Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 140 - 159)



  140. You are a very intelligent person and, forgetting your status in society, what did you think could occur if you gave them off the record confirmation of the rumour, ie the rumour of the payments? What were you thinking could come out of that?
  (Mr Kapasi) Well, nothing, otherwise I would not have made a fine mess of this.

  141. It beggars belief, you see, that two journalists from the Sunday Times should interview you and that you should somehow think nothing would happen if you told them stories of that nature.
  (Mr Kapasi) Actually I have been very silly about it, as you can see, and as I said I am extremely embarrassed by what has happened.

  142. The presumption is that you were telling the truth then and you are not telling the truth now, because of the detail you put to them when you answered their questions. Can you see the logic is there?
  (Mr Kapasi) I think if you refer to some of the answers which I have given, you will find it was while I was working doing my work and I was being questioned, so really I was not concentrating on some of the questions. If you do it logically and try and see what sort of answers I had given, you can see in one case there was a silence there because I was not listening to the questions, and this is the unfortunate thing that I have done.

  143. Are you asking us to believe this was so casual that you could carry on your work, jotting down your figures, whilst these journalists are talking to you, and you would say, "Yes, yeah, it must have been three cheques", that sort of thing? It was that casual?
  (Mr Kapasi) It definitely was that casual.

  144. Did you at that time know of the allegations made by Peter Soulsby about the earlier discussion he claimed to have had with you?
  (Mr Kapasi) At that time I believe I had the letter from the Commissioner stating Councillor Soulsby's allegation, "This morning I telephoned Mr Jaffer Kapasi ..."—

  145. That is the point, you see. It is not out of the blue, you know Councillor Soulsby has made a very important allegation against you, you know in the local community these rumours are going around and yet you ask us to believe that you were totally casual, ambivalent, about two members of the press from a leading newspaper asking you these very specific questions and you answering in the way you did, and that somehow that was going to go away. You ask us to believe that was your state of mind?
  (Mr Kapasi) Yes, unfortunately, absolutely. As I said, I am totally embarrassed by what I have done and I realise the seriousness of the situation.

  146. If you make an allegation about someone and the police make lots of investigations and find you were telling stories of this nature, you would actually be committing a criminal offence and wasting police time. Can you see that you are actually wasting parliamentary time, wasting the Commissioner's time, wasting all our time, if indeed what you say today is in fact true?
  (Mr Kapasi) Yes, I do admit it and I do apologise for it.

  Mr Foster: I have not got any other questions, Chairman.

Mr Campbell-Savours

  147. From what you said in your opening remarks, Keith Vaz is a friend of yours?
  (Mr Kapasi) I would not call him a friend, an acquaintance really and a person I work with to deal with community issues. Since I signed the declaration with other community leaders stating that we would request him not to get involved, our relationships have been very sour in fact.

  148. Since you signed the—?
  (Mr Kapasi) I signed a declaration requesting Mr Vaz not to get involved in local council affairs, that he is an excellent MP but the local council should be able to address the local issues.

  149. When did you sign that declaration?
  (Mr Kapasi) If I recollect correctly it was around 1994, 1995.

  150. But he was an acquaintance of yours?
  (Mr Kapasi) Yes.

  151. You have told us that basically the transcript is not true.
  (Mr Kapasi) Yes.

  152. Why did you tell a lie about your Member of Parliament? Why did you accuse your Member of Parliament of a criminal offence? I cannot understand why you would do it.
  (Mr Kapasi) I am deeply embarrassed by this.

  153. I understand your embarrassment, but why would you do it? Why would you tell a lie and accuse a Member of Parliament of a criminal offence with huge implications for the community? Why would you do that? There must be some reason for it. Did you not like him perhaps? Did you feel malevolent towards him?
  (Mr Kapasi) I cannot say whether I liked him or disliked him, because I had to deal with him. You see I come from a business family and the first thing you learn is you deal with anybody, whether they come from Mongolia or Brazil, it does not matter, and I had to deal with him on local matters. For example, if somebody came to me from the community and said, "Can you help me with this issue", I would pass it on to Mr Vaz who would deal with it. So I had to have that relationship with him and that is all really.

  154. But you are a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County of Leicestershire and you told a lie about a Member of Parliament, according to what you have said, and you accused him of a criminal offence in a detailed series of answers to journalists. There must be a reason why you would do that.
  (Mr Kapasi) I think it is a very bad mistake on my part.

  155. Is there something you are not telling us as to why you did this, which is what you admitted you did? Is there some reason you are not telling us? Is there something you feel is difficult to talk to the Committee about?
  (Mr Kapasi) No.

  156. Is it personal?
  (Mr Kapasi) No, it is not personal. I am under oath and I am telling you the truth.

  157. I only have one more question. You are a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County of Leicestershire, do you feel that what you have done is conducive to the very important public office you hold?
  (Mr Kapasi) It is a difficult question to answer.

  158. It is either a yes or no answer. It is either that it is what you would expect of a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County of Leicestershire or it is not. Which one would you say it was?
  (Mr Kapasi) You see because my belief—

  159. I understand that, but which one do you think it is? Is it the conduct expected of a Deputy Lord Lieutenant of the County of Leicestershire to tell lies about the local Member of Parliament and accuse him of a criminal offence? I would like an answer. You can ask your legal adviser if you like, he might be able to help you with the answer. What is the answer? That is all I have to ask, Chairman, but the witness will not answer the question.
  (Mr Kapasi) The answer is no.

  Mr Campbell-Savours: The answer is no, thank you.

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