Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report



272.  On 29 February 2000 I received a letter (Annex 7), from Mr Paul Gosling, a journalist and researcher (and former Leicester city councillor). He said that he understood I was investigating allegations concerning Mr Vaz and felt he should advise me of information he had obtained as a result of journalistic enquiries a few years ago which concerned him which he asked me to consider.

273.  He told me he had spoken to Mr Alistair McKinnon, a press officer for a company called Ascot which had taken over a business previously trading as Control Securities plc. He added that Control Securities had been a shareholder and landlord of the failed bank, BCCI and that, as a result of the bank's collapse, the chairman and chief executive of Control Securities, Mr Nazmu Virani, had been "convicted and imprisoned for false accounting."

274.  Mr Gosling said he had inquired of Mr McKinnon whether Control Securities plc was the company referred to by Mr Vaz in his entry in the Register of Members' Interests as "Control Ltd". Mr McKinnon had told him that Control Securities' accounts for the year ending 31 March 1992 indicated that the company had made a donation to Mr Vaz.

275.  I subsequently obtained a copy of Control Securities' Directors' Report for the financial year in question. This included under the heading "Donations" the following item:

276.  Mr Vaz first registered the donation in an updated print-out of the Register dated 31 March 1993, as follows:—

    "Donation from Control Securities plc in 1991 towards the costs of producing a Report and Bulletin for the Asian Community into the work of the Immigration and Nationality Department".

277.  Before this entry appeared in the next printed issue of the Register, dated 31 January 1994, Mr Vaz made amendments to it on 19 January 1994, the most important of which was to change "Control Securities plc" to "Control Ltd".

278.  Mr Gosling said that, in his view, the information provided by Mr McKinnon raised three points of concern, namely:

    (i)  whether Mr Vaz had entered his interest as "Control Ltd" instead of "Control Securities plc" in order to obscure the sensitive issue of the donor's identity;

    (ii)  whether the item in the accounts of Control Securities plc "Mr K Vaz Election Fund" or Mr Vaz's entry in the 1994 Register "Donation from Control Ltd in 1991 toward the cost of producing a Report/Bulletin for the Asian Community into the work of the Immigration and Nationality Department" was the correct description of the donation;

    (iii)  whether the donation to Mr Vaz from Control Securities plc led Mr Vaz to have a conflict of interest when he spoke in the House of Commons about the affairs of BCCI, particularly given Mr Vaz's leading role in the campaign to secure payment of money owed by the bank to small shareholders and creditors.

279.  I wrote to Mr Vaz on 3 March (Annex 15A) enclosing a copy of the letter from Mr Gosling and seeking Mr Vaz's comments on the matters contained in it.

280.  Having indicated to me in a letter dated 7 March that he would need to consult his files relating to Mr Gosling, Mr Vaz sent me his substantive response to Mr Gosling's allegations on 10 April 2000 (Annex 21). In his reply, Mr Vaz stated:—

    —   that the allegations listed in Mr Gosling's letter had first been raised by both him and Mr Syal, a journalist on The Sunday Telegraph, in 1994-1995;

    —   that he had forwarded Mr Gosling's letter to the BCCI Campaign Committee "as they have knowledge and expertise in this matter";

    —   that Mr Gosling had failed to mention in his letter that he was a former councillor in Mr Vaz's constituency who, over the last few years, had "been making a number of complaints to various authorities about me", but that "none of these has been substantiated and none of these has been upheld".

281.  With his letter of 10 April Mr Vaz enclosed the following documents:—

    (i)  A copy of a letter from Mr Mohammed A Qayyum, Joint Co-ordinator of the BCCI Campaign Committee, stating that—

      —   Control Securities, or Control Ltd, was never a shareholder or director of BCCI and, even if it had been, the campaign "did not exist to benefit the shareholders but to make them responsible for their actions";

      —   BCCI was "a tenant leaseholder for a branch at a site in Earls Court which was owned by Control and also housed its office; the site was called Control House;

      —   the company (Control Securities Ltd) and the group were widely known as Control and this was how they were referred to within BCCI; either description "could easily identify [the company]";

      —   the company [Control] was never a net creditor of BCCI; it had no involvement in, or contact with, the campaign; there was therefore no conflict of interest between Mr Vaz's support for the creditors and former employees of BCCI and any support they may have given to any project associated with Mr Vaz.

    (ii)  A copy of a Parliamentary Bulletin, dated Spring 1991, and described as "a quarterly newsletter from Keith Vaz MP".

    (iii)  A copy of a letter, dated 30 January 1995, from Mr Vaz to the then Registrar of Members' Interests, containing the sentence: "Thank you for seeing me this morning and for confirming that my entry for Control/Control Securities was in order".

    (iv)  A copy of a letter, dated 2 February 1995, from Mr Vaz to the editor of The Sunday Times, containing the sentence:

    "On Monday I had an opportunity of speaking with the Registrar and he confirmed to me that all my entries were in order and there was no question of anything improper."[169]

    (v)  A copy of Mr Vaz's Register print-out for 1993.

282.  I wrote to Mr Gosling on 24 May 2000 (Annex 8) seeking his comments on the letter from Mr Qayyum of the BCCI Campaign Committee.

283.  Mr Gosling replied on 29 May 2000 (Annex 9), saying that he did not think it correct to say that it would be easy to identify Control Securities Ltd from the tag "Control Ltd," and that, whilst people within the company might have known it by that name, the general public did not. He maintained that an improper financial relationship between Control Securities Ltd and BCCI had been demonstrated by the conviction of Mr Virani for false accounting in relation to transactions between the two companies. He added that Mr Vaz should therefore have disclosed his own financial interest in Control Securities Ltd when dealing with the affairs of BCCI in the House of Commons, mainly during the period 1991 to 1995.

284.  I wrote to Mr Virani on 14 March (Annex 176) to ask him whether he could shed any light on the purpose of the donation from Control Securities to Mr Vaz. In his reply, dated 19 April 2000 (Annex 177), Mr Virani told me that he was unable to help me, as he had departed from the company in 1991 and he had left all the relevant records behind.

168   The statutory maximum election expenditure in the Leicester East constituency at the 1992 General Election was £6,705.22. Back

169   In his covering letter Mr Vaz said that he could not be sure that the letter was actually sent, but that it constituted a contemporaneous note. Back

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