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

Annex B

Interview with Bharat Sachdev, conducted by Ian Murray of The Times

I was treasurer of Leicester East CLP from April 1990 to December 1990. I have been a member of the Labour Party since 1985 or 1986.

Keith said Harish was getting too big for his boots, and Keith said let's get you going instead. I had 300 cards at full price and 300 cards at reduced price issued to me by Walworth Road. Not all 600 cards were issued to members.

I got block applications for certain wards. As long as I had the money I issued the cards. I was given the explanation that they had been approved by the branches. As far as I was concerned it was not my job to check this or whether they lived where they said.

Rashpal Singh gave in 40 membership applications. When I checked them not all of them would pay. They were in the same handwriting, and the money subsequently followed. These were in Latimer ward.

Mr Mohammed Butt brought in a few applications one evening to my door, just before the selection process in Charnwood. He was chair of West Humberstone, but he played a leading role in Charnwood ward. He paid for about five members.

Merlin Vaz paid me on two occasions by cheque, and I have the cheque numbers and details, they were drawn on her Town and Country account. I have given these records to Mark Mardell at Newsnight. On both occasions the cheques were for £13.

Keith gave me a cheque for West Humberstone ward members. I also had a City Council compliment slip from Merlin, which said here is a cheque from Keith, please issue cards. One was for Mr Gumra from West Humberstone, who I later discovered did not live there.

Abdul Malida brought me about £50 to recruit members. If they were at reduced rate that is a lot of members. Keith was very close to Abdul Malida, Mohammed Butt and myself, and there were no secrets between us then.

The plan of who Keith wanted as councillors in which ward was told to me while we were in India. The only one that did not succeed was in Latimer, where he put my name down, but had to do a deal and bring Colin Hall in [in Belgrave] in February 1990. I was a very close friend then [of Keith]. I was to have been one of the councillors, and in my wisdom I went to look for a different job so that I could be a councillor. They all became councillors apart from me. There were 12 names on Keith's list, and the other 11 all became councillors.

Asmal was one of them, Barbara Kamal was another, and Piara Singh Clair. I was to stand in Latimer. What happened was that Asmal at Belgrave's selection meeting was a disaster, but Keith had to meet his promises to the mosque that there would be a Muslim in the ward.

The left was strong in Belgrave, and the left and the white right got together and decided not to elect Asmal. So Keith had to do a deal with Ramnik. The white right and Keith made this deal to put Asmal in, and in return put Colin Hall in. So Ramnik came to Latimer and pushed me out.

There were about 30 applicants in Charnwood, paid by Abdul Malida, Mohammed Butt and Merlyn. Keith had mentioned to me that Paul [Gosling] must go. I knew it was to happen. The same with Kamal—he said Kamal must go, and Kamal went [in Belgrave]. This was discussed between Harish Patel, Keith and myself. Harish has always been with me and has always been a witness. It is a totalitarian state in Leicester East.

Latimer's branch secretary had not been a member for two years, so I could not have my selection ratified. Colin Hall kept a central membership list so that Keith could keep control. Abdul Malida was not a member in Rushey Mead. Ramnik Kavia has recruited 130 members in Latimer, who have been rejected as block applicants by Walworth Road. Latimer has about 75 members now.

A membership list [for Leicester East] did exist, but Keith said not to give it to Paul [Gosling, who conducted the CLP audit, in case he wanted it] for future use.

I was chair of the enquiry into the Charnwood ward. The Charnwood report was as neutral as possible, but this was not what I had been told what to do by Keith and his associates. The accusations were racism and misappropriation of branch funds. I found that these were not substantiated. I paid for the enquiry out of my own pocket, £200, and did not get paid for it. I paid for translation into four languages, and sent letters to all ward members, but no one substantiated the allegations.

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