Talk about Newsnight


Questions that Sir John Lyon might like to ask Caroline Spelman on Monday

  • Michael Crick
  • 7 Jun 08, 05:41 PM

1. What total sum did Caroline Spelman pay Tina Haynes (nee Rawlins) from her Parliamentary Staffing Allowance in the period 1997-98?

2. What were the exact dates of Tina Haynes's employment as constituency secretary, and the dates for which she was paid from Spelman's Parliamentary Staffing Allowance?

3. Was there a contract of employment, as a constituency secretary, or for her secretarial work?

4. What did this specify?

5. Was there a contract of employment for her childcare work, and what did this specify?

6. What paperwork, apart from letters to claim Tina Haynes's pay from Parliament, is there to prove Tina Haynes was really acting as Caroline Spelman's constituency secretary for that period?

7. Was Tina Haynes qualified in any way as a secretary? Did she have any typing/shorthand/filing/computer skills etc.

8. Was Tina Haynes a trained nursery nurse?

10. Had Tina Haynes ever worked as a secretary before working for Caroline Spelman, and has she ever worked as a secretary since then?

11. Has Caroline Spelman ever provided an employment reference for Tina Haynes, and did this highlight her secretarial work? Can we see a copy?

12. How many letters a week did Tina Haynes type for Caroline Spelman?

13. How many MPs' diary arrangements did Tina Haynes arrange for Caroline Spelman?

14. How many phone calls of a parliamentary/political/constituency nature did Tina Haynes make on behalf of Caroline Spelman?

15. Is it true that Tina Haynes was not paid any money for her childcare work from 1997-98? (The Conservative Party says she did the childcare for no pay but received free accommodation, use of a car and meals.)

16. Did Tina Haynes carry on her childcare duties for no pay after her secretarial work ceased in 1998?

17. Was Tina Haynes paid very much the same amount for her childcare work after 1998 as she was paid from the Parliamentary Allowance for her secretarial work before 1998?

18. Did Tina Haynes know that her financial payments from Caroline Spelman from 1997 to 1998 were solely for secretarial work and not for her childcare work?

19. Was the initial contact with Tina Haynes on the basis that she would be employed as a nanny, or as a secretary?

20. What the position publicly advertised? If so, where? Did Caroline Spelman find Tina Haynes through a childcare agency or a secretarial agency?

21. How was Tina Haynes paid for her childcare work from 1998 to 2002, and how much?

22. What extra childcare duties, if any, did Tina Haynes perform after 1998?

23. Did Tina Haynes continue to receive payment in kind after 1998 - ie free accommodation, use of a car and meals?

24. If Tina Haynes was also paid wages after 1998, what extra childcare work was she doing to justify this new remuneration?

25. Given that Caroline Spelman's youngest child was only two and half in May 1997, can Mrs Spelman confirm that all her three children were at school (or nursery or play-group) full time between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday, from May 1997 onwards?

26. Has Caroline Spelman ever told the Commons authorities that Tina Haynes also worked as her nanny in 1997-98? When did she tell them this?

27. What was Caroline Spelman's new constituency secretary, appointed in 1998, paid? How does that pay compare with Tina Haynes? What extra duties did the new secretary fulfil, and how many hours a week did she work?

28. Was Tina Haynes's name published anywhere as being her constituency secretary (though she was then called Tina Rawlins)?

29. When did Caroline Spelman have her conversation with the Chief Whip, James Arbuthnot about this issue? Has any record been kept of that conversation? Did Caroline Spelman explain to Tina Haynes why she would no longer be acting as her constituency secretary?

30. Did Tina Haynes look after Caroline Spelman's three children from 9am to 3pm during school half-terms and holidays?

31. How many hours per week in total did Caroline Spelman expect Tina Haynes to work for her during the period 1997-98?

32. Were Caroline Spelman's arrangements with Tina Haynes ever brought to the attention of William Hague, the then Conservative leader?


  • Comment number 1.

    Oh, I forgot, there was another question...

    5/ Why did you seek to give the impression early on that Haynes' work as a 'nanny' was purely funded by the taxpayer, when again it became clearer at the end that the defence was that she was receiving 'payment in kind' for this work ??

