(ii) Complaints relating to
Mr Vaz's alleged financial relationship with Mapesbury Communications
86. In the course of my investigation into allegations
against Mr Vaz in the last Parliament
I established with some difficulty that a payment had been made
by Mr Zaiwalla of £200 to Wildberry printers for a calendar
linked with Mr Vaz.
87. Mr Vaz's Register entries contained four
references to calendars, namely:
|Date of Register
||Income received from Annual Calendars used to pay for staff and publications to further community political involvement and information, including work on the Race Relations (Remedies) Act 1994 and Report on ethnic involvement in Quangos.
||Income received from Annual Calendar used to support the work that I do with the Asian community; no payment made to me.
||Income received from Annual Calendar used to support the work that I do with the Asian community; no payment made to me.
||Contribution towards the cost of constituency calendars for 1999 from Mr A P Patel; no payment made to me.
88. Mr Vaz wrote to me on 17 July 2000 telling
me that the calendars were intended only for his constituents
and did not carry advertising (which was not in fact true
of all of them). He added that they had not been a success and
had been discontinued. He explained that the question of how to
register the calendars had been the subject of extensive discussion
with the previous Commissioner and the then Registrar.
89. The substance of Mr Vaz's correspondence
with the then Registrar on the subject of the calendars (in addition
to the annual renewal of his entries) was as follows:
the calendar was
first registered on 18 July 1994;
on 17 October 1994 Mr Vaz wrote to the
then Registrar asking whether it was necessary for him to "declare
every advertisement in the calendar" and adding "The
income goes to a company, Mapesbury, which administers the staff
that are employed for the purposes set out.
None of it comes to me".
On 19 October 1994 the then Registrar replied as
"I see no reason why
you should identify the individual advertisers, unless
(i) they sponsor the calendar fairly predictably
year after year, and
(ii) they pay more than £500 each for the advertising
If any of the advertisers does meet both criteria,
it should strictly speaking be identified as a sponsor of your
political activities, even though you derive no personal pecuniary
benefit from the arrangement."
90. Paragraph 101 of my memorandum for the previous
inquiry read "Since the stated purpose of the annual calendars
was to support Mr Vaz's work with the Asian community I noted
from Mr Vaz's personal Register file that on 19 January 1996 a
year after the company was set up] he informed the then Commissioner,
in a letter, that he had established a company called Mapesbury
Communications Limited with the same objectives and that the company
would receive his "income from the annual calendar together
with all income I receive from outside Parliament'
91. In the same letter, Mr Vaz had explained
that "as yet no income has been spent from this company
on any parliamentary duties, but I anticipate that it will pay
for publications that cannot be paid by the Fees Office
petrol payments for members of my staff and equipment such as
a computer or a shredding machine".
92. The then Commissioner had replied that since
the Register showed Mr Vaz's income from the calendar, and assuming
that he did nor receive any personal income or benefit from Mapesbury
Communications, his present entry "would seem to be satisfactory".
93. Mapesbury Communications Limited has never
appeared on Mr Vaz's Register entry and he has never been a shareholder
94. Given that the stated purpose of Mapesbury
Communications Limited was to support Mr Vaz's work with the Asian
community I attempted to investigate the possibility that the
alleged payments might have been processed through Mapesbury Communications
to support Mr Vaz's parliamentary office without his registering
the income from the company or any such support.
95. I was unable to establish whether the payment
from Mr Zaiwalla in respect of the calendar was processed through
Mapesbury Communications Limited.
96. I was unable to complete my investigation
because Mr Vaz, as I reported, was unwilling, "ostensibly
on the grounds that he had no involvement with the company, to
provide details of the expenditure and income of Mapesbury Communications,
when it was he who set it up and its officers until the present
date, have been mainly members of his immediate family".
97. I further reported "the lack of co-operation
from Mr Vaz on the last of these matters is especially troubling
since it has prevented me from establishing whether any of the
income of Mapesbury Communications has been used to support Mr
Vaz's parliamentary office in any way. I have received no evidence
that this is the case, other than that supporting the calendar,
although Mr Vaz told the then Commissioner in 1996 that this would
be the main purpose of the company. Mr Vaz was in a position to
clarify this uncertainty and chose, for whatever reason, not to
98. On 31 January 2001 (Annex ii1), the Clerk
to the Standards and Privileges Committee wrote to Mr Bindman,
Mr Vaz's solicitor, referring to an offer from Mr Vaz to use his
good offices to secure from Mapesbury Communications Limited the
information the Committee was seeking. Specifically he asked:
"1. What was the purpose
of the company when it was established and has the purpose changed
in any way since that date?
