Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 57

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Sarosh Zaiwalla

  I write to confirm that the allegations which have appeared in some of the Sunday newspapers that "thousands of pounds" were given to Mr Keith Vaz MP's Parliamentary office when he was Shadow Spokesman are completely untrue.

  Neither the firm of Zaiwalla & Co nor I, have at no time made any payments to Mr Vaz MP or his Parliamentary office, nor did Mr Vaz approach either me or my firm to give him any money.

  I give below full and frank disclosure of all my dealings with Mr Vaz over the years.

  1.  I have now known Mr Vaz over many years as an eminent figure in British Asian society.

  2.  From time to time Mr Vaz and I have had interactions on issues mainly connected with the Asian society. I believe we both share the same goal of working to see the "new" British Asian community enter the mainstream of British society.

  3.  A couple of, or so, years ago we found ourselves on the same side championing the cause of the depositors of the failed Asian Bank BCCI. However, both Mr Vaz and I throughout this unfortunate saga acted entirely independently for our respective interests. I, for my clients, through the legal process, and Mr Vaz politically to ensure the protection of the Asian community's interest. At no time did Mr Vaz introduce directly or indirectly any clients to my firm of Zaiwalla & Co. I also confirm that Mr Vaz did not receive a penny in remuneration from my firm, and to my knowledge nor did he receive any remuneration from the firm's clients.

  4.  I have over the years been a personal supporter of Mr Vaz's activities in the Asian cause. This has been more in the form of moral and political support personally for him. He has from time to time invited me to attend social events which he organised and I had done likewise. Such events are usually one or two a year but possibly could be more frequent.

  5.  Over the 15 years or so I have known him I have sponsored or taken a table at various Asian social and charity events which Mr Vaz has also supported. I believe in 1993 or 1994 Mr Vaz asked me if I would help out one such charity. I agreed to make a contribution of £1,000.

  6.  In 1998 my firm took a table at a dinner in a London five star hotel organised by the Asian Business Network Group (cost £500) which Mr Vaz, I believe, had organised and where the chief guest was the Home Secretary, Mr. Jack Straw.

  6.  At approximately the same time at the request of Mr Vaz, I agreed to a sponsorship at £500 to cover part of the costs of a charity of an Indian musical concert given in London by the daughter of the Indian sitar maestro, Ravi Shankar.

  8.  I had attended the Jack Straw event but did not personally attend the Indian musical evening.

  9.  Besides these events supported by Mr Vaz, I confirm that neither my firm nor I made any payments by cash, cheque, in kind or inferred any financial benefit directly or indirectly either to or on Mr Vaz MP or his constituency party, or his family.

  I further confirm that I do not know of any of my firm's clients who have done so.

  I trust the above assists you with your investigation. I would be happy to state the above on oath if you require me to do so.

  The Complainant, Mr Milne, stands wholly discredited and his evidence given on oath in Court was not believed by three English judicial bodies. His Honour Judge Cowell in the Central London County Court described Mr Milne's conduct as being unbefitting of a solicitor. You already have a copy of Judge Cowell's judgment. As Mr Milne's complaint to you about Mr Vaz has received vast press publicity, it is only fair and just to both Mr Vaz and me, that you complete your investigation at the earliest possible time, and for you to ensure that an equally wide publicity is given to your findings. Mr Milne, as you already know, was declared bankrupt in 1992, which bankruptcy was subsequently annulled under an IVA from which his creditors received eight pence in the pound. At the time of his bankruptcy the total debt he owed was £1.2 million to some 108 creditors.

  I would also request you to please take all steps possible to ensure after your investigation is completed that severe sanctions are taken against Mr Milne for abusing the process to serve his own ends. Mr Milne is currently being investigated by the City of London Policy for false accounting and theft and he has so far failed to honour the substantial monetary award in my favour made by the Sole Arbitrator, Sir Brian Neill, which has been registered as a Judgment in the High Court. Mr Milne is also the subject of at least one Bankruptcy Petition which is returnable on 15 March 2000.

  In the light of the serious nature of the allegations which have been made by my ex-employee, Mr Milne, whom I had dismissed for misconduct, I am taking the liberty of copying this letter to The Speaker of the House of Commons, Rt Hon Mr Tony Blair, Prime Minister, The Lord Chancellor and Mr Vaz MP.

8 February 2000

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