    Actually, don't bother answering that - it is obvious to me that the reason you didn't is that by that time you were hoping that Newsnight viewers would be thick enough, and have so little truck with old-fashioned ideas like 'fair play' and 'innocent until proven guilty' that we would have been duped into thinking that she was 'on the make and on the take'.

    Well, Mr Crick, it may surprise you to know that Newsnight viewers aren't as thick or as credulous as you might like to believe.

    Poor, poor show - you can do much, much better than this - and often do.

  • Comment number 2.

    This pedant's hunt for the errant politician, driven by the media's love of expose, is destroying what little faith in our political class remains and, in doing so, poisoning the political realm. The disjuncture that now exists between the public perception of politicians as peculators, crooks, Soviet apparatchiks almost, and the banal reality of the cross-section of men and women in Parliament undermines very seriously the smooth functioning of the political system.

    Undiscriminating cynicism and mistrust will be the result, and that can only hurt our political culture and do real harm to any ideology which relies on a positive conception of the state.

    To read my ideas at greater length, link to my blog at:

  • Comment number 3.

    What about the questions that Michael Crick should answer?

    Should he really have broken an 11 year old story with such little evidence, which looks to be based on very unfair misleading questioning of the nanny?

    The BBC's anti-tory stance is a disgrace. This has been the top story all day on BBC news, but as soon as the nanny releases a statement of the actual facts the story is now hardly being reported. At least have the decency to right the wrong. An apology to Mrs Spelman and her nanny wouldn't go a miss.

  • Comment number 4.

    Why haven't you released my first comment ?

    Frit ?

    Just been discussing this down the pub, and I'm not the only only to think this has been a tawdry tale and stinks to high heaven...

    Fire Michael Crick and bring back Martha Kearney - she did proper political journalism not fatuous stitch-ups with little or no real evidence to back them up.


  • Comment number 5.

    In the spirit of full disclosure -

    1) Who tipped you off about this story ?

    2) Was this a single source story or a multi sourced story ?

    3) Was Ms Haynes `cold called` (phoned out of the blue) to give her recollection of her activities and job description (verbal or otherwise) between the dates 1997-1998 or was it an arranged interview ?

    I personally would like to know some background to this story .

  • Comment number 6.

    Were this a current affair I would support such questioning. However this is way way too old to care about now. From reports she and her party behaved reasonably to find and correct something that 'looked' wrong.

    Given the fast movement over this issue in the last year or so, the possible shredding of expense documentation, NOW, this is a complete non story and only appears to be gross anti Conservative in house bias from the BBC.

    I equally have no interest in 10 year old expense irregularities from times with different atmospheres on the issue from any party. Find a scandal of Harold Wilson's expenses, just bin it no one cares now.

    Oh and MEPs, we all know the EU is corrupt, that is what we expect! They can not even sign off their accounts!

    This all 'looks' like a plan devised after the crushing of Labour in the local elections by the BBC to shore up their soul mates.

  • Comment number 7.

    As one "Expenses Scandal" gets moved to the archives, yet another one "hits the fan".

    It just goes to show how CORRUPT British Politics are, and just how many of our MPs and Ministers are "on the fiddle" and far more interested in what THEY can screw out of the system, than doing the job they were elected to do.

    MPs complain about the "Falling Standards of British Society" ..... but what do they expect ? The only example they set for our citizens to follow is one of LIES, DECITE and CHEATING.

    I want to see MPs and Ministers who STEAL from the Nation being treated like Benefit Cheats (who also steal from the Nation ... but they usually do it just to be able to SURVIVE) and sent to PRISON for THEFT !

  • Comment number 8.

    Another question for Mr Crick:

    Why did you miss the Labour MPs paying their insurance premiums from their allowances and dig this old news up?

    You have clearly nailed your political colours to the mast Mr Crick, and seriously damaged your credability.

  • Comment number 9.

    Everything about this programme and the crazy 21 questions sums up the 'biased BBC' theme but more importantly how can a serious news programme focus on an 11 year old non-story while the economy is disintegrating around us!!

