1997 I was writing a book, and preparing a television series Westminster Women. The book was published by Vintage in 1998. The television series was broadcast on the ITV Network in 1998.

The 1997 General Election doubled the number of female Members in the House of Commons overnight. I wanted to show who these new women were, how their lives had changed and how Westminster might change with their arrival.

I interviewed Caroline Spelman twice, once in London and once in her constituency Meriden where I also filmed her with her husband and children.

Caroline Spelman was one of the last candidates chosen for the 1997 election. Her predecessor Iain Mills died suddenly a few weeks before polling day.

Caroline who had tried hard to get a Conservative seat told me she had finally given up hope. She had gone back to her job in London where she lived and worked with her husband and family.

More or less at the last minute she was offered an interview for Meriden, and chosen as candidate.

Caroline and I discussed the situation in depth. What happened to her was very similar to what had happened to me when my husband Austin Mitchell was chosen as the Labour Candidate in a by election twenty years before. Within weeks he had become an MP and had promised that he would move his family to live in his constituency, Grimsby.

Caroline had made exactly the same promise. She would bring her husband and children to live in the constituency. Constituencies are always keen to get their prospective members engaged in local life, and back in 1997 and 1977 no one considered the practical difficulties for a mother bringing up young children. I was a TV producer with Granada Television's World in Action, and a spouse. I spent a lot of time filming abroad.

Caroline was a businesswoman working in London and she was about to become the MP.

In both cases the situation was impossible and in Caroline's more so. No one expected Austin Mitchell to manage the childcare along with his constituency responsibilities.

When I went to film Caroline and her husband and children a few weeks after the election, they were camping out in a rented house in Meriden, Caroline's new constituency. The situation was chaotic and all hands to the pump. The three young children had to be transported backwards and forwards from London, and when they were left in the constituency someone had to care for them while their mother attended the Commons. It seemed to me that everyone in Meriden was helping out as best they could.

I was very sympathetic to Caroline's plight and advised her, as I have many MPs since, that there was no way she could keep the children in the constituency on a long term basis as the result would be bad for all concerned.

My children were often left alone in the constituency with hired staff and without either parent in an attempt to fulfil my husband's promise to his constituents. It was a disaster.

Caoline had made the same promise and for several years she struggled heroically to cope with an impossible situation. I am quite certain that any staff employed by the Spelmans then would have needed to be able to turn their hands to every task that came along as the new MP struggled to cope with her role at Westminster and continue to bring up her family.

Caroline was flexible, calm and determined. It is an absolute tribute to her that she got through those difficult early years with shining distinction and a happy well adjusted family.

The accusations made against Caroline re the precise nature of the work carried out by people she employed back in the nineties are offensive and an invasion of her privacy. Anyone who knows anything about MPs' families and their struggles to keep family life on an even keel, will know that the wonderful people who work for us and who are flexible and sympathetic to the magical multitasking MP Mum, deserve all our thanks.


9.  Letter to Mrs Spelman from former Head Teacher, Knowle CE Primary School

I am writing to confirm that I was Head Teacher of Knowle CE Primary school when you became the local MP and moved into the area. I admitted your three children to the school and the current Head Teacher and the Local Authority will be able to confirm the dates from their records.

The three children attended school full time, including your youngest who did a double session in the on-site nursery. I remember arranging with you that we would allow your personal assistant to bring and collect the children as she had some responsibility for them as well as other administrative duties for you.


10.  Statement from the current Head Teacher, Knowle CE Primary School, 19 June 2008

To whom it may concern:

Re: [Spelman children]

I am writing to confirm that the above named children attended Knowle CE Primary School between the following dates:

[Child A] 3 September 1997 — 18 July 2002

[Child B] 3 September 1997 — 18 July 2002

[Child C] 14 September 1998 — 18 July 2002

This information has been confirmed by the Local Education Authority.

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.

19 June 2008

11.  Statement from Mrs Paula Yates, 20 June 2008

In March 1997 I was employed on a temporary contract via Sarah Harvey Recruitment Agency to give clerical support to the Meriden Conservative Association office at 2 Manor Road, Solihull, B91 2BH. This office is not in the Meriden Constituency but in the Solihull Constituency.

On 5th May 1997, due to the retirement of the existing Organising Secretary [...] I was made a permanent member of staff by Meriden Conservative Association. I was employed as the Organising Secretary of the Association on a part time basis from 9am to 1 pm Monday to Friday. This was a new role for me and I had to learn the ropes.

I was working part time as I had a small child and could not commit more hours at this time. I was employed and paid by Meriden Conservative Association.

Meriden Conservative Association rents one small office and shares a larger office with the Solihull Conservative Association Secretary. Solihull Conservative Association is the landlord for the building. The building was fully let with no room for Caroline Spelman to have an office at this time. Mrs Spelman was anxious to have a constituency based office where people could contact her locally.

In these early days, I used to book the advice surgeries and appointments only. Caroline Spelman inherited the surgery timetable from the late Iain Mills MP. Any post delivered to Manor Road for Mrs Spelman was collected by Tina Rawlins on a regular basis along with the advice surgery schedule required for that weekend's session. Any post/correspondence for the Association was exchanged at appropriate times for example "In Touch" newsletter articles. Tina and I grew to know each other fairly well whilst she was employed by Mrs Spelman.

In 1999, I was asked if I could also do the constituency casework arising from the advice surgeries until a more permanent solution could be found. This was a temporary arrangement. I increased my hours of work and my salary was increased to reflect the extra work taken on. This involved typing up letters and liaising with various agencies on behalf of constituents as well as continuing to organise the advice surgeries. I carried out these duties until […] took on the role of Parliamentary Secretary. My employment and payments were maintained by Meriden Conservative Association throughout this period and Mrs Spelman was invoiced by Meriden Conservative Association for worked carried out by me on her behalf.

20 June 2008`

12.  Statement from the Conservative Women's Chairman for the West Midlands Region, 21 June 2008

I write with reference to your enquiry into Caroline Spelman MP's expenses arrangements concerning Tina Haynes and to give you my recollections of the period concerned. I hope that you may find them useful in considering the evidence.

By way of explanation as to my connections with Caroline I have lived in Solihull since 1972 and my husband and I have been active in the Conservative Party since then. Living in the neighbouring constituency to Meriden and with the two Conservative Constituency Associations sharing an office I have naturally been very close to all the activities and office arrangements in Meriden. In 1997 when Caroline won the Meriden seat I was the Conservative Women's Chairman for the West Midlands Region and also the secretary of the Coventry and North Warwickshire Euro Conservative Council. I was therefore very aware of all that was going on at that time.

On election Caroline and her family moved to a rented house in […], Knowle and then subsequently bought a house in the same road. Caroline's children attended Knowle Infant School from September, 1997. Caroline employed Tina Haynes to work for her from her home in Knowle not only to act as a nanny out of school hours but very importantly to be her assistant managing the post, telephone calls and other matters relating to her work as an MP. It was well known to all the local party activists that Caroline was operating her constituency office at that time from her Knowle home and that if we needed to contact Caroline we should contact Tina first. As I recall this arrangement with Tina lasted until the Spring of 1999.

Since 1999 my husband has been an MEP and I now work for him managing his office here in the West Midlands. I know only too well how important it is to have someone to field the phone calls and pass on the messages. There is always a great deal of liaison work that has to be done between local councillors, the MP and the MEPs quite apart from the constituents' enquiries. In 1997 email was not in widespread use and the first point of contact from a constituent would usually have been a phone call. Some days there would no doubt have been more calls on Tina's time than on others but it was important for Caroline to have someone there to answer the phone every day and to pick up on the post too. Tina may not have realised just how important her work was to Caroline but she was a crucial member of Caroline's team.

I hope this helps you with your enquiry. Local people have been appalled at the treatment Caroline has had from the press; their misleading comments and distortions of the facts. She is enormously popular and highly respected; known for her great integrity and dedicated hard work as a constituency MP. Two weeks ago immediately following the original Newsnight "revelations" she gave a sermon at Knowle Parish church and the congregation spontaneously clapped her; not something that usually happens. I think that should say it all.

21 June 2008

13.  Statement from a constituent, 2 July 2008

I am not sure if my information will help in any way?

I am a person who over the years has had many problems and many issues. Some one in 1997 suggested that I contact my MP to get advice. I did, that MP was in fact Caroline Spelman. I made a phone call to the number I had been given and a lady answered the phone who I assumed was Caroline Spelman. I immediately gave her my name and proceeded to tell her in an anxious manner about my problem. She broke the conversation and explained that she was the nanny, but also did some secretarial work, i.e. phone messages and written messages. She then told me she would get a note pad and a pen, and took my details and said she'd leave a message and get back in touch with me.

I phoned this number at least five times over a period of months, and the same lady answered the phone. She gave me her name as Tina, and told me once again that she did bits of secretarial work and was also the nanny. On one of our phone conversations, she cut my conversation short, because she was late for picking the children up. However, she still took the information from me, and I left it at that.

I again contacted Caroline Spelman's office on the number I was given, some time later (18 months-2 years) and a different lady answered the phone. I assumed that's when they switched the office. I have been in touch with Caroline Spelman on a number of occasions, on which she's both met me personally and spoken to me and advised me. On one occasion she approached the Chief of Police on my behalf. I do have a record of every call I have made, whether it is mobile or land line. If this information will be of any help to anybody I can dig it all out. All of the information I have provided here is true.

2 July 2008

14.  Statement from a councillor, 25 June 2008

I am very concerned about the unfounded allegations in the press that Tina Haynes did not do secretarial and administrative work for Caroline Spelman in her early days as MP for Meriden. When Mrs Spelman became the MP for Meriden she had little knowledge of the area and had a serious need to get closer to her constituents.

I have been resident in Marston Green for over 75 years and ten years ago I was very active in the community.

I attended surgeries with Mrs Spelman at Castle Bromwich, Kingshurst and Chelmsley Wood. Matters would often arise, such as housing problems, which would more properly be dealt with at Borough Council level. Once dealt with I would report back to Caroline, often using Tina Haynes as the conduit either by telephone or in person if I met her in the constituency office, or when on occasion my wife and I collected the Spelman children from school and took them home.

Through Tina Haynes I used to notify Caroline of local events that she might wish to attend to meet more people. Typically the events were church fetes, flower shows, sports club events, school events etc.

I also gave Caroline via Tina early warning of possible problems that she would need to know about which had arisen at Bickenhill Parish Council meetings.

I always found Tina Haynes very helpful and do not recall any item passed on through her that did not arrive safely with Mrs Spelman.

25 June 2008

15.  Statement from Mr Nigel Waterson MP, 1 July 2008

I just wanted to confirm my recollection that while we were both in the Whips' Office during 1998, I recall your having a fax machine on your desk. It only sticks in my mind because it was somewhat unusual at the time.

1 July 2008

16.  Letter to Mrs Caroline Spelman MP from a volunteer in her office, 2 July 2008

I have been saddened to read in the press of the allegations that have been made against you. I know that you are a person of decency and integrity and that any suggestion that you have misused your parliamentary Allowances must be false.

I first met you in February 1998 while I was doing postgraduate study in London. We arranged that I would come in to the office as a volunteer every Wednesday afternoon and on other days as necessary. You asked me to work with you on a project entitled Social Regeneration in Chelmsley Wood, an estate in your constituency.

I did make several visits to Meriden to visit the Chelmsley Wood estate and other parts of your constituency. On these visits I was normally collected from Birmingham International by Tina Hayes who worked for you. Tina would drive me around the constituency and would frequently accompany me to the meetings as she knew some of the people concerned. The days would often end at your house where you would make supper for the children after school as Tina and I would update you about the meetings we had had that day.

The work I did for you continued over the summer of 1998 and because it was not completed I came to work for you full time for the month of September 1998.

In October 1998 I became the Special Adviser to Tim Yeo MP, the then Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. At the time you were the Whip to the Shadow Team, attending all meetings.

In my role as Special Adviser I coordinated the work of the Shadow Team and spoke frequently to the members of the team and their secretaries. In your case I nearly always spoke to you because you were always easier to get hold of than your secretary.

I do hope that this is of help to you. I am confident that when the allegations are looked in to they will be shown to be false.

2 July 2008

17.  Statement from Mrs Spelman's Parliamentary Researcher, 2 July 2008

To whom it may concern:

I worked as a parliamentary researcher for Caroline Spelman MP between October 1998 and May 2001. Based at the House of Commons, I helped write speeches and articles and carried out political research.

For part of this time I was a colleague of Georgina Perry, who worked as Caroline' secretary.

My recollection is that Caroline and Georgina had a strained relationship. I understand that this was caused, in part, by Georgina's reluctance to use an answering machine or voicemail in her work. She preferred to rely on the House of Commons answering service - i.e. an attendant. In my experience, this was not a good method of receiving messages when out of the office. Details were not always taken down accurately and it was an impersonal way for people to contact an MP. Georgina was also reluctant to use a new computer provided by Caroline.

In my view, Georgina's working practices were unsuited to the demands of our modern parliamentary office and this resulted in definite tension between her and Caroline.

During my time as a researcher, I was aware that Tina Haynes (née Rawlins) carried out parliamentary work at Caroline's home. I understood that this consisted of receiving telephone calls, posting letters and providing directions for constituency visits. For example, Tina frequently sent me parcels of local newspapers which were invaluable in my PR work.

I worked closely with Caroline for the best part of three years. At all times, she demonstrated the highest standards of professionalism. I never had any reason to question her honesty and I believe she was, and continues to be, an MP of the greatest integrity. I have not met another politician who is more conscientious or principled.

2 July 2008

18.  Statement from Mrs Spelman's gardener, 2 July 2008

To whom it may concern

I have worked for Mr and Mrs Spelman since October 1998 as a gardener working two days doing the gardens at […], and odd jobs around the house.

I knew Tina, the nanny, well as she would sometimes make me a cup of tea and I soon got to know her routine.

I know for a fact that she used to sort the mail, into private and work related piles. She would open them, and then tell Mrs Spelman any important post that had arrived during the day, and sometimes receive parcels too.

Most days Tina would return from dropping the children off at school around 9.30 and be around […], sometimes having to do errands for Caroline.

I know Tina was always in communication by phone with Caroline, as she used to tell me in conversations we had, of Caroline's movements.

Tina would always answer the phone and take messages and contact Mrs Spelman as necessary. I hope the above is of assistance to you, and if I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me.

2 July 2008

19.  Statement from the Vicar, Knowle Parish Church, 26 June 2008

Testimonial for Caroline Spelman MP

I have known Caroline Spelman since I became vicar of Knowle, the largest Anglican church in the Birmingham Diocese, in Easter 1998.

From the outset of my time here Caroline Spelman has been a regular and committed member of the church congregation, attending weekly for the vast majority of the time. It has only been latterly when in the shadow cabinet and as Party Chairman that wider responsibilities and Sunday commitments elsewhere have drawn her away.

When I began her children were in full time education in Knowle at the Church Primary School, an arrangement that continued for some years until they began education in London.

In my experience Caroline Spelman has been and is noted for her commitment to her constituency and its people. She is highly conscientious and pushes herself hard in the range of activities she is involved with especially on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays in the constituency. I have noticed time and again that people who would not have previously spoken well of a Tory MP, nor have been Tory voters, have become her supporters and voted for her because of the good work she has been seen to be doing. People appreciate her candid openness. She does not have "airs and graces", she relates well to ordinary people, and so they relate well to her. She does not "spin" things, but will be candid, open, and honest about issues straightforward or difficult.

Neither do people see in her someone who is interested in the trappings of privilege, power or aggrandisement. She dresses in a straightforward way, she does not stand on ceremony waiting to be treated as an "elite" person, she drives around the constituency for the most part in a Corsa. She is known for rolling her sleeves up, serving the communities to the best of her ability, and way beyond the call of duty. She has ploughed an enormous amount of energy into the regeneration project in the north of the borough, I have seen her in action there. She has to my knowledge initiated the "Welcome Trust" working amongst drug addicts for their rehabilitation. Typically she volunteered and did help in the leadership of our Sunday Children's groups for a significant period.

I find time and again she is very well respected in the community. The respect has been earned. It comes from ordinary people finding that here is someone who is straight, honest, and will do her very best for people.

People know she is married to an immensely capable business man who has had good success in his career. He has reaped the rewards of that financially. People should not I think confuse those rewards with the remuneration and expenses Caroline Spelman has had as an MP.

In my view Caroline Spelman would not have claimed for things on expenses as an MP that she believed to be outside the rules in force at the time.

I have seen enough of her life and work to realise there is a large overlap between home and work. When someone is as busy and committed as she has been and is, things do not settle into easy compartments of office for work and home for leisure. This is made yet more difficult by living in London midweek and being in the constituency at weekends and very often Fridays too. To my knowledge she has lived with work coming both to home as well as to a constituency office in Balsall Common, as well as to the Manor Road Constituency office. That Tina Haynes time in the day was divided between secretarial work and being a nanny seems entirely plausible. E-mail and texting were not used by most people back then and secretarial support for phone and post would have been needed in a different way to the present.

If politicians in this country all had the good reputation that Caroline Spelman does here their place would rise markedly in the public's affections. She is the kind of MP we need more of. It would be a real tragedy if Caroline Spelman was to be hounded from office, or left with a tarnished reputation because of allegations concerning something eleven years ago. I hope she can be quickly cleared and allowed to concentrate on her job again.

26 June 2008

20.  Statement from the former Chairman of the Solihull Healthcare NHS Trust and Chairman of the Solihull Bench, 12 July 2008

I first met Mrs Caroline Spelman when she was first elected as a Member of Parliament for Meriden and she came to visit me in my roles as Chairman of Solihull Healthcare NHS Trust and also Chairman of Solihull Bench. Her intention was to get as much information about the areas which I served to help her in her role as MP. I was impressed then with the thoroughness with which she tackled her position.

Subsequently in 2001 Mrs Spelman and I, with others, set up the Charitable Trust "Make a Better Life Trust" (MABL) to supplement the work of the statutory authorities in helping women and children who were the subject of domestic violence, because of our concern for their problems. We remain Trustees of the Trust, in fact Mrs Spelman is now Chairman.

During the time I have worked with Mrs Spelman I have always known her to be a "giver" not a "taker", she has served Meriden with tremendous diligence and enthusiasm. Despite being a Shadow Cabinet Member Mrs Spelman is constantly working on behalf of her constituents. She has been a very refreshing change from the previous Member.

All the recent negative press reports do not accord in any way with the person I know and it is for this reason I would wish to support her in any way possible. She has not asked me to do this.

I would trust absolutely the honesty, transparency and integrity of Mrs Spelman in whatever situation she happens to be and I am very privileged to know her and to serve with her for the benefit of the local community.

12 July 2008

21.  Letter to Mrs Paula Yates from the Commissioner, 9 July 2008

I am inquiring into an allegation about the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances from 1997 to 1999. I would be most grateful for your help with my inquiry.

In essence, the allegation against Mrs Spelman is that she subsidised the cost of nannying services out of her parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant, Ms Tina Haynes, did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I would be grateful if you could let me have a note setting out your recollection, in as much as you saw them, of the duties performed by Tina Haynes for Mrs Spelman in supporting her on her parliamentary duties in the constituency.

