Letter to Finers Stephens Innocent, Solicitors,
from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
I am about to begin to make my assessment of
the information which has been provided to me during this enquiry
and to write my report for the Standards and Privileges Committee.
As you know, I have been seeking an opportunity
to meet with Mr Kapasi since 15 May, to allow him to give me his
account of the background and content of some items of information
which I have received. On 17 May Mr Kapasi agreed he would meet
me for this purpose, but no arrangement has been made despite
numerous requests to Mr Kapasi personally and to your firm by
telephone and in writing.
As I said in my letter of 3 July, my invitation
to Mr Kapasi to allow him to put his account of these events to
me remains open. Since I will need to put certain items of this
information to the Standards and Privileges Committee, and Mr
Kapasi appears to be unwilling to meet me, I felt I should set
out for him the information I have received which includes what
witnesses believe was said by Mr Kapasi. The items in question
are as follows:
1. copy of letter of 22 April 1994 written
by Sir Peter Soulsby to Mr A Price-Jones (not attached);
2. relevant extracts from my interview of
Sir Peter Soulsby, 23 March 2000:
(A) "Sir Peter Soulsby: . . . it
was alleged to me by Jaffer Kapasi, one of the successful groups
and a person whose name I cannot remember . . . that Keith and
Merlyn had asked for a contribution of £1,000 from them.
I have a file note to myself from a slightly later period, April
1994, I think it must have followed from some further conversation
with Jaffer Kapasi, when I had drawn this to the attention of
the Town Clerk. However, I do know in a subsequent discussion
I had with Jaffer Kapasi that he was not prepared to repeat that
at that time.
Ms Filkin: But he definitely said it to you.
Sir Peter Soulsby: He definitely said it
to me; I am absolutely certain of that."
(B) "Sir Peter Soulsby: He has absolutely
definitely said it to me. I wrote a file note to myself and I
drew it to the attention of the Town Clerk and that was probably
in writing and that will probably be in the Town Clerk's files
if they go back that far.
Ms Filkin: Who was the Town Clerk at the
Sir Peter Soulsby: It was Arthur Price Jones.
Arthur has now retired."
(c) "Ms Filkin: Did Mr Kapasi say
the £1,000 was for being on the short list or for planning
permission? Did he tell you what the £1,000 was for?
Sir Peter Soulsby: It was something like,
"Keith and Merlyn have said to me 'We are getting you this
Sir Peter Soulsby: I am fairly sure it was
that rather than planning permission.
Ms Filkin: Rather than the planning permission
Sir Peter Soulsby: And 'This is the least
you can do' or something to that effect.
Ms Filkin: Did he tell you it was actually
paid to both of them or to one of them?
Sir Peter Soulsby: To the best of my recollection,
he had paid it directly to Merlyn.
Sir Peter Soulsby: Not to Keith to the best
of my recollection. It was put to me that the request had been
made jointly by one or other and paid to one or other but I think
it was Merlyn to whom the money had actually been paid. I think
the request was for £1,000 and £500 had been paid."
3. Extracts from tape recorded interviews
with The Sunday Times.
Interview with Jaffer Kapasi, * * * *
Leicester, 11 May 2000, re Keith Vaz with David Leppard and Gareth
Walsh of The Sunday Times in his office.
(A) "DL: Did you make the cheques
. . . several cheques you say?
JK: Well yes, yes [inaudible] and
also, whether he declared it or not, that's up to him.
DL: It's nothing to do with you. You've done
(B) "DL: There were three cheques.
And you say more than eight or nine hundred pounds altogether.
More than a thousand pounds in fact.
JK: Er . . . 15 hundred . . . yes."
(C) "DL: And was the cheque from
your personal bank account . . . The cheques?
JK: Two were, and one from the community.
DL: And what's the name of the community?
JK: It's just called Dawoodi community.
[JK spells name "Dawoodi" to DL.]
DL: What, a Muslim thing. And you are the
. . . chief?
JK: I mean, I'm not the big chief. I'm one
of the chiefs.
DL: You're one of the leaders . . . Look,
my question to you is: don't you think that this has placed Mr
Vaz in a difficult position? Any may have compromised him as well?
JK: Yes, you know, I think the way people
are reading it [inaudible]".
(D) "DL: This puts you in a much
more difficult position if you made the cheque to himas
you must realise now. There's nothing wrong with you donating
money to a political party. But if you make a donation like that
to an MP, in his own name, after he offers to help you, and also
says: "Can you help me?"he said 'Can you help
me?'that places you in a very difficult position, doesn't
it. Do you regret doing that?