  • Comment number 10.

    Ah the Salem Witch trials continue with Michael Crick as the Witchfinder General.

    Shame he does not apply his diligent approach to Beckett, Blair, Brown, Harman etc.

    Need I say more?

    Clearly the TV Licence is being wasted once again. Time to franchise out the BBC Current Affairs Dept!

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    One wonders: was Crick's piece borne of fearless journalistic skill; weeks of detailed, forensic research; and then....the revelation....a scoop!! Or was it just uninspiring, unimpressive ,lazy journalism: a whisper from a Labour chum, over a drink, perhaps, or in a furtive 'phone call? Just curious.

    And, is it unreasonable to assume that when Ms. Spelman is cleared of wrong-doing in the very near future (as she surely will be) Crick will appear on Newsnight to report the fact with the same enthusiasm with which he broke the original 'story'.

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Interestingly I was recently talking to Simon Cawte, Spelman's Chief of Staff, who said "in these cases it is not the truth that matters but rather the perception of it... if a persons actions could bring the party into disrepute, then there's no option other than to get rid of them".

    Bearing this in mind should he really be drafting Tina Hayne's statements, or his boss' letter of resignation?

    Personally I am inclined to give Ms Spelman the benefit of the doubt and move on. It looks like a genuine mistake and she brings a lot to the party. But perhaps this is a timely "do unto others" lesson for her, and her office? Maybe truth will re-emerge as a currency more valuable than spin?

  • Comment number 15.

    The great Michael Crick (pbuh) brings the searchlight of truth onto a 10 year old story

    Given that there are 650-odd current MPs to investigate plus MEPs and MSPs why are you spending so much time on Ms Spelman?

    Perhaps you might like to consider investigating the entire Kinnock family?

    Where did the tip-off come from, eh?

  • Comment number 16.

    This is pathetic. You try answering 32 such questions about what you were doing 10 years ago. It is very unlikely that the records still exist - they only have to be retained for 7 years for tax purposes. Clearly you have no idea what it is to work from home with small children and a load of constituency business. Formal interviews, job descriptions, timesheets, how many letters typed - what twaddle.

  • Comment number 17.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 18.

    So what questions are to be put to ed balls and yevette cooper - about their remote holdiay home suddenly becoming their 'main residence'.

    They live in london and that is where their kids go to school. So why is their london house now consdered their 'second home' so being paid for by the taxpayer?

    What about the massive mortgage x,00% the blairs used to launch their property empire?

    Is there anyone at the BBC who has any independance?

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 21.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 22.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 23.

    You know, there are an awful lot of good questions being asked here. Especially in the thread to the original post.

    I wonder... will any get answered?

    Not holding my breath. It seems a case of 'only vee vill ask ze questions!'

    I'm still waiting on my request to see if there might be investigation into the truth or otherwise of that Polish MP's claim on the levels of unfair negative coverage by the BBC on immigration issues.

    As per usual, it seems that there is a flurry of fuss, a few loaded questions get asked, the answers (or not) rather ignored and then... moving on...

    Dashed odd way to run a premium news programme dedicated to objectivity and fact.

  • Comment number 24.

    There was nothing in my 10.36am post that warranted referral to moderators. This is straightforward censorship of views that question your methods and conclusions.

  • Comment number 25.

    There was nothing in my 10:49am post that warranted referral to moderators. Please read your own house rules. It seems that the BBC is willing to criticise others, but cannot stomach criticism of its own behaviour.

  • Comment number 26.

    Is the 'BBC' that runs with this story, at all related to the 'BBC' that almost imploded when a certain Mr Gilligan ran a story without having his facts set in stone, treble checked and nailed down.

    Are these two 'BBC's related in anyway (it appears not), either way I think we should be told.

  • Comment number 27.

    I don't think I've ever seen a better example of making a mountain out of a molehill - and all because the lady belongs to a political party that the BBC can't stomach and it wants to distract attention from Labour's extraordinary failure in the local elections.

    This kind of stuff is on the level of propaganda pumped out by state-controlled media in a third world dictatorship, not an impartial public broadcaster of the first world.

