COMPLAINT AGAINST MR JOHN MAXTON AND DR
Was the OCA actually used improperly?
36. We consider the evidence in support of the Commissioner`s
conclusion that the OCA was used improperly because Ms Hilliard
and Mr Winslow were working such long hours for the Labour Party
that they could not have done their parliamentary research work
37. In respect of Ms Hilliard, the Commissioner relied
on evidence from Mr Rowley, Mr Rafferty, Mr Sullivan and Ms Lesley
Quinn (Mr Rowley`s successor as General Secretary). These witnesses
concentrated in their evidence on the period immediately before
the Scottish Parliament elections. The Commissioner summarised
their evidence as follows:
87. Mr Rowley told
me that, at least during the closing weeks of the Scottish Parliamentary
election campaign, none of the three researchers "had any
spare time at all", and that Ms Hilliard had complained of
being "under extreme pressure" (Annex 129, Q 13). Mr
Rafferty supported this description of Ms Hilliard`s workload,
in that she had worked on a shift basis which was "quite
arduous" (Annex 151, pp 8 and 9). This certainly, in Mr Rafferty`s
view, amounted to a full-time effort as the campaign reached its
height, when all the staff at Party headquarters worked "lots
and lots and lots of hours" (ibid, p.11). Mr Sullivan also
viewed Ms Hilliard as a full-time member of staff who was not,
as far as he was aware, doing work for anyone else at the same
time (Annex 172, p.3). Ms Quinn`s recollection was that Ms Hilliard
arrived at the Labour Party offices at about 1.30 or 2.00 pm and
stayed "until early evening". She added that "nobody
could say she was here full-time as much as Chris [Winslow] or
Kevin [Reid]." (Annex 179, pp. 5 and 7).
The Commissioner summarised Ms Hilliard`s evidence
88. In response, Ms
Hilliard denied categorically that she had been available to work,
or had in fact worked, full-time for the Labour Party. She had
done everything asked of her by Dr Reid. That work had been carried
out from home in the mornings before she went to Delta House (the
Labour Party offices). It was therefore not surprising that no
one there was aware of her performing other duties whilst engaged
on Party business: she had not done so. There were no set times
for either job and this flexibility allowed her to arrange her
respective duties for the Party and Dr Reid so as to avoid any
overlap (Annex 108).
89. Ms Hilliard maintained that this remained
the case even when, as the election approached, her commitment
to the Party increased to 6 or 7 hours a day. She said that although
during that period the number of hours she worked for Dr Reid
probably dropped to an average of about 12 to 15 per week, she
was still able to do everything he asked of her.
38. In respect of Mr Winslow, the Commissioner relied
on evidence from Mr Rowley, Mr Rafferty, Mr Sullivan and Mr John
McLaren (another staff member at the SLP`s headquarters), which
is summarised below:
101. Mr Rowley told
me that Ms Annmarie Whyte, the Office Manager, had declared Mr
Winslow to be "available full-time" for Party work (Annex
129, Q 3). Mr Rafferty certainly regarded him as such during the
latter part of the campaign, even though, as he explained, Mr
Winslow frequently worked from home (Annex 151, p. 11). On the
scale of effort put in by Mr Winslow on behalf of the Party, Mr
Rowley thought that he had done "a very hard year`s work"
(Annex 129, Q 3). Mr Rafferty`s perception was that Mr Winslow
had worked "very, very long hours" and that he was frequently
already at his desk when Mr Rafferty arrived (Annex 151, p.7).
This had amounted to a full-time commitment "for at least
part of the campaign", to the point where it was difficult
to see, in Mr Rafferty`s judgment, how Mr Winslow could have managed
a second job for Mr Maxton in the very limited spare time available
to him (Annex 154A, Q 1 and 6).
102. This latter view was endorsed by Mr Sullivan,
who estimated the time spent by Party workers on the campaign
at between 12 and 14 hours a day in the immediate run-up to the
election (Annex 172, p. 5). Mr John McLaren, who occupied a senior
position at Scottish Labour Party headquarters, estimated that
Mr Winslow worked "at least 40 hours a week, usually more"
as the campaign developed (Annex 202).
The Commissioner summarised Mr Winslow`s evidence
105. Mr Winslow conceded,
however, that during the period of the campaign itself, there
had perhaps been 3 or 4 weeks during which he had been unable
to fulfil completely (in terms of hours) his contractual commitment
to Mr Maxton. In those weeks his total effort for Mr Maxton might
have fallen to 10 hours instead of 20but equally, Mr Winslow
maintained, there had been weeks outside the campaign period when
the number of hours he had put in on his Parliamentary duties
would have exceeded 20 (Annex 105, p. 9). Mr Winslow added that,
by the time of the immediate run-up to the election, he had accumulated
a certain amount of holiday entitlement in his contract with Mr
Maxton (Annex 101).
39. Mr Rafferty and Mr Rowley confirmed their accounts
in their oral evidence to us in the following terms:
Q34 (Mr Bottomley) In
terms of being able to do thatand, certainly, to take the
last month or four weeks of the campaignwould you have
thought it was reasonably possible for her to have worked for
somebody else for more than 10 or 15 hours a week?
(Mr Rafferty) I honestly cannot say what is possible
and what is not possible. In the last month of the campaign we
were there all the time. It was extremely hard work. But I had
no knowledge of what people did outside.
Q76 (Mr Bell) So the critical time is those four
weeks, and you cannot help us on that.
(Mr Rafferty) I cannot say what people did outsidewe
worked extremely hard.
Q77 (Mr Bell) They were really tired at the end
of the day?