In particular, it would be helpful if you could:

1.  confirm what I understand to be the position that you were not yourself able to provide support for Mrs Spelman when she first became the Member of Parliament for Meriden, and that that position continued until 1999. Mrs Spelman has said that this is because your eldest child was not yet in nursery school. I would be grateful if you could confirm that this was the reason or otherwise let me know what it was. In this regard, you might find it helpful to see the attached extract of the Minutes of the Meriden Conservative Association's Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting on 22 July 1997;

2.  let me have information or your recollection of your contacts with Tina Haynes when she was supporting Mrs Spelman in her parliamentary capacity. I understand from Mrs Spelman that Tina Haynes would drive to your office with papers and documents received during Mrs Spelman's constituency surgeries. It would be most helpful to have information about these contacts, including their frequency. Could you also let me know whether constituents wrote or contacted your office in Solihull if they needed help from Mrs Spelman and how liaison and the movement of papers and messages between your office and Tina Haynes' office in Knowle worked in practice - including the volume of work, the frequency of the exchanges and the time taken on them by Tina Haynes;

3.  let me know the circumstances in which you took over supporting Mrs Spelman in the constituency from June 1999. I understand from Mrs Spelman that you were initially paid around £8.50 an hour for a 14 hour week. I attach a copy of invoices dated June and July 2000 from the Meriden Conservative Association which Mrs Spelman has sent me. Could you also let me know what your duties were for Mrs Spelman when you took over supporting her in the constituency? Any information or recollection you may have of how far you inherited those duties from Tina Haynes would be most helpful. For example, did you have any handover discussions at the time you took on this role?

Any other information you could let me have which you think may be of help in my inquiry would be most welcome.

I attach a note which sets out the procedure I follow in taking evidence from witnesses. I should emphasise that information you give me is treated as personal and confidential during the course of my inquiry. If I report my conclusions to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges then I will attach to those conclusions the evidence on which I rely and your evidence is likely to be included in that and subsequently published by the Committee. I am asking for your responses in writing but it is possible that I may also ask you to come in for a discussion at a later stage.

I would be most grateful for your help on this matter. If you have any questions about the process, please do feel free to contact my office.

9 July 2008

22.  Letter to Mrs Sally Hammond from the Commissioner, 9 July 2008

I am inquiring into an allegation about the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances from 1997 to 1999. I would be grateful for your help with my inquiry.

In essence, the allegation against Mrs Spelman is that she subsidised the cost of nannying services out of her parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant, Ms Tina Haynes, did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I would very much welcome any information you can give me about the arrangements which Mrs Spelman put in place for her employment of Tina Haynes as her secretarial assistant and what you saw of her and her work.

I would be particularly grateful for your help with the following:

1.  the period for which you worked for Mrs Spelman, the hours you worked and the duties you were asked to perform. I understand from Mrs Spelman that you started working for her in about April 1999. I do not have your end date;

2.  what Mrs Spelman may have told you about her decision to employ Tina Haynes in her constituency, and what you understood were her duties;

3.  how far it was necessary for you to have regular contact with Tina Haynes and, if so, what those contacts were; their frequency and what you saw of the work which she undertook for Mrs Spelman. I understand from Mrs Spelman that she does not believe you visited the constituency more than once and so in her view you were not able to assess how much work Tina Haynes did there;

4.  the circumstances in which you raised your concerns (if you did raise such concerns) with another Member of Parliament; what those concerns were; and what, as far as you know, was the outcome of you raising those concerns. I understand from Mrs Spelman that you complained about her arrangements with Tina Haynes very soon after starting to work for her and she considers you did not have sufficient time to assess the practicality of the arrangement with Tina Haynes and how it worked.

Any other points you may wish to make to help me with this inquiry would be most welcome.

I attach a note which sets out the procedure I follow in taking evidence from witnesses. I should emphasise that information you give me is treated as personal and confidential during the course of my inquiry. If I report my conclusions to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges then I will attach to those conclusions the evidence on which I rely and your evidence is likely to be included in that and subsequently published by the Committee.

I would be most grateful for your help on this matter. If you have any questions about the process, please do feel free to contact my office.

9 July 2008

23.  Letter to the Chairman of the Meriden Conservative Association from the Commissioner, 9 July 2008

I am inquiring into an allegation about the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances from 1997 to 1999. I would be grateful for your help with my inquiry.

In essence, the allegation against Mrs Spelman is that she subsidised the cost of nannying services out of her parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant, Ms Tina Haynes, did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I would welcome any information you can give me about the circumstances in which Tina Haynes came to be employed by Mrs Spelman and what you saw of her work over the period of that employment, June 1997 to June 1999. In particular, it would be helpful if you could confirm:

1.  that, in July 1997, it was clear that Mrs Paula Monkhouse could not be deployed to assist Mrs Spelman in the constituency. I attach an extract from the Minutes of the Meriden Conservative Association's Finance and General Purposes Committee meeting on 22 July 1997 which Mrs Spelman has sent me and which I see you attended as the then Treasurer. I understand from Mrs Spelman that Paula Monkhouse was not able to provide Mrs Spelman with support since her eldest child was not yet at nursery school. I am checking this recollection with Mrs Monkhouse. I see from the Minutes that the then Chairman stated "Work for Mrs Spelman had now been defined". If you were able to help me on what that reference meant, that would be most helpful;

2.  what Mrs Spelman may have told you at the time about her arrangements for employing Tina Haynes both as her secretarial assistant and as her children's nanny, both when the arrangement was instituted in 1997 and when it was brought to an end in 1999;

3.  what you saw of Tina Haynes and her work over this period, or what you heard of it from others. Tina Haynes was employed for some 18 hours a week and I need to get an understanding of how her time was deployed, how she balanced her secretarial work with her work as a nanny and the nature of her work in supporting Mrs Spelman in the constituency for that period of time a week.

Any other information you could let me have which you think may be of help in my inquiry would be most welcome.

I attach a note which sets out the procedure I follow in taking evidence from witnesses. I should emphasise that information you give me is treated as personal and confidential during the course of my inquiry. If I report my conclusions to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges then I will attach to those conclusions the evidence on which I rely and your evidence is likely to be included in that and subsequently published by the Committee.

I would be most grateful for your help on this matter. If you have any questions about the process, please do feel free to contact my office.

9 July 2008

24.  Letter to Mrs Georgina Perry from the Commissioner, 16 July 2008

I am inquiring into an allegation about the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances from 1997 to 1999. I would be most grateful for your help with my inquiry.

In essence, the allegation against Mrs Spelman is that she subsidised the cost of nannying services out of her parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant, Ms Tina Haynes, did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I would very much welcome any information you can give me about the arrangements which Mrs Spelman put in place for her employment of Tina Haynes as her constituency assistant and what you saw of her and her work. In this context, I have received a statement from Mr Tim Collins, a parliamentary researcher for Mrs Spelman from October 1998 to May 2001, about your relations with Mrs Spelman and your working practices. I enclose a copy of that statement so that you are aware of it.

I would be particularly grateful for your help with the following:

1.  the period for which you worked for Mrs Spelman, the hours you worked and the duties you were asked to perform. I understand from Mrs Spelman that you worked for her from May 1997 to approximately March 1999;

2.  what Mrs Spelman may have told you about her decision to employ Tina Haynes in her constituency, and what you understood were her duties;

3.  how far it was necessary for you to have regular contact with Tina Haynes and, if so, what those contacts were; their frequency and what you saw of the work which she undertook for Mrs Spelman. I understand from Mrs Spelman that she does not believe you visited the constituency more than once and so in her view you were not able to assess how much work Tina Haynes did there.

Any other points you may wish to make to help me with this inquiry would be most welcome.

I attach a note which sets out the procedure I follow in taking evidence from witnesses. I should emphasise that information you give me is treated as personal and confidential during the course of my inquiry. If I report my conclusions to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges then I will attach to those conclusions the evidence on which I rely and your evidence is likely to be included in that and subsequently published by the Committee.

I would be most grateful for your help on this matter. If you have any questions about the process, please do feel free to contact my office.

16 July 2008

25.  Letter to the Acting Director of Operations, Department of Resources from the Commissioner, 9 July 2008

I am inquiring into an allegation about the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances from 1997 to 1999. I would be grateful for your help with my inquiry.

In essence, the allegation against Mrs Spelman is that she subsidised the cost of nannying services out of her parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant, Ms Tina Haynes, did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I attach a copy of a letter of 3 July from Mrs Spelman, together with its attachments, which sets out her response to the allegation against her.

I would welcome any comment or information you may be able to give me on Mrs Spelman's response to help me with my inquiry. In particular, I would be grateful:

1.  if you could confirm that there is no relevant information available in the Department's records relating to Mrs Spelman's employment of her staff from 1997 to 1999;

2.  for any help you can give me on job titles for the staff of Members of Parliament in 1997. You will see a reference in paragraph 2.2 of Mrs Spelman's letter. If there were established or indicative job titles, I would be grateful for your advice on what would be the appropriate job title given Mrs Spelman's description of Tina Haynes' work in her letter. Could you also confirm that there were no pay scales provided by the House authorities for staff doing this sort of work at that time? Can you help me with any evidence of the sort of salaries paid to Members' staff for this sort of work at that time?

3.  I would be grateful also if you could confirm or comment on the evidence which Mrs Spelman includes in paragraph 10.2 of her letter, including Mr Marskell's recollection of the discussions the then Fees Office would have had with a Member in Mrs Spelman's position in 1997 and Mrs Spelman's own recollection of a discussion she had with the Fees Office in 1997 before instituting the arrangements for the employment of Tina Haynes.

Any other information you think may help in my inquiry would be most helpful.

9 July 2008

26.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Paula Yates, 11 July 2008

Thank you for your letter of 9th July. I set out answers your questions as follows:-

1. Yes, I confirm that I was not able to provide work for Caroline Spelman upon her election. I had already accepted the permanent position of part time organising secretary with Meriden Conservative Association from May 1997, having worked temporarily via an Agency from March 1997. My hours of work were 9 am to 1 pm. My daughter was only 6 months old at this time and I did not want to commit to more hours whilst she was so young. I enclose a copy of my job description which makes no mention of working for an MP. As the extract from the minutes of the 22nd July 1997 indicate, the workload from the branches within the Association already exceeded my capacity in the hours available. There was also no office space available to house a constituency office for Mrs Spelman at Manor Road which in any event is not in the Meriden constituency.

2. The contact I had with Tina would be on a weekly basis (typically a Monday and Friday) to exchange correspondence and the advice surgery schedules. Post would come both to Caroline's home and our office as it still does to date. This would be collected by Tina and in exchange she would bring in work from Caroline. Following a weekend surgery, for example Tina would bring in paperwork for some of our local councillors because in the early days, councillors did not attend advice surgeries with her, but often the work was for them. Sometimes, Tina would take the work to them directly as she was familiar with the locality and the individuals involved.

The volume of work would fluctuate, in the early days there was a backlog inherited from Iain Mills but Caroline's workload steadily increased as she became better known. There were peak times after the surgery in Chelmsley Wood when a lot of the cases were about housing and therefore a Council matter. These did not need to go to Westminster in every case and could be dealt with locally.

Tina would also bring in articles for local newsletters, parliamentary reports etc. I did not open the post for Caroline. Once Tina had left our office the paperwork was out of my hands. I do not know how many hours precisely Tina spent on administrative work but having worked for Caroline myself from 1999, I would imagine it consumed a significant part of her day.

Telephone calls to my office were usually from constituents wanting a surgery appointment. I would book them into an appropriate advice surgery. Other calls would be referred to London to the parliamentary secretary or to Tina if I needed her to come in. This was because Caroline would be in London most of the week. Caroline inherited a heavy surgery schedule from her predecessor, spread over five different locations in this large rural constituency, which is why this costed circa £250 per month to administer.

3. In 1999, I was asked if I could work more hours to take on the constituency casework arising from the advice surgeries. It was explained to me that this would be a temporary arrangement (although this lasted approx two years) and my employment would continue to remain with Meriden Conservative Association, but that Mrs Spelman would be invoiced for the time I spent dealing with casework on her behalf. Over a week, this was calculated to approx two full days in time spent, however, I did regularly take work home to ensure tasks were completed. During this period, my hours were 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. I confirm the invoices you have are correct. Caroline explained to me that she needed to end the dual role performed by Tina of administration on the one hand and childcare on the other. Caroline had confided in me that she had difficulties with her Westminster staff. I only remember Georgina Perry coming to the constituency on one occasion and I don't recall meeting Sally Hammond although I did speak with both on the phone from time to time.

So, from 1999, not only did I book the advice surgeries and appointments, I dealt with all correspondence arising from the local advice surgeries (which involved typing letters to various agencies and to constituents to advise them of the action taken on their behalf) whilst continuing to do my permanent position of organising secretary for the Association.

The handover from Tina was gradual. There was no reason to discuss the new cases and Tina simply brought in files of old casework which we then filed and housed here at the Association, just in case it was needed in the future or there was on ongoing case.

The work I took on was relatively straightforward. I was an experienced secretary and I soon learnt how Caroline liked to write to the various agencies/constituents in her own style. All the constituency files held at Caroline's home were gradually brought into Manor Road. This took up two filing cabinets and there were also post bags which were kept in the loft space. These were passed to me along with lists of contact addresses/telephone numbers for various agencies and House of Commons stationery. I still saw Tina on a regular basis when I took on the constituency casework in 1999 as paperwork still needed to be passed back and forth to Caroline due to the nature of Caroline's work and the time she spent in London.

Tina and I both understood the need to keep parliamentary and party political work separate which is why I was meticulous with my own records.

I have tried to answer your questions in as much detail as possible, however, if you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me. Please note that I shall be out of the country on holiday from Monday 14 July to Monday 28 July inclusive.

11 July 2008

27.  Letter to Mrs Paula Yates from the Commissioner, 15 July 2008

Thank you very much for your letter of 11 July. I was most grateful to have such a prompt and clear response.

You kindly offered me the opportunity to ask you for some further information, so I hope it may be possible for you to help me with some supplementary points which occurred to me on reading your helpful letter.

They were:

1.  could you kindly confirm the timing and date of the statement you attached to your letter? I assume you issued it in early June this year when the allegations first surfaced;

2.  it was most helpful to have the job description for your job as it was in 1997. Could you confirm that your task: "To work closely with the Conservative Member of Parliament" was met by your work booking advice surgeries and constituents' individual appointments with Mrs Spelman? Were there any other aspects of your work with Mrs Spelman at that time?

3.  do you still have a job description for the job as it changed in 1999? If so, it would be very helpful to have a copy;

4.  can you recall the date (month and year) when local councillors began to attend Mrs Spelman's surgeries and how often the Chelmsley Wood surgery was held over this period?

5.  on the telephone calls to your office from constituents, could you clarify for me your reference to "other calls would be referred … to Tina if I needed her to come in". I am not clear why you referred to her calls requiring her to come in (presumably to your office). And could you help me with the £250 per month administration costs you referred to for the surgeries - how was this made up?

6.  turning to the extension of your work in 1999, did the contacts you refer to with Tina Haynes (bringing in files of old casework and seeing her regularly as part of the gradual handover) occur after June 1999 when I understand she ceased her work as Mrs Spelman's secretarial assistant, or before?

7.  are you able to help me on other tasks you inherited from Tina Haynes? I appreciate the files were passed to you, but it would be helpful to get an idea of the tasks you took over from Tina Haynes, as opposed to those you either continued to perform as you had before 1999, or which you did but which Tina Haynes did not;

8.  finally, was it necessary in 1999 to make any changes to the office accommodation allocated in the Solihull office (other than for storage mentioned in your letter) to reflect the new arrangements?

I am sorry to add to your burdens, but if you could help me with these matters, I would be most grateful. I recognise, of course, that you will not receive this until after your return from holiday on 28 July.

15 July 2008

28.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Paula Yates, 6 August 2008

Thank you for your letter of 15th July. I am sorry for the slight delay in sending a reply, but only yesterday I completed my Agent's exams (successfully) which had to take priority upon my return from holiday. I set out my answers below:-

1.   I produced the statement on Friday 20th June. I was not asked by anyone to do this; I simply thought it may be helpful for the inquiry. I did not put this information in the public domain.

2.   The job description where it refers "to work closely with the Member of Parliament" wasn't anything to do with the advice surgery bookings/appointments. This was an additional duty not included in the job description. This statement refers to the political side, i.e. getting the Conservative MP elected/re-elected and it comes under the section marked political in the job description.

3.  My job description remained the same. The additional work and hours I agreed to carry out for Mrs Spelman relating to her parliamentary duties were negotiated verbally. My terms, conditions and salary remained with the Meriden Conservative Association as we thought it was going to be a temporary arrangement as Caroline aspired to find a full-time constituency secretary.

4.  I am fairly certain this was in 1999, when I took over; I cannot recall the exact month. Caroline had an incident with a constituent. Her security was threatened and from this point forward Caroline wanted assistance at her surgeries. I then created a rota for the local councillors to ensure that one of them was with Caroline at every surgery. Caroline inherited the late Iain Mills surgery schedule taking in the following locations, Chelmsley Wood, Castle Bromwich, Dorridge & Hockley Heath, Knowle and Meriden. The heaviest by far were the Chelmsley Wood and Castle Bromwich surgeries because of the level of local need and these were held every two weeks, but effectively, a constituent could attend one of Caroline's surgeries every week including recess (except when Caroline was on holiday). I observed this was significantly more surgery work than the MP for the adjoining constituency of Solihull who was John Taylor at that time. But this can be explained by the high levels of deprivation in the Meriden constituency.

5.   To clarify, my reference to "other calls would be referred to" meant I would refer calls not requiring surgery appointments to London to the parliamentary secretary or I would call Tina if I needed her to call in to the Manor Road office to collect post or other documents or pass messages on for Caroline.

The £250 administration costs for the surgeries was made up of costs incurred by the Association for room hire, advertising, telephone/fax costs, stationery, postage and administration costs.

6.  As I recall, Caroline first spoke to me about taking on extra work in April 1999. The handover of work and files occurred gradually after this period. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the exact timing, there were a lot of files and they were moved into the Association office bit by bit. I still had contact with Tina after June 1999 because at the very least there was the ongoing political work and she would also bring into me any correspondence from Caroline's home. This makes it difficult to remember clearly the dates as well as the fact that these events took place over a decade ago.

7.  I took on the opening and sorting of the post arriving in the constituency and at our office and dealt with any follow up actions arising from this. This included faxing urgent letters to London and making sure Caroline was aware of what was in the post to limit any possible delays. I also took on the casework arising from the surgeries due to volume which increased as Caroline became better known. I also helped the local councillors become more engaged with work that was rightly theirs. Inevitably when constituents are booking up for a surgery appointment they are not sure whether to turn to the MP or their local councillor. There was also a significant amount of parliamentary work which got dealt with locally rather than going through London. For example letters requiring urgent diary appointments or local appointments where a London based secretary would find it hard to estimate the time required getting between events, but I had the impression that the work I did to try and be helpful was frowned upon by the parliamentary secretary. Once the correspondence and casework was dealt with I filed the documents away unless there were ongoing cases which went into a pending filing system. When I took over more work for Caroline I also had more driving around the constituency but in particular I would regularly have to drop off work for Caroline at her home address. As I indicated in my letter to you dated 11th July, I also regularly took work home because the volume tended to exceed the number of hours I had in the office which I did as a matter of goodwill.

