Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report



178.  Having received information from The Sunday Telegraph that Mr Mustapha Kamal, a Leicester City Councillor, was amongst those who had told the newspaper that they had made payments to Mr Vaz,[146] I wrote to Mr Kamal on 14 March 2000 (Annex 108) to ask him for his account in relation to the allegations.

179.  In a letter dated 17 April 2000 (Annex 109),[147] Mr Kamal replied as follows:

    (i)  after his election to the House of Commons, Mr Vaz had in 1987 or 1988 "demanded that all elected members from Leicester East should contribute £2.00 per week to run his office from 144 Uppingham Road, Leicester";

    (ii)  Mr Kamal had made out a direct debit of £8.00 per month which ran for four years;

    (iii)  Mr Kamal had been led to believe that "few other elected members, though not all" issued similar instructions to their banks or building societies.

180.  In his letter of 17 April, Mr Kamal, in responding to my request for any further relevant information to assist my inquiry, made a number of statements not directly connected with his own position, but suggesting to me other possible sources of information about alleged payments or benefits received by Mr Vaz or about the alleged misappropriation of Party funds. My further inquiries following up this information are described in a later section of this memorandum.[148]

181.  In a further letter, dated 6 July 2000 (Annex 115), Mr Kamal explained that Mr Vaz had justified his demand for a monthly payment of £8.00 (which Mr Kamal understood to be a contribution towards Mr Vaz's office expenses) as a means of helping to ensure that "Leicester East stays under Labour control". Mr Kamal added:

    "Now, if the implication is that money collected was to be used to run Leicester East Constituency Labour Party then obviously he [Mr Vaz] does not understand how the constituencies raise funds to meet their expenditures. They are partly funded by the centre and the rest through the activities of the constituency, organised by its executive. Prior to the arrival of Keith Vaz the constituency actually had a fund-raising officer. Even if one is inclined to believe Mr Vaz it still amounts to the same thing; Leicester East Constituency Labour Party and Keith Vaz's office are one and the same. It is a fact that for a very long time the constituency office was operated from 146 Uppingham Road, a property owned by Mr Vaz. I personally collected material for distribution for local and national elections from those premises. I would like to reiterate that to raise funds to run a constituency has never been the responsibility of an MP and when Mr Vaz asked for a financial contribution I thought in all honesty that I was doing this to assist his office and, in doing so, helping Labour."

182.  On 4 October 2000, having first approached Mr Kamal, I wrote to Mr Jeff Carnall, the manager of the branch of Lloyds TSB bank in Leicester where Mr Kamal's account is held, to seek access to his bank records in order to establish whether or not they confirmed his evidence to me.

183.  On 10 October 2000, Mr Carnall told me that as the bank's records for the period in question were in secure storage it would take some time to extract the relevant information.

184.  On 9 November 2000, I received a letter (Annex 116) from Ms Rose Turner, of Lloyds TSB Bank, who told me that after checking Mr Kamal's bank statements they had traced a standing order in favour of Leicester East Labour Party, starting on 28 October 1988, initially for £16 per month, then £8 per month. The final payment was made on 2 January 1990. It was not possible to provide any more details of the payee's account as the records had been destroyed.

Other information

185.  As my inquiries progressed into Mr Kamal's allegations other witnesses came forward with information about this aspect of my investigation into the complaints against Mr Vaz.

186.  I was telephoned on 7 July 2000 (Annex 98), by Mr and Mrs Roy Stuttard, officers of the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party, who were responding to a letter from me of 5 July (Annex 97) seeking further information about possible donations by serving councillors to Mr Vaz.[149]

187.  Mr Stuttard told me that:—

    —   he had attended a meeting at which serving Labour councillors were asked for a contribution of, he believed, £8 a month toward Mr Vaz's election fighting fund;

    —   there had been several such meetings in 1997-98 at which Mr Vaz had made the same request in person;

    —   he had refused to make such a payment;

    —   Mr Vaz had visited him in his home to complain that he (Mr Stuttard) was the only councillor who "wouldn't do what he was told";

    —   that the account into which the monthly contributions were paid was an election fighting fund to support Mr Vaz, rather than a constituency fund.