2. I understand that money related to Mr Vaz's calendars
was processed through the company. Please would you provide me
with extracts from the audited records which shows these transactions,
including details of who provided those contributions and the
payments made from them.
5. It may be that some of the material published
by the company includes Mr Vaz's name, if so, please would you
list such publications and provide me with details.
6. Please would you provide me with copies of the
full audited accounts for each of the years the company has been
in operation with the underlying records which show all the payments
into and out of the company, since it was set up.
The Commissioner attaches particular importance to
being able to see the supporting material referred to in questions
2 and 6."
99. Mr Bindman replied, on 1 February 2001 (Annex
ii2a), that he had sent a copy of this letter to the solicitor
acting for the company (Davenport Lyons) for reply.
100. Following receipt of my memorandum, the
Committee took oral evidence on Mapesbury Communications Limited
and related matters, from Mr Vaz on 30 January and 13 February,
and from his wife, Ms Maria Fernandes the sole shareholder and
a director of the company on 13 February 2001.
101. The Committee made a report to the House
of Commons on 9 March 2001.
102. The Committee reported that Ms Fernandes
had provided to the Chairman and Clerk, but not to the Committee
as a whole, "a list showing the sources of payments of
£1,000 or more into the company and the recipients of payments
of £1,000 or more from the company, which she said was complete.
This information was provided by the company, rather than by its
solicitors or accountants, as we had requested. It is not evident
that the information was based on the accounts of the company.
We were told that it was not possible to provide us with the details
of payments into and out of the company for which we had asked:
the person who dealt with the filing of accounting records had
died in November last year  and his widow had said
she did not think there were any papers, though there might be
some in her garage. The company's accountants did not have this
information because they had returned all financial records to
the company on completing their work on each year's accounts".
Letters from the two accountants acting
at different times for the company were presented to the Committee
to the effect that no payments had been made to Mr Vaz personally
or to his parliamentary office.
103. The company's accounts deposited at Companies
House do not contain the detailed information the Committee sought
because, as a small company for the purposes of the Companies
Acts, Mapesbury Communications is entitled to exemption from audit
under Section 249A of the Companies Act 1985.
104. The Committee reported: "The full
accounts and underlying records of the company were not provided.
Ms Fernandes refused to provide the information she had to the
Committee or to the Commissioner. No evidence has been provided
to the Commissioner or the Committee that establishes the absence
or the existence of a Mapesbury link with Mr Zaiwalla or any other
significant contacts of Mr Vaz".
105. I had been unable to complete my investigation
into the complaint. The Committee concluded: "The information
that has been provided does not lead us to uphold the complaint".
The new complaint
106. There the matter rested until on 19 March
2001 Mr Andrew Lansley wrote to me (see Annex i1). Insofar as
they related to Mapesbury the salient points of his letter were:
that the Committee's
Third Report of Session 2000-01 had recorded that Mapesbury Communications
Limited had been established by Mr Vaz with the objective of supporting
his work with the Asian community and to receive the income from
the annual calendar and other earnings from outside Parliament;
that the Report had also noted that Mr
Vaz's Register entries had never contained any reference to Mapesbury
that when asked in a letter from me dated
14 March 2000 about
an allegation that he had failed to register a substantial donation
from the Hinduja brothers, Mr Vaz had replied in a letter dated
19 March 2001:
"no donation has ever been made by the Hinduja brothers";
that paragraph 57 of the Committee's
Report had recorded that Mr Vaz's wife, Maria Fernandes, had shown
the Chairman and the Clerk a list of the sources of payments of
£1,000 or more into Mapesbury Communications;
that the accounts of the Hinduja Foundation
(a charity established by the Hinduja brothers) as supplied to
the Charity Commissioners for the year 1995, had recorded under
the heading "Vaswani: Lecture and Reception"
a payment of £1,196.10 to Mapesbury Communications on 6 July
that the Hinduja Foundation was wholly
controlled by the Hinduja brothers, who were its trustees;
that in 1995 Mapesbury Communications
Limited was a potential source of revenue to support Mr Vaz's
107. I reported receipt of this complaint to
the Committee on 20 March 2001.