8.   There was no room for Caroline to have an office at the Association. We had to find quite a lot of extra space for the files including having to store some in the loft space. We only kept two filing cabinets of live files which were housed in the Chairman's office because there was no room in my office as this is shared with the Solihull Conservative Association organising secretary. Caroline had to make greater use of the Chairman's office to consult the live files prior to and after each surgery. At times that office could be very congested as more meetings were held with constituents or local pressure groups after Caroline's arrangements changed. In fact Caroline did ask if she could take over the Chairman's office completely at one stage but this was refused because it was needed for the Association, eg: the Treasurer, Chairman, Deputy Chairmen and volunteers on the odd occasion. No other changes were made.

I trust the above information is satisfactory.

6 August 2008

29.  Letter to the Commissioner from the Chairman of the Meriden Conservative Association, 14 July 2008

Thank you for your letter of the 9 July regarding the allegations about the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances.

I will try to answer the various points you make as far as I can remember. As you say in 1997 I was the Association's treasurer, having been either chairman or treasurer over the previous twelve years. The constituency organising secretary had been the late […] and she was Mrs Spelman's general election agent when she was elected in May 1997. Mrs Spelman had been selected, at very short notice, to fight the seat after the sudden and untimely death of the sitting member, Mr Iain Mills in the January.

[The previous organising secretary] retired after the 1997 election and Mrs Paula Monkhouse (now Mrs Yates) became Organising Secretary, but as she was able to work mornings only we were very dependent on voluntary help. After the election the Association carried on the arrangement regarding the Advice Bureaux for constituents which had operated with Mr Mills. We booked and paid for about five village halls and other venues throughout the constituency for the Advice Bureaux Surgeries and advertised them in the local press and in the libraries. This was the defined work referred to by the then Association chairman in the F&GP minutes you sent me. Mrs Monkhouse certainly could not give Mrs Spelman any further help. The Association received the £250 a month from the parliamentary allowance for this, which I think was the same as we had received from Mr Mills.

Mrs Spelman was faced with a massive backlog of work from Mr Mills including following up many constituents' personal problems. When I was a councillor I used to help Mr Mills at his Advice Bureaux in our mainly council owned property area of Chelmsley Wood and he would send out 30 or 40 letters to the Council, police or government departments etc., after each surgery so I can only imagine the sack full of letters and queries awaiting Mrs Spelman when she arrived in London. She had very little help or advice from the Conservative Party organisation in London and was the only woman Conservative MP with young children. She employed Tina Haynes in the dual role of secretary/nanny to help her with the follow up of Mr Mills' correspondence and to help her deal with the new work resulting from her own surgeries. She also had to move her house from Kent, settle the older children into new schools, tackle a new and demanding career and be missing away from home, in London, for most of the week. With her husband away from home for long periods her workload was incredible but she managed it extremely well and has proved a most hard working and dedicated Member of Parliament for Meriden. I don't think many men could even begin to understand the pressure and stress that she was under at that time.

I had little contact with Tina Haynes whilst I was treasurer as I only went into the Association office about once a week to do the books and pay the bills. However I know that she also visited the office a couple of times a week to pick up and leave the post connected with her secretarial duties involving constituents. The Association office was only manned in the mornings and Mrs Spelman, perhaps unwisely, allowed her home telephone number to be known by the public. Judging by the number of calls the Association still gets for Mrs Spelman, despite advertising her constituency secretary's office number, I can imagine Ms Haynes found little time to attend to her duties as the nanny!

I must say that residents of this constituency, and not just Conservative supporters, are horrified by this inquiry which we find quite absurd. Mrs Spelman has proved to be a straightforward, honest and hard working public servant and done much to restore our faith in the whole parliamentary democratic process. For her, of all people, to have to answer these vindictive allegations by clearly jealous and aggrieved people, encouraged by the media, beggars belief. I do hope you that you will be able to report as soon as possible and be able to clearly state that there is no justification for any of it, which will allow Mrs Spelman and her family to recover from what has been a dreadful ordeal.

I hope that I have been able to help you in your inquiry. I am, of course, very willing to answer any other queries that you might have.

14 July 2008

30.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Sally Hammond, 14 July 2008

Thank you for your letter of 9 July about the above enquiry which was sent to me via my husband.

I wish to make it clear that I am extremely upset that this matter was raised by the media. Neither I nor my husband has ever spoken to Mr Crick of Newsnight. I thought this matter was resolved nine years ago.

I believe that I commenced working for Mrs Spelman at the beginning of April 1999. Up to that point I had worked almost continuously at the House of Commons, except for maternity leave in 1995, since 1984 and continue to do so to this day. In March 1999 I was about to end a maternity leave job and was approached by Mrs Spelman. She told me that her then full time House of Commons secretarial arrangements were unsatisfactory and felt that she could manage with somebody part time. I believe that I was paid for three days a week and my work was spread over four days so I worked part time on two of the days. I did not work on Fridays. I believe I left her employment around the end of August 1999.

When I started work for Mrs Spelman the only other person in her House of Commons office was her full time Research Assistant, Tim, who was also her nephew. I was not aware of any other staff doing constituency work and Mrs Spelman did not inform me that anyone else was also employed by her to assist in constituency work. All her mail came to the House of Commons and was opened by me or Tim. I typed the correspondence and it was filed at Westminster. I believe that the constituency office, ie the local Conservative office, took the surgery bookings and these were faxed through to Westminster for any previous correspondence to be attached before the surgery took place.

I did not have regular contact with Tina who I knew of as the Spelmans' nanny. I occasionally spoke to her to ask her to give Mrs Spelman a message and I recall that on one occasion she posted some papers back to Westminster from Mrs Spelman's home. I believe that I did visit the constituency on one occasion but did not meet Tina.

When I started work for Mrs Spelman in early April 1999 she mentioned on several occasions that she did not have any money left in her staffing allowance in the last financial year and that it was still difficult in the new financial year. At that point I presumed that her Research Assistant, Tim, must have been on a very good salary and that this was why there was no money left. However, Tim happened to mention one day that he was on a very low salary, it might have been around £4,000, as he received free board and lodging from Mrs Spelman at her London home. This meant that his salary and mine came to less than £20,000. From my work for other MPs, I knew that the staffing allowance at that time was significantly more than that. I could not, therefore, understand why Mrs Spelman did not have any money left in her allowance.

I contacted the Fees Office of the House of Commons, explained who I was, and asked them to tell me who was being paid by Mrs Spelman. The man to whom I spoke told me that it was Tim, me and another individual. I only knew Mrs Spelman's nanny as Tina but checked the electoral register held in the office in respect of Mrs Spelman's home address and the person listed as Tina at her home address was the same name as that on her payroll. The Fees Office told me how much this individual was being paid, and from memory it was something in the region of £12,000 or £13,000 per annum. I believe I found out this information in late May/early June 1999 and feel that after working for Mrs Spelman for two months I would have been aware of anyone else doing her work.

I felt this was not something I could raise direct with Mrs Spelman, who was then a Whip, so I went to another Member of Parliament for advice, Peter Ainsworth MP. I had worked for Mr Ainsworth for some years and felt he would be a good person to speak to as he had previously been Deputy Chief Whip. I had a very quick meeting with Mr Ainsworth and he immediately said that he would mention this to the then Chief Whip. I have no knowledge of what transpired after that and it was not a matter Mrs Spelman ever discussed with me. I would add that my job did not change in any way over the five months I worked for her. I believe that I left her employment around the end of August 1999 after she indicated to me that she did not wish me to continue.

I believe that my statement answers your questions, and hope it is helpful.

14 July 2008

31.  Letter to Mrs Sally Hammond from the Commissioner, 16 July 2008

Thank you very much for your letter of 14 July about my inquiry into Mrs Spelman's employment of Tina Haynes.

I was most grateful for your help and to receive such a timely response. There was one point of clarification which I hope you may be able to help me with. It relates to your meeting with Mr Peter Ainsworth MP. I assume this took place some time in the summer of 1999, but can you recollect the date, or the month of the meeting and, more particularly what were the nature of the concerns you raised with him then? It would be most helpful to have this.

Once I have your response, I am likely at some stage to need to show it to Mrs Spelman, to refer to it if I decide I need to seek Mr Ainsworth's help, and to show it to the Department of Resources. In due course, if I prepare a memorandum for the Committee on Standards and Privileges, I would attach your letter to that memorandum which is then likely to be published as an annex to any report the Committee produce. It is, however, too early for me to say whether I will need to submit a memorandum to the Committee.

Thank you again for your help, and I look forward to hearing from you.

16 July 2008

32.  Letter to the Acting Director of Operations, Department of Resources from the Commissioner, 16 July 2008

I attach a copy of a letter of 14 July which I have received from Mrs Sally Hammond in respect of my inquiry into Mrs Caroline Spelman's employment of a secretarial assistant who was also her children's nanny.

You will see from the letter that Mrs Hammond contacted the House of Commons Fees Office to ask for information to help her identify who on Mrs Spelman's staff was being paid for from parliamentary allowances, and how much they were being paid. It appears that Mrs Hammond was provided with this information. I would welcome your comments on whether this was the practice of the then Fees Office at that time and any other comments you may wish to make. If it were possible to let me have a response to this in the next two weeks, that would be very helpful for my inquiry.

16 July 2008

33.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Sally Hammond, 18 July 2008

Thank you for your further letter.

In regard to my meeting with Peter Ainsworth MP, I believe that this was probably in late May or early June 1999.

I discussed with Mr Ainsworth my concerns that Mrs Spelman appeared to be paying her nanny, Tina, out of her staffing allowance when it was not evident to me that any parliamentary work was being carried out by her. After I had told this to Mr Ainsworth, he immediately said that he would pass on my concerns to the Chief Whip. As I have said before, I have no knowledge of what subsequently took place.

18 July 2008

34.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Georgina Perry, 21 July 2008

Thank you for your letter dated 16th July, 2008, regarding the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances from 1997 to 1999. My responses to the queries you raise are as follows:

1.  I worked for Mrs Spelman from May 1997 until 31st March, 1999. I worked 40 hours per week. My duties were full secretarial - opening the post, compiling correspondence, diary, arranging meetings, liaising with government departments and local authorities, answering telephone queries, filing.

2.  Mrs Spelman did not discuss with me her decision to employ Tina Haynes in the constituency. As far as I am aware, Mrs Spelman employed myself, her nephew Tim Collins as her researcher and Paula, who worked in the association/constituency office. Tina Haynes, I understood, was employed by Mrs Spelman as her nanny for her three children.

3.  I did not have regular contact with Tina Haynes nor did I see any work generated by her. To my knowledge, all the constituency post came direct to the House of Commons.

Mrs Spelman told me on 25th February that she did not require a full time secretary in London, felt that she could manage with a part time secretary and that she wanted to employ Paula for more hours in the constituency office (please see attached copy of a letter written to me by Mrs Spelman).

With regard to Tim Collins' note, I do not recollect Mrs Spelman and myself as having had "a strained relationship". There was no reluctance on my part to use the new computer, but it is right to say there were significant problems with the hardware in the early stages which I may well have commented upon. I also do not remember Mrs Spelman mentioning the use of an answering machine. As I had one at my home, I would have been quite happy to use one. The practice of all secretaries in Abbey Gardens, whenever they left the office, was to divert the telephones to the Attendant so that when constituents called, they would speak to an individual and we would then get the message and telephone them back immediately.

I am surprised at Mr Collins' comments regarding my working practices, given the calibre of the MPs I have worked for in the House.

21 July 2008

35.  Letter to Mrs Georgina Perry from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP

Following our conversation on February 25th, I write to confirm that I am bringing your employment to an end on March 31st 1999 because of the change in circumstances in the constituency where we lost Stuart on December 31 last year. I would like to be able to employ Paula for more hours in the constituency office and to reduce my Westminster secretarial support to a part time job. Under your contract you are entitled to one week's notice but I have chosen to give you five weeks notice to give you more time to find another job. I said at the time that I would give you a good reference a copy of which I attach and I am most willing for you to take time off to attend interviews as and when these arise. Given that there is an established group of parliamentary secretaries, I would expect you to find temporary employment and suffer no financial loss. I note that you have six and a half days of unexpired leave which I am willing to pay you for and have given instructions to the Fees Office accordingly. I am sorry things have not worked out as you perhaps hoped but I do appreciate the highly professional manner in which you have conducted yourself during this notice period.


36.  Letter to Mrs Georgina Perry from the Commissioner, 22 July 2008

Thank you very much for your letter of 21 July responding to mine of 16 July about Mrs Spelman's employment of her secretarial assistant from 1997 to 1999.

I was most grateful to see your letter. It would be very helpful if you could clarify for me what you knew about Mrs Spelman's employment of Tina Haynes as her secretarial assistant. In particular, could you let me know at what point you became aware (if at all) that Tina Haynes was employed by Mrs Spelman as her secretarial assistant. You also say that you did not have regular contact with her. Could you let me know what contact you did have with her and the nature of that contact? Finally, could you clarify for me what contact you had with Mrs Paula Yates (née Monkhouse) over this period? It would be helpful to know the nature and frequency of those contacts, and what gave you to understand that Mrs Yates was employed by Mrs Spelman.

Thank you again for your help with this inquiry.

22 July 2008

37.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Georgina Perry, 7 August 2008

Thank you for your further letter dated 22 July regarding the inquiry about Mrs Caroline Spelman MP.

I did not know Tina Haynes worked as Mrs Spelman's secretarial assistant. I recall seeing a House of Commons contract between Mrs Spelman and Tina Haynes, but I cannot recall when I saw it or what the contents of the contract were. In saying that I did not have regular contact with Tina Haynes, I cannot remember having any contact with her but it would be surprising if I did not, bearing in mind that she lived in the Spelman household. I do not recall having any contact with her in connection with work related matters.

With regard to Mrs Paula Yates, I had telephone contact with her from time to time and met her on one or two occasions when I visited the constituency. The contact I had with Paula was with regard to constituency matters and I believe she organised Mrs Spelman's constituency "surgeries". I believe that she was employed by Mrs Spelman because, as indicated in Mrs Spelman's letter to me, a copy of which I sent to you with my letter dated 21st July, (I enclose a further copy), Mrs Spelman states "I would like to employ Paula for more hours in the constituency office".

7 August 2008

38.  Letter to the Commissioner from the Acting Director of Operations, Department of Resources, 22 July 2008

Thank you for your letters of 9 and 16 July 2008 concerning your inquiry into the employment of Tina Haynes by Mrs Caroline Spelman.

As you will realise, I am entirely dependent on longer-serving staff for this information, as I was in a different department at the time. The processes in place between 1997 and October 2001, when the Personnel Advice Service (PAS) was set up, were less rigorous than they are now and the Department did not generally give specific advice on the level of salaries or employment law issues.

The Contract of Employment provided by the Department in 1997 was a standard one which we recommended that Members use; it was, however, up to Members to decide the salary level, working hours and holiday entitlements. A number of new Members continued to use the then T&GWU contract although most did use our standard one as a template. Whilst the Green Book (May 1997) states that we required a contract within two months of employment commencing (Page 24, para 10.10) and failure to submit one would result in a suspension of salary, in fact this was a very rare occurrence and when PAS was set up an exercise to chase a number of outstanding contracts was required.

I turn now to your specific questions:

1)  In my letter of 12 June, I said that the records of those staff employed by Mrs Spelman during 1997 and 1999 had been destroyed. A further search of our archive storage files has uncovered one file, the one for Mrs Hammond. Having retrieved this file I can confirm that Mrs Hammond was employed by Mrs Spelman from 12 April 1999 to 10 September 1999 as a secretary and paid at a rate of £15,000 per annum. No records for other staff are available.

2)  There were no job titles designated by the then Fees Office at the time. Job titles varied but included constituency secretary, researcher, personal assistant, parliamentary assistant etc.

3)  Administrative Assistant appears to be a reasonable job title given the tasks summarised by Mrs Spelman as undertaken by Mrs Haynes.

4)  There were also no pay scales in place at the time; these were not introduced until after the Senior Salaries Review Body review in 2001. No guidance was given by the Department on salary levels; this was a matter for the Member of Parliament and their staff and based on how much money they had available in their Office Costs Allowance. In 1997 this was £47,568 and this had to fund all office and staffing expenses.

5)  I am unclear, from the documentation provided, what salary Mrs Haynes was actually paid and can therefore make no comment about its probity.

6)  It is difficult to give exact figures on the salaries of staff employed on similar duties. There are 77 staff remaining on the payroll who were newly employed in May 1997, a great deal more if we look at those employed during the subsequent three months. In order to respond to your letter promptly we have looked at the contracts of 10% of the 77 and found an annual salary range between £5,400 and £19,224 for a range of jobs including, Research Assistant, Personal Assistant and Secretary; there were no Administrative Assistants. If you feel it would be beneficial I can arrange for a larger sample to be reviewed but this will take additional time; perhaps you could let me know if you feel this would be helpful.

7)  As was the practice at the time, Mr Marskell, along with other senior managers, interviewed new Members of Parliament following the 1997 General Election. This was done over a number of weeks because of the large number of new Members elected. We have no documentation about this particular induction and no records were kept about what was discussed at any individual interview. I cannot, therefore, comment about the detail of the conversation had between Mr Marskell and Mrs Spelman.

8)  Staff who worked in the Secretarial Salaries Section at that time have confirmed that employing someone in a dual role would not have breached any rules in place, although we might not actually have known about a dual role unless we were told about it. As you will see from the relevant Green Book the rules say nothing about such matters and were far less detailed than those introduced in July 2001 and beyond. However, the Green Book published in May 1999 does refer to the exclusion of "... personal expenses and expenses associated with party political activities and services." (Page 15, paragraph 4.5.1). Therefore, Mr Marskell's advice to Mrs Spelman about clearly defining the role of Mrs Haynes and the hours for which she was being paid seems in keeping with what the views of the Department were likely to have been at the time.

9)   There is one small area in which I think the staff whom I have consulted would be at variance with Mr Marskell's recollections and that is on the level of scrutiny of the staff contracts in 1997. Firstly, it is their recollection that the National Audit Office would not have checked the individual content of a contract in 1997 as they had nothing against which to check it, i.e. no pay scales etc.; but they would have checked whether a contract was present in accordance with the rules in the Green Book. Secondly, in 1997 we would have expected Members to have provided a contract of employment which incorporated a job description and to have completed a 'Form A' which gave the employee's personal details, which were required to make payments to the member of staff. The 'Form A' contained the usual certification that the employment related to parliamentary business. The level of scrutiny of contracts in 1997 was broadly to ensure that a contract and job description was actually received and that all relevant parts had been completed and was signed, not a detailed analysis of the terms and conditions of each individual member of staff. The job description, if attached, would have been looked at to ensure that the duties described were acceptable. As Mrs Spelman points out, there was no recorded definition of what 'Parliamentary Duties' were and Mr Marskell's definition of not 'Party Political or Personal/Private' would have been broadly the line taken by staff at that time.