    Anyone who had a part in this at the BBC should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.

  • Comment number 28.

    Why on earth are posts on this thread being CENSORED !? Stop it at once, and give us some answers to our questions ! This facile 'let us ignore the plebs and hope they go away' is beyond annoying - what is the point of a blog if you are just going to ignore it when the questions get a bit to near areas which are a bit sensitive for you ?

    If Crick can't stand the heat he should get out of the kitchen - and if he can't take criticism he shouldn't be dishing out with such alacrity.

  • Comment number 29.

    Newsnight doesn't like Caroline Spelman. I seem to remember her enduring a savaging from Jeremy Paxman last year (?) because she had the temerity to ask a question in the House of which he didn't approve,

  • Comment number 30.

    would make the following points – don’t worry they are fewer than the thirty-two [32!] questions Crick raises for John Lyons…

    The fact that Caroline Spelman is in charge of ‘cleaning up expenses’ doesn’t half make me think someone decided to ‘do’ her.
    And frame the entire debate around this, and look for ‘facts’ [I use the term loosely] to fit the ‘story’ they’d already dreamed up.

    Doesn’t picking on someone who is 600+ on the list of ‘highest expenses’ claimed suggest a slightly indiscriminate approach ?
    My concern is that this approach will cause ‘collateral damage’ among the innocent and let the real culprits off the hook completely.
    I concede that as someone who was ‘in charge of cleaning up expenses’ CS should be held to a high standard – but fairly.

    Emily Maitlis [EM] referred in her opening headline to ‘paid her nanny from the public payroll’. No mention of her secretarial duties.
    This I’m afraid set the tone of the whole debate as one of reporting as fact, rather than legitimate enquiry, and a ‘case to answer’.

    ‘Ten years ago’ – I concede that Crick DID mention this at the outset.

    Kevan Jones – he mentions ‘a big question mark’ – this is rather different from an open and shut case where guilt has been established.

    Mr Crick at one point poses the leading question ‘Was she a secretary or a full-time nanny?’ This is a highly contentious leading question.
    It was not, at this point in the discussion, supported by factual evidence in any way that I could see. Of course, he is just asking a question.
    But I’m afraid this has a level of innuendo attached to it, which I find rather disappointing in a serious, heavyweight political debate.

    Whoops-a-Daisy Chichester – I can’t help coming to the conclusion that this ‘guilt-by-association’ was used to bolster a weak argument.

    Here we come to the clincher – Crick clearly thinks he has this woman ‘bang-to-rights’ because she didn’t write about her secretarial work..
    Clearly intended to give the viewer the impression that she clearly had ‘something to hide’ as MC was suitably perplexed by this gap.
    Maybe she was just modest about her work for an MP ??? Maybe she just thought it was too dull to mention on myspace or Bebo ???

    Anyway Don’t BBC Guidelines preclude truffling around on social networking sites and passing on their contents as ‘news’ ??

    Michael Crick asked the question ‘Is [was/?] it political’. Her later statement clarifies why she responded ‘No’. [A fair explanation]
    The rest of her phone call with Crick was much later in the piece – so her response created a rather unfair [misleading?] impression.

    MC referred also to the ‘vast bulk of her work was nannying’ – in a court case I believe this would be called ‘leading the witness’.
    It would not be allowed, and in any case the implication of the response was merely to agree that she had been doing nannying.

    A killer quote – Forgive me but I don’t know who exactly said that Haynes’ work was “25 % secretarial” as it was tacked on at the end.
    This seems to have been a mistake – if someone really did say this, and it could be properly substantiated, it changes the whole thing.
    It should have been mentioned much earlier in the report, in which case some of my objections would have less supporting evidence.
    At the very least this would have meant a ‘prima facie’ case to be investigated and answered – why was it an afterthought ?

  • Comment number 31.

    I will repeat my earlier point. If these are all valid questions, why did Crick not ask them earlier?

    If the BBC were undertaking a serious investigation, they should have asked all of these questions before publication, rather than ask them afterwards, loaded with innuendo.

    It looks as though there has been considerable bias in reporting given the many more recent and probably more egregious examples that could have been selected.