188.  Mrs Stuttard supported her husband's account of the requests to sitting Labour councillors for a monthly contribution to a fighting fund, in some cases made personally by Mr Vaz. Mrs Stuttard said that she had been unable to audit the accounts of the fund because they were of such poor quality that it was hard to understand what they recorded. She explained that it was difficult to find auditors for constituency accounts and that during one year, 1997 or 1998, she had carried out this role herself aided by Mr Paul Gosling, a former councillor and a journalist with accountancy training. In that year they had refused to clear the accounts because the underlying information was so poor. Asked whether that problem was in any way related to Mr Vaz, Mrs Stuttard replied "Well, he does always tend to be tied up with the officers of the constituency, but I can't say any more than that".

189.  In his evidence to me (Annex 117), Sir Peter Soulsby had also criticised the way in which the Constituency Party's accounts had been administered:

    "I think the complaint was actually that it was not possible to distinguish between the constituency finances and the personal finances of Keith. Had they been asked to contribute towards the constituency finances, they would not necessarily have objected. The objection was that payments were being made in a way, and indeed the constituency finances were being operated in a way, which was not transparent."

190.  Similarly, in the course of giving his evidence concerning his complaint about Mr Vaz's financial relationship with Control Securities Ltd,[150] Mr Paul Gosling, a journalist and former Leicester city councillor, told me that he had acted as joint auditor of the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party for one year—he thought 1990. In that year he and his co-auditor had refused to approve the accounts as a true and fair record, since the underlying papers were unavailable (Annex 9).

191.  Mr Stuttard indicated that amongst other witnesses who might be able to provide information about the alleged monthly donations were Councillor John Thomas, secretary of Leicester East Constituency Labour Party and Councillor Mrs Mary Drakecott.

192.  Councillor Drakecott telephoned me on 12 July 2000 (Annex 116A) to say that she was not aware of any contributions being asked for directly by Mr Vaz but that on one occasion Councillor Thomas had asked all councillors to donate a percentage of their allowance to an election fund. She said that although she had not made any contribution other councillors, including Mr Kamal, had done so.

193.  I therefore wrote to Councillor Thomas on 13 July 2000 (Annex 71), asking him whether he had ever made an appeal for funds which involved councillors setting aside part of their allowance, the circumstances of any such appeal and the amounts raised. I also requested copies of any relevant minutes which would corroborate his account.

194.  In his reply, dated 19 October (Annex 76), Councillor Thomas stated that he had not "personally, in my term of office, asked any councillors to make contributions."

195.  Since my original question to Councillor Thomas had been couched in general terms and did not ask him only whether he had personally been involved in any such fund-raising initiative, I pursued the matter further in a letter to Councillor Thomas dated 25 October (Annex 77).

196.  On 13 November 2000 I was telephoned by Mr Gerald Shamash, a solicitor, who told me that he had been instructed by Councillor Thomas to act on his behalf in relation to my inquiry. Mr Shamash sought clarification of my purpose in seeking information from Councillor Thomas and indicated that I would receive a reply to my letter of 25 October shortly.

197.  On 14 November 2000, I received a letter from Mr Shamash (Annex 78), in which he asked me to give an indication of the dates in relation to which I had asked Councillor Thomas to provide information about any appeals for funds for Leicester East constituency party.

198.  I replied on 15 November (Annex 79), repeating my earlier request to Councillor Thomas for information about any appeals for funding which involved regular contributions by serving councillors. I added that the dates mentioned by other witnesses in this context were 1988 to 1997. I also asked Councillor Thomas to give a description of the various funds to which witnesses had referred, including the "Premises Fund", the "50/100/200 Club", the lottery, and "support for the MP's office".

199.  In a further letter, dated 30 November 2000 (Annex 80), Mr Shamash told me:

    "My client has not found any reference in the minutes of the Constituency Labour Party (CLP) General Committee or indeed the Executive Committee requesting serving councillors to give a percentage of their allowance, either regularly or not, to the Labour Party. My client has from the best of his recollection never been at a constituency meeting at which such a request has been made.