10)  Greater scrutiny was employed following the introduction of the Working Time Regulations in October 1998, when paid holiday entitlement increased to 20 days per annum and a minimum wage was introduced at £3.60 per hour. I attach a copy of a check sheet that was used from 1999 for your information. [Not reproduced here]

11)  I can shed no further light on discussions Mrs Spelman may have had with any other individual member of staff in the then Secretarial Salaries Section of the Fees Office. I am informed that of those who remain, none has any recollection of any contact with Mrs Spelman about her staffing arrangements.

With reference to the comments made by Mrs Hammond in her letter of 14 July, it is difficult to be unequivocal about what actually happened nine years ago. I can confirm that there were at least two male members of staff in the then Secretarial Salaries Section during 1999, but it has never been the practice of this Department to disclose information about the salaries of staff to other members of staff without the explicit permission of a Member to do so.

The Department introduced a password system in October 2004 which allowed Members to log a security password with the Department and also nominate any member of staff who could use the password for the purposes of gaining confidential information (e.g. by telephone). There was no similar system in place in 1999, but I would be surprised if such information was divulged to anyone other than the Member in question, although I cannot rule out the possibility that this could have happened.

I hope this covers all the areas raised.

22 July 2008

39.  Letter to Mr Alan Marskell from the Commissioner, 29 July 2008

I would be grateful for your help with an inquiry I am conducting into the employment by Mrs Caroline Spelman MP of a secretarial assistant who was also her children's nanny from 1997 to 1999.

In essence, the allegation on which my inquiry is based is that Mrs Spelman subsidised the cost of nannying services out of parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I understand from the response Mrs Spelman has sent me, that you contacted her parliamentary office about this matter and have given her your recollection of your discussions with her at the time. I attach an extract from her evidence to me (paragraph 2.6 and 10.1 to 10.3 of her submission).

I invited the current Acting Director of Operations in the Department of Resources to let me have his comments on what Mrs Spelman has told me in respect of this matter. I attach an extract from his response to me of 22 July 2008 (points 7 to 11 of his letter to me).

I would be most grateful if you could let me have your recollection of your discussions with Mrs Spelman in 1997 - and of your subsequent discussions with her or her office, or with anyone else about the employment of her staff. In particular, could you give me your description of the meeting with her on Wednesday 14 May (I assume it was in 1997) and your subsequent meetings with her on 21 and 30 July 1999. Are you able to confirm these dates? Am I right in assuming that you have no contemporaneous note of the discussions? If it was not you, do you know which official would have briefed Mrs Spelman in 1997 or discussed with her the arrangements for employing her secretarial assistant?

I am having some difficulty in identifying what Mrs Spelman's secretarial assistant was paid. If you had any recollection of that at all, that too would be most helpful (although I well appreciate it was a very long time ago).

Referring to the meetings in 1999, could you let me have your recollection of what you discussed and what Mrs Spelman told you about the need to change her arrangements. Did you have any knowledge of how the issue arose? Were you aware of any contacts between the Fees Office and anyone else about the employment of Mrs Spelman's staff before that meeting? I should say that there is a suggestion that one of her secretaries contacted the Fees Office in 1999 to find out information about the employment of Mrs Spelman's secretarial assistant.

Any other points which you think may be helpful to my inquiry would also be most welcome.

I attach a note which sets out the procedures I follow in inviting evidence from witnesses. If I prepare a memorandum to the Committee on Standards and Privileges, then it is likely I will include with it your response to this letter and that is then likely to be published in any Report the Committee produces. I may also show your letter to Mrs Spelman. If you would like a word about any of this, please contact me or my office at the House.

I would be most grateful for your help on this matter.

29 July 2008

40.  Agreed Note of evidence from Mr Alan Marskell, 20 August 2008

Agreed note of evidence of Mr Alan Marskell, Head of the Fees Office

This response was transcribed by a note taker from the Commissioner's office from notes taken during a telephone conversation with Mr Marskell at 10.30am on 20 August 2008. The note was subsequently checked and approved by Mr Marskell. It is not a verbatim account of that conversation.

Meeting with Mrs Spelman on 14 May 1997

1. I was asked for my recollections of this. As part of the induction process senior people from the Fees Office would go through the Green Book with each new Member, highlighting relevant issues such as provision for children's travel where appropriate. I confirm that I interviewed Mrs Spelman, as part of her induction, on 14 May 1997. I would like to make one small correction: 'Accountant' was my job title; I was not 'the senior accountant in the Fees Office' as stated in Mrs Spelman's letter.

2. As I recall, during this induction meeting Mrs Spelman did refer to some administrative help which was combined with home assistance. I made the analogy with a Member's wife who would stay in the constituency while the Member was in Westminster. The wife might then deal with such things as the diary and phone calls, arrangements for meetings and correspondence. If a Member had money left in his allowances at the end of the year and wanted to pay his wife a small sum for this work, £3000-£5000 was the figure that we might allow. We would stress that the Member could only claim for that which could properly be claimed. If on the other hand a salary was to be paid it would be dependent on hours and on what the person actually did. In any case of employment there had to be an employment contract drawn up, accompanied by a job description, even in home assistance cases.

3. With all Members we would stress the requirement for the money claimed to have been 'wholly, exclusively and necessarily' incurred on parliamentary duties, which each Member had to certify when making a claim. Party/political and personal/private expenditure was not allowable, and where necessary such duties had to be paid for separately, not from the public purse.

4. At that time we maintained a personal file on every MP, which was kept in the Fees Office for the length of their parliamentary lives. I understand that this is no longer the practice. (This comment is also relevant to point 7 of the Acting Director's letter.) One of the first papers on this file would be the note of the Member's induction interview.

Meetings on 21 and 30 July 1998 or 1999

5. I can confirm from my diaries - which I have with me - that I also met Mrs Spelman on 21 July and 30 July 1998. It could not have been 1999 as I left the House on 31 October 1998. For the first meeting Mrs Spelman came to see me; for the second I went to see her in her office. I have no record or recollection of what was discussed but because the two meetings were arranged in such quick succession I feel that it was likely to have been something she wanted to raise with me before my departure. There would have been references to these meetings in Mrs Spelman's personal file in the Fees Office.

Salary of Tina Haynes

6. I have no recollections of the amount paid to Ms Haynes, and nothing written down about this. I can only suggest that if Mrs Spelman still has her tax returns from the relevant years, these might be of use.

Contacts between the Fees Office and others about the employment of Mrs Spelman's staff

7. I am asked about the release of information to a secretary in 1999. I do not know about this as I had left the House before then. It was practice in my day not to release any information to anyone other than the MP himself or herself, except to the top secretaries of the top people - such as the staff of the Prime Minister, who were known to us.

8. I have no knowledge of other contacts.

Mrs Spelman's statement

9. I have a few comments on Mrs Spelman's statement.

Meeting with Mr Arbuthnot

10. I saw in the newspapers a reference to a meeting with Mr James Arbuthnot, who was then Opposition Chief Whip. I met Mr Arbuthnot on 16 October 1997. The discussion was mainly about Additional Costs Allowance, travel, Office Costs Allowance, the requirements of 'wholly, exclusively and necessarily' and the four Ps [party/political, personal/private]. This appears to have been a general meeting, and I have no record that Mrs Spelman's arrangements were discussed. I held such meetings with all Chief Whips when they were appointed and then on a periodic basis.

11. I have checked my diaries and can find no record of other meetings with Mrs Spelman in 1997 and 1998, or with Mr Arbuthnot before I left the service of the House on 31 October 1998.

Signed: Alan R Marskell

The conversation finished at approximately 11 am.

20 August 2008

41.  Letter to Mr Peter Ainsworth MP from the Commissioner, 23 July 2008

I would be grateful for your help with the inquiry I am conducting about Mrs Spelman's employment from 1997 to 1999 of a secretarial assistant who was also her children's nanny.

In essence, the allegation I am inquiring into is that she subsidised the cost of nannying services out of parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I have received information from Mrs Sally Hammond that she spoke to you in May or June 1999, when she was Mrs Spelman's constituency secretary, to express her concerns about Mrs Spelman's arrangements for employing her secretarial assistant. She informs me that she discussed with you her concerns that Mrs Spelman appeared to be paying her nanny out of her staffing allowance when it was not evident to her that any parliamentary work was being carried out by that person.

I would be most grateful if you could confirm your discussion with Mrs Hammond and for your recollection of what Mrs Hammond told you and of how you responded. I understand from Mrs Hammond you that said you would pass on her concerns to the then Conservative Chief Whip. It would be most helpful if you could let me know when any such conversation took place and the nature of that conversation and what you recall to have been the outcome.

I enclose a note which sets out the procedure I follow in inviting evidence from witnesses. It is likely that your evidence would be included in any memorandum I prepare for the Committee on Standards and Privileges and for it to be published along with any Report they prepare as a result. I may also use your evidence in further inquiries of other witnesses and in showing to Mrs Spelman.

If you would like a word about any of this, please feel free to contact me at the House. I would be most grateful for your help with this matter.

23 July 2008

42.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mr Peter Ainsworth MP, 12 August 2008

Thank you very much for your letter of 23 July.

I recall that I had a conversation with Mrs Hammond in the spring of 1999 in the course of which she expressed some concern about parliamentary monies being paid by Mrs Spelman to her nanny.

The reason that Mrs Hammond came to see me was twofold: firstly, because I had employed her as a secretary from 1992 -1998, and secondly, because I was a former Deputy Chief Whip. I advised her that I would inform the then Opposition Chief Whip of her concerns, which I did.

Although there is little I can add to this letter, if you require any further information do not hesitate to contact me.

I hope this is helpful.

12 August 2008

43.  Letter to Mr Peter Ainsworth MP from the Commissioner, 13 August 2008

Thank you for e-mailing me on 12 August a copy of your letter responding to mine of 23 July about my inquiry into Mrs Caroline Spelman's employment of her secretarial assistant.

I was most grateful to receive this. You kindly offered to help me with any further information. If you could recollect a little more fully the concerns which you recall Mrs Hammond expressed to you about this matter, that would be most helpful. Mrs Hammond has told me that her concern was that Mrs Spelman appeared to be paying her nanny out of her staffing allowance when it was not evident to Mrs Hammond that any parliamentary work was being carried out by her. Would it be possible from your recollection to confirm or modify as necessary Mrs Hammond's recall of her conversation with you?

I would be most grateful for any further help you could give me on this matter.

13 August 2008

44.  Email to the Commissioner from Mr Peter Ainsworth MP, 22 August 2008

Thank you for your further letter of 13th August regarding the above matter, which was sent when I was away.

Whilst I do appreciate that you would welcome a fuller recollection of the concerns which were expressed by Mrs Hammond at the time, I hope that you will understand that it is simply not possible to conjure such a thing.

The brief conversation which I previously described to you occurred nearly a decade ago and, until recent media reports, I had not given it further thought.

Although it is probably not helpful to your Inquiry for me to attempt to reconstruct, at this distance, what happened at the time, I can speculate that I did not seek details of the concerns expressed by Mrs Hammond because it was not my business to obtain them, still less to investigate them.

As I have said, I do recall mentioning the fact that the issue had been raised with me to the Opposition Chief Whip; this would have been the obvious thing to do since I had previously served as his Deputy. As far as I knew, that was the end of the matter. I do not recall any further discussions about the issue with either the Chief Whip, or Mrs Hammond.

I would like to add that, although of course I readily accept the need to be vigilant about standards in public life, I do find it rather odd that this matter is the subject of a formal Inquiry at all. I have come to know Caroline Spelman as a person of the utmost integrity and I am inclined to accept reports that, if any misunderstanding had occurred at the time, it was corrected at the earliest opportunity.

I am sorry not to be able to shed more light on the matter.

22 August 2008

45.  Letter to Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP from the Commissioner, 13 August 2008

I would welcome your help with my inquiry into Mrs Caroline Spelman MP's employment of her secretarial assistant who was also her children's nanny from 1997 to 1999.

In essence, the allegation I am inquiring into is that Mrs Spelman subsidised the cost of nannying services out of her parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I have received information from Mrs Sally Hammond, who was Mrs Spelman's secretary in 1999, that she had discussed her concerns about Mrs Spelman's employment of her secretarial assistant with Mr Peter Ainsworth MP, probably some time in late May or early June 1999. Mr Ainsworth has confirmed to me that he had a conversation with Mrs Hammond in the spring of 1999 in the course of which she expressed some concern about parliamentary monies being paid by Mrs Spelman to her nanny. Mr Ainsworth advised her that he would inform you since you were then the Opposition Chief Whip, and that he subsequently did so.

I would be most grateful if you could confirm that you did indeed have a discussion with Mr Ainsworth about this matter. I would be very grateful too if you could help me by recalling as fully as you can what particular points of concern Mr Ainsworth passed on to you, and what you subsequently did about them. If you knew the date or had a broad idea of the date of that discussion, that too would be helpful.

I understand from Mrs Spelman that she recalls speaking to you, as far as she can recall in April 1999 - although if Mrs Hammond's recollection is correct, it may have been later. Mrs Spelman recalls that you said that the matter had come to your attention by a member of staff and that while this arrangement did not break the rules it was open to misrepresentation. She says that you advised her to split the childcare and administrative roles. She said that you also advised her that the Association secretary could take over the parliamentary work provided she kept a clear separation between party political and parliamentary work.

I would be most grateful if you could confirm or modify Mrs Spelman's recollection of your discussion with her. Could you also let me know whether you undertook any inquiries either before or after seeing Mrs Spelman, and if so what they were? Could you also let me know whether you had any discussions with others about this matter at or about this time and if so what they were and what was the conclusion which you reached?

I would be grateful to know of any other matters which you can recall and which you think may be relevant to this inquiry.

I enclose a note which sets out the procedure I follow in inviting evidence from witnesses. It is likely that your evidence would be included in any Memorandum I prepare for the Committee on Standards and Privileges and for it to be published along with any Report they prepare as a result. I may also use your response in further inquiries of other witnesses and in showing to Mrs Spelman.

If you would like a word about any of this, please feel free to contact me at the House (although I am myself away for the next three weeks). I appreciate that we are now in the recess, but if it were possible to let me have a response within the next three or four weeks, that would be most helpful.

13 August 2008

46.  Letter to the Commissioner from Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP, 15 August 2008

Thank you for your letter about Caroline Spelman.

I am not sure how much help I can be. When the story first hit the headlines earlier this year, I did very vaguely remember that I had had a conversation with Caroline Spelman about something like this. I did not remember any details — and did not, for example, remember that it had been Peter Ainsworth who had passed on comments from Sally Hammond, nor that I had advised Caroline Spelman to change her arrangements.

Subsequent revelations (such as those you set out in your letter) have not reliably nudged my memory. I could try to reconstruct a memory from the accounts of others, but that would be unsatisfactory and dangerous particularly so long after the event. I have no reason to question Caroline Spelman's account of what happened, and would be inclined, from what I know of her personally, to accept it as being true unless I had very strong reason to doubt it, which I do not.

If therefore I have a point to make to you, it has to be this. As Chief Whip in the late 1990s I had many things to deal with, some of them serious, some of them not. Many of them have stuck in my memory, but they are probably the things that struck me at the time as being the more serious. It seems likely to me that this matter was not one that I regarded as serious. I can tell you now with certainty that I was not left with any impression that Caroline Spelman was the sort of person who would be in any way at all dishonest or likely to try to cheat the allowances system or the public purse, in fact quite the reverse. Of all colleagues, Caroline Spelman errs on the side of rectitude.

15 August 2008

47.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP, 4 September 2008

It occurred to me whilst preparing for the first surgery of September that I have not shown you an example of how many of my surgery cases are really council matters (roughly half). Therefore I have enclosed a full set of the surgeries held on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in July as well as the latest one [not reproduced here].

I am sorry that I do not have the surgery schedules from eleven years ago but I hope this will help demonstrate the extent to which my surgery paperwork related to council matters, and therefore the degree to which I would rely on Tina to shuttle the documentation between my home and councillor colleagues after I had worked on it over the weekend. At that time of course Paula, the Association secretary, did not have time to drive to my home and collect paperwork before delivering it [to] councillors, and as I would be in London I relied on Tina to give me administrative support of that nature.

4 September 2008

48.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP, 17 September 2008

Your own enquiries may already have ventured into what funding was available to MPs in 1997 for running their offices, in which case I apologise for any duplication, but over the summer I have been reflecting on what went on ten years ago and I simply wanted to set out the funding position as best I can recall.

In 1997 MPs were accorded £47,568 per annum for office costs which had to include staff salaries. There was also an Additional Costs Allowance of £12,287 which was for overnight accommodation, second home allowance etc.

As a result I had a fixed sum of £47,568 to use to set up and run my office. I cannot recall the exact salary that my parliamentary secretary was paid, but it seems to me that appointing a secretary of her seniority and experience (which was vital to me as a new MP) I would have had to pay something in the region of £30,000 per year. I would have been cautious about committing the entirety of the remaining funds to fixed costs like additional staff and constituency office premises as it would not have been clear to me how much costs like stationery and incidental office expenses would have come to. In my mind I am sure I would have wanted to hold back at least £5,000. The outcome of that scenario is that I would have been left with around £12,000 for any further staff or office arrangements I needed.

Setting up a constituency office from scratch and on my own would have cost in the region of £10,000 per year including additional costs like telephone bills, rates, utilities and furnishings would have to have been paid from my office costs budget, unlike offices in Parliament where all those costs are met by the House.

In 1997 that would have left me in the position of not then being able to afford anyone to staff the office. I therefore needed to base my constituency office in my home. Given that I had to base my office in my home, where my children were living, asking Tina to undertake some administrative help for me when the children were at school simply seemed like the best, workable solution within the circumstances.

I hope this provides some further explanation as to why the budget I was accorded as a new MP in 1997 limited the options that were available to me in terms of setting up offices and appointing staff.

I hope this is of help.

17 September 2008

49.  Letter to the Commissioner from the Director of Operations, Department of Resources, 10 October 2008

Thank you for your letters of the 11th and 23rd September 2008 in which you ask for comments on your discussion with Mr Alan Marskell and on the Office Costs Allowance (OCA). I have resumed my position as Director of Operations following [the Acting Director's] temporary appointment. [The Acting Director] wrote to you on 22 July and having read the transcript of Mr Marskell's comments I am not sure I would wish to add to [the Acting Director's] letter, although I can confirm some issues as you have requested.

In my view some of what has been described as office practice some ten years ago is so very far from what we do now as to make comments at this time rather difficult territory. For example, I am puzzled by the reference to 'home assistance' and how senior officers in 1997 perhaps equated this with parliamentary duties for which pay could be received. I do not believe this is an area on which I can comment, nor is it right that officers—quite junior at the time—are asked to comment on the rules applied then by senior officials.

