Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report


(f)  Mr Attwal

488.  It is not in dispute that Mr Attwal made two payments to Mr Vaz, or for purposes associated with Mr Vaz: the first, of £1,000, in December 1992 and the second, of £250, in 1995.

The payment of £1,000 in 1992

489.  Mr Attwal states that the payment of £1,000 was intended as a donation by his company to the Labour Party. Mr Vaz's recollection is similar. Mr Attwal and Mr Vaz disagree, however, over who collected the payment: Mr Attwal says it was Mrs Vaz senior, Mr Vaz says it was Councillor Thomas.

490.  Mr Vaz claims, in his response paper (paragraph 49), that his account is supported by a letter dated 24 March 2000, from Councillor Thomas to him in which the latter confirms that Mr Attwal "made one donation to the Labour Party in 1992- 93". In that letter Councillor Thomas adds that Mr Attwal's cheque was made payable to the Labour Party and that he (Councillor Thomas) collected it at Mr Attwal's premises "on the day that he made his payment."

491.  Mr Vaz claims that I had been sent a copy of Mr Thomas's letter and had overlooked it in preparing my memorandum. But this is not so. I saw the letter for the first time as an attachment to Mr Vaz's response paper.[208] Since the letter is dated 24 March, it is surprising that Mr Vaz did not immediately provide me with a copy of it, given that I had first put to him the allegations relating to Mr Attwal on 14 March 2000. Moreover, Councillor Thomas has failed to supply me with a copy of this letter at any time during our lengthy correspondence on these matters.

492.  In any case both Mr Thomas's letter (and the evidence of Mr Attwal's bank statement showing the cheque received by the payee's account on 8 January 1993) are at odds with Mr Vaz's statement in his letter of 19 March 2000 that Mr Attwal's donation was made in 1991-92. Since this would be the usual way to refer to the financial year ending in 1992 I assumed Mr Vaz to have meant this in specifying the timing of Mr Attwal's donation. In his response paper (paragraph 51) Mr Vaz claims that since he did not use the term "financial year" he cannot be taken to have intended "1991- 92" to have been interpreted in that way.

493.  I am not persuaded by this argument. If Mr Vaz had wished to indicate uncertainty about the timing of Mr Attwal's donation I would have expected him to have said "In 1991 or 1992", or more concisely "1991/92". Of course, Mr Vaz may simply have been mistaken in giving the date as 1991-92, but he has not relied on that explanation in his response paper. This may appear to be a matter of detail, but it exemplifies the difficulty I have encountered in assembling the facts during this inquiry.

494.  A further discrepancy which I have been unable to resolve is that between Mr Attwal's evidence that the £1,000 payment was intended as a donation to the Party and the fact that the cheque stub indicates Mr Vaz as the payee.

495.  Since I have been unable to obtain all the information which would have enabled me to provide a complete account of the circumstances surrounding Mr Attwal's payment of £1,000, the Committee may wish to take evidence itself from Mr Attwal and to obtain the relevant Labour Party accounts.

The payment of £250 in 1995

496.  The fact that a donation of £250 was made by Mr Attwal to the so-called "premises fund" in January 1995 is now acknowledged by Mr Attwal—indeed, he has produced a photocopy of the relevant cheque stub. But he only did so, having originally denied making the payment, when I sent him a copy of Councillor Thomas's letter thanking him for the donation.

497.  Mr Vaz has denied any knowledge of this payment by Mr Attwal.

498.  I have received no evidence that Mr Vaz received any registrable benefit in his capacity as a Member from this payment.

(g)  Other concerns

499.  I reiterate my concern over the evidence of some former officers of the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party about the difficulty they had in gaining access to documents and financial records and in separating Mr Vaz's personal finances from those of the Party.

500.  In his response paper (paragraph 51) Mr Vaz maintains that the only person who made this allegation was Sir Peter Soulsby and that he "was neither an officer nor a member of the Leicester East Constituency Party and is not entitled to access to its accounts."

501.  This is not so. Sir Peter was not the only source of these concerns. Similar anxieties were expressed to me by Mr Gosling and Mrs Stuttard (who for a time were the constituency Party's auditors), by Mr Stuttard, a member of the Executive Committee, by Mr Gratrix (the former constituency chairman), and by Mr Kamal.

Summary of conclusions in relation to the complaints

502.  The following two paragraphs contain a summary of my findings so far in relation to each complaint about which I have been able to reach a conclusion. I have adopted the same formulation for the complaints as was used in setting out the allegations against Mr Vaz in the introduction to my memorandum.[209]

Complaint upheld

503.  I have upheld the following complaint:

Alleged lack of openness with Ministers when making a recommendation for an honour (in breach of Code of Conduct)


Complaints not upheld

504.  I have not upheld the following complaints:

Alleged failure to register payments and other benefits in the Register of Members' Interests

Not upheld.

