Wrongful interference with the
51. On 5 October Mr Vaz contacted Leicestershire
Constabulary via the Chief Constable's office and said that Miss
Eggington had made a telephone call to his mother at her Leicestershire
address claiming to be an ex-employee of the Metropolitan Police.
He said that Miss Eggington was connected, as a friend and advocate,
with Mrs Gresty, an ex-employee of his wife's, who had become
embroiled in harassment allegations. Mr Vaz gave the police Miss
Eggington's address and the names of two Metropolitan Police officers
who had dealt with the harassment allegations against Mrs Gresty.
52. On 8 October he telephoned the Commissioner.
He then made the following written allegation to the Commissioner:
"I am writing to confirm that Eileen Eggington
telephoned my mother in Leicester last Thursday [4 October 2001]
and asked her questions apparently on your behalf. You have informed
me that she was not acting for you and had no remit to gather
information in this way. You will recall that during the last
inquiry you took action against those witnesses who sought to
interfere with your investigation. As Ms Eggington has put herself
forward as a complainant I would be glad to know what action you
propose to take.
I have informed the police of the activities of Miss
Eggington which I regard as harassment. My mother is now in hospital."
In a subsequent letter to the Commissioner Mr Vaz
"I explained to you that when the call was
made to my mother she was told by Ms Eggington that she was a
police officer and that you had asked her to ring. This occurred
on 4th October and she was admitted to hospital shortly after
the call. I telephoned the Leicester Police on 5th October".
53. The Commissioner put Mr Vaz's allegation to Miss
Eggington, who denied it in the strongest terms.
54. Having obtained from Mr Vaz the name of the police
officer who was dealing with the case, the Commissioner asked
for the results of any inquiries the police had made into the
matter. The police had been unable to obtain Mr Vaz's mother's
account of the telephone call because she was ill. They contacted
Mr Vaz on 23 November. According to them, he said that he "did
not think it was advisable to approach" his mother and "did
not want to waste any time for yourself".
55. On the same day Mr Vaz contacted the Commissioner
to make a strong complaint about her contact with the police.
He alleged that she was interfering in a criminal investigation
and said he would report her to the Speaker.
56. At the end of November both Mrs Gresty and Miss
Eggington were interviewed by the police about the alleged telephone
57. The police contacted Mr Vaz again on 5 December.
Mr Vaz, according to them, "again declined to facilitate
contact with his mother stating that he was unhappy with the way
the inquiry was being conducted. He formally asked the officer
to pass his remarks to the Chief Constable".
58. On 12 December Leicestershire Constabulary wrote
to the Commissioner to say that they were
"in receipt of information to suggest that
no calls were received by Mrs Vaz's home telephone on 4th October
2001, that could be attributable to either Miss Eggington or Mrs
The police officer in charge told us on 12 January:
"We have not confined our enquiry solely
to contact with Mr Vaz. We have interviewed the most likely potential
suspects, who have co-operated fully and we have been provided
with information by independent third parties. We have found nothing
that would lend weight to the allegations originally made by Mr
Vaz. Indeed, I am satisfied that no malicious calls were made."
59. When Mr Vaz appeared before us he said that
(i) his mother had received a telephone call
and the words "Eggington" and "Filkin" had
(ii) his mother knew who the Commissioner was
but did not know who Miss Eggington was ("she clearly knows
who Mrs Filkin is because the word Filkin is used occasionally
in our household but Mrs Eggington's name is not used");
(iii) he had not been able to establish with
his mother whether it was Miss Eggington or the Commissioner who
had made the call.
60. In a subsequent written submission he said
"The evidence on which I based my request for
advice to the police was that my mother had told me that she had
received a telephone call from a woman called Eggington claiming
to be speaking on behalf of Mrs Filkin. I was very concerned about
the possibility of involvement of the Eggington/Gresty duo in
my mother's life. As she did not know the name Eggington she could
hardly have made it up".
61. He also told us that he had not complained to
the police but had asked for their advice.
In his subsequent submission he said
"I did not at any time ask that the police
go and interview anyone thus the accusation of "intimidation"
is groundless. I always maintained in accordance with usual practice
that the victim herself who should decide with the police how
to proceed and that they should do no more than they would do
for any other member of the public".
62. Mr Vaz said that his mother would be keen to
co-operate in a police investigation of the matter if she had
been in good health.
Mrs Vaz has written a letter to the police in which she said she
had been unable, for reasons of health, rather than unwilling,
to co-operate with their inquiries.
63. We had decided that, in view of the state of
her health, it would be inappropriate for us to seek any information
from Mr Vaz's mother directly. She has volunteered a statement:
"... The call I received was from a woman
whose voice I did not recognise who said her name was Eggington,
and that she was ringing me on behalf of Mrs Filkin, to ask me
some questions. I had no idea who this person was and I put the
receiver down immediately. I did not engage in any conversation.
I told Keith about the call later. I believe this
all happened on 4th October ... I cannot be absolutely certain
that I received the call on that very day or shortly before that
day as I was so unwell at the time ..."
64. We accept the evidence Miss Eggington has provided,
and we do not believe that any call which may have been reported
to Mr Vaz by his mother came from Miss Eggington.
65. When Mr Vaz gave oral evidence, his account of
what his mother had told him was that there had been a telephone
call involving the names "Eggington" (of whom his mother
says she had never heard) and "Filkin". Mr Vaz then
(i) informed the Leicestershire police on
5 October that Miss Eggington had made a harassing telephone call
to his mother and that she was linked to Mrs Gresty;
(ii) provided them later that day with Miss Eggington's
address and with contacts in the Metropolitan Police;
(iii) informed the Commissioner on 8 October
by telephone, and on 9 October in writing, that Miss Eggington
had made a call, had claimed to be a police officer, and had put
questions to Mrs Vaz claiming to be acting on the Commissioner's
(iv) asked the Commissioner what action she proposed
to take in respect of his allegations against Miss Eggington;
(v) provided the Commissioner with the name of
the police officer who was dealing with the case.