    I say this neither as a Conservative party member nor as someone on whose support they can rely.

  • Comment number 32.

    This is the best the BBC can do for investigative journalism?

    I find it very interesting that as this was over 10 years ago and also dealt with almost immediately, so why is this pertinent now?

    As for the caveats and insinuations in the reporting of this 'story' by the BBC, it's of such a woeful quality that even the tabloids have dropped it.

    So is it really in the public interest or this is something totally different from the BBC?

    Also, surely investigative journalism is to get all the answers to the above questions using journalistic skills and sources? Anything less isn't journalism, it's playground insinuation and pig-tail pulling.

    Finally, if this all boils down to a question of morals and ethics, perhaps Mr. Crick might like to consider that making a moral judgement between Ms Spelman's private life and public work he is on very thin ice himself.

    If we expect high standards from all those in the public's employ in their work and private life then surely this applies not only to politicians but also BBC journalists?

    Something Mr. Crick might not like to be judged upon himself perhaps?

    In which case, that's double standards and hypocrisy.

    BBC... tut tut, must do better, much, much, much better.

  • Comment number 33.

    Congratulations Michael Crick on some excellent journalism.

    Your questions are exactly right, I hope Sir John Lyon is not afraid to ask them.

    My other comments about the need for honesty in politics have been removed by the moderator so you can imagine what they were.

  • Comment number 34.

    I used to work for an MP.

    If someone asked me if my job was "political" or if I had done any "political work" over the phone I would, of course, say no.

    Everyone who works for, or who has worked for, an MP knows that you are forbidden to do "political work" and would get your boss in serious trouble for misusing tax payers' money.

    For example you aren't meant to go out campaigning; get involved party political work – even on behalf of your paymaster MP! In reality many do, but know it is a stretching of the rules and as such it would never be admitted to, especially to a journalist!

    Crick would have, of course, known this and the staffing rules inside out. He therefore chose his words extremely carefully to get the desired effect of some wrongdoing and known that statements would have to issued creating the illusion of a cover-up.

    If he were a decent man, and interested in truthful journalism, he would have asked something without the word "political" in the question such as "did your duties assisting with the MP’s parliamentary activities".

    I may not have worded this as best I could but everyone involved in politics, including Mr Crick, will know what I am getting at.

    His behaviour is shoddy and hopefully will have to face the consequences of it.

  • Comment number 35.

    Would Crick be happy if an investigative journalist cold called his ex-wife with intrusive and loaded questions about his personal domestic affairs 10 years ago ?

  • Comment number 36.

    I think everybody is being jolly beastly to Michael Crick.

    So, alright, the list of questions for Spelman to answer wasn't a very good idea and did make MC appear just a teensy bit defensive. But that doesn't mean to say that Michael didn't work his socks off for the BBC in getting the story:- he probably did and so it's jolly unfair to then find himself being ridiculed by the viewers.

    So come on you bloggers, play the game and give this young man a chance. After all, he is somebody's son.

  • Comment number 37.

    I was looking for a copy of Michael Crick's expenses claim, but can't find it on this blog.

    Is there another section of the website where his expenses are listed? Perhaps with the other Newsnight presenters?

  • Comment number 38.

    The Tory activists have been hard at work today, haven't they?

    Here's a question for all of them: how can it be wrong for a journalist to ask questions?

  • Comment number 39.

    Oh dear, oh dear. Storm. Teacup. And I'm no Tory believe me. But come on Newsnight, is this really in the public interest? If the public aren't interested, then perhaps there's your answer.

  • Comment number 40.

    I don't think it is wrong for a journalist to ask questions

    I just find it odd that the BBC's flagship news and current affairs TV programme should spend so much time investigating a 10 year old story when there is so much else to investigate

    For example the activities of the Speaker, the shredding of expense claims, the claims of MPs/MEPs/MSPs, shady political funding etc

    Now why do you think that is?

  • Comment number 41.

    I assume you were all on here complaining when Newsnight were doing their 'how long can the speaker hang on' season.

    They are just questions. If she has got the answers as you suggest then what has she got to worry about?

  • Comment number 42.

