Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 87

Letter to Mr Colin Hall, Chairman, Leicester East Constituency Labour Party, from the Clerk of the Committee on Standards and Privileges

  Following a complaint from Mr Mustafa Kamal, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has passed a copy of your letter to Mr Kamal of 8 May to the Committee on Standards and Privileges for its consideration.

  The Committee has instructed me to say that it takes a serious view of the situation disclosed by your letter.

  The House regards any evidence given to the Commissioner for the purposes of her inquiries into complaints against Members of Parliament as proceedings in Parliament which are fully protected by Parliamentary privilege. Any attempt to put pressure on a witness in connection with his evidence would be a contempt of the House.

  In the Committee's view, your threat to take legal action against a witness in respect of his evidence to the Commissioner is prima facie a serious contempt of the House.

  The Committee has seen a copy of your letter e-mailed to the Commissioner on 18 May, which it regards as insufficient. The Committee has instructed me to ask you to provide a full written explanation of your actions, which should reach me not later than Wednesday 31 May.

  The Committee wishes to know:

    —  by what means you obtained a copy of Mr Kamal's letter of 17 April to the Commissioner;

    —  in what circumstances your letter of 8 May to Mr Kamal came to be written; and

    —  whether you are aware of any other approaches to witnesses in connection with evidence given to the commissioner.

  The Committee will require you to appear before it in person on Tuesday 6 June at 10.30am in Committee Room 13 in the House of Commons.

  The Committee will act in every instance of improper behaviour towards a witness.

23 May 2000

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