Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 35

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

  Thank you for coming to see me with Mr Vaz today and for arranging to send me Keith Bennett's note. I was sorry that Mr Vaz did not feel able to agree to the House's shorthand writer recording the meeting as I note Mr Bennett did not use shorthand.

  You asked me to write to you in addition to the question paper with any information which might be in conflict with Mr Vaz's initial response. I have checked my files and believe I have already provided everything which requires a response by Mr Vaz in my letters and the list of questions. For completeness I will rehearse this information again.

  The original complaint I received was from Mr Milne. As I looked into that complaint relevant information was provided to me by witnesses which, if substantiated, might be at variance with Mr Vaz's initial response. I have provided this information to Mr Vaz as soon as it was given to me or after seeking verification from others.

  I have followed the same procedure with the other allegations as they have been submitted.

  The following is a list of the letters which either you or Mr Vaz will have received in which I listed the allegations against Mr Vaz and indicated the relevant supporting evidence. For convenience I have set them out under the different sources of the allegations.

Mr Milne

  My letters to Mr Vaz of 4 February 2000, 22 February 2000, 8 March 2000 and 7 April 2000. (Mr Milne's allegations and information from Mr Brown.)

Sunday Telegraph

  My letter to Mr Vaz of 14 March 2000.

Mr Gosling

  My letter to Mr Vaz of 3 March 2000. (Mr Gosling's letter of 29 February 2000.)

Mr Kamal

  My letter to Mr Vaz of 20 April 2000. (Mr Kamal's letter of 7 April 2000.)

  In addition, I wrote to you on 19 May with a cumulative list of the documents containing the allegations or relevant supporting evidence and on 7 June setting out the complaints in full again, together with the relevant sections of the Code of Conduct or the Rules relating to the Conduct of Members. I wrote to you again on 21 June in answer to detailed queries which you had raised in connection with my letter of 7 June. (I should just point out, in order to avoid any possible confusion, that the list of documents set out in my letter of 19 May is more extensive than those specified above, since the letter of 19 May also listed my written requests to Mr Vaz for further information or clarification.)

  Finally, on 29 June 2000, I sent you the set of written questions which contain all the evidence which might be at variance with Mr Vaz's initial responses and on which I wish to have Mr Vaz's comments before I report to the Committee.

  I informed Mr Vaz at our meeting that Mr Attwall has now told me that John Thomas collected no payment from him. He has confirmed that a payment was collected by Mrs Vaz senior.

  As I said at our meeting, if my questions to Mr Vaz in turn raise questions which he feels it would be helpful for witnesses or the complainants to answer, perhaps he would let me have them along with his replies to my questions.

  During our meeting Mr Vaz raised several matters which he said might require disclosure to the Committee to ensure there could be no possibility of perception of conflict of interests. If, on reflection, he feels any of them are relevant I would be grateful if he would put them in writing.

  When I have received Mr Vaz's answers to my questions I hope to be able to report to the Standards and Privileges Committee; however, as you are aware, I may first need to ask follow-up questions for clarification.

  I look forward to Mr Vaz's comprehensive response on all these matters so that I may report on the complaint to the Standards and Privileges Committee as soon as possible.

4 July 2000

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