Transcription of the tape of an interview
with Mr William Sullivan held on Monday 10 April 2000
Ms Filkin: May we start off with the ordinary
bits (a) to thank you for coming. I am most grateful to you and
I am sure the Committee will be most grateful that you have spared
your time to come. Perhaps you would begin by telling me what
your job was in the Party during the period April 1998 to December
Mr Sullivan: The title of the job was Scottish
Development Officer. The role changed through that period. To
start with the main part of the role was to sort of oversee the
various selection processes and selection conferences for our
candidates for Members of the Scottish Parliament. Once that was
completed, I took on more of a role in the election campaign,
with particular responsibility for the Glasgow constituencies.
That was my basic salary.
Ms Filkin: Were you employed throughout that
period April 1998 to December 1999?
Mr Sullivan: No, it was August 1998 to December
Ms Filkin: Can you now take me through, if you
would, as far as you are aware of it, the employment status of
the following people: Kevin Reid, Suzanne Hilliard and Chris Winslow.
Tell me who was employing them and whether they were employed
full time or part time by whoever was employing them.
Mr Sullivan: I cannot tell you that definitely
because I was not their line manager so I had no responsibility.
I was not employed in that way where I was involved in human resource
issues about who was employed under what terms or anything like
Ms Filkin: What did you know as a colleague
of those employment arrangements? Did you know anything about
Mr Sullivan: As usual with work colleagues,
we spoke with each other and you would form a sort of idea what
people's employment was and other things about them as well. It
is hard to say exactly when you comprehend different parts of
that knowledge. I would say as far as I knew Kevin Reid worked
for the Labour Party and he was there when I started.
Ms Filkin: Throughout the period you were there
you saw him as a full-time employee of the Labour Party.
Mr Sullivan: No, I did not really think about
it much at the time. Looking back and surmising, Kevin Reid, as
far as I was aware, came in fairly early in the morning because
his job was media monitoring, so he had to catch the first news
bulletins in the morning, so he was in the office for five or
six o'clock in the morning and he went away early afternoon. As
far as I knew, that was his job.
Ms Filkin: He did a full day's work for the
Mr Sullivan: Yes; well, within those hours.
What he did after that I could not possibly say.
Ms Filkin: No, of course not. Did you have any
knowledge that he might have been employed by anybody else at
the same time?
Mr Sullivan: No, I thought he was employed by
the Labour Party.
Ms Filkin: What about Suzanne Hilliard?
Mr Sullivan: My recollection of Suzanne Hilliard
was that Suzanne was a student when I first met her and she was
a volunteer for the Labour Party. What she did was help Kevin
out with media monitoring. A lot of students came in during the
election campaign to help, to get experience obviously. Up to
the point just before the Christmas in 1998 when it is my recollection,
I sort of understood, that she had become full time working for
Ms Filkin: Yes. After that, as far as you knew,
she was working full time for the Party.
Mr Sullivan: Until after the election campaign.
Ms Filkin: Then what happened after that? Do
Mr Sullivan: I think she was still working for
the Party but I seem to remember thinking, I am just guessing
about this, that she was working for somebody else as well.
Ms Filkin: After the election.
Mr Sullivan: After the election.
Ms Filkin: Up until the end of the election
campaign, your understanding was that she was working full time
for the Labour Party.
Mr Sullivan: Yes, that was my understanding.
Ms Filkin: Did you understand that to be a paid
Mr Sullivan: Yes.
Ms Filkin: What about Chris Winslow?
Mr Sullivan: The same with Chris. We all worked
very long hours during the Scottish election campaign for the
Party. He was there as long as I was or longer.
Ms Filkin: You have talked to me about Kevin
Reid coming in very early in the morning and going in the afternoon,
but you were understanding him to be working a full-time job for
the Labour Party whatever he did outside.
Mr Sullivan: Yes.
Ms Filkin: You said that Suzanne Hilliard worked
full time for the Party as far as you knew until after the election
Mr Sullivan: Yes; from the Christmas that would
Ms Filkin: What sort of hours did she do for
the Party during that period of time? It must have been a very
busy time for the Party.
