Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 37

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

  I am grateful to you for acknowledging my letter of 5 July but in view of your anxiety to complete this investigation, which my client strongly shares, I would be grateful if you could let me have a substantive reply.

  Let me repeat once again that Mr Vaz still does not know what the case is against him or the evidence in support of it. Although you have referred on many occasions to evidence, we have seen no witness statements, transcripts, or any other documentary material to support any of the allegations which have been made. Your surprising suggestion in your letter of 5 July that eleven earlier letters contain evidence requiring answers from Mr Vaz makes it imperative that you spell out plainly once and for all what that evidence is.

  Mr Vaz has deliberately refrained from asking you to put further questions to witnesses because he is anxious not to cause further delay but I can see no reason why we should not know precisely and in full what witnesses have said where it has any relevance. It would be quite unacceptable for you to draft a report which contains or refers to material which we have not seen and had an opportunity to respond to.

  My client is particularly concerned at two matters raised in your questionnaire accompanying your letter of 29 June.

  He has responded to these in my letter of 5 July but he has asked me to add the following:-

  1.  In relation to Sir Peter Soulsby, you referred in question 17 to a letter written by him to the Town Clerk of Leicester in 1994. You did not produce this letter until I invited you to do so at our meeting on 3 July and you appear to be relying on it as evidence of some impropriety by my client. The allegations in the letter seem to be the same as those appearing in paragraph 23 of your letter of 7 June but you had never said before that Sir Peter Soulsby was the source of the allegation. Sir Peter's allegation in his letter of 22 April is made without evidence. On the face of the letter it is clear that it is based simply on a claim attributed to another person, Mr Kapasi, which we understand Mr Kapasi disputes.

  In relation to Sir Peter Soulsby, I enclose a copy of a report to the Executive Committee of the local Labour Party illustrating a background of conduct by him at the relevant time which must cast considerable doubt on the credibility of any allegation he might make.

  In sum, what appears to be happening is that you are being used as a vehicle for pursuing a political wrangle in the Leicester Labour Party concerning events more than 6 years old. My client is naturally suspicious of any involvement by Sir Peter Soulsby in this matter.

  It has also come to my client's attention that Sir Peter Soulsby is a fellow member with you of the Audit Commission and obviously your working relationship with him could, however unintentionally, predispose you to giving credibility to his complaint. At the very least, it is plain that my client must have access to any evidence provided to you by Sir Peter Soulsby in full if any reliance whatsoever is to be placed on it.

  2.  My client is extremely disturbed by the references in your questionnaire to evidence provided by the Sunday Telegraph. It is surely extraordinary that newspaper reports or evidence of journalists should form the basis of any investigation of a Member of Parliament. Again, at the very least, my client must have the opportunity to see and comment on the whole of that evidence and must be informed of the manner in which it came to be supplied to you and what individuals provided it.

  In order that further delay may be minimised, I would ask you for an early reply to this letter and my letter of 5 July.

10 July 2000

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