As I say, practices are now different from 1997. One example is that apparently it was not uncommon for Members to pay individuals a lump sum amount at the end of the year for ad hoc work done during the year (paragraph two of transcript). This may have been because the then Office Costs Allowance was not a generous allowance for both staffing and office expenditure, making budgeting less straightforward than it is now. Members would though have been asked to account for the work being paid for, not least because the Inland Revenue required payments to be subject to PAYE deductions based on the periods in which the work was carried out, not when it was paid.

You also asked if there was any relevance to Mrs Haynes being employed for 18 hours per week. I consulted the senior manager of our Personnel Advice Service, who knows of no employment reason why 18 hours per week would have been significant. Qualifying employees could at that time claim Family Credit (later the Working Families Tax Credit) if they worked for 16 hours or more per week, which may be relevant. In paragraph four Mr Marskell's transcript refers to the personal files maintained by the Fees Office for Members of Parliament. These existed until approximately 2000 at which point a records management exercise carried out by the Department meant that many records were shredded.

I am content with the clarification given by Mr Marskell in bullet points two and four of paragraph nine, which would still apply to current practices.

Turning to your letter of 23 September, Mrs Spelman is correct to say that in 1997 the OCA was £47,568 and that it would have been used to pay for all staffing needs, maintaining an office, stationery and related items. The allowance for 1998 was £49,232 and in 1999 £50,264.

I think it is fair to say that, in the majority of cases, Members would have used a large percentage of their OCA on staffing cost, however it would have also depended on whether a Member ran a free-standing constituency office (i.e. not located in Party related premises or at home). Mrs Spelman says that she did not have a constituency office at that time and therefore worked from home, thus her costs would have been relatively low, leaving her more resources for staff salaries from the single allowance.

Mrs Spelman suggests that she would have paid in the region of £30,000 per annum to her senior secretary in 1997 (and there would also have been the employer National Insurance costs to take into account of around £3,000). No House guidance existed at the time and salary levels were at Members' discretion. However, this seems somewhat high in 1997 even for a very experienced secretary. A Member's salary at the time was £43,680. Guidance was issued in October 2001 to Members on pay ranges and starting salaries for staff. In that guidance the annual rate of salary for a Senior Secretary based in London was between £17,500 and £23,500, and for an Executive Secretary between £22,500 and £31,000.

10 October 2008

50.  Letter to Ms Sarah Murton from the Commissioner, 11 September 2008

I would be grateful for any help you can give me to assist me with my inquiry into Mrs Caroline Spelman MP's employment of Ms Tina Haynes from 1997 to 1999 as her secretarial assistant.

I am writing to you since I understand you were an intern in Mrs Spelman's office from September 1997 to July 1998.

You will see that I have marked my letter 'Personal and Confidential'. I attach a note which sets out the procedure I follow when asking for evidence from witnesses. The conduct of my inquiry and the information I receive from witnesses is confidential while my inquiry continues, although in this case I may need to show your reply to this letter to Mrs Spelman.

In essence, the allegation I am inquiring into is that Mrs Spelman subsidized the cost of nannying services out of parliamentary allowances and that her secretarial assistant did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which she was paid.

I appreciate, of course, that this all now some time ago and that that may affect your recollection of events. But it would be very helpful to me if you could let me know what you saw and knew of the secretarial work which Tina Haynes undertook for Mrs Spelman during your time in her office. In particular, could you let me know whether you had, or expected to have, any contacts with Tina Haynes in the constituency; whether you were aware of any others in Mrs Spelman's office who had such contacts; whether you were aware that Tina Haynes was employed by Mrs Spelman as her parliamentary assistant as well as acting as her children's nanny. An idea of the nature of the work and its volume which you knew Tina Haynes was undertaking would also be helpful, as would your recollection of where Ms Haynes and Mrs Spelman's constituency work was located. Finally, for information, it would be helpful if you could let me know the circumstances in which you came to work for Mrs Spelman, and the nature of any duties you undertook for her and if you could confirm the dates.

I would of course welcome any other information which you may be able to give me which you think might help me with my inquiry.

Once my inquiry is completed, I may decide to submit a memorandum to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges. If so, I would expect to attach your response to this letter along with the other evidence I have receive to my memorandum, and that would be published with any Report the Committee produce on my inquiry.

I would be most grateful for any help you can give me on this matter. If you would like a word about it, please feel free to contact me or my office at the House of Commons. I look forward to hearing from you.

11 September 2008

51.  Letter to the Commissioner from Ms Sarah Murton, 1 October 2008

Thank you very much for your letter of 11 September.

I worked as an intern in Mrs Spelman's office in an unpaid capacity through an organization called CARE (Christian Action Research and Education as part of a graduate training year following university. I believe that this was between October 1997 and July 1998. Unfortunately I am unable to recall the exact dates (although you could contact CARE to see if they have a precise record). Although the terms of the CARE scheme meant that I received a small stipend from CARE and was unsalaried by Caroline, she generously provided accommodation for me in the basement flat of her house in […] from January - c. July 1998…

During my time in Westminster, CARE interns worked for their assigned MP Mondays - Thursdays and had training with CARE on Fridays.

My job with Caroline was focused on national politics. I prepared briefs for interviews, drafted articles, speeches, letters, press releases and worked closely with the shadow agricultural committee.

Because of my focus on national politics, I had very little contact with the constituency. From London, I did one fairly wide-ranging mail shot to constituents (possibly involving shop-keepers, but the memory is vague). I recall visiting the constituency about three times (once for a speech with Michael Portillo, once to carry out research for a project on poverty and possibly on one other occasion).

There was certainly a constituency office separate from Caroline's house which I recall visiting at some point (I do not know when). I cannot remember who worked there, as I had limited contact with it. Nor do I know whether it had always been separate from her house. I do not recall the details of who I dealt with on the few occasions that I had to make a phone call (I do remember speaking to someone who was definitely not Tina, but I cannot remember her name and I am also unclear on dates). I think that most contact with the constituency office was handled by Caroline's London-based secretary, Georgina Perry. Georgina and I were not co-located (not even on the same floor) and although I remember sending faxes from her office, I spent little time there and so cannot shed light on Georgina's links with the constituency office.

As far as I recall Tina Haynes was employed by the Spelmans as their nanny, working at their home. I do not remember having any face to face contact with Tina other than meeting her on at least one visit to the constituency and spending some time with her on the Lords and Commons ski trip in January 1998 (I participated as a temporary nanny for the week for another (Labour) MP). I remember making a few calls to Tina from the London office at Caroline's request, but cannot recollect their date or nature.

Since summer 1998 I have had limited contact with Caroline. We met once after my wedding (which must have been between January and July 1999) and have subsequently exchanged Christmas cards. Although we have occasionally tried to meet up during my brief visits to London, we have never managed to do this...

I apologise for the vagueness of my response, but it was some time ago and constituency matters were not part of my daily work.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.

1 October 2008

52.  Letter to Mrs Tina Haynes from the Commissioner, 30 September 2008

I am inquiring into an allegation about the use of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary allowances from 1997 to 1999. I would be most grateful for your help with my inquiry.

In essence, the allegation against Mrs Spelman is that she subsidised the cost of nannying services out of her parliamentary allowances and that as her secretarial assistant you did not undertake the secretarial duties to the extent for which you were paid.

I would be very grateful if you could help me with your recollection of the arrangements which Mrs Spelman put in place for your employment in support of her work as a Member of Parliament in the constituency. I appreciate this is now all quite some time ago, but, in particular, it would be helpful:

1.  if you could let me know how you came to be employed by Mrs Spelman as both her secretarial assistant and as her children's nanny;

2.  if you could confirm the dates of your employment as her secretarial assistant which I have been given as from around 1 June 1997 until no later than 1 June 1999, and the dates of your employment as her children's nanny;

3.  if you could confirm that the hours you were asked to work as secretarial assistant were 18 hours a week. I would also be most grateful for information about your pay over that period. I have not been able to get this from other sources. It would be most helpful if you could identify what you were paid over this period from your own records, or perhaps from bank statements;

4.  if you could help me on any time you spent in Mrs Spelman's house in Kent. I understand that initially you spent some time there. Mrs Spelman has suggested that this might have been for a four-week period, but since, I understand, the children did not move to the constituency until on or around September 1997, it is not clear to me whether someone else provided childcare from June or July to September 1997, or whether it was you. I would be grateful therefore if you could recollect the arrangements for your work at Mrs Spelman's Kent home in support of her work as a Member of Parliament, including its duration, what you were involved in, and whether, and if so how often, you stayed overnight in Kent; whether your work in Kent also involved childcare and, if so, how you managed that alongside your work as Mrs Spelman's secretarial assistant;

5.  if you could you let me have your recollection of the work you actually undertook for Mrs Spelman in your role as secretarial assistant from 1997 to 1999. It would be helpful to know how your 18 hours were spread over your working week; the tasks you actually undertook for Mrs Spelman; how qualified you believe you were for that work, and how in practice you divided your time between your secretarial duties and your childcare duties;

6.  if you could help me on how your total remuneration (pay and other benefits) was apportioned between your two roles. I understand from Mrs Spelman that you were not paid for your childcare duties from 1997 to 1999, but received board and accommodation, use of a car and all expenses. I understand from information provided by Mrs Spelman that once you ceased to be employed as a secretarial assistant by 1 June 1999, you were paid some £13,137 gross in 1999/2000 for your nanny duties. Could you confirm that and that you continued to receive the benefits described above? Could you also let me know if you had any discussion with Mrs Spelman either in 1997 or in 1999 or at any other time about your overall remuneration, including any explanation from Mrs Spelman about why you were being offered a salary from 1999 for your work as her children's nanny;

7.  finally, could you let me know your recollection of the circumstances in which you came to stop working for Mrs Spelman as her secretarial assistant by June 1999, and the type of secretarial work you did for her in her parliamentary capacity after that date and the time you spent on it.

Any other points or information you think might be helpful with my inquiry would be most welcome.

I attach a note which sets out the procedure I follow in taking evidence from witnesses. I should emphasise that information you give me is treated as personal and confidential during the course of my inquiry. If I report my conclusions to the House of Commons Committee on Standards and Privileges then I will attach to those conclusions the evidence on which I rely and your evidence is likely to be included in that and subsequently published by the Committee. I am asking for your responses in writing but it is possible that I may also ask you to come in for a discussion at a later stage.

I would be most grateful for your help on this matter. If you have any questions about the process, please do feel free to contact my office. It would be particularly helpful if you could let me have your responses within the next three weeks, if at all possible. If there is any difficulty about this, please let me know.

30 September 2008

53.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Tina Haynes, 20 October 2008

Please find detailed below the answers to the questions that you sent regarding Mrs Caroline Spelman MP. As you say in your letter these events go back many years during which I have had other jobs and have also married and had a family. I have done my best to recall what I can to answer your questions as fully as possible but as you will appreciate I cannot remember every detail.

1.  To the best of my recollection I was employed by Mrs Spelman through a friend of the Spelman family, (whose name I cannot recollect), in the capacity of a nanny. When I was at the interview Mrs Spelman asked if I would do secretarial duties whilst the children were at school/nursery to which I agreed.

2.  To the best of my recollection the dates of me undertaking secretarial duties are those given in your letter. The employment as just a nanny was from around June 1999 until I ceased to be employed by Mrs Spelman in August 2002.

3.  To the best of my recollection the hours I worked providing secretarial assistance I would say were around 18 hours a week. I cannot remember what I was paid over this period as I no longer have bank statements going back to the dates in question.

4.  To the best of my recollection the time in Kent was from around the beginning of June 1997 to early July 1997 when the children finished their private schooling. We then moved up to Knowle. Whilst in Kent I did a combination of childcare and secretarial duties, the latter when I had free time during school/nursery hours. The early months when Mrs Spelman had become an MP were very busy with a house move up to the constituency, finding out how the parliamentary week was arranged, and other aspects to how a MP's week was proportioned out. My recollection is I stayed at the Kent home in the week and spent the weekends elsewhere. As far as the duration of secretarial duties in this phase it was up to 18 hours a week.

5. To the best of my recollection the work I undertook for Mrs Spelman doing secretarial duties in the constituency was as follows:

Posting of letters, answering of phone calls, phoning Mrs Spelman regarding phone calls taken at the home address, faxing information to the parliamentary address, receiving faxes to her home address, and filing information received to her home address. I also transported persons associated with parliamentary business when needed.

I undertook the majority of secretarial duties during school/nursery hours however faxes and phone calls were still received into the early evening. I believe I fulfilled and performed these duties well.

6.  I cannot remember the details of my remuneration, but can remember having board and accommodation and the use of a car. Without having the bank statements I cannot confirm the payments I received in 1999/2000 for my nanny duties. I recollect that Mrs Spelman, around June 1999, explained that as she had now employed a full time secretary in the constituency that I would no longer be paid for secretarial duties from parliament and would be paid from her personal account for the nanny duties only.

7.  As mentioned above I recollect that when Mrs Spelman was able to find a secretary for the constituency, I was no longer required to fulfil secretarial duties. After June 1999 I would refer any telephone calls, faxes or post coming to the house relating to constituency matters to the constituency office. On an occasional basis, when Mrs Spelman was otherwise engaged and during school/nursery hours, I would transport persons associated with parliamentary business to and from places at Mrs Spelman's request.

I hope this information helps with the inquiry that you are undertaking regarding Mrs Spelman.

Received 20 October 2008

54.  Agreed Note of Meeting with Mrs Tina Haynes, 12 November 2008


Mr John Lyon

Mrs Tina Haynes

Friend of Mrs Haynes

JLThank you very much for agreeing to this meeting. I am aware of the stress you have been under and I do not wish to add to it. This is [an official from my office] who is here to take a note of our discussion. It will not be verbatim. She will show you her note after the meeting so you can confirm its factual accuracy. If I prepare a report on this inquiry, the note will form part of the published evidence and will be published, although I would not release your address.

First I should like to assure you that this inquiry is in relation to Mrs Spelman's use of her parliamentary allowances, and you are a witness only. You are here to help me with the inquiry.

I wrote to you on 21 October with the main areas I would like to cover. I appreciate this is all now some time ago so I do understand that your recollection may be uncertain. If you can't remember, please say so.

Are you happy to proceed on this basis?

Your initial period
JLTell me how you came to be employed by Mrs Spelman in 1997. Mrs Spelman says that she asked around the area and she interviewed you before the May election. Is that your recollection?
THFrom what I can remember I went to her residence for an interview for the duties of a nanny. While I was at the interview Mrs Spelman said she had recently been elected MP but she had no secretary or office. She asked whether, for the initial few months, I would be prepared, aside of nanny duties, to answer phone calls, open the post, deal with faxes and post coming in.
JLMrs Spelman recalls this happening before the election. She says she had a discussion with you and then waited to see if she was elected before offering you the job.
THIt is such a long time ago, I can't remember. But there was a first interview and then I would have been called back. The interview was in the midlands area, not in Kent.
JL When you first went to the interview, did you go for an interview as a nanny?
THAt the time I was going as a nanny, but she mentioned the likelihood of extra duties. The two eldest children were at school and the youngest was at nursery during the day. During those hours I could do constituency work until she got a full time secretary.
JLWas this the first you heard of the dual role?
JLHow did she find you?
THIt was through a friend of someone I knew through previous nannying. I can't remember her name, but she heard that someone wanted a nanny and knew that I was looking for a job and paired the two of us together.
JLWas the job offer dependent on you agreeing to do both jobs?
THI think it probably was. I got a room and board for the nanny job.
JLWhat were your qualifications and experience as a nanny?
THI have an NNEB qualification, for which I did two years' training at college. I qualified in 1991. By 1997 I had six years' experience, and had done about three jobs from what I remember.
JLWhat were your qualifications for the secretarial type work?
THI had a RSA computer literacy qualification from 1990 and a Pitman typing certificate from 1988.
JLMrs Spelman said that you didn't type.
THI could, but I wasn't asked to.
JLWhat experience had you had of office or administrative work?
THIt was often part and parcel of my nanny jobs to do administration; to open the post, fax documents and take phone calls. I would use my common sense. But I have never done clerical work in an office.
JLWhy did Mrs Spelman ask you to do the parliamentary secretarial work?
THInitially Mrs Spelman had no constituency office or secretary to fulfil administrative duties. She asked whether I would do them: answering phone calls, faxes and so on.
JLWhy did you agree to take this on?
THI can't remember, but I was happy to fulfil the tasks. The children were at school in the day and I had time to do those duties for her.
JL Did she then offer you a job after the 1997 General Election?
JLThe question of pay is difficult but it is very important for the inquiry. Evidence I have received from one of Mrs Spelman's secretaries suggests that in 1999 you were paid around £12,000-£13,000 a year. Do you think that about right?
THI can't honestly remember.
JL Mrs Spelman says she did not pay you any money for your nannying duties. Is that right?
TH Well, I had my own room, my own bathroom, the use of a car, and an expenses card for food and for the children.
JLIs it in your experience as a nanny usual for a nanny to receive no pay - just board and lodging and a car? Why was that arrangement acceptable to you?
THThis was my fourth job as a nanny. Generally as a nanny you get paid - but these circumstances were totally different from my previous jobs. My hours of nannying were three to four a day. The pay would have been minimal. All expenses were covered.
JLWhen you went for the job would you have accepted six months on a very low salary but with board and lodging and a car provided?
THI was living in. The need for a higher wage wasn't there.
JLWould you have expected some wage?
THIt was just what happened; I can't remember more.
JLCan I confirm that when Mrs Spelman started to employ you on these duties she said that the office work was for a six month period?
THYes, it was for six months. She said 'provisionally' for six months. It could be longer depending on when she found a secretary.
JLCan you remember signing an employment contract, perhaps with a job description?
THI am sure there was some document but I can't remember what. I can't remember if there was a job description.
JLCan you remember if you signed two contracts, one for the nanny work and one for the secretarial duties?
THI can't remember.


You say you were in Kent for in effect just a few weeks at the beginning of June 1997 to early July 1997. Mrs Spelman recalls that an au pair looked after the children.

THYes, I remember an au pair. I did the odd bit of childcare, but I can't remember exactly how it worked. The majority of the childcare was done by the au pair. There might however be times in the early evening for example when I was needed to cover.
JLHow do you know you did up to 18 hours a week as a secretarial assistant, as you state in your letter to me?
THWell, it varied each day, dependent on the phone calls, faxes and post received. I might do two hours one day. Over a week, a number of weeks, it would be up to eighteen hours. I did at least 2-3 hours each day, and a five day week; overall it was about 18.
JLTell me about the faxes and phone calls you received at this time, in Kent.
THI can't remember much about them.
JLHow was it possible to act as a constituency secretarial assistant when the constituency was in the midlands, not Kent? How did people know to send things to Kent?
THI don't know how, but it did happen. I do recall receiving things. From what I can remember correspondence came to the house.
JLWas there a lot of post?
THI can't remember the exact amount.
JLMrs Spelman says you travelled up and down with her to the constituency. Is this right?
THI do remember going up and down on the train, but not why.
JLWas any of this work focussed on domestic arrangements (e.g. moving house) or was it all in respect of Mrs Spelman's parliamentary duties?
THI can't remember.
JLMrs Spelman said in her evidence to me that the children moved to Knowle during the summer. Did the children come with you to Knowle in July 1997? Or did they arrive after you?
THI can't remember. They arrived in the West Midlands a little while before school started in September. They finished school for the summer and then came.
JLDid the au pair move [to Knowle]?
THI don't think so but I can't recall. If she did it was not for very long.
JLSo is it right that after that you were the sole nanny or carer in charge?
JLTake me through your typical day.
THThe children would be taken to school, I think for about 9am. I did this most of the time but occasionally Mrs Spelman or her husband would do this. Then I would go back to the house.