108. As the Committee had been obliged to take
oral evidence in the later stages of the earlier inquiry because
Mr Vaz had refused to answer any further questions from me, the
Chairman of the Committee wrote on 20 March 2001 both to Mr Vaz
(see Annex i3) and to Ms Fernandes (see Annex i4) asking them
to supply me with further information about the payment by the
109. On 15 February 2001, Miss Eileen Eggington
wrote to me (Annex ii4) enclosing information from Mrs Rita Gresty,
who had been personal assistant to Ms Fernandes in her legal practice
from 10th August 1998 to 15th November 2000 (though she had become
too unwell to work in May 2000) (Annex ii5A), and her husband
Mr Vyan Gresty (Annex ii5B). Miss Eggington explained that Mrs
Gresty had become ill with depression in May 2000 and had since
spent periods as an in-patient in hospital.
110. The parts of Mrs Gresty's information relevant
to Mapesbury Communications, prepared by Miss Eggington, were:
"Mapesbury PR was
in existence in August 1998. Maria Fernandes, wife of Keith Vaz,
owned it but she had no staff. Rita was aware that Hanif Pathan,
Indian, aged about 32 years, was a director and he seemed to be
the only person actively involved in the PR side of the business.
Rita did not handle any accounts or correspondence, but believes
that Maria employed a Chinese accountant. She read in the newspapers
about three weeks ago that Mr Pathan had resigned as director.
In about October 1998 Rita took minutes of a meeting
held under the auspices of Mapesbury PR at Coleridge House, 4/5
Coleridge Gardens NW6. Maria Fernandes and Hanif Pathan ran the
meeting, which was about a forthcoming trip by MPs, including
Keith Vaz, to Belgium. The MPs wished to try to stop illegal importation
of cheap alcohol and tobacco because it was affecting the businesses
of Asian newsagents. Rita does not know if the trip took place.
A man called David Golding used a rented office
at Coleridge House as an accommodation address. He picked up post
from there. Rita saw post addressed to him. She has not met him
but has spoken to him on the telephone. He has a distinguished
Rita was under the impression that David Golding
was a civil servant, probably working in the Immigration Department.
Keith Vaz used to come into the office daily when Maria's office
was in their * * * [Middlesex] home...
...In November 1998 Hanif Pathan, under the auspices
of Mapesbury PR, organised a "Work Permit for Chefs"
Seminar at Millbank Tower. Maria Fernandes hosted the event and
the guest speaker was Barbara Roche. Rita had to compile the guest
list. Keith Vaz sat down with her in the * * *
[Middlesex] office going through the Egon Ronay Restaurant
Guide. He picked out all the Indian and Nepalese restaurants and
Rita sent out the invitations.
Rita helped out at the seminar. She saw that literature
advertising Fernandes Vaz immigration and visa services was prominently
displayed. Maria Fernandes gained a lot of new business from that
seminar. The Department of Education and Employment took part
in the seminar. They too brought literature but it was not prominently
111. The relevant parts of Mr Gresty's information
were as follows:
"In addition to running
the professional practice of Mrs Vaz, [my wife] was also
responsible for liaising with the various organisations with which
the Vaz family were associated, including the Asian Business Network
and Mapesbury (a public relations company).
Communications to the Asian Business Network were
through a man named David Golding, at Coleridge House, 4/5 Coleridge
Gardens, London NW6. Another contact for this company was Hanif,
mobile telephone number...
I was engaged to play the piano at a function
at the Connaught Rooms on 18 February 1999, and was paid a fee
by the Asian Business Network. I believe the cheque was signed
by Mr David Golding. The grand piano was hired from Harrow Piano
Works who were paid a fee of £380 on invoice to Asian Business
Network. My wife has confirmed Mr and Mrs Vaz worked jointly on
several projects. The above function was chaired by Mr Vaz, and
Mrs Vaz was the main speaker. The event was attended by members
of the Cabinet and senior civil servants."
112. When I received Miss Eggington's communication
I telephoned her and subsequently met her and wrote to her. In
my telephone call of 16 February I said that that background information
was helpful but that as far as I could see neither Mr nor Mrs
Gresty was alleging that any of these activities were improper,
nor had they provided information which undermined statements
which had been made to the press by Mr Vaz. I explained that I
could not take a complaint forward without a signed letter from
someone who was willing, if necessary, to let their name become
public at least as far as the Member of Parliament was concerned.
