Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 220-239)



Mr McNamara

  220. I regret the fact that Mr Vaz did not have this. I was not meaning to spring something on him which he did not have. You will notice that in the letter sent to Ms Filkin Detective Superintendent Nick Gargan states a number of issues: first, that the allegations which you have made have subtly changed, and that "Chief Inspector Smith understood himself to be investigating a complaint of malicious telephone calls and harassment.[10] " It then goes on to say that "Mr Vaz has since said that it was never his intention to make a formal complaint of any crime, his contact with the Police was intended to be an informal request for advice[11]." So Chief Inspector Smith had misunderstood the nature of the telephone conversation with you?

  (Mr Vaz) I have no idea. I did exactly what I have said I did, which was after the event took place I informed the police and asked for their advice, and that is the advice they gave. Again, you need to look at the pattern of what happened after that.

  221. Can I continue my line of questioning, Mr Vaz, just to establish the situation. When you spoke to Ms Filkin you said that there was a criminal investigation being undertaken and that it was wrong of her to intervene, which would tend to support Chief Inspector Smith's original supposition of what you were complaining about.
  (Mr Vaz) No. I spoke to Mrs Filkin after I had spoken to Chief Inspector Smith who paged me. Chief Inspector Smith, when he paged me, did not tell me that Mrs Filkin had asked him to pursue this. He did not tell me that. I said, "Why has your attitude changed now, in November, as a result of what has happened?" I said, "Have you received a call from Elizabeth Filkin?" and he said, "Yes." I said, "Well are you doing this because Elizabeth Filkin has asked you to do this?" and he said—He went silent, and I said, "As far as I'm concerned, you must do what you must do for any other ordinary citizen; you must not do more or less for me because I'm a Member of Parliament. I am passing on the information to you, and there is nothing more I can say until my mother can be interviewed."

  222. Mr Gargan said, in the second paragraph on page 2, "I am satisfied that no malicious calls were made."
  (Mr Vaz) He does, on the basis of what he has investigated, which is he has looked through the phone records of Mrs Eggington and Mrs Gresty. They have not provided us with any more information, have they?

  223. He says, "we have been provided with information by independent third parties."
  (Mr Vaz) Well I do not know what he means, I am afraid.

  224. I see. He then goes on in his letter to look at other possible courses of action that might be taken by the police. At the end of page 3, the penultimate paragraph, he says, "I am now satisfied that we have explored all realistic lines of enquiry and no useful purpose would be served by extending the Police investigation. This decision has been influenced by my belief that no calls, of the sort described by Mr. Vaz, took place, and that the Parliamentary Committee on Standards and Privileges is, in the circumstances, better placed than the Leicestershire Constabulary to deal with any residual issues." So no calls of the sort described by Mr Vaz took place—after careful police investigation.
  (Mr Vaz) I do not know what their investigation was. I had made it clear what I did which is that I telephoned the police immediately after this was passed on to me—and that remains the position—and nothing happened as a result of that. I asked if they could trace the calls and they said they could not trace the calls. Mrs Filkin then intervened and that was it.

  225. It also says on page 3, again the penultimate paragraph: "We cannot rule out a tactical motivation for Mr Vaz's contact with the Leicestershire Constabulary[12] in this matter—but the evidence does not support further investigation of any attempt to pervert the course of justice. Indeed, even if we were to produce evidence that Mr Vaz was intending to undermine or de-stabilise witnesses, they would be witnesses before the Parliamentary Committee on Standards and Privileges rather than a court of law", and that is the issue we are looking at now, whether your action by telephoning the police (for which they can find no evidence of the earlier calls) was aimed at undermining the credibility or destabilising witnesses coming before this Committee or giving evidence to this Committee or Ms Filkin. What do you say to that?

  (Mr Vaz) That is wrong. I have not sought to destabilise anybody. I ask you to look at the pattern of contact that Mrs Eggington has had with other witnesses and I ask the Committee why, given that evidence that she has put before it, it is not asking her why she has not contacted witnesses. I have made it very clear why I took the action I did. I did not ask for a massive investigation into this. I asked for advice as to how to deal with it. My mother went from her house into an ambulance and has been in a hospital for three weeks—

  226. We understand that, Mr Vaz.
  (Mr Vaz) That is not to say she is not co-operating.

  227. I am not saying that for one moment[13] and the police have said in that letter that they are not going to pursue any matters with your mother.

  (Mr Vaz) It would be unfair to say that.