While the children were at school I would do the duties asked of me: dealing with faxes, post as and when it arrived, dealing with phone calls. As for the post, I wouldn't say it was daily. The phone calls might be several one day and the next day one or two.

School finished at roughly 3.15 or 3.30pm. I would then have charge of the children because Mrs Spelman was in London Monday to Thursday generally.

JLDid your day have a routine to it? For example, was there a period in the day when you undertook your secretarial duties?
THWell, taking the children to and from school was pretty consistent. I was available for the secretarial work between about 9.30am and 3pm, and the work was spread over five days. I was available for 18 hours.
JLWhat was the volume of letters coming in each day?
THI can't remember. It could have been five or ten. It varied. But it wasn't as many as 30.
JLWhat about phone calls?
THThey were on a more regular daily basis, but I can't remember numbers or volume. It wasn't more than eight or nine phone calls a day, but it varied.
JLWhat about the faxes?
THWell, there would be a fair few faxes. They all came in on the same line, and you would hear the fax tone when you went to answer. So you would press the button for the fax.
JLWhat do you mean by 'a fair few'?
THThere could be one or two … but other days there could be five or six.
JLTell me about the filing.
THMrs Spelman had an office upstairs with a filing cabinet in it. It contained certain files for the constituency. I can't remember how the system was set up but if papers needed to be got out I would do this.
JLMrs Spelman said you helped to create the system.
THI can't remember. But there would have been a logical structure to it.
JLCan you help me on the amount of it?
THIt was very much according to what came in. Anything that came in or went out Mrs Spelman saw. It was filed away if it was finished with, or brought out if it needed to be brought out again.
JLHow did the papers get to you for filing?
THIf they were faxed to Mrs Spelman she would have a copy. Or the original would be filed away in her office after I had faxed the copy to her. If any faxes came through I would fax a copy to Mrs Spelman. I would put the papers in the file so she knew where it was and I could pull it out.
JLHow many visitors did you have to escort in a typical week?
THI can't remember exactly. Sometimes it was 'Please take Mr Smith to Chelmsley Wood'. There were a lot of people from London who came without a car: I would take them to a place and pick them up.
JLWas it every week?
THI can't remember exactly how often. Sometimes Mrs Spelman was around. It was a regular part of the job, but I couldn't say how frequent.
JLWhat sort of person rang you up?
THIt could be anybody. It could be a constituent saying 'There's an issue'. I would take their name and phone number and let Mrs Spelman know. Generally it was constituents but sometimes other MPs. The main number for quite a while was Mrs Spelman's home phone number.

There was not just one caller, as the media suggested. That was misleading. I couldn't recall every person's name but the names I do remember are the people in the public eye who called.

JLWhat about people coming to the door?
THI remember people associated with the constituency calling at the door. I can't remember the names or if they were constituents. Constituents would generally see Mrs Spelman at the surgery, not at the house. They might be from the constituency association.
JLWas Mrs Spelman's home address in the public domain?
TH I don't know. The direct phone number was. Even after she had a secretary and an office I still got phone calls at her home.
JLDo you recall regular contacts with the local branch chairman of the NFU? I gather from Mrs Spelman that he would contact you about meetings.
THI do remember that.
JLPaula Yates suggests you sometimes took work directly to councillors. Is that right? Why was that necessary?
THYes, I would take information to their home addresses - things that needed to get to them. Mrs Spelman would ask me to do this as and when needed. It was associated with constituency events, which were generally on a Friday.
JLHow much time did you spend sorting the mail?
THI can't remember the volume. It was as and when.
JLMrs Spelman says you judged its urgency, including action needed by local councillors or the MEP. Do you remember how you made these judgements?
THI read more newspapers then. I knew that certain areas were more important than others and I would know if things were needed within a day. It was common sense, if Mrs Spelman had something happening on a Friday, she would need to see the information.
JLIf you decided that the information had to go to a councillor, what would have happened?
THI would have posted it or driven it to the house if it was an urgent matter.
JLWas it of your own volition or on Mrs Spelman's instructions?
THI can't remember.
JLWhat about sending information to the MEP?
THI would take information to him or post it to him. I had a file of addresses to use. I remember the local MEP. He lived in the area and I would take it to his address.
JLMrs Spelman says you reported back to her on the actions taken by councillors. How big a part of your job was that?
THI do remember the actions. I had to tell Mrs Spelman what the councillor had said… Mr x had said '…' and she would say 'Thank you, Tina'.
JLCan you tell me about your relationship with the constituency office and Paula Yates? How often did you see her? She said you came to the office every week, usually on Monday and Friday, to collect and deliver mail. You don't mention this in your letter.
THI do remember Paula, and taking stuff to her when I was there and then taking things back to Mrs Spelman as and when. The Solihull Conservative office was in Manor Road and Mrs Spelman had Paula there.
JLCan you give me an idea of how big a part of the job that was in terms of time?
THWell the journey was 15-20 minutes by car depending on traffic. So there and back, including the time taken while there, you might say was 1 hour or 1½ hours.
JLI wonder why it didn't feature in your memory?
THI do recollect. In my letter I have done my best, but it is a long time ago, and I don't remember everything.

I would go to the office more when Paula did the brunt of the work after 1999.

JLSo after thinking about it, do you believe it was twice per week every week?
THYes probably twice but I can't honestly remember.
JLWhen you went there, what about the mail? Was it already sorted when you picked it up?
THI can't remember.
JLOverall, in your eighteen hours, were you very busy, with a steady flow of work? Or was it spasmodic and were there times when frankly there was not much to do?
THThere was a steady flow, but with some days a lot more work and some a lot less. There were other bits and bobs I would do; one day might be taken up with calls and faxes, another with filing. I would balance the work out: I would be doing something on a daily basis. I would balance the day out.
JLDid you have to undertake some nannying duties when the children were at school: for example, shopping, washing, tidying their rooms and buying food?
THYes, but I would organise my day. I would have around three hours in the morning when I would do the secretarial work. And since I was living in, I would do duties in the early evening.
JLBut the children would be there in the evening.
THI balanced it out. I could do some tasks while they were there, for example if they were watching TV. I could still do duties if the children were around.
JLSo would you say you did about 3½ hours of secretarial work a day?
THYes, I would be back from taking the children to school at 9am or 9.15am and I didn't have to leave again until 3.15 to 3.20pm. so I had six hours available.
JLWhat about a lunch hour? Your 3½ hours would take you to 1pm.
THYes, I would have two hours free for lunch, shopping and other tasks. I didn't always take a lunch hour. Sometimes I would eat on the run, with a sandwich in the car.
JLWhat about such tasks as tidying the children's rooms?
THAt a certain age you expect the children to do this. I would oversee them.
JLDid Mrs Spelman have a cleaner?
THYes, I did not do cleaning.
JLWhat happened if the children were ill or in school holidays?
THThe children did a lot of clubs: football clubs, clubs at the local leisure centre, football, cricket - these accounted for a proportion of the day even in the holidays.
JLIn the holidays was the morning still set aside for your parliamentary duties?
THI do remember doing the constituency work still; I would do this while the children were at clubs.
JLWas Mrs Spelman around in the holidays?
THShe was around more. I don't remember exactly how it was, but when Parliament was in recess there were times when she was in the House and times in the constituency.
JLI understand from Mrs Spelman that you were responsible overnight for the children from Monday to Thursday when Parliament was sitting. When did you get a break?
THWell, they would be in bed at a certain time, about 7.30pm. I could get a break when they were at school or in bed in the evening; I was not necessarily working during the evening. I was technically on duty, but they rarely woke up and I had time in the evenings to relax, have a bath and eat.
JLYou went home on Friday nights. Was there any weekend working?
THNot that I can remember. There was no constituency work on Saturday or Sunday, but I might do babysitting as and when. It wasn't part of my regular duties and I would get time off in lieu or I would get paid.
JLWhat office equipment and supplies did you have in Mrs Spelman's house?
THThere was one phone line for both fax and phone. Private calls usually went to London. There was one line for everything.
JLWhere did you work in Mrs Spelman's house? Did you have your own office?
THThere was an office upstairs which Mrs Spelman used if she was around. There was a telephone and filing cabinet. I would use that room as and when needed.
JLWould you go up there when you got back from school each day?
THYes but the fax was downstairs so you would have to go up and down stairs.
JLDid Mrs Spelman have a computer then?
THYes, but I don't remember using it. I don't think emails were used so much then: it was mainly faxes. Often there were 6 or 7 pages at a time.
JLHow did you get your office supplies, like envelopes?
THI could get them if I needed to. I had access to supplies. I can't say where they came from.
JLWas it your responsibility to look after the store cupboard and get the envelopes?
THI can't remember.


How did Mrs Spelman explain to you in 1999 that she proposed to end your job as a secretarial assistant?

THShe said she had now found a suitable candidate - I think it was Paula - to fulfil the secretarial duties. She did a lot more than I did, and that included typing.

I do remember Mrs Spelman saying that the Whips' Office were saying there was a better way of doing things. But the main reason was that Mrs Spelman found a suitable candidate to fulfil the whole constituency role.

JLInitially you had taken on this role for about 6 months. But nearly two years had passed. Was there any conversation between you about this work between when you began and this time in 1999?
THWell, it was ongoing. She had asked me 'Will you be available to do these duties until I find someone?' There was some sort of discussion: I am sure she sat down and said that the six months had come up and the duties would need to carry on for a while as she hadn't been able to find a suitable person.
JLDid this discussion happen frequently?
THI can't remember. I carried on until I was asked to do otherwise.
JLDid Mrs Spelman give the impression that she was looking for somebody?
THYes, she probably would have said this, but I can't honestly remember.
JLYou were in charge of the phone. Did you have any communications from interested people?
THI can't remember.
JLWhat were the consequences of you ending your secretarial or administrative work? It had accounted for a substantial amount of time: 18 hours a week; you did it five days a week; and you had an income from it - we don't know how much, but we'll assume it was a reasonable sum. Suddenly the work stopped and you had free time and no income from that source. Did you get another job to fill the time?
THNo. I carried on with Mrs Spelman. She was still in need of childcare. We came to an agreement that I would be paid for my nanny duties. I took on more of a role during the day in the house: not doing the cleaning but making sure the cleaner was paid, and I had more duties associated with the children.
JLI am not clear how your duties had changed.

I have been given a PAYE return suggesting that in 1999 when Mrs Spelman started paying you, you were getting £13,000.

I am trying to see why you were getting paid this now when you weren't before.

THAt the end of the day that is the agreement we came to. We sat down and Mrs Spelman said there would be no more secretarial duties. But I was there for the children. They spent less time at clubs in the holidays; I had them more often than not, the majority of the time now. During the week I would pick up dry cleaning, tasks outside normal nanny duties, extra bits and pieces.
JLWho picked up the dry cleaning before?
THI don't know.

I was helpful before 1999 and also after.

This was Mrs Spelman's decision. I spaced the jobs out.

JLDid the children no longer attend clubs in the holidays?
THI spent more time with them, taking them down to London to see Mrs Spelman. I would be with them during the day.
JLHow did Mrs Spelman explain to you the offer of £13,000?
THI can't remember. She might have said that the circumstances had changed and this is how it would be. I still had a job and I was still paid. Yes, it was different but I was paid for my duties and I was getting a wage, so I was happy to have a job.
JLWould there have been a problem if Mrs Spelman hadn't paid you? Would you have looked for another job?
THIt is hard to say. Mrs Spelman was a very good employer. The issue didn't arise. Mrs Spelman didn't expect anyone to work for nothing.
JLDid you continue to do this work after June 1999 or did it wind down?
THThere was a crossover period but even after Paula was in the job for a while I still got letters to Mrs Spelman's home address because people had got used to sending post and faxes there. I would ring up Mrs Spelman or Paula and say 'This has come'. I would take post to the constituency office. If faxes related to the constituency I would take them to Paula or fax them on. Paula would say 'That can be faxed to me' or 'Bring it to the office'. Or I would do as Mrs Spelman asked me. This would happen more in term time but there would be times in the holidays when we might be on a day trip and I would divert and drop things into the office.
JLDid the phone number change?
THThe phone number was always in the directories, and people wrote out of habit to the home address.
JLRoughly how much of your time did this take?
THIt was a lot less frequent.

Once the office was in a separate building, it would be less frequent. The majority would get to Paula in her office. But it was an unusual week when I would have nothing. I can't remember more.

JLDid you still drive visitors around?
THYes, in term time, generally on a Friday. In the holidays if I had the children other arrangements would be made.
JLWas it as frequent as before?
THI can't remember.
JLWe believe we know what you were paid as a nanny from 1999, but we don't know about the time before that.

Can you remember whether you had a pay increase or a pay cut when Mrs Spelman started to pay you in 1999? I know it is hard to remember, but a pay cut usually sticks in the mind.

THI can't remember. I wouldn't say my pay dropped, because I think I was happy. I can't say for certain, but it may have stayed the same or gone up; I can't remember.
JLDid you have a new employment contract?
THI can't remember.
JLThank you. That completes my questions. I am very grateful for your help. Is there any other point you would like to make?
THI would like to say that it is different sitting here answering questions. I did my best with your letter, but sometimes I recalled more today.
JLThank you. My notetaker will now write up the note and send it to you to confirm its accuracy.

The interview finished at about 11.50 am.

12 November 2008

55.  Letter to Mrs Caroline Spelman MP from the Commissioner, 25 November 2008

I am writing to you to let you know about progress with my inquiry about the employment of your secretarial assistant and nanny between 1997 and 1999 and to invite you to a discussion about the issues which I need to have resolved.

In view of the understandable lack of documentary evidence, I have, as you know, sought evidence from a range of potential witnesses. I attach a schedule of all those who have provided me with relevant evidence, together with copies of that evidence. I will be taking that evidence into account in the questions I propose to put to you when we meet, but, if you wished to respond in writing to any of the points made in this evidence, you would of course be very welcome to do so.

The areas I would like to cover when we meet are the initial plans you had in managing your constituency work on your election; the appointment of Mrs Tina Haynes as your secretarial assistant and as your nanny; the work she did for you initially in Kent; the work she undertook for you in Knowle; the pay and conditions you established for her employment as your nanny and as your secretarial assistant; and the arrangements you made after Tina Haynes ceased to be your secretarial assistant in 1999. There may be other issues which arise in the course of our discussion.

I attach a note which sets out the procedure I follow in taking evidence from witnesses. You would, of course, be welcome to bring a friend with you. I would have present a note-taker. It will not be a verbatim record. The note-taker would let you have a copy of the note so that you can comment on its accuracy. It would then form part of the evidence to my inquiry and would be included in any memorandum I submit to the Committee on Standards and Privileges.

Subject to our discussion, I would hope that I am nearing the end of this inquiry. Having reviewed all the evidence I have received, I think it would be right for me to submit a memorandum on my inquiry to the Committee on Standards and Privileges. You should draw no inference, however, from this about what my conclusion is likely to be. I will only come to that conclusion once I have concluded my work and once you have seen the factual sections of the draft memorandum which I would prepare.

I will now ask my office to get in touch with you to arrange a time convenient to you for our interview for which we should perhaps allow up to two hours. If you would like a word about any of this at any stage, please do get in touch with me at the House.

Thank you for your help with this matter.

25 November 2008

56.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP, 3 December 2008

Thank you for your letter and enclosures of 25th November.

I am in the process of reviewing the evidence supplied and understand that you may be taking this into account in the questions which you wish to put to me during our meeting next Wednesday. As you are aware, I have already submitted my full written statement in July and, as my position has not changed materially since then, I do not believe it is necessary (nor would you wish me to) simply repeat my position again at this stage. However, there are a limited number of points which are raised in the evidence you kindly supplied to me, which I should now like to take the opportunity to respond to. These are as follows:

1.  Written submission from Georgina Perry

a)  In her letter of 21 July Ms Perry states that during the period May 1997 to 31 March 1999, Paula Yates (née Monkhouse) was one of my employees. This is not correct: Paula was not on the parliamentary payroll during this time.

b)  Ms Perry also asserts that all the constituency post came direct to the House of Commons. This was certainly not true as others have confirmed, and indeed to this day it remains the case that post addressed for my attention is sent to my home address (which at that time was also my constituency office), the local association office as well as the parliamentary office.

2.  Written submission from Sally Hammond

a)  In her letter of 14th July Ms Hammond states that she contacted the Fees Office to establish who was on my parliamentary payroll and how much they were paid. [The Acting Director's] letter of 22 July confirms that the Fees Office did not have the practice of disclosing information about the salaries of staff without the explicit permission of a Member. I would like to make clear that my permission to disclose that information was neither sought nor given to either Ms Hammond or the Fees Office at that time (nor since).

b)  I would also note that whilst I cannot recall the specific salary levels of my staff from such a long time ago, I do not agree with the figures stated by Ms Hammond.

c)  Ms Hammond also asserts that all my mail came to the House of Commons. As I have explained above in relation to Ms Perry's statement, this is not correct for the reasons I have given.

3.  Written submission from Sarah Murton

a)  In her email of 1st October, Ms Murton states that "there was certainly a constituency office separate from Caroline's house."This is not accurate. At that time, there was a local Association office but this was not located in my constituency and as set out in [the submission of the Chairman of the Meriden Conservative Association] of 14th July the Association secretary was not in a position to give me any secretarial support at that time. I used my home as the constituency office.

4.  Testimony of Tina Haynes

a)  One of the questions which you put to Ms Haynes during her testimony of 12th November 2008, was how it was possible during the initial four-week period from June to July 1997 to act as a constituency secretarial assistant whilst she was based in Kent and not the midlands. You asked her how people knew to send things to Kent. Ms Haynes responded by saying that she did not know but that it did happen.

I should like to explain this. During those first few weeks, Ms Haynes and I were extremely busy going through the backlog of correspondence left from my predecessor, the late Iain Mills. This correspondence had been collected into large black bin bags by the local Association office in the midlands. I collected these bags and then either my husband or I transported the bags back to our Kent house by car so that Ms Haynes and I could then tackle their contents during the working week. We went through each letter to work out how urgent it was and how it ought to be dealt with. During that time Ms Haynes also helped me set up my office in the constituency and transfer files and paperwork between Kent and the constituency. As I have previously explained, during that time, we had an au pair living with us who had full responsibility for the children so Ms Haynes was free to concentrate her time in Kent on the administration duties. I am of course willing to provide more details about these arrangements and these early weeks during our meeting should you wish me to do so.