66. The information Mr Vaz says he had about the
call does not justify all the actions he took on the basis of
it. In particular, what Mr Vaz said to the Commissioner in his
letter of 9th October went beyond what both he and his mother
told us they knew. It was to be expected that both the Commissioner
and the police would follow up what he told them. When the Commissioner
did follow it up, as Mr Vaz had asked her to, he accused her of
interfering with a criminal investigation and threatened to report
her to the Speaker. The Commissioner's action with Miss Eggington,
and the police interviews with Miss Eggington and Mrs Gresty,
resulted directly from what Mr Vaz had said and done.
67. Mr Vaz's position appears to have shifted in
the course of time. As the police indicated,
"The nature of allegations by Mr Vaz appears
to have changed subtly as time has gone on. Initially, [the police
officer concerned] understood himself to be investigating a complaint
of malicious telephone calls and harassment. 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. He has now made it entirely clear
that he does not wish us to investigate these incidents; ..."
68. Mr Vaz made it plain to the Commissioner in his
letter of 9 October that he expected her to pursue his complaint
against Miss Eggington. He then gave the police the impression
that he did not want them to pursue his report to them. The police
were unable to interview his mother because of her illness. On
23 November he accused the Commissioner of interfering in a criminal
investigation, though he must have known that no such investigation
was in progress. We find Mr Vaz's conduct unacceptable.
69. We conclude that Mr Vaz recklessly made a
damaging allegation against Miss Eggington to the Commissioner,
which was not true, and which could have intimidated Miss Eggington
or undermined her credibility. Miss Eggington and Mrs Gresty were
interviewed by the police as a direct result of his intervention.
Having set the Commissioner on a false line of inquiry Mr Vaz
then accused her of interfering in a criminal investigation and
threatened to report her to the Speaker.
70. In the report on the earlier complaints against
him our predecessors said
"Intimidation that comes to our attention
will be dealt with severely."
His action, which was to interfere wrongfully with
the investigative process, should be treated in the same way.
71. Mr Vaz failed in his public duty under the
Code of Conduct "to act on all occasions in accordance with
the public trust placed in [him]". By wrongfully interfering
with the House's investigative process he also committed a contempt
of the House.
72. Of the original eleven allegations made against
Mr Vaz we have not upheld eight. We have upheld three, two of
which we do not regard as serious. If that had been all, we would
have recommended an apology to the House. Regrettably two further
matters have arisen from the way Mr Vaz responded to the allegations
against him investigated by the Commissioner. We have found that
Mr Vaz committed serious breaches of the Code of Conduct and a
contempt of the House.
73. We recommend that Mr Vaz be suspended from
the service of the House for one month.
1 Appendices 14 and 25. Back
First Report, HC 637 (1994-95), paragraph 26. Back
Appendix 1, paragraphs 760-7 and 777. Back
Third Report, Session 2000-01, HC 314-II, p. xxxv. Back
Rt Hon Robert Sheldon MP, now Lord Sheldon. Back
ie apart from the payment from the Hinduja Foundation to Mapesbury
Communications Limited in respect of the Dada Vaswani lecture. Back
Appendix 1, Annex i3. Back
Appendix 1, Annex i8. Back
Appendix 1, Annex i7. Back
Appendix 1, annex ii19. Back
Appendix 1, Annex i14. Back
Appendix 13; Qs 5-10. Back
eg Qs 2-4. Back
Appendix 1, Annex i32. Back
Third Report, Session 2000-01, HC 314, paragraphs 54-8; Appendix
1, paragraphs 778-85; Qs 36-52. Back
Qs 41-45. Back
Appendix 4, paragraph R41. Back
Appendix 4, paragraph R39. Back
It would be helpful if this point could be drawn to the attention
of new Members (including Members returned at by-elections.) Back
Appendix 1, paragraph 485; Qs 107-12. Back
Appendix 1, paragraph 542. Back
Qs 122-5. Back
Qs 113-5. Back
Appendix 1, Annex v18. Back
Appendix 1, Annex v15A and Annex v16. Back
Appendix 1, paragraphs 807-12. Back
Qs 128-81. Back
Appendix 16. Back
Appendix 4, paragraph R55. Back
Appendix 1, paragraphs 832-6. See also paragraphs 744-51. Back
Qs 299-302. Back
See paragraph 26 above. Back
Appendix 1, paragraphs 505-7. Back
Appendix 1, paragraphs 526-34. Back
Q 106. Back
Q 106. Back
Appendix 1, paragraph 426. Back
Appendix 1, paragraph 757. Back
Third Report, Session 2000-01, HC 314, paragraph 2. Back
Ibid, paragraph 66. Back
Appendix, Annex IV8. Back
Appendix 1, Annex IV3. Back
Appendix 1, Annex vi16. Back
Appendix 1, Annex IV5. Back
Appendix 1, Annex IV22. Back
Appendix 1, Annex IV9. Back
Appendix 1, Annex IV22. Back
Appendix 1, Annex IV22. Back
Appendix 12. Back
Qs 213 and 245. Back
Q 249. Back
Qs 251-3. Back
Q 195. Back
Appendix 19. Back
Q 280. Back
Appendix 20. Back
Appendix 22. Back
Appendix 12. Back
Third Report, Session 2000-01, HC 314, paragraph 69. Back