    It is worth noting that it is normal for sitting Labour councillors to make a contribution to the respective Labour Groups on their Council. This is recognised under the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. This money is used to pay for the administrative and associated costs incurred by the Labour Group. In addition each Labour Councillor is required to be a member of the Association of Labour Councillors. This entails the payment of a subscription, currently between £10-£50 per annum, dependent on means. This is for the purposes of briefing, advice, guidance, etc."

200.  Mr Shamash added:

    "In 1995 a Premises Fund was set up by the CLP to enable it to run offices. Prior to that time, following my client's election in February 1992, he effectively ran the constituency office from his bedroom. This was most intrusive and inefficient. After much debate it was thought that the CLP could best raise funds was [sic] by the establishment of a 50 Club. This was structured on the basis that members of the Party and supporters could contribute at a rate of £5 per month. At the end of each month a draw would take place; the winner would receive a prize calculated on the basis of 50% of the month's take. From my client's memory the 50 Club never exceeded 37 members during its lifetime. The surplus after the prize had been paid out was then used to fund the CLP expenses. These were heating, lighting telephone, paper, photocopying etc of the office space [sic]. All the invoices and bills including the utilities were paid directly by the CLP from its own funds and not by payment to Mr Vaz.

    This office space was provided free by Keith Vaz MP located in the ground floor of 146 Uppingham Road, a property owned by him but which was at all times vacant save for the CLP office. It was next door to this Parliamentary Constituency Office at 144.

    The Premises Fund was in fact closed in mid-1996. This was because my client's wife suffered a major stroke which required him to be at home. The funding then began to taper off very quickly. In fact even whilst at the offices funding became a problem as members dropped out.

    For the sake of clarity my client confirms that references by witnesses to 100 or 200 Clubs are not correct but refer to the 50 Club. In respect of the Lottery referred to in your letter this was run by the Labour Party nationally. Tickets were sold with the CLP receiving a proportion of the income. This lottery is available to any Constituency Labour Party that wishes to join.

    My client can categorically state that the CLP has never from his direct knowledge or recollection ever contributed to the running of the MP's office. It may be that confusion has arisen in the memories of some of your witnesses in that the MP's actual parliamentary constituency office is next door at 144 Uppingham Road, as distinct from 146 Uppingham Road, where, as explained above, for the short period between 1995-1996 the CLP office was situated."

201.  I wrote again to Mr Shamash on 30 November 2000 (Annex 81) to ask him to request Councillor Thomas to tell me into which specific accounts the regular monthly payments by Mr Kamal and the single payment donated to the Party by Mr Attwal were paid. On 9 January 2001 Mr Shamash replied, stating that Mr Thomas did not know the answer to my question about Mr Kamal and asking me for more details about the timing of the donation from Mr Attwal. I wrote again to Mr Shamash on 9 January 2001, but had not received a reply by the time I completed this memorandum.

202.  In order to ensure that I obtained the information I was seeking I wrote in addition to Mrs M Hall who was the Treasurer of Leicester East Constituency Labour Party for a period during the mid-1990s. Mrs Hall told me in a letter dated 27 November 2000 (Annex 94), that she was unable to provide any details of Mr Attwal's involvement with the 50 Club or the Premises Fund, as the relevant bank records had been passed on to her successor and the paper work relating to the Fund's expenditure had been destroyed.

203.  I also received a letter, dated 3 July 2000 (Annex 128), from Mr Ramnik Kavia, a councillor in Leicester, to whom I had written on 28 June (Annex 127). Mr Kavia explained that he was aware of my investigation into allegations against Mr Vaz. Councillor Kavia and he stated: "This is to declare that I have made no payments or donations to Mr Vaz as a Member of Parliament." He had, however, provided support in the form of campaigning and canvassing for the Labour Party and Mr Vaz at election time.