JK: Well in a way, yes, because to be honest
I don't understand the system. [inaudible]"
(E) "DL: So basically, Sir Peter
has written a letter, in which one sentence, he says "I telephoned
Mr Jaffer Kapasi, who confirmed that he had been asked repeatedly
for a campaign contribution. 'Is that true? You've been asked
repeatedly for a campaign contribution?
JK: Yesbut its not related to this
DL: But it relates to the £1,500.
DL: Did Mr Vaz ask you repeatedly, did he?
JK: [inaudible] he asked, but not
Transcript of telephone interview of Jaffer
Kapasi by David Leppard, 12 May 2000. Call made from D Leppard's
telephone at The Sunday Times to Mr Kapasi's mobile number.
Transcript prepared by Gareth Walsh, Insight. This is the second
conversation between The Sunday Times and Kapasi.
(A) "DL: Hello, is that Mr Kapasi?
DL: Hello, its David Leppard here of The
Sunday Times sir.
DL: Hi. I just wanted to check one point
with you, if that's alright. I'm sorry to trouble you. You know
those three cheques you paid to Mr Vaz, yes?
DL: Did you give them to him in the . . .
where did you give them to him? Where were you when you gave him
the cheques? Did you post them to him, or did you give them to
him in person.
JK: I posted them to him.
DL: You posted them to him. I see. Because
I thought you said yesterdayand I couldn't rememberthat
you'd actually given them to him in person.
JK: I think it happened about three times.
I remember now. I'm trying to remember now. I think once I think
it was posted . . .
DL: Once it was posted . . .
JK: I think I may have given it to him personally.
DL: Can you remember where? Was that in the
DL: . . . in your office?
JK: No, no . . . sorry. Some public function
DL: At a public function. Right. And the
two cheques were made to him personally, and one was to the charity,
DL: And two of the cheques were drawn on
your own personal account, and one from Dawoodi, yes?
DL: That's correct. Okay. Are you . . .
JK: Are you going to do a story on this .
. . or . . . ?"
(B) "DL: Well, I mean the point
is sir that you are involved. That's the problem. Because there
are other letters which mention your name. So . . . and we know
about those letters, so we can't not report that because the suggest
. . . the allegation is a claim. The fact is that you gave Mr
Vaz £1,500 . . . about £1,500.
JK: Well, I would deny that anyway, but there
we are . . .
DL: You can't deny it because you told it
DL: Why would you deny that?
JK: Because I don't want to get involved.
DL: Right, but it won't do you any good to
deny it because I mean it's a fact isn't it.
JK: Well . . . [laughs] . . . that's
it. I mean he's given me the receipts and so on.
DL: He's given you the receipts, so you can't
JK: Well, that's up to him . . . I trusted
you to respect that.
DL: Well no. The truth is the truththat's
the problem . . . hello? [call ends]".
4. Extract from tape recorded interviews
with The Sunday Telegraph, 3 March 2000 and 18 March 2000
(II and II attached).
5. Mr Kapasi has provided me with a statutory
declaration made on 25 May 2000 in relation to the Sunday Times
article which says:
"The article falsely claims that I have
made payments to Keith Vaz MP."
"I clarified the position when Mr Leppard
subsequently telephoned me on my mobile phone on Friday 12 May
2000 during the week of publication of the article and stated,
as is the case, that I have never made payments of any kind to
Mr Vaz MP, nor has he ever asked me to do so."
"The article falsely states that I wanted
Mr K Vaz to influence the thinking of the Council on the proposal
to give the planning approval to build on a site at Manor Farm,
"I confirm that the contents of this statement
I would be grateful to receive any comment on
these items which Mr Kapasi wishes to make, in particular any
explanation Mr Kapasi wishes to give for the discrepancies between
the taped interviews and his statutory declaration.
I am sorry that for completeness I need to repeat
to Mr Kapasi that evidence I put to the Standards and Privileges
Committee may be published in due course.
Having drafted this letter I have received today
your fax of 11 July. I repeat that the information I have given
previously. Sir Peter Soulsby is not a complainant. Sir Peter
Soulsby is one of the witnesses I have interviewed during this
enquiry having been referred to him by another witness. These
were answers he gave in response to my questions. He informed
me of the letter when I asked him if there were any written accounts
of these matters. I have identified the complainants to the Member
of Parliament. I do not give any information to others about complainants
or other witnesses in the course of an enquiry.
11 July 2000