Mr Sullivan: What happened in the leadup to
the election was the media monitoring obviously expanded a lot
more. There was a shift system, so she worked one of those shifts.
There were quite a few people covering media monitoring at that
time, so I just thought she did one of those shifts. I had probably
seen her there at different times during the day.
Ms Filkin: You said you thought Chris Winslow
was working full time for the Party.
Mr Sullivan: Yes.
Ms Filkin: In the six weeks of the campaign
proper, what sort of hours were those three working for the Party?
I understand from other witnesses that they were working very
long hours in those six weeks. What was your knowledge of that?
Mr Sullivan: My knowledge would be . . .
I would not have noted it at the time.
Ms Filkin: Of course not; no.
Mr Sullivan: My knowledge would be when I saw
them and everybody was really, really busy. I just assumed that
everybody was working; we were working, sleeping, working, sleeping,
like that maybe 12 or 14 hours. That is the assumption I made
about what everybody else was doing but I could not say.
Ms Filkin: There was no difference from what
you saw of them from what everybody else in the office was doing,
which was killing yourselves.
Mr Sullivan: Yes.
Ms Filkin: Working 12 or 14 hours. Would you
say that was for all of the six weeks of the campaign?
Mr Sullivan: Yes, well, I can only speak in
general terms. I cannot speak for all the staff. I would say yes,
obviously individuals would have circumstances where that would
go up and down. Yes, I would say that was my knowledge of the
process. The whole campaign, even before the campaign, these sorts
of hours were getting worked.
Ms Filkin: These three people, how close did
you work with any of them? Did you work more closely with one
Mr Sullivan: No, I did not really work that
closely with any of them because what I was doing was party organisation,
it was coordinating the activists doing the on the ground campaign
things like that and working with the Party. Whereas my understanding
was that Chris worked on policy and there really was not much
of a crossover there between organisational stuff and policy stuff.
That just went straight to the politicians and the media monitoring
stuff as well and that was as I described it.
Ms Filkin: So you were not, say, working in
the same room as these people.
Mr Sullivan: Yes, we were all in the same room.
It is an open plan office.
Ms Filkin: Taking the six weeks of the campaign
proper, or, as you said, longer than that, when people were working
extremely long hours, did you have any impression that those three,
or any of those three, were working for other people at the same
Mr Sullivan: In retrospect I had an understanding
that the wayit was more Chris Winslow than anybody else
because he spoke to me; he was talking about several linked in
a waythe way his salary was made up was it was made up
from contributions from different sources. I did not know what
that involved. I did not think that meant the work was split at
Ms Filkin: But it was contributions to his salary.
Mr Sullivan: Yes. In retrospect, you could analyse
it, it could have meant that. But I honestly do not know. My understanding
at the time was that it was that his salary was made up from different
Ms Filkin: Did he tell you which sources they
were made up from?
Mr Sullivan: It is hard to know whether what
I know now has coloured what was said then.
Ms Filkin: Yes, of course.
Mr Sullivan: I could not be definite about that.
Ms Filkin: Do you have any recall? You are saying
he had a conversation with you. What did he say? That he was not
being paid enough?
Mr Sullivan: Yes, he was not being paid enough.
Ms Filkin: And that it was all being made up
from different sources, but it still was not enough. It was not
fair. It was not as good as somebody else's.
Mr Sullivan: I just remember thinking . . .
No, I remember him talking about salary in general. One of the
points which came up was that he was not getting very much. The
second point which was coming up was that it was made up from
different sources. I remember when he went. The reason I know
what reinforced that he was not getting very much, was when he
went to be specialist adviser there was some sort of formula which
makes up your salary and you cannot go above a percentage of what
you were getting paid.
Ms Filkin: That is right.
Mr Sullivan: It could mean that because he was
a specialist adviser he was not getting paid very much because
of the formula. That reinforces my view about that and about that
conversation which in remembering that he was not getting paid
very much, links to the memory that the salary was made up from
Ms Filkin: Yes, I do very much. That is very
clear. Can you remember any comment which he made about what those
sources were? What was your impression of what the various sources
Mr Sullivan: I seem to remember I am saying
that it was Jamie's Dad. I do not know whether that was actually
at the time or afterwards.