204.  By contrast Mr M H Asmal, a businessman living in Leicester, wrote to me on 17 September 2000 in response to my letters of 4 August and 7 September 2000 (Annexes 185 and 186), to make the following statement (Annex 187):

    "In the short time I knew Mr Vaz, I had been told by members of the business community that he did accept payments especially when it came to his election expenses and that his mother would approach business people for these payments. But I have never seen him take any payments in my presence. However, I have seen his mother ask a person to pay off Mr Vaz's telephone bill, but I cannot remember who this person was, as it was six or seven years ago."

205.  In a letter dated 27 November I asked Mr Vaz for his comments on Mr Asmal's letter. I had not received any reply from him before his solicitors wrote to me on 4th and 7th December to say that he was unwilling to answer any further questions from me.

Mr Vaz's response

206.  I wrote to Mr Vaz on 20 April (Annex 23) enclosing for his comments a copy of Mr Kamal's letter to me of 17 April. In a letter of the same date (Annex 24) giving his first response to Mr Kamal's allegations, Mr Vaz claimed that Mr Kamal was "part of a faction on the Labour group of Leicester City Council". That faction, according to Mr Vaz, was opposed to another group, which was in control. On the main thrust of the allegation, Mr Vaz said: "This is a matter for the Labour Party. No payments were made to my office. I, as an elected official, made similar payments to the Labour Party of 1% of my annual salary".

207.  As part of the questionnaire (Annex 32) I sent to Mr Vaz's solicitors in preparation for our meeting on 3 July, I again asked Mr Vaz specifically if he had received monthly payments of £8.00 from Mr Kamal at any time during the period 1987-1991, whether made directly to him or not, and whether intended for his personal benefit or for the benefit of the Labour Party nationally or locally, or his constituency office. In response (Annex 36), Mr Vaz referred me to the first paragraph of his letter of 20 April.

208.  In order to be able to check the accuracy of Mr Kamal's claim to have made regular payments to Mr Vaz's office fund, I also requested Mr Vaz to provide me with copies of his bank statements for the relevant period or, alternatively, to give me his authority to allow me to obtain them directly myself. Mr Vaz replied (Annex 36): "Mr Kamal has offered you (on 17 April) details of the destination of his direct debits. I suggest you ask him as he has offered this. Please send me the evidence so I can comment on it".

209.  In a further letter, dated 22 August 2000 (Annex 43), summarising the position, as they saw it, in relation to the complaints against Mr Vaz, Bindmans repeated his denial of Mr Kamal's allegation and added: "No evidence of payment to Mr Vaz personally. Mr Kamal is obviously referring to contributions to the Labour Party".

210.  On 3 October 2000 I wrote again to Bindmans (Annex 45), pointing out that I had had no response to my invitation to Mr Vaz to supply me with documentary evidence in the form of bank statements which would support his claim that Mr Kamal's payments were donations to the Labour Party.

Improper pressure on witnesses

211.  Having set out the evidence I received concerning Mr Kamal's specific allegations against Mr Vaz, I must also refer to a separate but related issue—improper pressure on witnesses to this part of my investigation.

212.  In accordance with my practice of allowing one witness to comment on relevant information provided by another, I had sent to Mr Kamal a copy of Mr Vaz's letter of 20 April responding to Mr Kamal's allegations. On 5 May, Councillor Kamal telephoned me to say that now his letter of 17 April to me had been passed to Mr Vaz[151] he was worried that he might suffer retaliation (Annex 110). On 11 May I received an e-mail from Councillor Kamal (Annex 111) stating that he believed Mr Vaz to be lying about these matters and setting out his concern for his personal safety: "It will not come to me as a surprise (I speak from past experience) if some form of harm comes to me, my family or property".

213.  On 15 May 2000 (Annex 112) Mr Kamal wrote to me enclosing a copy of a letter he had received from Mr Colin Hall, Chairman of Leicester East Constituency Labour Party (CLP).

214.  In his letter to Mr Kamal, dated 8 May 2000, Mr Hall indicated that he had come into possession of a copy of Mr Kamal's letter of 17 April to me (Annex 82). Mr Hall stated that since Mr Kamal's letter contained "a number of serious allegations" against officers of the constituency Party it had been agreed that he, as chairman of the CLP, should respond on their behalf.

