Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 159

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

  I write further to your five page letter of 11 July 2000, together with its many enclosures.

  You have informed me that you are about to begin to make your assessment of the information provided to you during this enquiry and to write your report for the Standards and Privileges Committee. To this end, I would draw your attention to my client's statutory declaration declared 25 May 2000, already sent to you, and the enclosed second statutory declaration of my client of which kindly acknowledge safe receipt. I have advised him to make this declaration, subsequent upon your letter to me of 11 July, to clarify and reiterate his position.

  My client has a number of concerns in relation to the information that you set out in your letter under reply.

  1.  Sir Peter Soulsby refers to a conversation in 1994, about events from 1991, notes of which he did not take at the time. He cannot even remember the identities of the parties to whom he was speaking. He alleges that Mr Kapasi said that Mr Keith Vaz had asked for a contribution of £1,000 from him. Also, there is a discrepancy over the alleged sum. In the transcript, Sir Peter Soulsby refers to £1,000, yet in his letter of 22 April to Mr Price-Jones, he refers to £500. Surely, these maters must, when considered together, diminish the weight of this supposed evidence. Mr Kapasi denies making payments, as set out in both statutory declarations, and would not "repeat it" when it was put to him in a subsequent conversation with Sir Peter Soulsby. He would not "repeat it" precisely because it was not true.

  2.  My client does not accept the veracity of the information contained in the alleged interview with Mr Kapasi. Neither he nor I are able to comment upon the veracity of the transcript. Indeed, the transcript appears to begin mid-way during a conversation. My client has informed me that at the time that he was speaking to Mr Leppard, he was at his office, attempting to continue with his daily work. He does not know, however, if this transcript relates to a conversation that he actually had with Mr Leppard, not having been provided with a transcript of the entire alleged conversation.

  3.  You will no doubt be aware of the pressures that the press can put upon an individual for comment on a particular story. My client is not a public figure, well versed in dealing with the media. He has informed me that he did tell the journalists "what they wanted to hear" in order to conclude the matter and get on with his daily work and make them go away. In hindsight he recognises this may not have been sensible and consequently he has gone on oath in the way he has to put the correct position.

  A further point I would make in relation to the transcripts, is that of course my client and I have not had the benefit of examining and listening to the tape from which you say it came, and thus of considering the tones of voice etc which may affect an understanding of it. In addition, there are numerous references to matters being "inaudible".

  Please understand that my client has felt it necessary to respond to your letter due to the various falsities and inaccuracies contained in it and its enclosures. However, as we have set out at length before, he remains very concerned at the way in which this enquiry is being handled and the fairness of it.

  I do not think it necessary or appropriate to review the various enclosures to your letter in my response. In this regard, I would simply draw your attention to my client's two statutory declarations. On oath, he is confirming the true position. I trust that this should be sufficient for your purposes, and for your enquiry. Perhaps you would be good enough to let me know when your report will be finalised.

  Naturally however, if you have any queries, you should not hesitate to contact me.

21 July 2000

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