Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from Mr John Maxton MP
I acknowledge receipt of your letter and the enclosed
With one exception none of the evidence comes from
Dean Nelson. I have been asking for the evidence you had from
him on January 27th which allowed you to inform me and the media
that you were starting an inquiry under Clause 69 of the Code
of Conduct. This makes it very clear that you had none. Indeed
in paragraph (iv) you say, "Mr Nelson had previously agreed
to provide me with tapes and transcripts only where the evidence
I collected appeared to differ in a material way from the information
which he had published in his original article or provided in
his complaint letter."
It seems apparent from that sentence that Mr Nelson
provided you with no evidence but his letter. The Clause 69 is
very clear and I will not quote it again.
Further from the quote it seems clear to me that
you "collected the evidence". As I have said again and
again to you Clause 67 says `Both the Commissioner and the Committee
on Standards and Privileges will be guided by the view of the
former Select Committee on Members` Interests that "it is
not sufficient to make an unsubstantiated allegation and expect
the Committee to assemble supporting evidence", and that
it "would not normally regard a complaint founded upon no
more than a newspaper story or television report as a substantiated
allegation". Yet it seems clear to me that that is what you
I have received the letter you wrote to me in response
to mine of May 17th. In neither letter do you make any effort
to refute my concern that you misled me by implying you had heard
Dean Nelson`s tapes on January 27th. As I said in my last letter
to deliberately mislead a Member of Parliament is a very serious
matter. I have replied separately to the other matters.
I have sought the evidence above almost from the
inception of this inquiry but you have singularly failed to respond
to a very reasonable request from a Member of Parliament.
It seems obvious you started the inquiry into my
affairs on nothing but the letter from Dean Nelson that contains
totally unsubstantiated allegations.
I intend to make only four comments on your letter
and the enclosed documents.
Firstly in your first paragraph you " remind
me that you should not discuss, or seek to discuss, with any person
the form or content of your evidence to me or that of any other
person in connection with my investigation into the complaint
made against you by Mr Nelson".
As you will be aware I have studied all the relevant
documents related to your work and the Committee on Standards
and Privileges. Nowhere can I find anything that gives you the
right to order a Member of Parliament to act in this way. I will
discuss these matters with whomever I wish including members of
the Committee, other Members of Parliament and those who have
been involved in the investigation.
Secondly I am very surprised and concerned to receive
from you material that appears to relate to an investigation into
Dr John Reid. This material contains many matters that have no
bearing whatsoever on the complaint made against me. You have
provided me with what is presumably confidential information concerning
Dr Reid and his son, Kevin. I can see no reason for providing
me with this material. Did you obtain permission from Dr Reid
and other persons involved to provide this information to me?
My concern is that you have provided information
concerning the complaint against me to others who are not relevant
recipients of such information. Have you done so?
I must insist on a reply to this point forthwith
in order that I may consider what action to take.
Thirdly I note that the only evidence you include
from Dean Nelson is the transcript from his interview with the
originator of the story, Paul McKinney. I also note that, as I
am sure you have, that neither my name nor that of Chris Winslow
or Suzanne Hilliard are mentioned in that transcript.
How in the circumstances did you and indeed do you
feel able to persist with investigating Mr Nelson`s complaint?
Mr Nelson told you that he had taped interviews of "many
senior Labour officials and politicians" apparently confirming
his complaint. The excerpt from the McKinney tape is all that
has been provided. Does not this give you pause for thought about
the sufficiency of evidence underlying Mr Nelson`s complaint?
In my letter to you of February 23rd I said, "Surely
it is not for you or indeed me to prove the allegations false
but for him to prove that they are true. So far he has singularly
failed to do this yet you appear to be working on the assumption
that he has." This is still the case. Indeed all the interview
transcripts show nothing which would indicate any guilt on my
It is totally unacceptable for you to persist with
this complaint in these circumstances.
You have the statement I made concerning my employment
of Chris Winslow and you have interviewed him. I have read the
transcripts from the three witnesses that refer to Mr Winslow`s
employment by the Labour Party. Nothing in them proves that he
did not work for me as I described. They are merely statements
of those witnesses view of Mr Winslow`s employment by the Labour
Party. I had no conversations, contact or meetings with anyone
from the Labour Party to discuss their employment of Chris Winslow
or mine during the period of that employment.
Mr Rafferty`s statements are exculpatory in that
they show that Chris Winslow told him on a number of occasions
that he was doing work for me. Neither Mr McKinney nor Mr Sullivan
states that Mr Winslow was not doing work for me. Mr Rowley`s
answers do not provide any link to suggest Chris Winslow was not
working for me. Whatever Mr Rowley may think he agreed with Ms
Whyte or understood from Ms Whyte it had nothing to do with me
nor did I know anything of it. I note that you have not sent me
Ms Whyte`s statement so I must conclude that she did not support
Mr Rowley`s assertions.
Fourthly I note that you appear to have changed the
nature of the complaint. The original letter quite clearly accuses
me of paying Chris Winslow while he worked full time for the Labour
Party. Somehow you appear to have changed this to an accusation
that he worked more for the Labour Party than he did for me particularly,
indeed only, during the relatively short period (three to four
weeks) of the election campaign.
Certainly he did work long hours during that period
but as John Rafferty makes clear he was still doing some work
for me. Chris also had holiday entitlement to take and as I knew
he was leaving my employment I allowed him time off during the
If after four months of very intensive investigation,
the most that is said is that Chris Winslow worked especially
hard for the Labour Party in the short period immediately before
the Scottish election then that does not support the complaint
nor does it justify you proceeding further with it.
I now call on you to dismiss the complaint against
me and inform the Committee accordingly. If you do not do so I
request a reasoned statement from you as to how it is you consider
you are entitled to proceed any further with it.
4 June 2000