Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report


Memorandum submitted by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

  Further complaints against Mr Keith Vaz MP


1.  Since the Standards and Privileges Committee published its Report[60] on complaints relating to Mr Keith Vaz, Member for Leicester East, on 9 March 2001 I have received a number of further complaints against him. Some of these related to the same matters as I investigated and on which I reported to the Committee in the last Session of the last Parliament. Others raised fresh allegations not connected with, or arising directly from, my previous investigation.

2.  In summary, the further complaints against Mr Vaz were as follows:

    a)  Complaints relating to matters covered by the previous investigation

      (i)   that Mr Vaz had received registrable benefits, both in cash and in kind, from the Hinduja brothers (or the Hinduja Foundation) which he had failed to register; and that by not disclosing these matters when asked during the previous inquiry whether he had any financial interests to declare, Mr Vaz had misled both me and the Committee;

      (ii)  that Mr Vaz had received registrable benefits through Mapesbury Communications Limited, a publishing company established by him in 1995, and that on the basis of information which had come to light since the publication of the Committee's report in March 2001, his denial of having received such benefits was inaccurate and misleading;

      (iii)  that Mr Vaz had failed to register a remunerated post with Leicester City Council;

      (iv)  that Mr Vaz had registrable interests in various properties which he had failed to register and, more particularly, that when asked during the previous investigation whether he had any further property interests to register, gave an inaccurate and misleading answer;

         Some of these complaints were supported by further evidence relating to matters on which I had already reported but which led me to question the accuracy or completeness of the information supplied to me in the course of the previous inquiry.

    b)  Complaints not related to, nor arising directly from, the previous investigation

      (v)    that Mr Vaz and his wife had employed as a domestic servant a Ms Mary Matin, knowing her to be an illegal immigrant to the United Kingdom and that Mr Vaz held her passport in his constituency office, as a means of putting pressure on her to remain in his employment;

      (vi)  that Mr Vaz had improperly sought information from a constituent, Mr G H Peene, about a criminal anti-fraud investigation Mr Peene was engaged in on behalf of the Intervention Branch Executive Agency relating to a company with which Mr Vaz had a connection and that Mr Vaz had failed to declare a relevant interest in the company during communications with a civil servant (Mr Peene);

      (vii)   that Mr Vaz had failed to register a remunerated directorship with a company, General Mediterranean Holdings, or with subsidiaries of that company;

      (viii)  that Mr Vaz had failed to register a donation to him of £3,000 by Lord Paul (or by a company owned by Lord Paul) in 1993.

3.  In the following paragraphs each of these complaints, including their source, is examined in detail, together (where relevant) with an explanation of the relationship between the new complaint and the matters contained the Committee's previous Report.

4.  I reported in my memorandum to the Committee in respect of my previous inquiry into complaints against Mr Vaz:

    "This has been a particularly unusual case in terms of the difficulty I have experienced in obtaining information; the contradictory statements made by some witnesses; and the failure on the part of Mr Vaz to provide full and accurate answers to some of my questions (in some cases throughout the inquiry, in others until evidence was produced from other sources)."[61]

The Committee noted in their report:

    "This inquiry has taken far too long. If Mr Vaz and other witnesses whom the Commissioner asked for information had answered her questions fully and promptly, the Commissioner would have been able to complete her report in a much shorter time."[62]

5.  When I met Mr Vaz at the beginning of this inquiry on 21 March 2001 I recorded the following notes: "He said on several occasions that he was very keen to cooperate and to cooperate fully" (Annex ii14).

6.  Because of the difficulties I had faced during the previous inquiry and upon which the Committee had commented I took the opportunity of raising the issue with Mr Vaz when we met on 26 March 2001.

    "I explained again that what I was trying to do was to get a full picture of the events referred to and to give him as the Member the opportunity of clearing out of the way any matters which were raised maliciously or were untrue or where people had put two and two together and made five. Mr. Vaz said that he had always answered my questions precisely. I said I was not arguing with that, but answering questions precisely was not the same as giving a full picture." (Annex i6)

The Duration of the Current Inquiries

7.  I began investigating a number of the complaints covered by this memorandum in March 2001—some time before the General Election which was held on 7 June 2001. Two factors (though not the only ones) affecting the length of my inquiries have been the timing of the General Election and Mr Vaz's temporary indisposition.

8.  When Mr Vaz was taken ill at the beginning of April 2001 I took steps to ascertain how serious his condition was and how soon it would be appropriate for me to resume my inquiries directly with him. I arranged with Mr Vaz to send correspondence to Mr Vaz's agent, Mr Keith Bennett, so that he could hold it until Mr Vaz was well enough to receive it. When I wrote to Mr Vaz on 2 April 2001 I made it clear that I would not expect to receive a reply until Mr Vaz was fully recovered.

9.  Although he said he was not fully recovered, Mr Vaz came to see me on 3 May. I stressed that I did not expect a response until he was well again and he undertook to deal with the complaints as soon as possible. I took the opportunity provided by the meeting to set out in a letter of the same date (Annex I.1) the matters on which replies were outstanding when Mr Vaz became ill, as well as the new information which had been brought to my attention since our previous meeting on 26 March. I gave this letter to Mr Vaz's agent.

10.  On 1 July 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to me (Annex I.2) to say that although he was not yet fully recovered he would begin the process of answering my questions.

11.  By far the overwhelming reason for the duration of this inquiry was the difficulty I encountered in obtaining straight answers to my questions. This particularly applied to that part of my inquiry which covers Mapesbury Communications Limited. It is this difficulty, and the need to provide the Committee with information to explain why this inquiry has taken so long, that has led me to set out the relevant correspondence in much greater length than is my habit.

People providing information

12.  In the course of the current inquiry, I have received information from, written to, telephoned, or interviewed 41 people or organisations. They are listed in Annex I.3 to this memorandum.

60   Third Report, HC (2000-01) 314-I.  Back

61   HC 314-I (2000-01), Annex 1, paragraph 405. Back

62   HC 314 (2000-01), paragraph 2. Back

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