(The Grestys at that time were not). I asked her to let me have
any other information which became available which she felt might
be relevant to my inquiry. I confirmed the telephone conversation
of 16 February by letter on 26 February 2001 (Annex ii6).
The new inquiry
Mapesbury Communications Limited
113. In the light of Mr Lansley's allegation,
and the evidence he provided regarding a payment to Mapesbury
Communications Limited from the Hinduja Foundation (see paragraphs
13-17), I have made a further attempt to establish whether revenue
from Mapesbury Communications was used to finance Mr Vaz's parliamentary
office or provide him with benefits.
114. When I decided to investigate further the
possibility that there was an unregistered financial link between
Mr Vaz and Mapesbury Communications Limited it became appropriate
to take the information provided by the Grestys and by Miss Eggington
The Asian Business Network
115. In 1999 and 2000 Mr Vaz's entry in the Register
of Members' Interests showed him to be honorary president of the
Asian Business Network (ABN) and that he received no remuneration
for this. The information provided by Mrs Williams suggested that
Mr Vaz had an active role in the ABN, and that of Mr and Mrs Gresty
suggested that there may have been links between Mapesbury Communications
Limited and the ABN.
116. Other information suggesting that Mr Vaz's
involvement with the Asian Business Network is deeper than is
implied by 'honorary president' was supplied to me by the journalists
Mr Chris Hastings and Mr Rajeev Syal of The Sunday Telegraph.
On 29 March they came to see me and told me that until the previous
day the Network had been listed in BT Directory Inquiries as being
based at 70a Teignmouth Road, London NW2, the former London home
of Mr Vaz. They also subsequently provided other material (see
paragraphs 162 and 165).
117. In the light of the information provided
to me by Mr and Mrs Gresty and by Mr Hastings and Mr Syal, I attempted
to establish if Mr Vaz's links with the Asian Business Network
were more extensive than was suggested by his Register entry and
involved any financial interest, and what the relationships might
be between Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes, Mapesbury Communications and
the Asian Business Network.
118. In the course of the last inquiry I had
established that a cheque for £200 was drawn on Mr Zaiwalla's
account on 29 September 1994 which the office cashbook gave as
being for the purpose "Wildberry (K Vaz Calendar)."
Since I was returning to the question of Mapesbury Communications
Limited into which, Mr Vaz had informed the Registrar, income
from the calendar was paid. I thought it appropriate to examine
whether there were any financial links between Wildberry, Mapesbury
Communications Limited and Mr Vaz's parliamentary office.
Misleading the Committee
119. The production and confirmation of an invoice
from Mapesbury Communications to the Hinduja Foundation
throws doubt on Mr Vaz's denial in the last inquiry that "no
donation [to him or to his office] has ever been made by
the Hinduja brothers, since Mapesbury Communications had been
set up specifically to receive income from his extra-Parliamentary
activities". This doubt led me to consider further the
role of Mapesbury Communications Limited in relation to Mr Vaz's
Information and witnesses in the current inquiry
120. Relevant information was provided by Mr
Vaz himself, Ms Maria Fernandes, Ms Fernandes's fellow director
of Mapesbury Communications Limited, Mr Mohammed Pathan, Mrs Rita
Gresty (a former personal assistant and practice manager to Ms
Maria Fernandes's law firm) and her friend Miss Eileen Eggington,
the journalists Mr Chris Hastings and Mr Rajeev Syal of The
Sunday Telegraph, Mr Carl Fellstrom (a freelance journalist),
Mrs Pauline Elizabeth ( Liz) Williams, a former volunteer worker
at Mr Vaz's constituency office, and Companies House.
121. With the exception of Miss Eggington, it
would appear that most of the above named had been in disagreement
with Mr Vaz or Ms Fernandes in the past. Mr and Mrs Gresty and
Miss Eggington provided me with information about difficulties
experienced over Mrs Gresty's entitlement to statutory sickness
benefit from Ms Fernandes, and Mr Vaz referred in a letter to
me dated 9 July 2001 (Annex iv8), to "Mrs Rita Gresty's mental
illness, her hospitalisation and the industrial tribunal proceedings"
(though in his letter of 13 August 2001 he told me he was not
aware of what became of such proceedings). In the event, although
proceedings were contemplated they were never undertaken. Mrs
Williams told me she had ceased to work as a volunteer for Mr
Vaz after an argument involving her husband. And although Mr Vaz
told me in his letter of 18 November (Annex ii7) that he had no
dispute with Mrs Williams, in our telephone conversation of 24
October he said he was unwilling to comment on the information
Mrs Williams had supplied because he might be sued at any time
in the future by her or her husband if the marriage broke down.