(Mr Rafferty)We were all exhausted.
Q179 (Mr Foster ) What was fulltime in your
(Mr Rowley) Fulltime in terms of Chris Winslow
was certainly a lot more hours than Kevin Reid. John made the
point that Kevin went home in the evenings. He did not work every
weekend. I would not hesitate to say about Chris Winslow, on the
other hand. He was in a Policy and Research Unit, focusing very
much on economics issues. He came from the university and had
studied economics. He was very, very sharp and very good. Fulltime
on his part was certainly early morning, well into the evenings,
in terms of Chris Winslow. He worked weekends. Most of the staff
on the campaign were working very long hours. In terms of fulltime
for Kevin, as I mentioned to you and the Commissioner, Kevin would
be there early morning. Once we moved for the operation into Delta
House, Kevin would be there very early to prepare the morning
briefs and would leave after lunchtime, after he had the lunchtime
news bulletins, which would be round about 1 or 1.30.
Q181 (Mr Foster) Going back before then, was Mr
Winslow working long hours even in the early stages?
(Mr Rowley) Yes. It was very a difficult year;
very, very hard throughout that year, so he was working much harder.
40. The Commissioner attached weight to the payment
of bonuses to Ms Hilliard and Ms Winslow, which indicated effort
in the election campaign above and beyond the call of duty. The
relevant evidence is as follows:
73. I asked Mr Upton
for details of the bonus payments which had been made to the three
researchers. He told me that a sum of £8,000 had been set
aside to reward staff after the Scottish election campaign for
effort "above and beyond the call of duty", the benchmark
for which was the number of hours worked in excess of the contractual
obligation. Entitlement to a bonus, and the amount due, was determined,
by local management, according to 3 bands:
Band 1 : at least
5-15 hours extra per week
Band 2 : at least 15-25 hours extra per week
Band 3 : at least 25 hours extra per week.
74. Mr Upton stated that Mr Reid and Mr Winslow
had been placed in Band 3 and had each received £406.78.
He said that Ms Hilliard, although not a contracted member of
the Labour Party staff, also received this sum, "to recognise
her enormous effort during the campaign" (Annex 188). Mr
Winslow told me he had submitted a record of his hours to obtain
his bonus (Annex 105, pp 17 and 18) and I have asked both Ms Annmarie
Whyte and Mr Upton for a copy. Ms Whyte said they had been sent
to Labour Party headquarters and Mr Upton said he would ask his
personnel manager whether the information was available. On 2
October 2000 Mr Upton wrote to me to say that the personnel manager
does not have the time sheets (Annex 199C).
52. Ms Hilliard said in her statement to me
that she "did not really advertise" the fact that from
November 1998 onwards she was employed by Dr Reid (Annex 108,
p. 4). She added: "When I was doing my work in Delta House
[the Labour Party`s offices in Glasgow], I think a few people
knew what I was doing, but not very many". In answer to a
specific question from me, she denied that she had received any
bonus from the Labour Party and she said she was prepared to say
on oath that she had never been paid by the Labour Party during
hours for which she had been paid by the Fees Office (Annex 111,
41. The Commissioner noted that no documentary evidence
of Mr Winslow`s work for Mr Maxton had been provided;
that the documentary evidence provided of Mr Kevin Reid`s and
Ms Hilliard`s work for Dr Reid was illustrative rather than comprehensive;
and that information which might have confirmed Ms Hilliard`s
account of events had not been provided.
On that point the Commissioner told us:
I experienced lengthy and, in my view, unjustified delays in obtaining
from Ms Hilliard the evidence which she agreed to let me have,
in the form of telephone accounts, which might corroborate her
contention that in the mornings she was in regular communication
with Dr Reid using her mobile telephone from her flat. As she
originally explained the position to me: "I would page him
[Dr Reid] or, more generally, he would phone me if there was anything"
(Annex 111, p. 10). In a subsequent note to the interview transcript,
however, Ms Hilliard gave a somewhat different explanation: "Dr
Reid was almost always the one who made contact with me".
Even so, I would have expected Ms Hilliard`s mobile phone accounts
to show some evidence of outgoing calls to Dr Reid`s pager. It
is therefore surprising that Ms Hilliard`s solicitors told me
on 23 September 2000 that no such calls were made from Ms Hilliard`s
mobile phone during a critical period of the campaign, namely
April and early May 1999. Nor has Ms Hilliard provided me with
any details of calls made to Dr Reid from the payphone in her
flat. For his part, Dr Reid has not provided me with his own telephone
accounts for the period in question, despite several requests
to him to let me have any relevant supporting documentation.
42. We have considered the evidence. It is circumstantial.
The witnesses chose to concentrate on the last four weeks of the
election campaign. None of the witnesses is able to state categorically
that Ms Hilliard and Mr Winslow were incapable of fulfilling their
parliamentary obligations at any particular time. The two researchers
gave direct evidence. Both of them told the Commissioner that
during the election campaign the hours they worked for their Member
did fall short of their contractual hours.
That is not necessarily inconsistent with their flexible contracts.
There is no conclusive evidence that either researcher failed
to fulfil his or her contractual hours for the Member on a variable
contract when seen over a longer period of time. Possible supporting
evidence was not provided. Without other compelling evidence,
we do not regard these admitted shortcomings as sufficient
grounds for upholding the complaint.
43. Accordingly we do not uphold the complaint
against either Mr Maxton or Dr Reid.
31 Appendix 1, paras. 109-10. Back
1, paras. 84-6 and 92-4. Back
1, paras. 95-100. Back
also Qs 277 (Dr Reid) and 387 (Mr Maxton). Back