    I think this lousy story has been let run as it is a BBC 'scoop'. The reporter was gaining in BBC brownie points to the point he was featured on the Daily Politics Show. You 'broke the story' repeated. Unfortunately as most here say it is a bad story that looks only desperate.

  • Comment number 43.

    Puzzled to have my post on this topic pulled, but to repeat, well done michael crick and please keep digging. Worrying at little points of unease can lead who knows where.
    I am constantly frustrated by the media's failure to sink its boots into the political establishment as a whole, but I don't see them favouring one or other of the big parties.
    Totally agree with Grumtatt #7. Let the law of the land apply as it certainly would to the rest of us.

  • Comment number 44.

    Seems as though Newsnight cannot bear that the Conservatives are ahead of Labour in the polls, so is running a dirty tricks campaign to pull them down. It is clear MPs of all parties have been maximising their expenses, so why concentrate on the Tories? But it is well known that Newnight editors are Labour luvvies!

  • Comment number 45.

    Make the most of it Beeboids. Come the next election the Tories will remember this. Your big fat £3.5 billion a year extortion racket will be over and it will be the dole for most of you. Crick in particular.

  • Comment number 46.

    Do not criticise the party or we will shut you down. Jeesus, old habits die hard eh?

  • Comment number 47.

    If you pay an employee in kind, surely this has to be declared to the Inland Revenue?
    As a disabled person, I took myself off to college to help me get back into employment. I had every receipt meticulously inspected and was queried over the fact that the local bus service used two different papers to issue tickets. I paid the bus out of my £22 per week allowance and did without food. No bad for a former soldier?
    Perhaps I should go into politics?
    So why is a false declaration not fraud?

  • Comment number 48.

    Quite a crop of whining Tories on here Mr Crick! Interesting on the questions going forward from 1998. Would also be interested to see a piece on (a) Alan Duncan's oil reserves and (b) George Osborne's city slickers in the same mode.

  • Comment number 49.

    PS Don't the Tories here realise that this stuff - particularly the MEP exposes is Blue-on-Blue and not Red-on-Blue? Caroline Spelman is not Cashcroft's favourite, and MEPs also do not fall into that category ... at least vulture capitalists like himself earn their fortunes.

  • Comment number 50.

    Honestly BBC this really is poor. The original piece for Newsnight and then this list of questions relating to payments 10 years ago to a nanny for goodness sake. This country has enough problems for the BBC to cover without dredging up this trivia which the public are simply not interested in.

    I can only conclude that you've covered it in this depth because you are trying to disadvantage the Tories. Populus in today's Times suggests that you've missed this target too.

    Crick should apologise to Caroline Spelman and then the BBC should start exercising some judgement about what to cover on Newsnight and news bulletins. The way this "story" was managed has been a disgrace from start to finish.

  • Comment number 51.

    Mr Crick

    Please could you let us know where we can find out what expenses you claim for, as these items are paid by us, via the BBC poll tax.

    Many Thanks

  • Comment number 52.

    I find it very interesting that the BBC has given intensive publicity to Spelman, Chichester etc as examples of Tories 'on the fiddle' - Giles Chichester made 'top slot' on the BBC for several bulletins in a row over the weekend - but the name Michael Cashman, a Labour MEP who has been similarly caught out gets not a mention. Come on BBC, play the game fairly or not at all.

  • Comment number 53.

    25. At 1:20 pm on 09 Jun 2008, rmarkwilliams wrote:

    There was nothing in my 10:49am post that warranted referral to moderators. Please read your own house rules. It seems that the BBC is willing to criticise others, but cannot stomach criticism of its own behaviour.

    {i agreed with you totally about this situation, as i am not an representative of the bbc...but have my problems with it...if they reject the first time and then redo it again.}

  • Comment number 54.

    Has Newsnight lost it? This Spelman issue clearly shows the bias within the BBC.I would have thought that paying for a nanny was one of the few justifiable expenses a female MP could claim.Why isn't Crick chasing up Becket's garden expenses or Follett's window cleaning?Come on Newsnight, there are far more important issues than this-you must have too many spare reporters!


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites