Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witness (Questions 300 - 319)



  300. It is your home and the Leicester East Labour Party, prior to you being elected. After you were elected, Leicester East Labour Party continued in that premise?
  (Mr Vaz) No. The Leicester East Labour Party has never been at 144 Uppingham Road. It was my home. One member of staff used to come in to do all the PPC correspondence etc., but you cannot get your office up and running until you get elected. We were elected in 1987. 144 became the office and I retained one room to live in.

  301. It was somebody from the Leicester East Labour Party?
  (Mr Vaz) No. Nobody from the Leicester East Labour Party. They only operated the party office from 146, next door, after 1989 when it was purchased in 1994-6, something like that, for the 18 months that Alan Greatrix and John Thomas occupied that part. There was planning permission for that.

  302. Basically these two properties are next door to each other. In the period of time we are talking about they have been your home, your constituency office and the Leicester East Labour Party and also the registered address for Mapesbury?
  (Mr Vaz) No. Mapesbury has nothing to do with them.

  303. It has been those three?
  (Mr Vaz) No. Mapesbury has not been—

  304. Excluding Mapesbury.
  (Mr Vaz) No. The Leicester East Labour Party has never been in 144 Uppingham Road.

  305. 146?
  (Mr Vaz) 146 it has.

  306. I said these two properties.
  (Mr Vaz) They are very close to each other. That is all.

  307. The premises fund which has been talked about in the report is just in relation to the Leicester East Labour Party or your office?
  (Mr Vaz) No. It has nothing to do with my office. Mrs Filkin has put in her annex the letter that I sent out to members after communicating with Alan Greatrix. It was a letter that any other MP would send out. The local party wanted to start a lottery to raise funds for their party. They asked the Member of Parliament to write a letter supporting it and we wrote a letter saying that this was a very good idea. It is annex 100 onwards. No Member of Parliament would not send a letter like this for his local party. It is making it quite clear what it is for. There is a letter from the chairman, which Mrs Filkin says—I do not know how she comes to this conclusion—was me but in fact is Alan Greatrix. It was prepared by the treasurer, John Robinson, and you will see Alan Greatrix says it is. Nowhere does Alan Greatrix say that I wrote the letter. It says, "In Leicester East we relied heavily on Mr Vaz but we must build our own strength ... the next election ... we want premises. We would like a 100 Club." 100 people could join. My party has 326 members. 50 people did not join; we kept bringing down the name of this club. In the end, 37 people joined. I am a contributor to this. I gave my £5 like everybody else. This is not a benefit to me. No MP can get away with not contributing to a lottery of a local party. If they say, "Are you going to take out a standing order?" you say, "Yes." What was it used for? It was used for expenses as Mr Gerald Shamash says in the letter he has written on behalf of the party. It tells you exactly what it has been used for. Nothing came to me; this was not a benefit to me.

  308. Do you think, because of the proximity of these properties, people may get confused between what was your office and what is the Leicester East Labour Party office?
  (Mr Vaz) No, because it only operated for 18 months. Mr Greatrix had to resign for other reasons. Mr Thomas's wife had a heart attack. He moved his office to his house and he claimed exactly the same expenses that he would claim if he was sitting there. All secretaries and officers of the party are able to claim their expenses if they wish to do so.

  309. Moving on to Mapesbury which was set up for the purposes of the income that was never generated by the Asian community calendars and your other earnings, is it still used for that purpose? I think you have told the Commissioner it is not.
  (Mr Vaz) No, it was not used since 1996 for those purposes.

  310. It still does exist?
  (Mr Vaz) It does exist, indeed. I have had a conversation with my wife after I saw Mrs Filkin's letter and I suggested to her that they think carefully about how they want to proceed with this company because it has been all over The Observer.

  311. If the purpose of the company has changed, what is its current purpose?
  (Mr Vaz) As is said in the objectives, it is a public relations company and a publishing company that is run by my wife. I have never been a director or shareholder. I accept that when it was established it was for a different purpose. She is an independent person, perfectly entitled to do this if she wishes. She is also a lawyer. She has her own practice. It happens to be called Fernandes Vaz, but I have no part to play in the running of her legal practice. In fact, I have been to visit her office five times in the last five years.

  312. You do realise within our rules there are various rules relating to spouses and their activities?
  (Mr Vaz) Absolutely, yes.

  313. Have you any idea what the turnover of the company is?
  (Mr Vaz) No, but Mrs Filkin has the accounts. Mrs Filkin again unfairly criticises me. She says she thinks I could be more candid with her in providing this information. This is something that my wife runs. She is an independent person. She has her own surname and she does not want to be associated with anything that I do politically. I know there are rules relating to spouses but I do not think I have broken the rules. It is a matter for her. There is another director who is not a member of the family. There was no impropriety in respect of the fact that members of the family could have a company independent of Members of Parliament. The report does not in any way criticise that fact or make any judgment about members of families having their own thing to do.

  314. Obviously there is a lot of paperwork here but do you not feel it would assist you to have your wife produce the accounts?
  (Mr Vaz) I think it is a matter for the company. As with the party, I will do my best but there is a company; they have an accountant and a solicitor. They are under an obligation to deal with things properly. Write to them and ask them and see what they say. I will suggest to them that they should do it, but I do not see why they should not be able to get some kind of authorisation or certificate from their accountants to do whatever you want. There has been no complaint about this. This comes from Mrs Filkin's view of my file. She asked questions and I really do not think in this world one can say generally, "Give me everything that has ever been said about you and we will look at it." If there was a particular transaction or a particular bit of wrongdoing that you feel has been done into Mapesbury, I think you should come to me first because I am a member. Then Mapesbury can clear it up and it is for them to do that.

  315. You were the one who went to the then Commissioner to check out Mapesbury. You can appreciate where all the links come from here. Obviously, we have to get this all clear.
  (Mr Vaz) I do understand that. I know that Mrs Filkin wanted to look through my file. I am glad she did. It is like an MOT. She has found Mapesbury and she reminded me of the letter to Downey which I appreciate. I think Mapesbury should go its own way in the sense that it has gone its own way since 1996 but, because it is on my register, it annoys me and I want to be able to—

  316. Could you give me some sort of idea what types of income that you described to the former Commissioner were paid into the company before it changed to its current practice?
  (Mr Vaz) Only the adverts for the calendar, I would imagine.

  317. Which you said was a huge disaster?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes.

  318. It made a loss?
  (Mr Vaz) It made a loss, yes. It was not successful.

  319. Since its inception, Mapesbury has not provided you with any form of benefit or support for your constituency office?
  (Mr Vaz) No.

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