215.  Mr Hall's letter continued as follows:

    "First of all, I must say I am disappointed that you have chosen to bring the matters to the attention of a third party, rather than seek to raise them within the channels of the Party. As far as I am aware, Mrs Filkin has no responsibility for Labour Party organisation and therefore no powers to act on many of the matters raised in the letter to her. In any event, many of the statements contained in the letter are either factually incorrect or would require the support of substantial documentary evidence in order to warrant further investigation.

    In addition, as you are well aware, the CLP and many of its members have been the subject of a number of unpleasant and damaging smear campaigns, from various sources, in recent years. The CLP has always condemned these campaigns in the strongest terms and will continue to press for stringent action against those proved to have engaged in such conduct.

    I would therefore be grateful if you could produce, within seven days of receiving this letter, either detailed evidence in support of the serious allegations contained in the letter, or a written statement dissociating yourself entirely from them.

    I must advise that unless you respond along these lines, the CLP will consider ways of taking the matter further, including possible legal and disciplinary action against yourself.

    I look forward to hearing from you."

216.  On 17 May I wrote to Mr Hall (Annex 83) to seek an explanation of his letter to Mr Kamal, since it appeared to threaten Mr Kamal with disciplinary action if he co-operated with my inquiry. I also asked Mr Hall to let me have the copy of Mr Kamal's letter to me of 17 April which had been sent to Mr Hall without my authority.

217.  Mr Hall replied on 18 May (Annex 84), explaining that the copy of Mr Kamal's letter had been sent to him anonymously. He claimed that during the time between the receipt of Mr Kamal's complaint to me and his [Mr Hall's] response to it, neither he nor Leicester East Constituency Labour Party "were aware that your [ie my] inquiry was ongoing." Mr Hall's letter concluded: "It has been suggested that comments made in my letter to Mr Kamal of 8 May 2000 may be interpreted as being potentially prejudicial or obstructive to your inquiry, or even being in outright contempt of Parliament. This was never my intention... and I apologise unreservedly if that impression has been given. I can also confirm that neither I nor the constituency Labour Party will commence any proceedings against Mr Kamal in respect of the contents of his letter to you of 17 April".

218.  I wrote to Mr Kamal on 18 May (Annex 113) to inform him of the contents of Mr Hall's letter to me.

219.  I wrote again to Mr Hall on 19 May 2000 (Annex 85) accepting his apology, repeating my earlier request for Mr Hall to send me the copy of Mr Kamal's letter he had received anonymously, together with its envelope, and asking Mr Hall to confirm that he had retrieved and destroyed any further copies of the letter from Mr Kamal which had been made.

220.  On 21 May 2000, I received a letter (Annex 96), from Mrs Pat Stuttard and her husband Roy, who told me that they were both members of the Executive Committee of Leicester East Constituency Labour Party.[152] They had seen an article in The Sunday Telegraph of 21 May mentioning the letter sent by Mr Hall to Mr Kamal and, in particular, the section referring to possible action by the Constituency Labour Party against Mr Kamal. Mr and Mrs Stuttard told me that Mr Hall's letter had not been approved, nor even "brought as an agenda item at any Executive Committee meeting or at a full CLP meeting."

221.  Since Mr Vaz was the only person to whom I had sent a copy of Mr Kamal's letter to me of 17 April, I asked Mr Vaz directly, on 21 May 2000, whether he had passed a copy of it to Mr Hall. Mr Vaz denied this. He added that he had been told by a Sunday Times reporter that he (the reporter) had received a copy of the letter from Mr Kamal himself.[153]

222.  Mr Hall replied to my further letter on 22 May 2000 (Annex 86) enclosing the copy of Mr Kamal's letter which had been sent to him but stating that he had been "unable to locate the envelope in which it was sent." He assured me that he had not shown the letter to anyone else and that he had no other copies in his possession. He said, however, that he was "aware of at least two other persons who are in receipt of further copies" and added that there was "reason to believe there may well be a number of others, both in London and Leicester, who have either been sent copies of the letter or have been extensively advised of its contents."