Ms Filkin: Jamie is?
Mr Sullivan: Jamie Maxton's Dad.
Ms Filkin: In the period you have described,
the period of the campaign and a bit longer when everybody was
working very long hours, although you have made it clear that
you would not know what people were doing outside those hours,
do you think it is at all possible that people could also have
been carrying on a half-time job on top of that for somebody else?
Mr Sullivan: I do not know. That is a subjective
point of view, is it not?
Ms Filkin: Yes; of course, entirely. Do you
think it is likely?
Mr Sullivan: As well asking anybody else as
asking me. Personally I could not have done it. Not at that time.
Ms Filkin: Thank you. I realise that was a difficult
question but obviously I had to ask it. You had the conversation
you have mentioned with Chris Winslow. On one occasion or several
Mr Sullivan: At that point there was a discussion
about what we would do after the elections. Generally these things
came up, probably more than once but that sort of general conversation
we would have.
Ms Filkin: Was he hoping to be a special adviser
or were you all hoping to get one of those jobs?
Mr Sullivan: The discussion was more about whether
he was going to stay working for the Party because obviously a
lot of staff would be shed. Here I am again just assuming stuff,
but if we were talking about his work for the Party, it might
have come up that his salary was not paid for by the Party, that
sort of notion.
Ms Filkin: That is where you got that impression.
Mr Sullivan: Yes.
Ms Filkin: What about anybody else? What about
Suzanne Hilliard for instance? Did you have any discussion with
her about her parliamentary arrangements or what she was going
to do after the election?
Mr Sullivan: She was a student then. I cannot
remember exactly. It is more about impressions and ideas that
came about from conversations over stuff and that. She was a student
before and I assumed she would go back and study. She had spoken
about her studies. I remember her saying she had obviously withdrawn
from her studies to take on that role, so I just assumed she would
go back to her studies. She might have mentioned that, in fact
she probably did say that when we were talking about her studies
that she was going to go back after she had finished there.
Ms Filkin: Can you recall at all over the period
we have talked about, from Christmas 1998 to after the campaign,
what time she would usually come into the office in the mornings?
Mr Sullivan: From Christmas onwards?
Ms Filkin: Yes. Can you remember in the last
part of the campaign?
Mr Sullivan: They worked shifts. My recollection
of Suzanne was that she did the later shift most often. It might
not always have been.
Ms Filkin: That would be starting about . . .?
Mr Sullivan: I did not know. I thought that
was starting early in the afternoon, but I did not know. It was
just an assumption I made, putting two and two together, about
things which were happening.
Ms Filkin: Did you ever have any conversation
with her about who was paying her and how her salary was made
Mr Sullivan: I remember, I thinkI do
not know where I got this idea from, whether it was from a conversation
or notbut I had an idea that hers was a salary made up
from different sources as well.
Ms Filkin: Did she tell you who made those up?
Mr Sullivan: I cannot really remember whether
she told me or not.
Ms Filkin: Did you have any impression when
you were working alongside her that she was also doing work for
Mr Sullivan: No.
Ms Filkin: What about Kevin Reid? Did you know
how Kevin Reid's employment was paid for?
Mr Sullivan: Not entirely. No, I did not. When
I had those conversations with Chris, it is difficult to remember,
there are ideas in my head now, but I do not know whether they
come from that point or whether they have been fuelled by more
recent knowledge. What I am trying to do is think back to that
point and what my views were at that time.
Ms Filkin: Obviously that is what I need and
I can see the difficulty.
Mr Sullivan: I do not know. I could surmise
and probably have done.
Ms Filkin: It was obviously Chris Winslow with
whom you had the actual conversations and you had more of a clear
impression I imagine of Suzanne Hilliard than you did with Kevin
Mr Sullivan: Yes. Kevin was there; so was Chris.
I just never had that conversation with Kevin.