I hope that this information is helpful and I look forward to meeting with you next Wednesday.

3 December 2008

57.  Agreed Note of meeting with Mrs Caroline Spelman MP, 10 December 2008


Mrs Caroline Spelman MP (CS)

Mrs Spelman's Chief of Staff

Mr John Lyon, Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards (JL)

Registrar of Members' Interests (RMI)

The "Fees Office" is used throughout for what is now the Department of Resources, since that is the term commonly used by Members including Mrs Spelman.

CS was grateful to have been sent the evidence JL had received. She had deliberately not been in touch with her former nanny/assistant Tina Haynes (TH), so had been very interested to learn her evidence.
Initial plans
JLHad CS given any thought before the election to the arrangements she would make in her constituency if elected?
CSShe must have been about the last candidate selected; at first it had been thought that the vacancy would be filled after a by-election. Her main focus, as an unknown and non-local candidate, in the short time at her disposal, had been campaigning. A couple of things had been very important. She had given an undertaking to send her children to school in the constituency, and was not someone to renege on undertakings. She was aware that if elected the result would be a major change in the family's lifestyle. Without assuming she would win the seat (in the event her victory had been narrow), she had certainly thought about how she would manage if she did; other people in the constituency had also thought about it, and had made suggestions.
JLWhat had been her predecessor's (Iain Mills) arrangements?
CSShe had not known Iain Mills. She knew he had been assiduous, and had devoted a lot of time to surgeries, particularly on one very large council estate. She did not know what his secretarial arrangements had been, though she thought his wife might have worked for him—certainly she had brought over the backlog of correspondence.
JLHad Iain Mills had a constituency office?
CSShe did not think so—there was no ready-made set-up she could have inherited. The short run to the election had been unusual, most candidates were selected a year in advance and had arrangements in place while she had had nothing. Beginning her work had therefore been very difficult.
JLWhy had it been important that her constituency assistant should be at her house—why had she not considered renting space elsewhere?
CSIn 1997 Members' total budgets were much less than now. The salary of a Westminster secretary absorbed about half the allowance, and the remainder had to cover everything else including office equipment (there was no capital grant). She had been quite worried about the cost. She had made some inquiries about renting office space locally but it was quite dear. When she had moved to the model of a full time constituency secretary it had been difficult to manage the rent (£10,000), rates and cost of equipment. Her thinking at the time, then, had been influenced by cost but also by her need, as a non-local, to establish local credentials immediately and having Tina working from her family home would achieve that.
JLHad she considered asking someone else to work three or four hours a day?
CSShe had hoped that the Association secretary might have been able to help, as was the usual model, which other MPs had said was a common solution. She had expected it would be possible, but for perfectly good reasons it had not been. She could not remember if Paula Yates (PY), the Association secretary, had actually said that when her child was at school she might be able to help. As to the possibility of employing someone else to work in her home, it had needed to be someone she could trust with sensitive matters, and such people were not easily available at short notice. The dual role for TH had seemed a workable alternative, given that the nanny work gave her time to do the work and a relationship of trust existed.
JLBut she had not known TH when she first employed her?
CSShe had looked at her references.
JLCould she not have done the same for someone else?
CSShe had felt that it would be better for everyone to restrict the number of people with access to her home and children. The rented house had not been large (she agreed that later the family had moved to a larger one). She could not remember whether she had consciously thought about all these matters: the run-in to the new job had been difficult. She had needed an 'anchorman'. The constituency association had made clear that they could not help. It had seemed practical to ask TH to do the work.
JLHad CS discussed the proposed dual role for TH with the Fees Office?
CSYes, they had said there was no problem.
JLHad she discussed it with the Whips?
CSNo. But she had been quite open about her arrangements. MP colleagues had been concerned that she should sort out a satisfactory arrangement, but no-one had suggested that her solution did not sound right.
JLWhen had CS first conceived of the dual role?
CSIt had been obvious that in the case of other MPs, their families sometimes played a dual role. In her case, it had not been possible for her husband to do this. She had understood the need to identify clearly time available for the administrative duties. She believed that other female MPs had the same sort of arrangement in respect of their child care. She had needed to have someone 'on the ground' so that letters did not lie on the mat from Monday to Thursday. She had been anxious to make a good start in the constituency.
JLWhen had CS started to think she must look for someone to fill a dual role?
CSShe could not remember at what point the constituency association had said they could not help.
JLTH had said that she believed the job offer was dependent on her doing both jobs. Was this so?
CSYes, though she had not considered it in that way. The dual role had seemed a practical solution to which the Fees Office, when consulted, had not objected.
JLWhat would CS have done if TH had declined the dual role?
CSThe question was theoretical and had not arisen. They had spoken of the dual role from the beginning.
JLHad TH understood the importance of keeping the roles separate?
CSYes. There was a contrast in the evidence given to the Commissioner. The London staff had had difficulty seeing what TH did, people in the constituency had not. The London staff did not often visit the constituency. CS was absolutely satisfied that TH had kept the roles separate.
JLTH had told him that she thought that her office work had been provisionally for six months. Was that so?
CSShe had hoped that PY would be able to take up more work. She could not recall the exact details of asking her, but the constituency minutes made it clear that it had been discussed. PY might have said that she would be more available when her daughter started nursery.
JLTH believed that she and CS might have had a further conversation after about six months. She thought CS might have confirmed then that she was to continue since CS had not been able to find a suitable candidate. Was that right?
CSShe did not recollect such a conversation, but it would have been good practice.
JLHad CS been looking for someone else?
CSNo. She needed someone in whom she had confidence, and had been waiting for PY, who would have been aware of her interest.
JLCould CS recall signing contracts at the beginning of the employment? Was it one contract or two?
CSShe did not recall. She had been dismayed to learn that the Fees Office did not keep documents so far back (she was interested that they seemed to keep some, which was anomalous). There was one aspect about which she felt extremely strongly. After the Newsnight programme she had rung the Fees Office and been unable to get the information she sought. When she had seen the evidence of Sally Hammond (SH), it would appear that although the Fees Office made clear that it was not their practice to give out information about salaries, when SH had rung them in 1999 she had received it. CS had not known of this, and would have been very concerned if she had. She wondered about the motive for inquiring about other colleagues' salaries.
JLThat assumed that they had indeed given out the information, and there was no record of that, although he assumed also that CS did not wish to challenge the basis of SH's evidence.
CSNo, she did not challenge SH's account of the approach to the Fees Office.
TH's role: Kent
JLWhat had been the arrangements in the initial weeks in June/July 1997 when TH worked in CS's Kent home? He understood from CS's recent letter that the backlog of constituency correspondence had been taken to Kent in bags over a period of time as space in transport permitted. What had TH done with these bags full of letters?
CSIn June 1997, CS had gone to the constituency, as a new MP, every weekend. Her husband had brought the children up every Friday after school, and driven them back on Sunday evening. She herself might stay in the constituency on Monday morning. The bags of correspondence had been taken to Kent by her husband as and when possible. CS had felt it important that the letters sent to her predecessor and not replied to should be properly dealt with. The volume of this correspondence had been such that work on it was not completed before she left Kent. CS and TH had divided up the work. TH would open the letters and arrange them sequentially, looking for series from the same writer. Obviously CS could not delegate actually dealing with the cases. It was important that CS and TH should have time to work together from Monday to Thursday (the House had not always sat late, allowing CS to work with TH in the evenings). This was work Georgina Perry (GP, the Westminster secretary) had not been willing to take on, and PY had not had time. It was not surprising that other staff did not know how the letters had got to Kent. Mr Spelman bringing them down with him in the car meant that they would not necessarily do so.
JLHow had TH helped to set up the office in the constituency, as stated in CS' evidence, when she was working in Kent?
CSTH had been with CS in the midlands on Thursday, Friday and some Monday mornings. They had worked together to set up the office; TH had made up files covering the backlog of correspondence and transferred them to a filing cabinet upstairs in her rented house.
JLWhat had been done about new correspondence?
CSNot all new correspondence had come to London, though a significant amount had done. It had also been delivered to her rented home in the midlands (she had rented a house in March 1997), by post or in person. Sometimes, also, it had been sent to the Meriden Association office (although this was not in the constituency), from which it could be collected.
JLWas the address of the rented home in the directories?
CSYes, she believed so, though she could now find no evidence of this. There were people in the constituency who recollected visiting her at her first address.
JLWas CS satisfied that TH had spent eighteen hours a week when she was based in Kent during the week on the parliamentary work?
CSEasily, because of the backlog.
JLHow did the au pair fit into the arrangements?
CSThe au pair had lived in and had worked throughout the election campaign when the children had been still in Kent. She had continued to work for CS until the family had gone on holiday in August 1997. CS was not aware of the arrangements made if the au pair wished to go out in the evening and TH may have covered for her then, but in general CS had not needed TH for childcare purposes in Kent.
JLDid the au pair move to Knowle for the first period?
CSThe school term had ended with the first week in July and the family had moved to Knowle almost immediately—there had been a strong incentive to move to the constituency as soon as possible. The au pair had stayed with them for that early period up to August 1997 when the family went on holiday.
JLAfter that, had TH had sole care of the children when CS was not there?
CSYes, in the same way as an au pair or mother's help; she had lived in and taken responsibility overnight.
TH's role: the constituency
JLWhat was the arrangement of TH's work once she had moved to CS's home in the constituency, initially in a rented house and subsequently in CS's own house? TH had said that the house had had one phone line for everything including faxes, an office with filing cabinets and a fax machine downstairs. Was that correct?
CSIt sounded right. She had been in fax communication with home—she had had a fax machine when she was in the Whips' office, which had caused a certain amount of concern that it might be a distraction in the open plan office. CS and TH had also gone together to buy second-hand office equipment such as filing cabinets.
JLHow had constituents known CS's home address and phone number?
CSShe believed that they had known it. The local Association had been eager that it should be known that, although an incomer, she was living locally, and she had not discouraged them from publishing her details in as many documents as possible.
JLIf CS had been in London during the week, how had she known that TH was working 18 hours a week on parliamentary business?
CSOn Monday mornings, she and TH would agree what TH would do during the week. This would include taking cases which had come up at surgery and should be dealt with by councillors to those councillors. TH knew the area. It was a large constituency, 45 minutes drive across, with Conservative councillors mainly located in rural areas; this meant a lot of driving. TH would also be asked to go to the Association office to collect the surgery schedule. There had also been bread and butter work—opening post, deciding whether something was sufficiently urgent to be sent to London, passing on messages. There had been no reason to believe TH had not worked the hours—CS had the evidence in the product, and others remembered it being brought to them. Of its nature there would be no evidence in London of such work.
JLIn TH's evidence, while the workload had varied, she had received five or ten letters a day, not more than eight or nine phone calls, and up to five or six faxes, done some escorting of visitors and ferrying papers to and from Solihull. Did CS consider this added up to 18 hours work a week?
CSShe believed it did. PY had found it hard to fit in all the work when she had taken over. It might be helpful to record that in October 2008 she had hired a local person to do 15 hours a week in addition to what PY was doing, as her new secretary in London could not cope with the volume of work. There was a danger that letters would sit on the mat unopened.
JLWas CS suggesting that the volume of work was higher than TH implied?
CSShe would not question TH's view.
JLBut when PY succeeded TH, she was working fourteen hours not eighteen?
CSYes, but TH had continued dealing with letters and phone calls which had continued to go to her home. After the dual arrangement had ceased, CS had been happy to pay for this service out of her own pocket. She had needed to be accessible to her constituents. Her constituency had a high-dependency caseload. People were loath to make trunk calls to London.
RMIHow often had CS held surgeries?
CSShe had inherited five locations for surgeries and had tried to follow her predecessor's schedule. She had tried to alternate between Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, and had subsequently introduced a Thursday evening slot.
JLTH had said her nannying hours had been three to four a day. Was this not rather light?
CSThe main workload had been after school, except for about half an hour in the morning. The children had been young and would have been in bed early.
JLIf the working hours for TH as a secretarial assistant had been eighteen a week, did CS have a similar recollection of those for nannying?
CSOnce children are at school, as hers were, many mothers scale down their nanny requirements. But she had thought it appropriate to have someone in the house overnight.
JLHad CS been concerned that TH might be overloaded?
CSShe had given no indication she was, and had seemed to enjoy the work.
JLCould she confirm, as stated in her letter of 3rd July, that she helped with the childcare during recesses?
CSYes. The recesses were broadly in accordance with the school timetable and it was a benefit to the children of MPs that the MP parent was around in the holidays. When she was in the constituency she had control of her own diary.
JLTH had said that the children had spent time attending clubs in the holidays as well as term time. Could she recall how this had worked?
CSMany such clubs used school premises in the holidays, and such clubs might last all day.
JLWhat happened if the children were ill?
CSShe had been fortunate in the health of her children. Except for one day, none of her children was ill throughout the period in question: nor was TH.
Pay and conditions
JLNeither CS nor TH was sure how much TH had been paid. There were four pieces of relevant evidence.

One of CS's secretaries said that she believed that in 1999 CS had paid TH £12,000 or £13,000;

The PAYE return submitted by CS showing that she paid TH around £13,000 for her nannying duties in 1999. TH did not think her pay dropped when she lost her secretarial job, but stayed the same or went up;

CS's letter of 17 September, suggesting that she had had about £12,000 left for constituency staff and offices from her Office Costs Allowance of £47,568;

Invoices suggesting that when CS stopped paying TH as her secretarial assistant in 1999, she employed PY at £8.60 an hour for fourteen hours a week, the equivalent of £6,300 a year.

All this suggested that CS might have been paying TH as her secretarial assistant somewhere between £6,300 and £13,000 a year in 1999. Could CS help more on what she actually paid?

CSThe payment to TH must have been in the range JL suggested, but she did not recall. She had been worried about managing the budget, and had been surprised to find that office equipment had to come out of it.
JLWhy did CS decide to pay TH £13,000 after the ending of the dual arrangement?
CSTH was a trusted employee. CS knew that she could not stop some parliamentary tasks continuing. She thought it appropriate that TH should not be out of pocket as a result.
JLDid that point to TH's pay being around £13,000 when the dual arrangement ended?
CSShe could not remember the precise salary, but of course the salary she was receiving from parliamentary allowances in 1999 must have been more than she was receiving in 1997 since it would have been only fair to give her an uprating to reflect any uprating given to Members.
JLWhat additional work had TH taken on when the dual role had ended?
CSTH had continued to perform some administrative tasks, and this had been reflected in the salary, which she was now paying out of her own pocket. The children were now older and more demanding, needing, for instance, more help with homework in the evenings, and other particular support.
JLWas it correct to say that when PY had started work, CS had paid her considerably less than she had paid TH?
CSNo contract existed, but she would have paid what PY would have regarded as a fair salary. PY was not on a parliamentary contract—the association billed CS for her services. Local salaries were lower than parliamentary ones.
JLBut had not TH worked locally as well?
CSShe had taken advice from the Fees Office on TH's salary. New MPs had not received much guidance from the Fees Office on how to handle their budgets.
JLHow had CS established that £13,000 was appropriate for TH's pay after the dual arrangement ceased?
CSTH had proved a valuable staff member, and some duality remained. Given she now had more time available, CS could ask her to do more with the children.
JLNoted that up to 1999 TH had not been paid anything for her nannying work. Why was that?
CSTH had been on the same basis as an au pair, living in and receiving her board. A car had been bought for her use in the dual role. After 1999 the arrangement had been changed to pay her £13,000 as well as board, lodging and car. TH had seen her remuneration as a total package and CS had not wanted TH to lose out. CS had not wanted to lose TH's services and knew she would continue to need her to be her anchorman in the constituency, which was why she had been prepared to recognise her continued assistance with parliamentary work out of her own pocket.
JLHow did CS respond to the suggestion that TH had been enabled to work without receiving money as a nanny until 1999 because she had been being paid money as a secretarial assistant?
CSTH, like the au pair, had received pocket money in respect of her childcare function. TH had been happy with the arrangement. As long as the taxpayer did not suffer, CS's childcare arrangements were a matter between her and TH. There were no parliamentary rules on the subject. TH had been content to do the nannying work on the basis of board, lodging and use of a car.
JLWould the terms of employment be less of a private matter if money from Parliament had been spent on providing CS with childcare?
CSIt was not. There was no allowance for childcare. She had gone to the Fees Office to ask if it was permissible to have someone both providing childcare and parliamentary services and been told that it was. She had asked how much she should pay and been given the pay scales.
JLWas it not the case that parliamentary rules in relation to not using parliamentary expenditure for a personal benefit would be engaged if the salary CS was paying TH enabled her to work for CS as a nanny without additional cash payments?
CSDid not accept that that was the position. She paid TH the rate for her parliamentary work but she made provision for TH for the nannying duties which were the same as she had had for the au pair except that TH also had use of a car, which she had bought to enable her to carry out her parliamentary work but which she could use at other times.
JLPY was paid substantially less to do broadly the same work as TH, except PY also did the typing. Why was that?
CSShe did not recall making the comparison between the two salary levels. TH had had a contract drawn up by the Fees Office for her parliamentary activities, and PY had not, so the comparison was not obvious. PY had asked for what she had thought was the right amount[128].
JLThe Green Book provided that parliamentary allowances could not be used to pay for items of a personal nature. Was any element of TH's pay for such services?
CSTH had accepted the same working conditions as an au pair in respect of her nannying duties, and this had seemed reasonable to both parties. CS had not analysed the position in the same way as JL. She had gone out of her way to ensure that TH had a period of time clear for the parliamentary work. She had not set out to benefit at the expense of the taxpayer—she attached great importance to integrity.
JLCS had said earlier that TH had seen her employment arrangements as a total package. Had CS felt the same way or had she separated the elements?
CSShe had not thought in those terms. In 1997 when she had realised that there was a problem as the constituency association were not able to help she had found what she thought was a practical solution to the problem. She had explained freely what she intended to do, and no-one has said it could not be done.
JLHad CS explained to the Fees Office the terms and conditions of TH's employment, including the terms under which she was employed as a nanny?
CSShe could not remember the exact conversation, but why would they have a view? TH had been happy with the arrangements; she had been proud to be working for an MP, and the quality of her service showed that she was right to be.
JLCould TH explain the reference to paying pocket money to her childcare staff?
CSThere had been a household float, but neither the au pair nor TH had received any money for herself. A car had been bought for TH's use.
JLShould CS's reference in her letter to GP of February 1999 to wanting to employ PY for more hours in the constituency office be taken to imply that PY was already doing some work for CS?
CSNo. She had always hoped and expected that eventually PY would be able to work for her, but up to that point PY's involvement had been restricted to booking surgeries.
JLHow had CS decided that PY could do in fourteen hours what TH had been doing in eighteen?
CSSome work had remained with TH—in addition to what PY did, TH did some filing and taking material to councillors.
JLHad TH continued to do some driving on behalf of CS?
CSYes, for instance picking her up from the station or driving the intern to the location of his project.
JLIn her letter to GP following their conversation of February 25th 1999, CS had mentioned the loss of 'Stuart'. Who was he, and what was the relevance of his loss to the decision to reduce her Westminster support?
CSHe had been a trained agent, seconded to the constituency because it was marginal. His departure had meant additional pressure on PY but was not otherwise relevant.

