MPs now want to know why he said they had not when he had received a letter from Lord Taylor, the Lord Chief Justice and Lord Bingham, the Master of the Rolls, protesting at the cuts.
Robert Maclennan, a Liberal Democrat member of the committee, asked Sir Thomas why it 'slipped your memory?'
'I cannot give a certain answer to that, in the nature of things. Probably the main reason it had slipped my memory is because the letter was about proposed changes in eligibility. . . . Rightly or wrongly, we didn't see it as very germane.'
'This is an incredible answer. . .' said Mr Maclennan. He said that at the time Sir Thomas was giving his evidence, the Lord Chief Justice was disclosing the existence of the letter in a House of Lords debate.
Sir Thomas said he had apologised. 'Quite late in the evening of the following day, I happened to be dining at my Inn of Court and my private secretary came and said there had been a press inquiry (from the Independent) about how it came about that I had answered Mr Williams (a Labour member of the committee) as I did. . . . At once the penny dropped and I should have answered Mr Williams's question in the affirmative. . . . I am afraid it slipped
my mind that the letter existed.'
'Your misleading of the committee blocked a further line of questioning. Do you accept that?' asked Mr Maclennan. - 'Yes.'
Terry Davis, a Labour member, asked Sir Thomas why the six or seven officials he had appeared with had not told him about the letter. Sir Thomas said: 'I think my colleagues, like me - nobody had mentioned it to me, I don't blame them for that - rightly or wrongly did not think it was a matter which was
Mr Davis asked whether they were suffering from 'collective amnesia'? 'Collective categorisation,' said Sir Thomas. 'Rightly or wrongly we put this matter into a different category.'Reuse content