Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Clerk of the Committee on Standards and Privileges from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman & Partners, Solicitors

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 below.

1.  Introduction

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 of proof.

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 Henderson.

(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 visits.

12 February 2001

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