Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 34

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman & Partners, Solicitors

  Thank you for your letter of 26 June which I received yesterday on my return from abroad. Since then we have spoken on the telephone and I have been able to obtain the further instructions of my client.

  As to the proposed meeting on Monday 3 July at your office, Mr Vaz will be available from 11.30am until 1.15pm and I hope that these times will still be convenient for you.

  As to the purpose of the meeting, you have indicated that you wish to check some matters of fact with my client and to put to him any accounts which you have received from others which appear to be at variance with his. In our telephone conversation you agreed to put these matters in writing and obviously it would be desirable for me to receive this as soon as possible so that Mr Vaz will have an opportunity of considering this further material before the meeting. May I repeat what I said in our telephone conversation and in my recent letters: the matters to be put to Mr Vaz should be evidence and should not include anything else. Up to now no evidence has been disclosed which in my submission meets the minimum standard of credibility which even calls for a response from my client.

  In response to my request in our telephone conversation that you identify what you regard as evidence you said that you had not reached the stage of assessing the evidence and were merely wishing to clarify matters before you did so. I hope this fairly expresses what you told me. This raises the question whether you have yet got to the stage described in paragraph 8 of "The Investigation Process" where you put to the Member evidence which is at variance with what the Member has said and which you feel might have weight. Does this mean there will be a further occasion when, after assessing the evidence, you will wish to put it to my client? If so, this contradicts the statement in your letter that your intention is that the meeting on Monday will be the last occasion on which you need to discuss the complaint with him.

  Finally, my client is concerned at your request to tape any answers he may give at the meeting. You were good enough to say that you would be willing to stop the tape at any time for discussion off the record but my client is concerned that he would apparently be the first Member to have a conversation with you taped. He feels that anything he says at the meeting could be recorded in a note which, if necessary, could be agreed. As you know, he has been wholly co-operative throughout this lengthy investigation and will continue to co-operate in every possible way but on this particular point he is not persuaded that there is any justification for your departing from your usual practice.

  I look forward to hearing from you with the matters I have raised in this letter before we meet on Monday.

29 June 2000

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