File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
28 JUNE 2000
... He telephoned me to arrange for me to meet
with Mr Vaz. We had quite a lengthy discussion about trying to
ensure that the process was fair. I made it clear that if Mr Vaz
had questions to put to any of the other witnessesthat
I would put them for him and that the procedure did not allow
him to put them directly. I said Mr Vaz could put those questions
to me at any point and that he could talk widely in the meeting
to me to make sure I was fully informed. I was willing to turn
off the tape recorder and that I assured him that any recording
I made would be sent to Mr Vaz for checking before I used it.
Mr Bindman asked if I would allow him to have
a list of the questions beforehand and indications of any accounts
that were at variance with Mr Vaz's. He made it clear that he
was just trying to safeguard his client and protect him. He said
Mr Vaz is totally honest and there is no danger that you would
not have a full and honest answerthat even the most honest
person can fall into traps. I said that nobody was trying to trap
Mr Vaz and that neither I nor the Committee would ever wish to
do that. I made it clear that my role was to provide a total and
correct and accurate picture to the Committee and I wanted to
make sure that Mr Vaz had every opportunity to provide that picture
from his point of view. I said that I couldn't say what view I
would take on the evidence provided from all the sources, but
that Mr Vaz would have the opportunity of seeing my draft and
commenting on it before I came to any conclusions.
At various points I had to try to disabuse him
of his view that this was some sort of court by saying to him
that all I was doing was collecting information at this juncture.
I explained that it well might feel different at a point where
Mr Vaz was in front of the Committee but was not the point at
which we were at at the moment and of course the Committee might
decide that they didn't need to see Mr Vaz.
The telephone conversation was cordial and constructive
and we agreed that we would meet at 11am on Monday 3 July, unless
Mr Vaz said he was not free on that date.