Mr Hastings and Mr Syal have a longstanding professional interest
in the activities of Mr Vaz and have published a number of articles
in The Sunday Telegraph concerning him, with which Mr Vaz
disagrees in some respects. Mrs Matin's legal affairs were transferred
from Bindman & Partners to Coker Vis because of a conflict.
122. I set out in this section the information
I have established about the company.
Information from the public records
123. Mapesbury Communications Limited was incorporated
on 20 October 1994 as a shelf company with the name of Hobbyprime
Limited under the registered address of 1 Mitchell Lane, Bristol.
On 22nd February 1995 the name was changed to Mapesbury Communications
124. Information from the registers at Companies
House shows that on 2 November 1994 the registered address of
Mapesbury Communications Limited was 70a Teignmouth Road, London
NW2, then the London address of Mr and Mrs Vaz (Ms Maria Fernandes).
From 22nd March 1996 a box number PO Box 8726was
added to the address. From 3rd June 1999 the company's registered
address was 53 Scraptoft Lane, Leicester LE5 2FF, the home of
Mrs Merlyn Vaz, Mrs Vaz senior (Mr Vaz's mother) (though the address
where the Register of Members was held was from early 1997, *
* *, the London address of Mr Vaz and of Ms Fernandes his wife).
From 19 January 2001, the company was registered at Savant House,
63 to 65 Camden High Street, London NW1 7JL.
125. Until 2 November 1994 Instant Companies
Limited are registered as directors. Ms Maria Fernandes is registered
from 2 November 1994 onwards and Mrs Merlyn Vaz from 1 February
1996. On 1 April 1999 Mr Hanif Pathan became a director but he
resigned on 19 January 2001.
126. As far as I have been able to ascertain
Ms Fernandes has been the sole shareholder throughout, although
the accounts for the year ending 31 October 1997 also name Mrs
Merlyn Vaz as a shareholder.
127. The secretaries to the company have been
Mrs Olga Fernandes (Ms Fernandes's late mother), from the company's
inception to 29 December 1998, and Mrs Merlyn Vaz thereafter.
128. The activities of the company are described
in each set of accounts in the terms: 'the principal activities
of the company are those of publishing and public relations'.
129. According to the accounts deposited at the
Companies House, the company's turnover and the associated profit
or loss has been as follows:
|31 October 1995||£3,200
|31 October 1996||£14,647
||£3,628 (after taxation)
|31 October 1997||£
|31 October 1998||£73,764
|31 October 1999||£51,428
130. On 29 May 2001 notice was given of the winding
up of the company. This should have taken place in August 2001
but on 27 June 2001 Companies House received, and agreed to, a
request from the Inland Revenue for a stay.
131. The winding up of the company was resumed
in October 2001, the objection having been withdrawn on 5 October
and first gazette notice appeared in the following week.
Information provided by Mr Vaz during the previous
132. Although the stated purpose of the company
had been to receive the money from the annual calendar and all
the income he received from outside Parliament to support his
work with the Asian community, Mr Vaz said it was never used for
that purpose. Mr Vaz explained to the Committee that the calendars
had made a loss and that the other income had never materialised.
Since then, he explained, the company had been a publishing and
public relations company run by his wife. It had, he said, continued
133. In his evidence to the Committee and to
me in the last investigation, Mr Vaz explained that Mr Raihan
Mahmoud had been in charge of the calendar and had all the records,
which was why, after Mr Mahmoud's death in late 2000, these appeared
to have vanished.
134. According to Mr Vaz's evidence the last
calendar published by Mapesbury appeared in 1996.
A calendar for the year 1999 carrying Mr Vaz's photograph but
no advertising is in his personal Register file and Mr Vaz sent
me a copy of a calendar for 2002 with his letter of 3 November
Chronology of the inquiry
135. After I had reported Mr Lansley's complaint
to the Committee, the Chairman wrote to Mr Vaz on 20 March 2001
(see Annex i3) (see paragraphs 19 and 20).