223.  In a further letter dated 24 May 2000 (Annex 88), Mr Hall said that he had now received a further copy of Mr Kamal's letter, which he enclosed, together with its envelope. He also indicated that he had been told by his local councillor, Mr John Thomas, that he and "several of his colleagues at Leicester City Council" had also received copies of the letter.

224.  On 30 May 2000 Mr Hall wrote to me again (Annex 89) enclosing a copy of a letter to him from Mr Kamal, dated 15 May, which had also been copied to other members of the Labour Party locally. In his letter Mr Kamal asked Mr Hall for the name of the person who had posted to him the copy of Mr Kamal's earlier letter and questioned the authority for Mr Hall's action in writing to Mr Kamal on 8 May.

225.  On 5 June 2000, I wrote to Mr Hall (Annex 90), thanking him for his letters of 24 and 30 May and reminding him that he had still not let me have the original copy of the letter of 17 April from Mr Kamal to me.

226.  I formally reported to the Committee on 17 May 2000 the approach made by Mr Hall to Mr Kamal in his letter of 8 May. I informed the Committee that in my view Mr Hall's letter was "an attempt to put improper pressure on a witness" and I expressed my concern that, unless action was taken to protect Mr Kamal and other witnesses who might be put in the same position, it might not "be possible to carry out a full and effective investigation into the complaint."

227.  On the instructions of the Committee the Clerk of the Committee wrote to Mr Hall on 23 May (Annex 87) requesting a full written explanation of his actions and specifically asking:

    —   by what means he had obtained the copy of Mr Kamal's letter to me of 17 April;

    —   in what circumstances his letter of 8 May to Mr Kamal came to be written; and

    —   whether he was aware of any other approaches to witnesses in connection with evidence given during the investigation of the complaints against Mr Vaz.

    Mr Hall was also summoned to appear before the Committee on Tuesday 6 June.

228.  On the same day (23 May), the Clerk of the Committee wrote to Mr Kamal to tell him that the Committee took "a serious view" of Mr Hall's letter of 8 May and to reassure him that they would take any necessary action against anyone seeking to put pressure on a witness.

229.  On 13 June Mr Hall appeared before the Committee accompanied by his solicitor, Mr Gerald Shamash. On 16 June, Mr Hall's solicitor wrote to the Clerk of the Committee (Annex 92) providing a list, promised by Mr Hall during his oral evidence to the Committee, of the other recipients of copies of Mr Kamal's letter to me of 17 April. The list consisted of the names of 9 people, all of whom were Leicester City councillors.

Other allegations against Mr Vaz arising from Mr Kamal's evidence

230.  As indicated earlier,[154] in providing me with his account of the allegation that he paid £8.00 a month to Mr Vaz's office fund, Mr Kamal also made a number of statements (Annex 109) about possible sources of information relating to other alleged payments or benefits to Mr Vaz, or about the alleged misappropriation of Party funds involving Mr Vaz.

231.  The statements Mr Kamal made were as follows:

    (i)  that about three to four months after the 1997 General Election, Councillor Piara Singh Clair (a Leicester City Councillor) commented to Mr Kamal said that he had helped Mr Vaz's election campaign "by making the Sikh business community donate £10,000";

    (ii)  that Bipin Jewellers of Leicester had donated a car towards Mr Vaz's election campaign;

    (iii)  that in the mid 1990s, Mr John Thomas, the secretary of Leicester East Constituency Labour Party had moved into 146 Uppingham Road, Leicester (owned by Mr Vaz); that Mr Vaz had proposed to the Constituency Party Management Committee that Mr Thomas should receive a salary, "a practice unheard of in the Labour Party"; that at the time Councillor Thomas was in receipt of Housing Benefit and Job Seeker's Allowance; that when he was first elected as a Member of Parliament Mr Vaz had a home at 144 Uppingham Road which he also used as an office; and that he later purchased 146 Uppingham Road, which was formally opened by two Labour Party officials as a constituency office—although within a year the board describing it as such was taken down;

    (iv)  that Mr Vaz had established a monthly raffle, called Club 200, in Leicester East; that the monthly prize was £50 but the whereabouts of "the rest of the money" was unknown; that for many years the treasurer of the constituency party had been unable to perform his functions owing to illness and that the books had been "kept and maintained by Mr Vaz's office".

