Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 106

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


Claire Ward came to see me on 5 April 2000 to bring with her her notes from the Labour Party inquiry into issues in Leicestershire. During the course of the conversation she told me that when she had gone back through her records she found that most of the issues were about Party matters and whether or not gerrymandering had taken place, and in her view, they were matters for the Labour Party and not me but she felt she should discuss those issues with Robert Sheldon to see whether he felt other information should be provided to me. However, she gave me the following information during the conversation.

  1.  A city councillor at the time the Chief Whip in 1994 Ned Newitt had provided information about improper pressure on the planning process in relation to a Mr Sheikh. The allegation was that the MP had used his position to acquire clients for his sister's legal practice.

  2.  At the time in 1994 Imtiaz Farookhi was Chief Executive in Leicester and there were allegations that he had brought improper pressure to bear to support Mr Vaz.

  3.  I asked Claire Ward what her assessment of Peter Soulsby was and she said it was her impression that he is a good man and that he had given long service to the Labour Party. But the only information that he had provided to the inquiry which was "hard" was in relation to three groups seeking to obtain land where he alleged that each of those groups had paid £500 to Mr Vaz for his help in achieving access to that land.

  4.  She informed me about Mr Gosling refusing to agree the accounts of the constituency.

  5.  The inquiry itself had on it Claire Ward, Ron Lakey, Regional Executive and Sandy Feather from the Regional Executive. It had another employee of the Party to welcome people—a Roy Kennedy also from the region. The members of the inquiry were provided with a list of the people who said they wished to attend on the day. The regional secretary at the time was Roy Maddox. Claire Ward provided me with a copy of the press release issued by the Party on that day and claimed that she was concerned that the inquiry had been closed down so quickly because she believed there were other people in the Party who wished to give evidence and who did not have the opportunity and that the issues were wider than those with which the press release and the subsequent inquiry dealt. She was anxious that if those matters were not dealt with at the time they were likely to resurface again as she believes they now have, as part of my inquiry—and she felt that would be bad for the Party.

  6.  I asked her whether in fact a full membership check had occurred as indicated by the press release. She said that it had occurred and was carried out by the regional office with the assistance of the Head Office of the Labour Party. As far as she knows what they found was that some people on the list hadn't paid recently but she has no knowledge of the outcome of that check and whether Mr Vaz was implicated in any way with any of the irregularities. Claire Ward is going to consult the Chairman of Standards and Privileges, Robert Sheldon, prior to deciding whether there is any other information she ought to provide to me. She agreed she would let me know when she had seen him. I asked if she would arrange to do so sooner rather than later as that would help me.

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