    2.  That on at least one occasion Mr Brian Brown (Mr Zaiwalla's bookkeeper) was involved in withdrawing £1,000 in cash from the bank, which Mr Brown gave to Mr Vaz, and that this payment was thought to be for Mr Vaz's "office fund".

Not upheld.

    3.  That Councillor Piara Singh Clair, of Leicester City Council, told Councillor Kamal that he, Councillor Singh Clair, had made the Sikh business community donate £10,000 to Mr Vaz's 1997 election campaign.

Not upheld.

    4.  That Mr Vaz had a tenant (Councillor John Thomas) in a property which he owned at 146 Uppingham Road, Leicester; that this tenant was receiving housing benefit, the implication being the Mr Vaz may have received this benefit as rent.

Not upheld.

    5.  That Bipin Jewellers of Leicester donated a car for the use of Mr Vaz during his election campaign.

Not upheld.

Alleged incorrect Register entry

    6.  That Mr Vaz concealed a donation provided by Control Securities Ltd by a Register entry which referred to Control Ltd and that the purpose of that donation was also inaccurately registered.

Not upheld.

Alleged failure to resolve a conflict of interest (in breach of Code of Conduct)

    7.  That Mr Vaz's intention in making a misleading entry in the Register relating to Control Securities Ltd was to conceal a conflict of interest in relation to Mr Vaz's Parliamentary activities concerning the collapse of the BCCI Bank because Control Securities Ltd had an improper financial relationship with BCCI; and that Mr Vaz failed to resolve that conflict in favour of the public interest.

Not upheld.

Alleged failure to declare an interest

    8.  That Mr Vaz was in breach of the rules on declaration of interests when speaking in the House on matters relating to BCCI.

Not upheld.

Alleged interference in an Inland Revenue investigation (in breach of Code of Conduct)

    9.  That Mr Vaz agreed to a request from Mr Zaiwalla that he (Mr Vaz) should try to influence the outcome of an investigation into Mr Zaiwalla's tax affairs, contrary to the requirements of the Code of Conduct.

Not upheld.

Inquiries not completed

505.  In relation to the following complaints (again using the formulation adopted in the introduction to this memorandum), I have so far been unable to complete my inquiries satisfactorily:

Alleged failure to register payments and other benefits in the Register of Members' Interests

    2.  That Mr Bakshish Attwal, a Leicester businessman, provided Mr Vaz with cheques made out to Mr Vaz prior to 1997.

Alleged failure to account for funds (in breach of Code of Conduct)

    3.  Since the accounts for a constituency party fund-raising club, established by Mr Vaz as Member of Parliament, were not made available to subscribers, contrary to the requirements of the Code of Conduct for openness and accountability, they were not able to assess whether the money had been spent for proper purposes when it appeared that the funds collected were in excess of those distributed.

Alleged soliciting and receipt of payments for help with planning permission or site acquisition in Leicester (in breach of Code of conduct) and failure to register payments received

    4.  That in 1991/92 Mr Vaz offered, in return for £500, to help Mr Jaffer Kapasi, a businessman in Leicester, obtain planning permission or land acquisition decisions for a mosque.

    5.  That between 1992 and 1996 Mr Vaz received 3 payments from Mr Kapasi in respect of decisions on land acquisition for a religious building.

    6.  That Mr Vaz solicited £500 from each of three religious groups which were seeking to purchase land at discounted prices from Leicester City Council.

Alleged failure to register property under Category 9 of the Register[211]

    7.  That Mr Vaz failed to register one of the two properties he owns in Leicester.

Mapesbury Communications

    8.  That Mr Vaz may have used revenue from Mapesbury Communications Ltd to support his Parliamentary office without disclosing the sources of the company's income.[212]

Summary of recommendations for further action by the Committee

506.  In order to complete my inquiry and to ensure that the Committee has all the information it needs to reach a judgment on the complaints, I recommend that the Committee take oral evidence on oath from:

507.  On the same basis, I also recommend that, in order to establish the facts, the Committee take steps to obtain the relevant documentary information from: Mr Kapasi; the Dawoodi Community; the Labour Party; Mapesbury Communications; and Mr Vaz.

508.  In addition, the Committee will no doubt wish to hear Mr Vaz in person.

509.  In view of their role in gathering the information upon which some of the complaints are based, the Committee may also wish to consider taking evidence from the relevant journalists, that is to say:

    Mr Rajeev Syal and Mr Chris Hastings (Sunday Telegraph)
    Mr David Leppard and Mr Gareth Walsh (Sunday Times).

17 January 2001
Elizabeth Filkin

Councillor Thomas's letter of 24 March 2000 was mentioned in, but not attached to, a letter from Bindmans dated 5 July 2000. Back

209   See paragraph 17. Back

210   See paragraphs 431 and 432. Back

211   This allegation did not form part of the original list of complaints set out at paragraph 17. Back

212   This allegation did not form part of the original list of complaints set out at paragraph 17. Back

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