E-mail to the Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from Mr Alex Rowley
|To:||The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
|Date:||27 July 2000 11:41
I write in response to your recent correspondence
and phone calls. I apologise for the delay in responding to you,
as you know I have become increasingly concerned about the way
this whole matter has developed and in particular the immense
pressure felt by those implicated. From the outset I have sought
to answer your questions honestly and truthfully but the questions
have kept coming and as a result, I am being told privately that
I am being blamed for "doing in John Reid." I am sure
you can understand the kind of pressure this puts one under.
You have said to me that the comment I have made
to you about being told that I could face criminal prosecution
if I admitted any wrong doing to you and I might not be endorsed
as a Labour Candidate have been denied by John Reid. Indeed, he
has said that I suggested these things were suggested by myself.
This is not the case. I was so concerned after having these conversations
with John Reid that I taped the next one I had with him, this
is something which I have never done before. I have now passed
the tape to yourself.
On the question of who contacted who. The first conversation
I had with John where he told me I could face criminal prosecution
took place in a hotel lobby in Edinburgh at my behest. I met John
in the lobby and asked to speak to him. The second conversation
took place when John phoned me at my house. The third which was
taped took place after I had called Lesley Quinn to let her know
that I had agreed to meet with you and she suggested I should
speak to John and she paged him. I did have a few conversations
with John before this. When I was contacted by Dean Nelson of
the Observer, I contacted Lesley Quinn and then John Reid contacted
me on my mobile and after the story broke, I spoke with Lesley
Quinn again to raise my concern with her about the official response
to the accusations and again was contacted by John Reid. I also
agreed to be interviewed by a Solicitor representing John Reid
and did so at the Firms Glasgow Offices, this was followed up
by a phone conversation with the Solicitor who wanted to clarify
some of the points I had made.
With reference to your questions about the letter
from Annmarie Whyte, I would respond as follows; Annmarie is absolutely
correct when she states that John Reid and John Maxton would not
have had any input into the planning of the Scottish Election
Budget. However her statement in 1a that it was hoped to take
Chris Winslow on for a 33 hour working week, is simply not the
case. We had already agreed that Chris would work for the Party
on a full time basis and that this would be funded in part by
the Party and in part by John Maxton MP. The same agreement which
was later put in place with John Reid for the employment of Kevin
Reid.Likewise answer f is not true with the exception of the point
that neither John Reid nor John Maxton paid any money to the Party,
they paid the individuals direct. I have to say to you that I
find it quite astonishing that many young people such as Annmarie
Whyte are being put in the position by one of the most senior
Politicians in Scotland that they are having to give dishonest
information to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
I have been told that others who you have contacted have felt
under immense pressure. I find the whole situation unforgivable
given that what you are investigating has almost certainly been
practised by all political parties in the past, it was certainly
practised in the Scottish Labour Party before I was in post. Indeed,
I argued with John Reid when this story came out that
we should acknowledge the difficulty of accounting for peoples
time, when they are both employed by a political party and an
MP through public money and that the lesson for us was that we
would not do this again.
As I have told you, my conversations with John Reid
resulted in me being told that if I admitted any wrongdoing, I
could face criminal prosecution and that, if I was selected by
a local constituency as their candidate for the next Westminster
general election, I would not be endorsed by the Party. And as
a result of what I considered to be threats, I taped my next
conversation with John Reid, not because I want to get John Reid
into trouble but because this whole affair has gone far enough,
people are feeling threatened, blamed if they tell the truth.
Individuals working for or associated with the Labour Party should
not be treated in this way and it is time this whole sorry episode
was brought to an end.
I do not know how useful the tape will be but I do
hope it demonstrates how determined John was that his view of
events is the one which people should be giving to you. In clarifying
a few points, I would like to draw your attention to
the part where John tells me that when speaking to you, "what
you can say is in November you went to a full time operation...."
and goes on to say "you don't have to mention the Tory thing."
The significance of this is that the only reason
we put Kevin on to a fulltime contract was that John was
spooked by an article which appeared in a London based news paper and
criticised the Tory's for using research staff for Party purposes.
I think Labour MPs were keen to expose and put a stop to this.
John phoned me on a number of occasions and faxed me the article,
and said that because Kevin was his son, he should be moved onto
a full time contract. He contacted others when I did not move
fast enough to put Kevin onto a full time contract.
He did however make clear we could continue to use
the resource. I make this point to him in the conversation when
I say, "at the point where it was decided to take Kevin and
put him full time, what we agreed was that we would continue to
use the resource if you like that had been there to support Kevin
working in the Party..."
If you need any further clarification please let
me know. I do stress however that I hope this matter can be drawn
to a conclusion as it seems to have gone on for a long time and
has caused anxiety for those involved.