CS said that she found it very difficult to terminate people's employment, and had found it hard to do in the case of the two parliamentary secretaries, SH and GP. There had been differences of opinion with GP, for instance about the use of an answering machine rather than the attendant message service—CS believed it was important for constituents to reach her office itself. She had supplied both with good references. Since that period, however, she had had a long and happy experience with someone—who had indeed returned after maternity leave.

JLHad CS changed her contact details in directories after the ending of the dual arrangement?
CSDoing so was difficult. They had gone ex-directory after she and TH had received a nuisance call, but it still appeared that a number of people had her number—and it was not possible to hide an address. Further, she wanted to make a virtue out of living in the constituency.

CS made a number of concluding points.

- None of the evidence hostile to her was from people in the constituency. She had provided a number of character references from people who knew her and TH.

- TH was the only person doing parliamentary work for CS when she was first elected. No complaints had been made about this work.

- Unlike most candidates, CS had had no planned run-up to election, and had had to dismantle and relocate all her arrangements while Parliament was sitting.

- The pay and conditions made available to TH for the childcare were commensurate with those previously given to her au pair, and she had in addition provided a car.

- The rules governing the use of parliamentary allowances in 1997 were different from those in force in 2008.

- SH had worked for her at Westminster from 12 April to 10 September 1999. The arrangement with TH had changed in May. SH must have been a very recent employee when she went to a third party (the former Opposition Deputy Chief Whip) raising questions about the employment of TH. If SH had had concerns about her pay rate, why had she not raised them at the outset of her employment? Despite the fact that she had been told by the Opposition Chief Whip that SH had spoken to his deputy about the arrangements regarding TH, CS had tried to work the matter out with SH. She felt MPs also needed more help in handling and if necessary terminating working relationships.

- CS liked to think of herself as a good employer who was not given to sacking people and would always try and work things out. She had just wanted a better service for her constituents. [Her Chief of Staff] said that normally people were happy to work for CS.

- It was hard to know what it cost to run offices in 1997, but a senior secretary would absorb about half the £47,000 available, and no additional provision was made for office equipment. She had known that there would be a residue in the allowance after she had made the basic provision, and she had gone to talk to the Fees Office about spending this. She felt new MPs needed more guidance.

- CS had a large constituency with a big caseload. She was expected to live in the local community. She had gone in expecting more help from PY, which had, of course, eventually materialised, but when the dual arrangement was terminated she had known that TH would continue to do some parliamentary work.

- She wished to submit one more piece of evidence, a note from the local chairman of the NFU [WE 58], in which he had noted from his diary the dates on which he had contacted TH at the constituency home. He was an example of someone who was unwilling to make a trunk call to London.

- CS said that it had never occurred to her that there was a difference between the pay levels of TH and PY and that this might be regarded as significant. She had not noticed; this was probably because they were paid under two different accounting systems.

JL thanked CS for her help with his inquiry and [her Chief of Staff] for accompanying her to the meeting.

10 December 2008

58.  Statement from former Chairman of Central Warwickshire NFU, 7 December 2008

To whom it may concern:          

I, […] have known Caroline Spelman since she was elected MP for the Meriden Ward and lived in Knowle where I also farmed for 46 years.

During the following 15 years, including 2 years as Chairman of Central Warwickshire NFU, I have found it necessary to phone my 'local' MP (Conservative) on many occasions, especially over local farming matters. These phone calls were made to her house in Knowle, and later in […] most times speaking to her nanny, Tina, who would inform me, or my wife, of her whereabouts on the day of my query. Below is a dated list of those varied reasons for phoning her, and my questions were often answered, as one would expect from a receptionist.

Dates of calls to Caroline's house:-

7/2/1997    -  Barstow - 1st Meeting - Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative MPs

13/2/1997  -  Meeting after General Election

16/4/1997  -

20/1/1998  -  Re: Farm Rally - London (3 calls)

21/1/1998  -  Re: thanks for MP & MEP

16/1/1998  -  Meeting Stratford Market - […]

      Collapse of Beef Market

4/7/1998    -  Re: MPs - Conservative, Lib and Labour

      Meeting of top NFU Members and Local

4/11/1998  -  Re: Tim Yeo - Debate in Parliament

I also have many paper clippings etc. of Caroline's times of help and attendance at meetings with local farmers at a very difficult time - "Ban on British Beef" and our visits to the Labour Party conferences at Blackpool and Bournemouth - and NFU visit to Houses of Parliament - and I phoned her house on many occasions to arrange meetings around farmers' kitchen tables with 12 or 14 constituent farmers. The NFU were always very pleased and impressed with Caroline's commitment to help and liaise with farmers and their problems. She is still helping her farmers i.e. "Keep Britain Farming".

7 December 2008

59.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP, 2 February 2009

Thank you for your letter of 26 January enclosing your Draft Memorandum and findings of fact.

I am writing to provide my comments on a small number points which you have raised in your findings. However, before I do so I should like to apologise profusely for submitting some late evidence to your inquiry. First, I must explain how these papers came to light. As I was going through your Memorandum, I looked once again at all the evidence which I had submitted to you back in July. In doing so I opened the box of paperwork pertaining to my nanny and in there was a plastic wallet entitled 2001/2002 and in it was a leaflet entitled "Do you need a nanny?". As I was putting the wallet back into the folder, the leaflet fell out and out of the middle of it fell the enclosed documents - a number of original payslips for Tina Haynes from the 1997 period.

I was utterly astonished at my findings having looked for these so many times previously. However, I had never before looked into the 2001/02 wallet as I did not believe it to be relevant, nor inside the nanny leaflet. I am hugely embarrassed to be finding these at this stage and again, I apologise for submitting these to you so late in the day.

Accordingly, I now enclose payslips for months ending as follows [not reproduced here]

30 June 1997

31 July 1997

29 August 1997

30 September 1997

31 October 1997

28 November 1997

31 December 1997

31 January 1998

You will see that these payslips do not, in fact, add anything substantially 'new' to the inquiry. However, there are a number of points which I would like to make in respect of this evidence.

1.  These serve to confirm my recollection that Tina herself received approximately £9,000 for the work she undertook for me as my administration assistant. They also confirm that her gross salary would have been just under £13,000.

2.  However, it would have been the net amount which was the important figure for Tina's purposes as it reflected her take home pay for the work she was doing, which was the amount I would have discussed with her. Traditionally, nanny roles are not discussed in terms of hourly rates or monthly salary, but as weekly net pay. The gross figure is of little interest to the nanny as this includes tax and national insurance contributions which are paid directly by her employing family. Although Tina was taking on a dual function and this sum was to cover her administrative role, it seems entirely logical that we would always have thought in terms of take home pay.

3.  This late find only goes to show quite how difficult it has been to try and reconstruct events and have them analysed out of context, without full documentary evidence and nearly twelve years after the event. That remains the case.

I understand that you have invited me to comment upon your findings of fact, but over the course of this investigation I am conscious that the scope and focus of this inquiry has moved on as you have taken evidence from new witnesses. I hope you will permit me this opportunity just to make two general observations. First, I would like to stress that the reason I self-referred was because I was extremely keen to demonstrate that I had not breached any House rule that was in place at the time. I continue to deny that I have done so. The Rules in place at the time, so far as I was concerned, did not prohibit a dual role. The requirements were that, to the extent that Office Costs Allowances were used to pay staff, their duties had to be "wholly, exclusively and necessarily incurred' in the performance of parliamentary duties. I remain of the view that, provided the Rules did not prohibit the dual role and provided that Tina Haynes undertook sufficient work to justify her pay (and accordingly gave value to the tax payer) then this notion of 'subsidy' is, I respectfully submit, a little misleading.

Secondly, I note that one of the issues which has come out during the inquiry is the amount paid to Paula Yates when she took over as my constituency support. In your findings of fact you note that this amounted to around £6,300 per year, which would have been equivalent to just over £8,000 per year for an 18-hour week (as Tina had been doing). I feel it is extremely important to note that this, in fact, is not a very different figure to that which Tina had been receiving, as is now demonstrated by the payslips. For comparable hours, Tina received approximately £9,000, Paula would have received approximately £8,000. The reason why it is the net figure for Tina which is relevant is because as I was not responsible for paying Paula's tax or national insurance contributions (employer and employee) as I did for Tina: hence the reason for what seems a large disparity. In respect of the small difference between Tina's net rate and Paula's pay, as I have previously noted, it was not my responsibility to decide Paula's rate of pay: this was for the local Association. I simply paid the sum invoiced to me.

I look forward to hearing from you with your final report.

2 February 2009

60.  Letter to Mrs Caroline Spelman MP from the Commissioner, 3 February 2009

Thank you for your letter of 2 February following up the draft factual sections of my memorandum on my inquiry which I sent to you on 26 January.

It is clearly very helpful that you have found evidence which shows clearly what Mrs Haynes was paid from Parliamentary allowances for her work as your administration assistant. I shall amend the factual sections of the report to reflect this new evidence.

There are, however, two points on which I need to reach agreement with you before I can complete the factual sections of the memorandum. You refer in your letter to the payslips confirming your recollection that Mrs Haynes received approximately £9,000 for the work she undertook for you as your administration assistant. But your evidence, until you found the payslips, was that you had no recollection of what Mrs Haynes was paid. (See paragraph 2.6 of your letter to me of 3 July 2008; and your statement in oral evidence on 10 December 2008 that Mrs Haynes' payment must have been in the range of £6,300 to £13,000 a year as I suggested, but that you did not recall.)

I also have difficulty in following the comparison you have made between what you paid Mrs Haynes and what you paid Mrs Yates. Since neither payment was in respect of nannying duties, I do not believe that a discussion of pay based on the conventions for such negotiation is likely to be relevant. You have sought to take out National Insurance payments and tax from Mrs Haynes remuneration on the grounds that you did not pay either tax or National Insurance contributions for Mrs Yates. However, the information you sent me with your initial letter of 3 July clearly shows that a National Insurance contribution of 7% was added to Mrs Yates' hourly rate and, in reaching the annual equivalent figure for her salary, I have taken that into account. It must also be the case that Mrs Yates would have had to pay tax out of her remuneration.

May I suggest that the appropriate comparison between the two pay levels is to identify what you would have paid Mrs Yates at her rate of £8 an hour for eighteen hours a week, and uplifted by the difference between the self employed NI rate which Mrs Yates seems to have paid to the employees' rate of 10% which I assume you would have paid for Mrs Haynes? On that basis, the equivalent of Mrs Yates' salary paid to an employed person for 18 hours a week would have been about £8,200 a year. (I attach a note [not reproduced here] showing these calculations together with the two invoices you sent me on 3 July on which these calculations are based.)

It would be very helpful if you could confirm this figure. I shall then revise the factual sections of the memorandum to take account of the new information which you have produced. I will then need to send it to you for any final comments you may wish to make. I will then move to preparing my conclusions and submit the memorandum to the Committee. I know you will understand that, despite both our efforts, it will not now be possible to submit the memorandum to the Committee before the recess. But with your continued help, for which I am most grateful, I shall aim to do so as soon as possible thereafter.

3 February 2009

61.  Letter to Mrs Caroline Spelman MP from the Commissioner, 4 February 2009

Following your letter to me of 2 February identifying the salary you paid Mrs Tina Haynes as your administration assistant, I need to ask you about how you came to set that level of salary compared to the salary you paid your House of Commons secretary, Mrs Sally Hammond.

As you will know from the letter of 22 July 2008 from the Acting Director of Operations which I sent you with my letter of 25 November, the Department discovered the file for Mrs Hammond which confirmed that she was employed by you from 12 April 1999 to 10 September 1999 as a secretary at a rate of £15,000 a year. Mrs Hammond's evidence in her letter to me of 14 July 2008, which I also sent you with my letter of 25 November, states that she believed that she was paid for three days a week, spread over four days. On that basis, Mrs Hammond's full time equivalent rate in 1999 was £25,000.

Mrs Tina Haynes worked for you from 1997 to 1999 for a salary of £13,000 for an 18 hour week. The full time equivalent salary assuming a 37½ working week would be £27,083. On the basis of this evidence, it would appear that you were paying Mrs Tina Haynes as your administration assistant working in your constituency at a rate above that which you paid your House of Commons secretary working in London.

Taking account of the nature of the two jobs, their locations and the experience of both employees, I would be very grateful if you could help me on how you came to establish the two salary levels, how you would explain the apparent differential and whether you consider that justified in the light of the work which Mrs Haynes undertook for you as your administration assistant.

It would be very helpful in concluding this inquiry if you could let me have a response to this letter within the next week, but if you need more time or would like to speak about any of this, do let me know.

Thank you again for your help.

4 February 2009

62.  Letter to the Commissioner from Mrs Caroline Spelman MP, 11 February 2009

Thank you for your letter of 3rd February and the amendments you have agreed to in respect of the factual memorandum.

With regard to the two points you raise in your letter of 3rd February, I will address each in turn. In my letter of 2nd February 2009, point 1 ('recollection of £9,000') simply refers to my acceptance that it fell within the parameters you suggested to me during the oral interview of 10th December 2008. One of the frustrations for me was that I could not recall the precise salary figure for Ms Haynes, something I made clear throughout the inquiry and answered entirely honestly. It was only as more and more research was done into the circumstances of twelve years ago that all of us were able to narrow the salary range down. My sense was that £13,000 as take home pay seemed a little high to me, and point 1 of my letter of February 2nd was only meant to convey that my instinct was quite right and that Ms Haynes' take home pay had indeed been quite less.

With regard to the second point, I accept your calculations. I have to admit that even at the time I would not have paid particular attention to the specific amounts of NI contributions which would have been paid in respect of either Ms Haynes (when she was on the Parliamentary payroll) or Ms Yates (as an employee of the Association), hence my confusion at this juncture. Again, in respect of Ms Yates, I would just note that I simply paid the amount invoiced to me by the Association: I would also note that when it came to paying Ms Haynes, I paid what I believe was a fair salary for the work she undertook. As I have previously explained, and the fees office have confirmed, I discussed the dual role and salary with them. The Fees Office certainly expressed no concern to me at the time about the arrangement or the level of salary.

… in autumn 1997 we moved from a property we rented on a shorthold tenancy […] to an identical property three doors down […] which had become available to buy. It was not a 'larger' property in any way it was simply that we were able to buy it as the tenancy on [the first property] was not going to be available owing to the owners returning from abroad. The larger house which we bought was a property in […] but we were not able to move to that property until October 1998.

In response to your (second) letter of 4 February, I feel I must state my firmest objection to what I regard as a wholly unfair and artificial comparison now being drawn between the salaries of Tina Haynes and that of Sally Hammond.

It would appear that there is now some suggestion that the rate paid to Ms Haynes may have been inappropriate by virtue of the comparative amounts which I paid to my other staff members (Mrs Hammond and, in your previous letter, Ms Paula Yates). I do not accept this. I continue to deny that the amount paid to Tina Haynes was anything other than fair and reasonable within the House Rules at the time for the work she undertook.

Notwithstanding this, in order to respond to your letter, I will now turn to consider (as best I can at this stage) the circumstances surrounding the employment of these two individuals. As I hope you will appreciate, I cannot now recall the specifics of every discussion that took place at the time. I have previously explained that I had a very short run in to being elected (just 11 weeks from selection) and was elected on a very slim majority (582). What I do recall is that at the initial interview with Tina I raised the issue of both roles but I did not offer her a firm position (and was not able to): that was subject to my election. Accordingly, before agreeing any salary for Tina Haynes as my administration assistant I sought and obtained the advice and guidance of the Fees Office.

I was a new MP at that time and so, other than seeking Fees Office guidance and asking my colleagues, I had no other means of knowing what was a reasonable rate to pay my employees, never having had to employ staff in such capacities before.

Although there were no specific job titles within the Rules at that time, the Fees Office had full knowledge of the contracts in place for my staff (as for all other MPs) and they did not at any time object to the rates at which I was paying these individuals. As I understood it, the independent scrutiny of staff salaries which the Rules required at that time, was applied by the Fees Office. Accordingly, had they regarded the amount to be paid to Tina Haynes as being inappropriate, I would have expected the Fees Office to have said so: they did not.

I cannot now recall how the level of salary was decided, other than that it would have been done in accordance with guidance received from the Fees Office. Most likely I expect they would have advised me of an appropriate salary range, but I cannot be sure of this. I can also confirm that the discussion I would have had with the Fees Office as regards Tina's salary would have been in terms of take-home pay (circa £9,000). This would have also been the rate referred to in my discussions with Tina.

As regards Sally Hammond, again I cannot now recall the particular conversations which took place regarding the commencement of her employment. However, I believe it is worth noting that Mrs Hammond did not start work for me until almost 2 years after I started employing Ms Haynes. Again, the Fees Office would have been informed of Mrs Hammond's proposed salary and, again, there were no objections made to me that this was regarded as inappropriate. As regards Mrs Hammond, the salary offered to her must have been acceptable as she took the position. She was under no compulsion to do so.

I should also point out that, aside from the difference in the periods in which these individuals worked for me, Mrs Hammond and Ms Haynes were fulfilling quite different functions in quite different locations (one in Westminster, one in the constituency). The factors that would have been at play in determining the appropriate salaries for each role would not necessarily have been comparable and I would respectfully submit that, without knowing the precise circumstances, to compare the two cannot be done meaningfully at this late stage.

In general terms I should like to conclude by noting my increasing concern that the inquiry now seems to have shifted somewhat away from looking at whether a dual role was permissible, and whether the remuneration for the Parliamentary payroll position was within the House Rules, to a technical question of 'subsidy' focussing on a comparative analysis of my other staff salaries. It is worth restating that Mrs Yates was not my employee but remained the employee of the local Association operating under terms and conditions which were agreed between her and the Association at the time she was engaged by them, thus making such a comparison virtually impossible. For the record I should like to confirm that at no time did I ever carry out such a forensic analysis and accordingly, any conclusions that are drawn from the numbers can only be based on inference with 12 years hindsight. Most importantly, I should also like to confirm with certainty that there was no motivation or intention on my part to obtain any personal material gain from my employment of Ms Haynes in a dual capacity. As I hope I have made clear throughout this lengthy inquiry, the employment of Tina Haynes in this dual role was what I believed to be a practical solution within the House Rules to the circumstances in which I found myself at the time.

I hope this helps, and thank you again for your continued work on this inquiry.

11 February 2009

128   Mrs Spelman subsequently wrote: 'When employing Ms Haynes in her administrative role,I had paid her what was regarded as a reasonable rate following my discussions with the Fees Office; after the dual role ceased I simply went on to pay Paula Yates the amount which the local Association invoiced me for her time. I did not carry out any specific analysis of the two rates or roles. It is possible that the Association billed me a lower rate for Paula's time than I had previously paid to Tina but this may have been because, by their very nature, Associations tend to have very limited resources and accordingly have relatively low wage costs.However, I had no reason to think there was anything unusual or irregular about this and I should stress that I do not believe that there is anything significant in this in the event that there was any discrepancy.'


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