Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witnesses (Questions 980 - 999)



  980. This letter of Davenport Lyons.
  (Ms Fernandes) To be quite honest, I have not been sure what the Committee has been after. I have had these four questions, I have replied to them. I have then had the four questions back, and I have replied to them. If somebody could tell me what it is you are looking for, I would be happy to provide that information. For the first time today I think it is Mr Williams has opened it up, and I am happy to provide information where I can.

  981. How quickly do you think you could get that information to the Committee?
  (Ms Fernandes) How quickly would you like it?

  982. As quickly as possible.
  (Ms Fernandes) Days. I mean, I could get on with it when I leave this room today.

  Shona McIsaac: That would be very helpful, thank you.

Mr Williams

  983. May I ask one quick question that puzzles me. I sit and agonise over my tax declaration, this wretched thing we now have to fill in. How does a company satisfy the Revenue, without having audited accounts?
  (Ms Fernandes) I do not know what— To be quite honest, I do not know what you are getting at.

  984. What does the Revenue accept from you, if you do not have audited accounts, in order to judge the tax liability of the firm—not you personally now, the company? I am quite happy if your solicitor—if you do not mind, Chairman—would like to answer on that.
  (Ms Fernandes) Can I answer that. The Act itself provides for an exemption of small companies—I think the word is "small" companies—from being audited, and this is a small company. It is not required to be audited. I rely on my accountants, and that is where I place my trust, as far as my tax and financial affairs are concerned. I was advised by my accountants, and still am, that it is a small company, that accounts do not need to be audited. I do not know why I would want to audit them if I do not need to, because auditing is a very expensive process. (Ms Fernandes conferred with Mr Conway)

  985. I think she is getting some advice. I am sorry, your solicitor was advising you, so we were told.
  (Mr Conway) Forgive me, I was just asking something which might have helped clarify this.
  (Ms Fernandes) It is just that is what I was advised, and I acted on the advice.

  986. So you had accounts; it is just that they are not normally audited accounts?
  (Ms Fernandes) Yes.

Mr Bottomley

  987. I have one question on the assets of the company. In simple terms, does Mapesbury provide anything of advantage to Keith Vaz?
  (Ms Fernandes) It does not.

  988. Does Mapesbury have a vehicle?
  (Ms Fernandes) Yes, it does.

  989. A car?
  (Ms Fernandes) Yes. That belongs to Mrs Vaz, the secretary. It belongs to the company.

  990. It is for her use?
  (Ms Fernandes) Yes, it is for her use.

Mr Campbell-Savours

  991. I have a question on the calendar that was referred to and which the Commissioner held in her hand. Can I confirm, your company is in no way connected with its production?
  (Ms Fernandes) Not with that calendar.

  992. In no way connected?
  (Ms Fernandes) With the big one.

  993. Only the big one. That was produced by another firm?
  (Ms Fernandes) Yes.

  994. Secondly, are you therefore saying that your company is in no way connected with Mr Vaz at all?
  (Ms Fernandes) Yes.

  Mr Campbell-Savours: Thank you very much.


  995. Thank you very much, Ms Fernandes, for coming along today.
  (Ms Fernandes) Thank you very much. Just before I go, I want to make absolutely sure that we have got the information written down that we are going to need to present.

  996. We can put this information in precise terms in a letter that we can send you, if that is convenient.
  (Ms Fernandes) That would be very helpful. In order to speed things up, that will help, I could get started on it.

  997. We will want an answer very quickly indeed, because we are ready to proceed immediately.
  (Mr Conway) May I address the Committee again. Forgive me, it was either Mr Williams or Mr Bottomley explained what he wanted, and as I was taking a note it went through my mind that actually what they are asking for is evidence of every single payment that has gone into the company and every single payment that has gone out of the company, to show that Keith Vaz was not the recipient.
  (Mrs Filkin) That is correct.
  (Mr Conway) Therefore, what you are asking for is every single piece of paper that has been generated relating to income and expenditure of this company for a period of eight years (because that is what the original letter indicated), and that is why we simply thought it was very broad. That is a huge undertaking.
  (Ms Fernandes) I understood something else, actually.

  Mr Campbell-Savours: Could Mr Bottomley repeat his question and the Clerk take it down?

  Mr Bottomley: I think it is better— I do not mind the Clerk taking it down.

  Mr Campbell-Savours: You did ask a question.

Mr Bottomley

  998. Quite so. The letter from the Clerk should not necessarily be in these words, because you cannot really draft it in front of a committee. The essential point, assuming it is not possible to produce detailed accounts easily and willingly, is to know what happened when the company was the vehicle for Mr Keith Vaz, in so far as the company is able to provide that information, because my understanding is that Mr Keith Vaz said, "Apply to the company." That is roughly what I call the pre-1996/97, the calender type of period, and the possibility of other outside evidence.
  (Ms Fernandes) Yes, that I understood.

  999. I interrupt myself by saying we have heard from the witness saying that that was Mr Mahmoud and his possible garage, and that it is probably impossible to achieve, and anyway the calendar business stopped because it was not successful, so there was probably no benefit, but it will not help in showing whether particular payments in relation to either of the calendars were necessarily received by a printer, or by Mapesbury or by anybody else. It may be that that dribbles away into an ocean of nothingness. The second question is whether the company has done things which may have been either receiving payments in some way linked to Mr Keith Vaz—payments from other people.
  (Ms Fernandes) What do you mean "in some way linked to" Mr Vaz? You see, that is the problem. What you are asking for is, were any payments made for the benefit of Keith Vaz since 1996?

  Mr Bottomley: "For the benefit" is a slightly stronger way of putting it than what I had in mind.

  Chairman: Could you be fairly precise in your question here, without getting into any expansion of this?

Mr Bottomley

  1000. The precise questions are, could any payments have been received by Mapesbury, directly or indirectly, that had come from people in some association with Keith Vaz, other than Maria Fernandes with her own writing in particular; could those have been received for the benefit of Mapesbury, directly or indirectly, number one? Number two, has Mapesbury done anything which is for the direct or indirect benefit of Mr Keith Vaz since the time when he stopped being active in relation to the company? Those seem to me to be the three issues: the pre-1996, the period of the calendars, if you like, post-1996 could Mapesbury have received money, directly or indirectly, and has it done anything for the benefit of Mr Keith Vaz, directly or indirectly?
  (Mr Conway) What you are really looking for are documents showing how the income of the company has been achieved.

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