Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witness (Questions 787 - 799)




  787. Welcome to the Committee once again, Mr Vaz. We are sorry to have to call you a second time. There are one or two things we wanted to find out, and we have received the responses from Mr Bindman set out here. One or two questions we had in mind to ask you followed those responses which some Members felt needed to be elaborated on and expanded. Looking at the answers to question (iii) in the letter from Mr Bindman, that says, "Mr. Vaz has shown his bank statements to an independent person who has found no such payment."—we are talking about Mr Zaiwalla's payment of £1,000 in February 1994, thought to be a donation to a charity—"Mr. Vaz has asked that person to provide confirmation in writing." Can you say something about that independent person?

  (Mr Vaz) Yes, Mr Chairman. In fact, I did have a letter that I was going to put before you, until I discovered that the independent person is the same accountant whom you use, therefore I am getting another one to certify it. It is the same firm of accountants that you have used in the report that was done on you.

  788. The name of the accountant?
  (Mr Vaz) Hard Dowdy.[1]

  789. I see. It is a national firm. They have many branches. I just happen to use one branch.
  (Mr Vaz) That is fine. I have brought the statements, I have shown them to Mr Bindman, but I will let you have that letter.

  790. Thank you.
  (Mr Vaz) I just felt, on the conflict of interest point, it was wise to go to someone else. There are quite a lot of accountants one can choose from.

Mr Bottomley

  791. Is Mr Vaz saying the statements are here?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, they are.

  Mr Bottomley: Would it be possible perhaps for an independent person like the Clerk to see them? That would be a very good way of getting confirmation.


  792. Would you do that?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, he can come and sit here. I do not want them published.

  793. Perhaps we can get a copy of that for the Committee to see. (Document handed in to the Committee by Mr Vaz) The other question I have concerns question (v). We asked for information about the purpose of the "K Vaz MP office account" into which the first of these two cheques was paid, and about any other payments made into it. In the answer, Mr Bindman refers to question (iv)—"he has not and has never had any access to their accounts." Can you say something about the "K Vaz MP office account"?
  (Mr Vaz) This, of course, Mr Chairman, comes from Mr Zaiwalla's cash book, it does not come from me. I have not said this is where any cheque would have gone to. In 1994 I do not know whether there was an account called "K Vaz MP", in the same way that it was used—most Members of Parliament would have an account of some kind to deal with their petty cash payments. Checking with a member of staff who was there at the time, she says that there may have been such an account. She does know that there was a petty cash account. She cannot confirm that it was called "K Vaz MP". I have not searched for it, because, frankly, I do not know whether or not it was paid in there. I mean, this hangs on Mr Zaiwalla's cash book. In his evidence, as you saw, he said that it was not a payment to the Labour Party and it was not a payment to me. In 1994, as Members can see from the register, I was dealing with a number of different campaigns; I was dealing with the Race Relations Amendment Bill, the BCCI campaign. There were a number of people who were involved in various activities. Mr Zaiwalla writes that down in his cash book and claims that that is the name of the account, but I cannot confirm that.

Mr Bottomley

  794. As a matter of ground clearing, I am going to ask you now, if I may, to describe the financial payments by Mr Zaiwalla that in some way were connected with you or causes that you were associated with.
  (Mr Vaz) I do not know as fact, because it was eight years ago, but I believe that these payments were payments for an advert. As we have seen throughout this year-long inquiry, people put down the word "K Vaz" as a reminder of "Let's remember Keith Vaz, because he was in some way connected to this payment." I do not know why people do that, but that is what they do. So you are asking me to look back eight years and ask me what somebody says a payment was for. What I can tell you with absolute certainty is that neither were payments to me, and I do not believe any were payments to the Labour Party, for the simple reason that Mr Zaiwalla was not a Labour Party supporter and he would not give money to the Labour Party. In any event, the Commissioner has said that in those circumstances, in her conclusions, these were not registerable payments. That is why I went to see the Registrar and the Commissioner, and the second Registrar, and we had such a long time discussing these calendars, because I felt it was really important that this should be dealt with.

  795. In terms of building blocks, the payments—the £200 and £250—were in relation to advertisements in calendars?
  (Mr Vaz) I think that they were, Mr Bottomley. I do not know.

  796. They are likely to have been?
  (Mr Vaz) I would think so, yes.

  797. Are they likely to have been payments because you had suggested it, or some advertising salesman had gone to Mr Zaiwalla? Are they more likely to be directly because of some link between you and him directly?
  (Mr Vaz) No.

  798. That is not likely or less likely?
  (Mr Vaz) It is very unlikely. I know hundreds of thousands of people whom I have addressed. I addressed a meeting in Milton Keynes where there were 100,000 people present each one of whom will say they know Keith Vaz. I do not have a financial relationship with Mr Zaiwalla.

  799. I may have put the question inadequately. Is it more likely that Mr Zaiwalla said, "Let us make these payments for the calendars" because you had in some way suggested it, or is it more likely that he made those payments because somebody knocked on the door and said, "We're doing these calendars. We'd be very grateful if you could pay for an advertisement"?
  (Mr Vaz) I have no idea. He and other people were very— People advertise. I cannot look into his mind. They make their own decisions. Frankly, I think he would have had a bigger benefit than I would.

1   Note by witness: I should have said Hacker Young. Back

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