Ms Filkin: I am informed by other witnesses
that at some point Chris Winslow got very anxious about his employment
arrangements because of the articles in the press which concerned
Conservative politicians using their researchers on their election
campaign and that he raised that issue with colleagues and indeed
with managers in the Labour Party headquarters. Did you know of
that concern which he raised at that time?
Mr Sullivan: No, I cannot remember it. I cannot
even remember the issue as far as the Conservative Party was concerned.
Ms Filkin: So you have no knowledge about him
raising that as an issue with others.
Mr Sullivan: No.
Ms Filkin: Or raising it with politicians.
Mr Sullivan: No.
Ms Filkin: Did anybody else, including Chris
Winslow, whose salaries appeared to be being made up from a variety
of sources ever express concern about their salaries being made
up from a variety of sources other than Chris feeling that he
was not well enough paid? Was anybody worried about their salaries
being made up from different sources?
Mr Sullivan: No; no. I know that because I never
even really thought about it at the time. I can look at this issue
now and see why there were concerns about it. But at the time
I did not.
Ms Filkin: Of course; you thought that was how
the salaries were made up.
Mr Sullivan: I did not think anything of it.
Ms Filkin: You obviously know now, but did you
at the time know that Westminster researchers' salaries, people
paid on Westminster researcher salaries, are not allowed to use
that time for the Party campaign or party-political work of any
kind? Did you know that?
Mr Sullivan: Yes; I have always known that you
cannot use public money for the Party. I know I made an assumption
that that money was not Fees Office money
Ms Filkin: Yes; somewhere else.
Mr Sullivan: I do not know how it worked but
I must have thought it was a private salary.
Ms Filkin: Yes, I understand. That is very helpful.
Since you knew that my inquiries were going on, have you had,
or has anybody asked you to discuss with them what you knew about
Mr Sullivan: Yes.
Ms Filkin: You have.
Mr Sullivan: By a journalist.
Ms Filkin: The journalist who made the . . .
Mr Sullivan: Yes.
Ms Filkin: Has anybody else?
Mr Sullivan: No and I have not told anybody
because I just have not told anybody.
Ms Filkin: Of course not. And obviously I have
not told anybody that I have invited you to come here. So you
have not been subject to any pressure from anybody about what
you should say today or . . .?
Mr Sullivan: No, nobody knows I am here.
Ms Filkin: That is good, but I have to check
and I check that with everybody. I am just checking. I am very
grateful to you. You have been very open with me and I appreciate
that. As you can understand, I am only trying to get at the truth
of the matter. I have no claim whatsoever. You have obviously
answered my questions very cheerfully, but may I ask whether I
now have the whole truth as well or is there anything else you
feel you could either tell me about what you knew at the time
or information you could give me about other people who would
know and would be able to confirm the sort of things you have
said to me?
Mr Sullivan: No. I could only say I was not
people's line manager. People's line managers could probably say.
Ms Filkin: Who do you have in mind when you
talk about their line managers?
Mr Sullivan: I have forgotten his name. A special
Ms Filkin: Rafferty?
Mr Sullivan: No. JohnI cannot remember.
He was head of policy. I cannot remember his name. John McLaren.
Ms Filkin: Where is he a special adviser now?
Do you happen to know?
Mr Sullivan: He is one of the special advisers
in the Scottish Parliament for Donald Dewar.
Ms Filkin: Anything else you think I ought to
know or which would help me to know the full picture, which you
thought of when you knew you were coming today?
Mr Sullivan: No. I have thought about it quite
a bit. I have opinions and views but not based on fact.
Ms Filkin: Facts. Thank you. I am most grateful
to you. If, when you go away today you think about anything else
you think I ought to know, perhaps you would give me a ring and
tell me. What I will do is send you a copy of this tape as soon
as it is typed; that will be this week some time. If you would
go through it and if there is anything you want to suggest corrections
for or expansions to, to make it absolutely clear what you know,
if you would write it on it and send it back to me that would
Mr Sullivan: Okay.
Ms Filkin: Thank you very much indeed.