Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 155

Letter to Finers Stephens Innocent, Solicitors, from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

  Thank you for your two faxes of 27 June received at 17:35 hours and 18:05 hours and for your fax of today, 28 June. I note your inaccurate comments about my "interests".

  May I deal with some of your points.

  I acknowledge receipt of your letter and Mr Kapasi's declaration in my letter to you of 27 June.

  You will now have been informed by your office of the sequence of events which led me to contact Mr Kapasi yesterday. They were as follows. Having had no reply to my request for a response by 10:00 hours on 27 June concerning the meeting with Mr Kapasi, I telephoned your office. Neither you, your secretary nor Ms Melville-Brown were available to speak to me. I therefored telephone Mr Kapasi to inform him that, in spite of the Chairman's request of a week previously and mine for a response by 10:00 hours that day, I had received none and had been unable to contact you.

  It is incorrect for you to imagine that I threatened Mr Kapasi in any way during that call. Mr Kapasi was under the impression that following his meeting with you the previous evening you would have written to me, and he undertook to contact you. He said that either he or you would telephone me by the end of the morning on 27 June. This did not occur.

  As I have said on many occasions to Mr Kapasi and to you, and I repeated on the telephone to Mr Kapasi yesterday, my sole purpose in inviting Mr Kapasi to meet me since 15 May has been to give him the opportunity to comment on the evidence which has been provided by other witnesses. I also repeated the assurance that Mr Kapasi is not under any investigation by me and no allegations have been made about him, but he is a most important witness in my investigation into the complaints against Mr Vaz and as such he has a duty to Parliament to provide me with any information he may have which will enable me to bring my enquiries to a conclusion.

  I explained to Mr Kapasi that if he continued to decline my invitation I would have to provide the information I had collected to the Committee without his comment or challenge and I reconfirmed, as he has been aware throughout, that the Committee may then decide they must see him. At the end of the conversation I checked with Mr Kapasi that he understood that nothing I was explaining was intended to put pressure on him, but that I felt he should have the opportunity to decide whether he wished to see me knowing what course the Committee might choose to follow within the procedures laid down by the House of Commons. This was not a threat but a statement of the factual position. He confirmed that he understood this and I trust he will confirm this to you.

  During the telephone conversation Mr Kapasi reiterated that he was willing to see me and that he had met you the previous evening in London to discuss matters. He asked me if I would be willing to come to Leicester to meet him and I confirmed I would do so if that was the only way I could provide him with the opportunity of discussing these matters with me.

  I continue to hope that you will arrange this meeting as requested and look forward to hearing from you.

28 June 2000

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