    (v)  that over a number of years the Co-operative Party had donated "hundreds of pounds" to the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party but that "those payments were never acknowledged or appeared in the annual financial statement of the constituency".

232.  In a letter, dated 20 April 2000 (Annex 24), Mr Vaz responded to each of these statements in turn, as follows:

    "Paragraph (i)
    The "Sikh Business Community", a rather vague term, did not donate any money to the election campaign. Any donations for the election are listed as required. With your permission I can send a copy of this letter to Mr Clair for his comments.

    Paragraph (ii)
    Many individuals provided their own cars during all five of my election campaigns: in 1983 in Richmond; in 1984 in Surrey West; in 1987, 1992 and 1997 in Leicester East; this included Mr Kamal who in 1995 on national television described me as "a wonderful MP whose work is hugely admired" (BBC Newsnight).

    Paragraph (iii)
    This is a matter for the Labour Party. With your permission I can pass this letter to Cllr Thomas or you may prefer to write to him.

    The only person to live at 146 Uppingham Road was Mr Kamal. After yet another allegation by his wife Barbara that he had assaulted her, I permitted him to live there for a period of five months until she allowed him to return to the matrimonial home.

    Paragraph (iv)
    Point 1
    This is a matter for the Labour Party. It was responsible for the 50 Club (not the 200 Club as he says) as it does in other parts of the country, by possibly different names.
    Point 2
    This is a matter for the Labour Party. My office has never maintained the "books".

    Paragraph (v)
    This is a matter for the Labour Party."

233.  In a letter, dated 11 May 2000 (Annex 111), Mr Kamal made the following comments on Mr Vaz's responses:

    —   so far as Councillor Singh Clair was concerned, Mr Kamal had never alleged that he (Councillor Singh Clair) had made a donation direct to Mr Vaz but that he had been instrumental in raising a substantial amount of money for him;

    —   Mr Kamal had never stayed at 146 Uppingham Road and he strongly denied ever having assaulted his wife.

234.  I wrote to each of the persons named by Mr Kamal in his letter of 17 April 2000 to ask for their comments on his statements as they related to them individually.

Councillor Singh Clair

235.  On 28 April Councillor Singh Clair wrote to me (Annex 124), stating that he could not assist me as he had "made no donations to Mr Vaz or payments to him".

236.  I wrote again to Councillor Singh Clair on 18 May 2000 (Annex 125), pressing him to respond specifically as to whether he had ever been instrumental in raising money to support Mr Vaz in any way.

237.  In a letter, dated 22 May (Annex 126), Councillor Singh Clair answered that question in the negative, declaring that he had never spoken to Mr Kamal about the election campaign nor "mentioned any money". He added: "This is not true, Kamal is not telling the truth."

238.  In a letter, dated 2 November (Annex 50), Bindmans told me:

Bipin Jewellers

239.  Mr Z Pala wrote to me on 9 June 2000 (Annex 179) to say that Bipin Jewellers had not donated a car to Mr Vaz, either for his personal use or for the election campaign.

Mr John Thomas (Uppingham Road)

240.  In a letter dated 25 May 2000 (Annex 70), Mr Thomas told me that:

241.  I was telephoned on 11 July 2000 (Annex 99), by Mr Allan Gratrix, a former chairman of the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party, who explained that the "Club 200" mentioned by Mr Kamal must be a reference to the 100 Club (later re-named the 50 Club). This, as Mr Kamal implied, was a monthly lottery, the purpose of which was to raise funds "to obtain premises and to finance a permanent local organiser's post in the constituency", as confirmed in a copy of a standard letter[155] to members sent by Mr Vaz to Mr Gratrix for his approval in July 1993 (Annexes 100 and 101).[156] Mr Gratrix also sent me a copy of a letter, dated 10 January 1995, from Councillor Thomas to Mr B S Attwal,[157] a Leicester businessman, thanking him for becoming a patron of the 50 Club—(Annex 170, attachment).

