Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 19

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Keith Vaz MP

  Thank you for your letter of 14 March 2000. I refer to our telephone conversations on 17 March and on Saturday 18 March. I was very sorry to trouble you on a Saturday evening.

  Before I respond to the questions you ask I would like to make the following points.

The Sunday Telegraph

  We spoke at length on Saturday and I have mentioned in my previous letters that I believe that the complaints that have been made form an orchestrated campaign by two journalists, Chris Hastings and Rajiv Syal. I have clear evidence that they have visited each one of the complainants and have asked them to make complaints using the copy of these complaints in order to write defamatory articles about me. This tactic in my view merits serious consideration by the Committee. It completely undermines attempts to ensure an unhindered investigation. Two people named in your letter have made a complaint to me that these journalists have intimidated them. I ask you to investigate their conduct.

The Asian Community

  Comment has been made in the Sunday Telegraph in a pejorative way about the Asian Community. I am the first person of Asian origin to sit in Parliament since 1922. I have had the support of the community in the work that I do on race related issues. I am proud of this support. There are two and a half million people of Asian origin in Britain. In the last 13 years I have come into contact with at least around one million of them through their events and organisations. Over the last few years I have had a researcher in my office to deal primarily with community related work. I have also published numerous documents, pamphlets and reports of interest to the community and subsequently of my front bench activities. The funding of this work comes from registered contributions.

  The people mentioned whose contributions have been registered and who in most cases I have known for many years have been highly supportive of my work. This is allowed under the rules.

  You will see from my file that I have tried to ensure that I am careful in maintaining entries in the Register. Indeed as you will see on one occasion I went to the extent of having a meeting with Sir Gordon Downey and Roger Willoughby to discuss a project.

  Can I now turn to the specific questions that you raise:

  1.  That following your election Mr Nazmu Virani provided you with computers and other equipment.

  Mr Nazmu Virani has never provided me with any computers or equipment before or after any election.

  2.  That Mr I K Patel (now deceased) made collections on your behalf, which he gave to you.

  Mr Patel died in 1995. He did not make "collections" for me. I have no record of him making a personal donation.

  3.  That Mr Harish I K Patel sponsored a breakfast meeting for you at the Regency Hotel where Mr Gordon Brown was the guest of honour.

  Mr Patel did not sponsor a breakfast for me. An Asian Business Network Breakfast was held at the Regency Hotel. Any sponsoring arrangement was between Mr Patel and the organisation concerned.

  4.  That an organisation in which you were involved called Indo-British Business was set up to sponsor dinners for Cabinet Ministers but the sources of funding, which benefited you, were not registered.

  I have never been involved in an organisation called Indo-British Business. I am the Honorary President of three organisations. See extract from Register of 31 January 2000 attached (Attachment A).

  5.  That you received from Mr M Madhavani £10,000 to pay for a visit to the UK of the soon of Martin Luther King. The trip has not taken place but the funds have not been returned.

  Mr Madhavani's contribution has been registered for the purposes given. (I enclose an extract from the Register dated 31 January 1995 (Attachment B). I will send you copies of the publications). He has never asked to be reimbursed. I was never involved in bringing Martin Luther King Junior into this country. This was done by the 1990 Trust, an organisation of Afro-Caribbean and Asian people.

  6.  The following business people have made substantial donations to you which have not been registered:

  Mr G K Noon

  Contribution made by Mr G K Noon MBE was registered (copy of Register dated 31 October 1997 attached (Attachment C). The publication was sent to 36,000 households and this included research, publication and distribution. I will send you a copy).

  Mr Lakshmi Mittal

  Mr Mittal has never made any contributions, but Mrs U Mittal has. This is registered. (Copy of Register dated 31 October 1997 attached (Attachment C)).

  Mr T R Sutterwalla

  There is no person that I know called Mr T R Sutterwalla. The contribution was made by Mr H Sutterwalla. (Copy of Register dated 31 October 1997 attached (Attachment C). See the entry of Mr Noon's above. I will send you a copy).

  Mr Raj Loomba

  Contribution made by Mr Raj Loomba registered (copy of Register dated 31 January 1999 attached (Attachment D). I will send you a copy).

  The Hinduja Brothers

  No donation has ever been made by the Hinduja Brothers.

  7.  That Mr G K Noon paid for you to travel to Bahrain and for your accommodation during the visit.

  The trip to Bahrain was registered (copy of Register dated 31 January 1999 attached (Attachment D)). It was at the invitation of Mr Mohammed Dadabhai whose guest I was. Mr Noon did not pay for this.

  8.  That you circulated copies of the Caribbean Times and Asian Times using Parliamentary postage.

  I have not circulated copies of the Caribbean Times and Asian Times using parliamentary postage. When I have used parliamentary postage otherwise in accordance to the Rules in the past I have paid for it. See example letter attached (Attachment E).

  9.  That in 1991-92 you offered to help Mr Jaffer Kapasi obtain planning permission for a mosque in return for £500.

  I categorically deny this. I have never offered to help Mr Kapasi for £500 or any other amount in exchange for planning permission for a mosque. Mr Kapasi has never given me money or payments of any kind in 1991 or at any other time.

  The allegation is a serious one that Mr Kapasi the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire and an MP are involved in a criminal offence. In 1995 Mr Kapasi telephoned me whilst he was on a course in Brighton to categorically deny Mr Syal's allegation. He telephoned me on Sunday to tell me he as outraged at this suggestion. The interpretation of the Sunday Telegraph article was that Mr Kapasi had said this. He had not. There is no Mosque in Hamilton. The Group who want the Mosque have to the best of my knowledge not purchased the land. Mr Syal places this in 1991. This is complete fiction.

  10.  That Mr B Attwal provided you with cheques made out in your name prior to the 1997 election.

  Mr Attwal has never provided me with cheques made out in my name prior to the 1997 election or after it. There is no a shred of evidence to support this. Mr Attwal informed me that Mr Syal called in to see him with this allegation. The Labour party has confirmed to me that Mr Attwal made one payment to it in 1991-92. The payment was collected by the Secretary of the Leicester East Labour Party John Thomas who bears no resemblance to my mother (an allegation contained in Mr Syal's article).

  On a more general note, I am concerned about the authenticity of the complaints, in view of your statement to me about the illegibility of the signatures. Recent comments that the person who made the complaint in Ken Livingstone's case subsequently denied doing so prompts me to ask you to investigate the authenticity so that you can satisfy yourself that these people live at the address they claim to and that they have signed the letters. I would be grateful if you would investigate the authenticity and confirm whether or not the people live at the address they claim to.

  You asked me if I have any more information. I have a number of reports published four years ago about local matters. If you wish I will forward these to you. My Syal was the instigator of the first newspaper article about these matters. I will send these as well.

  I look forward to hearing from you.

19 March 2000

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