Letter to the Clerk of the Committee on
Standards and Privileges from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman &
Mr Vaz has asked me to reply to your letter of 7
February. If the Committee wishes him to give oral evidence on
13 February at the time stated he is happy to do so but as far
as possible the answers to the questions in your letter are given
However, he wishes the Committee to be aware that
he regards the form of questioning which has been adopted (which
follows the pattern adopted by the Commissioner to which detailed
objection has been taken throughout the progress of this enquiry
over the last 12 months) as unfair and in breach of ordinary principles
of natural justice. No indication is given of any complaint to
which the questions relate, to the evidence in support of any
such complaint, or to the absence in relation to most of the issues
on which the questions touch to any prima facie case which justifies
the continued investigation of the issue at all. Several of the
questions imply that in effect Mr Vaz is being asked to prove
positively that he is innocent of allegations which are unsupported
by evidence. This flatly contradicts the claims by the Commissioner
in paragraphs 27 and 28 of her Report as to burden and standard
These are criticisms of the process and not of the
Commissioner or the Committee. The Committee is nevertheless invited
to bear them in mind when formulating its conclusions. Although
Parliamentary processes may not be required by law to conform
to the principles of natural justice, Members of Parliament are
surely entitled to expect that those principles will be observed
when their reputations and careers are at stake.
2. Answers to questions
(i) Mr Vaz no longer has bank statements from 8 years
ago and has been informed by his bank that they cannot provide
copies of statements after so long an interval. He has asked the
bank to confirm this in writing. The Committee is aware that both
the local Labour Party and Mr Attwal have confirmed that the payment
was a donation to the Labour Party.
(ii) Mark Webster (before 1990); Mark Henderson (1991-2);
Marco Forgione (1992-4); Mark Hoda (2000). I understand that Mr
Milne identified "Mark" to the Sunday Telegraph as Mark
(iii) Mr Vaz has shown his bank statements to an
independent person who has found no such payment. Mr Vaz has asked
that person to provide confirmation in writing.
(iv) Mr Vaz does not know into what accounts these
cheques were paid. If, as he believes likely, they were paid to
those responsible for arranging advertising in the Community calendar
which he initiated in 1993, he has not and has never had any access
to their accounts.
(v) See above.
(vi) and (vii) Mr Vaz informs me that he did not
receive these payments personally. They were paid to Leicester
East Labour Party. A statement issued by the Labour Party is attached
which sets out all relevant information.
(viii) Mr Vaz has no record of the occasions when
he visited Mr Zaiwalla's office but he agrees with Mr Zaiwalla's
oral evidence to the Committee when he says that at one time Mr
Vaz visited events organised by Mr Zaiwalla's office about twice
a year but in recent years the number of occasions has been smaller.
On these visits other visitors were present and Mr Vaz was rarely
alone with Mr Zaiwalla. He never met Mr Brown on any of these
12 February 2001