242.  I wrote to Mr Vaz on 12 October 2000 (Annex 46) asking him to provide full details of the 50/100 Club, including the account into which donations were paid and the arrangements for auditing it. In a letter, dated 2 November 2000 (Annex 50), Mr Vaz replied as follows:—

    "The club, variously described as 50, 100, and 200 club (the latter by Mr Kamal) was set up by the local Labour Party for the purposes stated in the statement of the chairman Mr Gratrix which you have supplied. In fact Mr Vaz believes it never had more than 30 members. Mr Vaz did not prepare the chairman's statement. Mr Vaz believes it was prepared by the Treasurer. Mr Vaz was happy to support and endorse the club but has never had any involvement in its finances. He believes it is no longer in existence. Mr Vaz repeats that this is a matter for the Labour Party which would have received any donations and doubtless could account for them and provide any other information. He also says that he has never received any payment from the Labour Party and indeed has donated money to the Party."

Mr Vaz's properties

243.  Since Councillor Thomas had told me that Mr Vaz owned both 144 and 146 Uppingham Road, Leicester and Mr Kamal had claimed that Mr Thomas had for a time been a tenant, and in receipt of housing benefit, at number 146, it appeared that issues of registration might arise. This was because if Mr Vaz owned a property other than his (or his wife's) personal residence which had a substantial value or from which a substantial income was derived he would have been required to register it under Category 8 (Land and Property) of the Register of Members' Interests.

244.  In a letter dated 19 October 2000 (Annex 47), I asked Mr Vaz to confirm the facts, as I understood them, in relation to the two properties in Uppingham Road, namely that No. 144 was used as an office and No. 146 as a second residence. He replied as follows, in a letter from Bindmans dated 2 November 2000 (Annex 50):

245.  Mr Vaz added that he owned his home jointly with his wife. So far as the use of 146 Uppingham Road was concerned, the Labour Party paid its own office expenses and he had "received no personal benefit" from the Party's occupation of this property.

246.  In January 1994 Mr Vaz sought advice, when returning his annual Register form, as to whether he should register his property at 144 Uppingham Road. The files do not indicate what advice, if any, was given to Mr Vaz, but the property was not in the event, registered.

Financial Assistance by the Co-operative Party

247.  Since this allegation appeared to relate to the Labour Party in Leicester East and no evidence was produced that Mr Vaz was personally involved, I did not pursue it further.

146   See paragraph 114. Back

147   This letter subsequently came, without my authority, into the possession of Mr Colin Hall, secretary of Leicester East Constituency Labour Party (see paragraphs 211 to 229 ). Back

148   See paragraphs 230 to 247. Back

149   I had previously received a letter from Mr and Mrs Stuttard on another, related matter (see paragraph 220 ). Back

150   See paragraphs 272 to 284. Back

151   Mr Kamal's letter of 17 April had been sent to Mr Vaz to enable him to comment on Mr Kamal's allegations (See paragraph 206). Back

152   See paragraphs 186 to 188. Back

153   For Mr Vaz's comments on this sequence of events, see his response to this memorandum in draft (Annex 56A, paragraphs 44 and 48). See also paragraphs 473 to 475 of this memorandum. Back

154   See paragraph 180. Back

155   The letter refers to the '50 Club' rather than the '100 Club'. Back

156   This standard letter was sent to me by Mr Gratrix. Back

157   Allegations concerning payments by Mr Attwall to Mr Vaz are dealt with separately in this memorandum (see paragraphs 248 to 271). Back

158   It transpired from Mr Vaz's formal response to this memorandum, supplied to him in draft, that this statement was incorrect and that in fact my original understanding was accurate (namely that No. 144 was Mr Vaz's office and No. 146 was his home). See also paragraphs 371-2 and 476 to 487.  Back

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