Examination of Witness (Questions 20 -
TUESDAY 13 JUNE 2000
20. Had you received any intimation from anyone
that you were going to receive such a letter?
(Mr Hall) None whatsoever.
21. So it came out of the blue. So we have established
it did not go to either of the committees, it was essentially
a closed decisionI am not saying this in any critical way,
I am just clarifying the factsthe secretary, yourself and
the treasurer made the decision to take the action you did. The
other letters, did they come to you spontaneously or were you
warned you were going to get copies of letters councillors had
(Mr Hall) The letters came to other councillors and
they contacted Mr Thomas and Mr Clair who were both mentioned
in the letter and informed them that they had received the letter.
I am advised through Mr Thomas that the status of the letter was
that it was part of an investigation and that the Commissioner
should be sent any copies of the letter that the councillors or
anybody else had received.
22. I think the final point is on the original
letter you received, have we had that original one or have you
just sent copies to the Committee?
(Mr Hall) No, the original letter was sent to the
Commissioner on 22 or 23 May. I should say that the original letter
that I received was evidently a copy letter; it was not an original.
23. Yes, thank you. Those are all my questions,
I do not know if any of my colleagues wish to follow up on anything.
What happened to the envelope for the first letter?
(Mr Hall) The envelope was destroyed. I am sorry about
that but I did not think it was that relevant at the time. It
just had my name typed on it and I did not think it would be helpful
in identifying the source of the document.
Mr Williams: Okay. Thank you.
24. Why was it thought by 8 May that the inquiry
which you knew about had been concluded? What evidence did you
have to sustain that belief?
(Mr Hall) I made enquiries with Mr Thomas and Mr Clair
to ask if they had been contacted regarding the contents of Mr
Kamal's letter. At that stage they had not been contacted and
I did not know of any other person who would have been contacted,
certainly as far as Leicester was concerned, to follow up some
of the allegations which Mr Kamal had made. So therefore I felt
no further action was being taken on it.
25. The councillors were informed but not by
you, did you notify your MP about the fact we had received this
(Mr Hall) I talked to Mr Vaz after the letter from
the Commissioner and Mr Vaz would presumably have responded himself
if he had been aware of any of the comments Mr Kamal had made
in his letter, but I was primarily concerned with the letter as
it referred to the Constituency Labour Party and the officers,
past and present, and it was on that basis that I responded to
26. Okay. What did Mr Vaz say to you when you
discussed it with him?
(Mr Hall) Mr Vaz basically advised that I should try
and get some representation for myself to assist me in my correspondence
and indeed other evidence that I am giving to the Commissioner
and the Committee in order to ensure that we give as full co-operation
to the Committee as possible.
27. Thank you. I have no other questions. Is
there anything else you would like to say to us at this stage?
(Mr Hall) Yes. Basically all I want to say is that
I can give a list of names of people who have received the original
letter of 17 April 2000 to you and/or the Commissioner,
and if you want to take any further action in regard to that,
then obviously it is up to you whether you want to do so.
Shona McIsaac: Mr Hall, there is a letter
of 15 May from Mr Kamal. Have you got that one?
Mr Williams: Number 4 in our bundle.
28. It is responding to your letter. Have you
got that one?
(Mr Hall) I have, yes.
29. You notice that Mr Kamal has copied the
letter to Roy Kennedy, Labour Party Regional Director for the
Midlands, and Howard Knight. I understand he is a local government
officer for the Labour Party.
(Mr Hall) That is correct, yes.
30. Have either of those, because there is clearly
correspondence between you, people made contact with you in this
(Mr Hall) No, neither of them have done so and basically
as it is a parliamentary matter I am not sure that either of them
would want to become involved at this stage.
31. Do you know if they made contact with Mr
(Mr Hall) No, I am not aware of anything like that.
32. Anything else you would like to add as a
(Mr Hall) Mr Chairman, first of all can I thank yourself
and the rest of the Committee for inviting me to your meeting
and allowing me to answer the questions. Once again, I do apologise
for any contempt of this Committee or the House which may have
been committed. I want to stress again that it was done so inadvertently
and unintentionally. If there are any further matters on which
I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
33. Thank you for that. As you will appreciate
by now, it is not a happy occasion for anybody. We do not like
bringing people in from outside the House, and most of our deliberations
involve members of the House, as you understand, but any attempt
to interfere with a witness must be treated as an extremely serious
matter by the Committee. The Commissioner carries out her duties
not just on our own behalf but on behalf of the House of Commons
and with the authority of the House of Commons and therefore it
is essential she must be able to carry out her inquiries effectively
and without interference. It equally follows that anyone who is
helping her with an inquiry should be protected from any threats
or pressure. I thank you again for your assurances, you have repeated
them several times to this Committee. We expect you to comply
with them, in the spirit as well as in the letter, and we have
to advise you that if we have evidence that anyone else is involved
then of course we would not hesitate to act in their case and
conceivably even recall you again if it became necessary. The
House has powers to punish for contempt and these can be used
if the case warrants it. In your case, I think the Committee at
this stage is happy to issue that warning and we want you to take
that message back to anyone else who is aware of the situation
which has arisen here. Thank you for coming.
(Mr Hall) Thank you.
1 Note by witness: This list has now been supplied
through by solicitor, Mr Shamash. Back