Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 53

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

  Thank you for your letters of 9 and 27 November.

  While I accept that there may be an irreconcilable difference of opinion between us as to the propriety of your procedure, your view that you are undertaking a mere "fact-finding" exercise is untenable and even if correct could not conceivably justify throwing to the winds the most basic procedural safeguards, as important for a Member of Parliament as anyone else whose reputation and career are vulnerable to false or malicious accusations.

  Your own statement in the Committee's Ninth Report makes it quite clear that your function is to investigate complaints and then only when they have substance. It is surely obvious that your investigation must be limited to matters relevant to the complaint and that ordinary principles of natural justice must apply to your procedures, including, in particular, disclosure of the evidence on which you rely. I have elaborated these points ad nauseam in previous letters, yet you have repeatedly ignored them.

  In relation to the Sunday Telegraph, you appear to be saying that an unidentified document, unsigned and unheaded, making allegations against my client, arrived out of the blue from the paper. You say "I am not aware of any accompanying document". How do you know it came from the Telegraph? If the journalists are not the complainants, who is? If you regarded the document as supporting an earlier complaint, what was the complaint? Your memorandum says you do not accept anonymous complaints. Why accept this one? Please supply copies of all documentation supporting the complaint.

  Your inquiry has now lasted for 10 months and it is difficult to see why it is still going on. My client is confident that he has answered all relevant questions and is not prepared to answer further questions merely "for the sake of completeness." Of course he will gladly answer any questions the Committee may have. The questions in your letter of 27 November explore matters which are far removed from any allegation of wrongdoing. I again invite you to consider the final paragraph of my letter of 3 August and to acknowledge that Mr Vaz is entitled to be completely exonerated without further delay. I await your draft report as soon as possible.

4 December 2000

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