136. Mr Vaz replied to the then Chairman on 20th
March (see Annex i8). He explained that:
undertook the public relations work for this [Vaswani]
event at cost for the Vaswani Centre, which is a non-profit-making
body. The costs of £1,196.10 (which I understand was for
faxes, invitations, food, telephone calls etc) were reimbursed
by the Hinduja Foundation. There was no benefit to me. There was
no benefit to the company which, as you know if you have a report
on the company, made a loss that year. Two accountants have certified
that neither I nor my office received any benefit from the company."
137. The then Chairman also wrote, on 20 March
2001 to Ms Fernandes (see Annex i4) asking her to provide details
of the event and payments; the Clerk to the Committee also wrote
to her on 29 March (see Annex i5A), Ms Fernandes replied on 20
April (see Annex i5) (see paragraph 348).
138. I also wrote to Mr Vaz on 20 March (see
Annex i2) about Mr Lansley's complaints (see paragraph 18).
139. I raised the matter of Mapesbury with Mr
Vaz in an interview on 21 March. I recorded the relevant exchange
"We also talked about
trying to get some clarity about whether or not Mr Vaz had received
any benefits whatsoever from Mapesbury Communications. Mr Vaz
said that he has received no benefits whatsoever, and no payment
from Mapesbury. I drew his attention to the fact that sometimes,
assets of the company are used to benefit other people, for example
cars, telephones, heating, lighting if a home is used as an office,
I suggested that he think about that carefully and if that was
the case, he put that in the letter of reply to me"
140. Following our meeting Mr Vaz wrote to me
on 21 March 2001 (see Annex i32) saying he would speak to his
wife "so that we can provide you with as much information
as possible to deal with this matter" and hoped to respond
141. I replied on 22 March 2001 (Annex ii16),
saying that I looked forward to hearing from him, and if appropriate
from his wife, so that I could provide accurate information to
the Standards and Privileges Committee.
142. Mr Vaz then wrote to me on 26th March 2001
(see Annex i7). His comments on payment from the Hinduja Foundation
to Mapesbury Communications are set out in paragraphs 23-26, but
on the specific matter of the Dada Vaswani event Mr Vaz wrote:
"I am not sure that
there were "terms" if there were I had no knowledge
of them. Mr Mahmoud would have dealt with the event himself possibly
with volunteers in my office, since I would not have regarded
this as a priority. The amount of the payment was £1,196.10
(this is confirmed in the books of the Charity Commission). I
have no personal knowledge of this. I have been told that the
reasons for the reprint was that there several spelling mistakes
in the original invitation.
I understand that the payment was made to "Mapesbury
Communications" (this was the information on the invoice).
If verification of this is important I will request a statement,
but I have no reason to doubt that this was the case. There was
no benefit to the Company from this payment since it only
covered costs incurred.
In fact, the company made a loss that year. The company accounts
will bear this out but clearly, I do not have them to hand."
143. Mr Vaz discussed the content of his letter
of 26 March 2001 with me at a meeting on that day (my record of
this discussion is printed as Annex i6). The exchanges relating
to the Swami Vaswani event are covered in paragraphs 23-26 but
we discussed other matters relating to Mapesbury, as follows:
"Mr Pathan was a
volunteer in his Leicester office from 1989. He then became a
paid assistant in his Leicester office paid through the Office
Costs Account. Mr Vaz agreed that I may check this information
with the Fees Office and he will provide the details in his fuller
letter to me. He will also inform me when Mr Pathan took on Directorship
of Mapesbury Communications. Mr Pathan resigned as a Director
in January 2001. He was never paid for his work as a Director
of Mapesbury Communications. Mr Vaz says the two tasks did not
overlap in any way. The work that he did in the office was separate
from any work that he did to assist the Mapesbury Communications
company. Mr Vaz told me that Mr Pathan was a long-term family
friend who had been both a volunteer and then a paid worker and
he had been helpful, taking on the trouble of sorting out the
... I said there had been various allegations
about other events which Mapesbury Communications had organised
for the Hindujas and whether the Hindujas had paid some money
to Mapesbury Communications."
I asked Mr Vaz to provide a full account of payments
to Mapesbury Communications Limited.
