Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence


Examination of Witness (Questions 100-119)

MR KEITH VAZ, MP

TUESDAY 15 JANUARY 2002

  100. So you have no idea how it was raised, where it went and who it was paid to?
  (Mr Vaz) It is not my function to be involved in these matters. I chairs lots of Asian community events. Some I put in the Register because I think I am more prominent in those organisations than others, and therefore, in those circumstances, I cannot be in any way responsible for monitoring.

  Chairman: Any there more questions on the Asian Business Network? Can we proceed to the property aspects and the complaint about an alleged failure to declare property interests. I think we just need a straight answer.

Ross Cranston

  101. You did say, Mr Vaz, in response to the Clerk's question that you confirm that you provided the Commissioner with all the information concerning property matters. Can I just take you to the schedule in her memorandum, at page 104, paragraph 485.
  (Mr Vaz) The difficulty I have is that I do not have the final memorandum. If you give me the reference in the draft. Is it the same in the draft?

  102. I think it is probably the same. It is the schedule. You have, no doubt, looked at this. Could you confirm to the Committee whether you have had, since you became a Member, any financial interest in any property which is not shown on that table and which should be registered?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, I mentioned in one of the paragraphs that before I went to Leicester I sold my house in London and there may have been an overlap, it may have been after I became an MP. Apart from that, no. There are mistakes in this schedule. Mrs Filkin, prefers to believe The Sunday Telegraph rather than me—

Chairman

  103. I think it is a fairly direct question, Mr Vaz.
  (Mr Vaz) Yes.

Ross Cranston

  104. The answer is you can confirm that you had no financial interests in any property which is not shown on that table.
  (Mr Vaz) Apart from the property that I sold in London.

  105. Can I ask you about your response to questions about this. In particular, if you have still got that open, at 486, that is just an example where (and you acknowledge this in your memorandum to us) you did not always answer these questions about property as you could have. At page 57 of your memorandum you seek to explain that.
  (Mr Vaz) Yes. Well, yes, I believe that we have answered all the questions properly. As we said in our response, the reason why we stopped answering further questions was because Mrs Filkin had gone well beyond complaints into matters that had nothing to do with complaints that had been made about me, and we wanted the matter taken to the Committee. There was no question of not giving information to the Committee or not providing whatever other information was necessary.

  106. In terms of property interests, that is a fairly straightforward matter. Some of these other matters are quite complicated, I agree, but in terms of property interests that you had, could you not have simply said, in a straightforward way, "Look, those are properties which were registered or should have been registered"?
  (Mr Vaz) No, because we had reached a stage after ten months of this, where we just could not go on. Every single time we replied to a question of Mrs Filkin she would ask another ten questions. It just could not go on. We had to have some relevance to the questions that were being put forward. No complaint has ever been made about properties and no complaint has ever been made about Mapesbury. We just needed to have it crystallised, because that is what the complaints procedure says—there must be a complaint in writing. We just felt—when asked to do so I went to the Registrar, I discussed all my property matters with him on three occasions, I discussed it with the Committee on the last occasion and I said I would register anything that I needed to register. We had just reached a stage, after ten months and 560 questions, that we just could not carry on. There was no purpose. If there was a complaint and Mrs Filkin had said "I want to know about these properties because I think you are hiding something, or blah, blah, blah" we would then have obviously dealt with it. It just could not go on. Just in terms of this table, there are lots of mistakes.

  Chairman: I think we are moving away from point of Mr Cranston's question, which is about the accuracy. I think we have now resolved that. Are there any more questions on property?

Mr Dismore

  107. I think Mr Vaz is trying to make a point that the table is inaccurate. Can he check that the inaccuracies, as far as he is aware, are fully dealt with in his response?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, except I have just found, having gone through my archives, the completion statement on 70a Teignmouth Road which confirms everything that I have said. I will let the Committee have the bill which the solicitor sent me. It is just that Mrs Filkin, in her statement, keeps saying that I owned a flat in Teignmouth Road until 1999, and I keep saying to her that I did not. The Sunday Telegraph keeps saying to her that she did (sic) but it really should be taken off the top bit. I know she has put it down as a footnote, but it is not a footnote, it is very important; I did not own this property in November 1999. All these people on the right-hand side—it is quite clear they live in different flats. It says "Flat 1, Flat 2, Flat 3, Flat 4". They should not really be included in this memorandum at all.