  228. What I am concerned about is your action and the question of whether there was in fact ever any phone call at all. That is the point at issue and it is a question of whether you have made a statement, which the police can find no evidence to support, either themselves or looking at the evidence of billings or evidence from independent third parties.
  (Mr Vaz) With respect, Mr McNamara, you do not know what evidence they have looked at. When I put this to the police on 5 October they were not prepared do anything when I asked what action should be taken. The advice given by the Chief Inspector, which is perfectly consistent with what I said, when I said "What do I need to do? What advice do I need to give to my mother?"—The police have been involved last year with advising us in London about Mrs Eggington and about Mrs Gresty. It is clear from the letter from Mrs Eggington in January, which I put in the evidence, that Mrs Gresty has telephoned our house on a number of occasions. Nobody is seeking to—suddenly one ceases to be a victim in all this. I did what I was obliged to do which is to pass on that message and that is what I did. Nothing then happened until Mrs Filkin decided that she wanted to protect her witness; her witness was Mrs Eggington.

  229. You are putting motives that we have yet to look at of people we know nothing about but, nevertheless, you accept that the police could find no evidence to support your allegation?
  (Mr Vaz) No, because you have given me this letter now on 10 January and you have talked about "independent support". I am not interested in anything other than protecting my mother from anyone ringing her up and that is why I rang.

  230. With the greatest respect, nobody is seeking to ring your mother.
  (Mr Vaz) No, but that is what she said to me happened on 4 October and since then she has not been well. The police have had a letter from my sister to say that as soon as she is fit and well she is very happy for them to see her.[14] That is the proper way it should be conducted. It should not be conducted through third parties. To be perfectly honest, I think the way in which it has been done has been wrong.

  231. You have had a third party, the police, conducting the investigation and they come up again and they say there is no evidence of the calls which you say were made. No evidence. It is there.
  (Mr Vaz) That is a matter for them. I passed on the information that I was given and I did not wish my mother to be contacted any further.

  232. Following that evidence you then made allegations to Ms Filkin that she was interfering in a criminal matter.
  (Mr Vaz) She was.

  233. Not if you were merely seeking advice.
  (Mr Vaz) With the greatest respect, this was weeks afterwards on 19 November or thereabouts, Mrs Filkin—I had a call from the police to say that they wanted to interview my mother. I said, "Fine, she is in Glenfield Hospital. If you want to go and interview my mother go and interview her," and they said, "Can you have a conversation with her and can you slip into the conversation the fact that we want to look at her records?" I said, "No, I don't think I want to do that. You have got to deal with her." Who will give evidence at the end? That is what you have got to ask and the person who will give evidence at the end is not me, it is my mother, and, really, I do not want my mother embroiled in the Eggington/Gresty scenario. We have had it as a family for the last year and a half and we are not going to carry on having it.

  234. With the greatest respect you have said your mother will give evidence when she is fit.
  (Mr Vaz) She will contact the police. She has got to make that decision herself. It has got nothing to do with me. She has got to make that decision herself.

  235. What has got to do with you is the report that has been made which has resulted in this extensive inquiry by the police.
  (Mr Vaz) No it has not. The police took no action when I rang them. They were not interested in taking action because they said as far as they were concerned I had accepted the advice and Mrs Vaz was ill and, therefore, they would not deal with it. It was only after Mrs Filkin rang them that they started to do anything.

  Chairman: There are a number of other colleagues who want to ask questions, Mr Bottomley, Mr Foster, Mr Cranston and then Mr Heath. Mr Bottomley first.

Peter Bottomley

  236. Are you in a position to authorise your mother's incoming telephone data being seen?
  (Mr Vaz) But I thought it had been.

  237. Are you in a position to authorise that?
  (Mr Vaz) No but I thought Mr McNamara said it had been seen.

  238. Are you in a position to authorise it?
  (Mr Vaz) No.

  239. Because only your mother can?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, of course, and it is up to her to decide what she wants to do.

10   Notes by witnesses: This is not what he said in his letter to my mother of 10 December 2001. Back

11   I did not press them to take any action, none was taken. Back

12   Notes by witness: This statement is due to the fact that they only had been given information by Ms Eggington and Mrs Filkin. One had actually given them the confidential papers of this inquiry. Back

13   But the police have said this. This is inaccurate. Back

14   Note by witness: Letter sent to the Committee dated 8 January 2002 before her letter of 10 January 2002. I had not seen the contents by 15 January as my sister was dealing with this. Back

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