Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witness (Questions 360 - 368)



  360. It may have been put. If it were no more than a rumour, I think it is fair none the less that it should be put to you.
  (Mr Vaz) No, absolutely. I do not know of any solicitor who would want somebody else telling them how to run their business.

  Mr Foster: I have no other questions.

Mr Lewis

  361. Keith, City 2020 which you headed up—how was that financed? Was it sponsored?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, it was dealt with by someone at Sheffield who used to work for Sheffield City Council and someone else who worked for Leicester City Council. They would have their events there.

  362. Was the party involved there?
  (Mr Vaz) Was the party involved there? No, I do not— Only in the sense that I would be chairing some meetings. Yes, I suppose— I do not know really.

  363. Was it done on your initiative?
  (Mr Vaz) No, it was the Commission, with people like Richard Rogers on it and various people like that.

  364. Was it funded by sponsorship?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes.

  365. From where, can you recall?
  (Mr Vaz) From various organisations that are interested in regeneration issues and that kind of thing. I am not sure where we went to.

  366. The people we have discussed now—Zaiwalla and the rest, and Kapasi—none of those were sources of sponsorship?
  (Mr Vaz) No.


  367. Does anybody else have any questions? If not, thank you, Keith, for coming along and answering our questions today. Is there anything else you want to say?
  (Mr Vaz) There is, actually, Mr Chairman. There are a couple of things. First of all, the point is that I hope the Committee will look at the submission put forward by Mr Bindman. It is not a long one, but I think it is an important one. There are just three elements that we want to highlight. One is the inclusion in the report of comments about third parties who have not had anything put to them or are not involved in terms of the way in which this report is being prepared and comments about them. Secondly, it is matters that are totally irrelevant to the inquiry. The report into Leicester Labour Party—is totally irrelevant, yet there are pages devoted to what Claire Ward says, and it is totally irrelevant to any complaint against a Member of Parliament. I would also argue that about what Mr Peter Soulsby has said and indeed what I have said about Peter Soulsby, other than the complaint or the allegations that he made, and of course you are entitled to look at that. I think those are the most important things that I wanted to put to you. The final thing is, every day that this inquiry goes on continues to damage my reputation. Practically anything that you say is not really going to exonerate me, even the fact that Mrs Filkin has not upheld any complaint in 14 out of the 15 cases. It is the length of time that is so crushing. If it goes on any longer, it will really be not worth all the effort that Mrs Filkin has, rightly, put into it. I keep reading about the conclusions. It is really not fair to us that every single newspaper seems to think about what is going on in this. Every day it goes on, it is very damaging. I looked at the outstanding matters that have to be looked at and, frankly, I do not think that they are necessarily relevant to any of the complaints and not complaints, for the simple reason that I think that you dealt with the complaints very, very well, except for the honours point which I made very strong submissions on, because those really are important points, and I do disagree with Mrs Filkin on that. I agree with her on all the other ones, because she has not upheld a complaint. On the Hinduja case—I know this is not an issue for this Committee, because there is an inquiry—I have any letters that the Committee may want. It is no good wrapping up this inquiry and then anything else being produced. If the Committee wants the letters that I wrote, I am happy to supply those letters. I have just gone through them, so I know what they are. There is another inquiry which is ongoing, which has been started by Sir Anthony Hammond and will conclude in only 28 days' time, which is very good for all the Ministers and Members of Parliament involved. I think that is a very good precedent, to complete things quickly, because at least we do not have to have this hanging over us. Now they say it is a year-long inquiry. It started on 7 February. I have replied to questions really quickly. The only questions we have not replied to are where they are very bland and very open. If it is a specific question, we have. But the issue of relevance is a matter for us too. I think it is right that we have not answered irrelevant questions, and I do not think Mrs Filkin is the sole judge of what is irrelevant, we must be allowed to have our views on that. I urge you to make a quick decision, because in a few weeks' time it is going to be a year since Andrew Milne made his complaint, and look at how far we have gone on from there. Every aspect of my life has been investigated, every bit of my reputation has been looked into. I would ask the Committee to bear this in mind.

Mr Bottomley

  368. I would like to ask a question to seek to know whether Mr Vaz has a comment on this. If there are suggestions of keeping things from someone or being misled by someone, I think it is right to say that we have not yet had accounts from Mapesbury, the constituency Labour Party and there is one other area, we have not had the accounts on the calendar, which we may not be able to get because of the death of the person involved, so if we were to try to conclude our inquiry without getting that information, we have to do that openly.
  (Mr Vaz) On that point, in respect of the Labour Party, I think that the Labour Party is a voluntary organisation, and the company is a separate company that is independent of me. I think that if the Committee wants to make allegations, or if allegations have been made—and I do not see what the allegations are against either the company or the Labour Party—then I think they need to be specific: "Did you on this day do this, that or the other? Have you received this income", not a general kind of round, because I think that is dangerous, it will go on forever in those circumstances. I think there needs to be a specific thing that needs to be looked at if there is anything that is improper, and I say that as someone who obviously wants this to be done. If the Labour Party refuses, if they demand to have a meeting, they have nothing to lose on this. They have made it quite clear they see this whole inquiry as Peter Soulsby and Mustapha Kamal seeking to get to them. That opens the door to anyone saying anything about an MP and their constituency association, and their wife's businesses, their family's businesses, being opened up to examination and published in a report when they have not been involved in any impropriety. Finally, we were seeking to buy a house in London to live in. The Sun is running an article tomorrow about it. Just so the Committee knows, we have withdrawn from purchasing this house—we are selling a house and buying this new house for my mother to live in—because there is a crack in the wall. There is no question of us having to withdraw for any other reason. I am happy to show you the survey, if you need to.

  Chairman: Thank you for coming along today.

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