  108. When you did own 70a Teignmouth Road, you only owned the ground-floor flat?
  (Mr Vaz) The garden flat, yes. There is a different flat.

  109. My London flat is very similar. In that context, did the garden flat have a flat number?
  (Mr Vaz) It was called the garden flat.

  110. There was no "Flat 1" or "Flat 2", because my garden flat is known as Flat 1.
  (Mr Vaz) No. All our mail was going to Crystal Rose, who is a woman on television. We changed the address, we called it 70a. There is a different entrance and everything.

  111. So all these other ones, they are 70, not 70a?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, that is right. I have only ever owned one flat in the building. It is confusing. My flat was variously known as Flat 1 The Garden Floor and The Garden Flat. We gave our address as 70a The Garden Flat. It had a side entrance; the main entrance has Flats 1, 2 and 3.

  112. So 70a is the garden flat and Flat 1, Flat 2, etc, are number 70, not number 70a.
  (Mr Vaz) Which is a completely different entrance. 16 November 1999 needs to be taken off and the new date put on there, rather than it being put there.

  Ross Cranston: What is the new date?

  Chairman: Can you give it to the Committee after the meeting? Anything else on property? Can we move on to the complaints relating to Mrs Matin.

  Mr Dismore: Mr Vaz has passed it over to me, the bill is dated 10 April 1997.

  Chairman: We will hand that to the Commissioner. Can we move on to the complaint relating to the alleged employment of an illegal immigrant.

Mr Dismore

  113. Perhaps I could pick that one up. Did you ever hold Mrs Matin's passport at any time?
  (Mr Vaz) No.

  114. Not even to post on to the Immigration Service?
  (Mr Vaz) My practice, just to explain this—and I am not sure why this has become so important, though I understand why you are asking—is I do not take passports off people because in the past we have lost passports in our office, so they always retain their passport. When they make an application to the Home Office I do the covering letter and I give it to the constituent and I say "You add your passport and you pay for the recorded delivery", under cover of a letter from me. The applicant always holds the passport. That is how I always do it.

  115. And the Home Office did not return the passport to you to pass on to her? They do sometimes do that.
  (Mr Vaz) No.

  116. In what language did you talk to Mrs Matin?
  (Mr Vaz) I would either have a translator or I would use her husband because he speaks very good English. He is now dead but he spoke very good English. Mrs Matin's knowledge of English has not remained static, it has improved over the years.

  117. So when Mrs Matin is helping about the house—
  (Mr Vaz) She is not helping about the house.

  118. Okay, perhaps you could tell us what help she did give to your family.
  (Mr Vaz) She did not give any help to my family. This comes from Mrs Gresty, an ex-employee of my wife, who has tremendous animus against my wife, and this was put to us by the Mail on Sunday. The only people we could possibly know who are Asians are billionaires or domestic servants; there is nothing in between, we are not allowed to have friends. This is a woman who is not a billionaire—and therefore another table is wrong as far as Mrs Filkin is concerned, she has put Mrs Ahmed in with the billionaires, with the Hindujas, and she has nothing to do with billionaires—and she is someone—we like her, she is a friend, she has gone through hell. ***—and I am only saying this to the Committee in the hope you will accept the statement made by Jane Coker, who is the solicitor for Mrs Matin, and that this should not be published because it is personal information about her—

***

 I did not arrange her marriage—

I do not routinely go around arranging people's marriages but I attend lots of Asian functions and lots of Asian marriages. She did not help us around the house, she was not a servant. We do not employ servants, we employ au pairs. These were arranged by Mrs Gresty.

  119. How did she come to end up in London?
  (Mr Vaz) It is a decision she made. There are some members of her family in Manchester and the Bengali community is quite prominent in London, though probably more in the East End rather than in Northwood. How she ended up in Northwood, I have no idea. I know if you read Mrs Eggington's statement and go through the list of Indian restaurants in Northwood, you would think this was the centre of the Bengali community, but actually there are very few there.


 
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