144. I wrote to Mr Vaz on 27 March 2001 (Annex
ii19) thanking him for visiting me and asking him to respond to
the points made in Mr Lansley's letters, the letters to him from
the Chairman and the press comment, and suggesting he reviewed
all transactions for any purpose between himself, or Mapesbury
Communications, or Ms Fernandes and the Hinduja family or Foundation.
145. I wrote a further letter to Mr Vaz on 28
March 2001 (see Annex i20), drawing his attention to the suggestion
of Mrs Gresty regarding the connections between himself and his
wife and the Hinduja family or Foundation.
146. On 27 March 2001 Mr Chris Hastings of The
Sunday Telegraph telephoned me, and on 29 March he and Mr
Rajeev Syal of The Sunday Telegraph (Annex ii21) came to
my office. They brought me information which they had collected
and told me that the Asian Business Network had until the previous
day been listed in BT Directory Inquiries as being based at 70a
Teignmouth Road, the former home of Mr Vaz. They provided me with
a print-out from the website 192.com which also gave that information
as current. They raised concerns about the extent of Mr Vaz's
involvement with the Asian Business Network, suggesting that he
had arranged a conference on its behalf out of his parliamentary
147. By 2 April 2001 Mr Vaz had become unwell.
On that day I told his agent Mr Keith Bennett that Mr Vaz should
only reply to my questions when he had recovered.
148. I wrote to Mr Vaz on 2 April 2001 expressing
149. Ms Fernandes wrote to Mr Sheldon on 20 April
2001 (see Annex i5) in response to his letter of 20 March 2001
(Annex i4) and the Clerk's letter of 27 March 2001 (see Annex
i5A) (see paragraphs 22, 152). She:
said she had
no personal knowledge of the [Swami Vaswani] event of 6 July 1996
reiterated that there were no payments
from Mr Zaiwalla to Mapesbury Communications Limited
reminded him that the list of payments
had been prepared from memory and that she intended to maintain
client confidentiality as to the detail of the payments
explained that it was incorrect to say
that there were 'no accounts for Mapesbury' as these had been
filed according to statutory requirements
confirmed that there were no papers beyond
what the Committee had already received, that the issue of dissolution
of the company had only arisen because of the inquiry but undertook
that any papers which were found to exist would be preserved
explained that she had asked the accountants
to prepare a list of VAT payments and any information that had
been sent to the VAT office
explained the expense and distress the
inquiry had caused her.
150. Ms Fernandes concluded:
"May I finally summarise the position:
1. Two chartered
accountants have unequivocally certified that neither Mr Vaz nor
his office has benefited from this company.
2. The company filed its accounts in accordance
with statutory requirements.
3. The accounts were prepared on an annual
4. The receipts and invoices were not available.
I agreed to show you a list prepared from my recollection, and
that of former members of staff.
5. The current inquiry is about Mr Lansley's
complaint concerning the Hinduja Foundation. I have no personal
information about this, any information has already been supplied.
If you have any specific
information which casts doubt on any of the points raised above
regarding this company, and I reiterate, I did ask this both at
the evidence session and when we met, I would be happy to help
if it is within my knowledge."
151. I wrote to Mr Vaz on 3 May 2001 (see Annex
I1) setting out the matters outstanding when he was taken ill
(though I did not at that time send the letter to him but to his
agent Mr Keith Bennett). I drew his attention to matters I had
already raised with him in correspondence or at our meeting of
26 March and attached new information I had received for his consideration
(this was not related to Mapesbury). In the context of Mapesbury
Communications Limited I specifically reminded him of the matters
covered in my letter to him of 27 March, with particular reference
to Mr Lansley's letters, the Chairman's letter of 20 March, the
press comment and the request for a review of all transactions
between him and the company.
152. Mr Vaz and Mr Bennett came to see me on
3 May 2001 and I gave Mr Bennett my letter of 3 May 2001 on the
understanding that Mr Vaz would answer it when he was well enough.
I said that if I received further complaints or information which
I needed to put to him I would do so via his agent so that his
agent could hold them until he had recovered fully.
153. On 8 May 2001, the Committee met and, in
response to her letter of 20 April (see Annex i5), made an order
to Ms Fernandes to produce the list of payments previously shown
to the Chairman and Clerk, and the Chairman wrote to Ms Fernandes
enclosing a copy of the Order, as follows:
"The Committee was
disappointed to learn that you were not prepared to provide it
with the full list of payments into and out of Mapesbury for which
you were asked in the Clerk's letter of 27 March. Accordingly
it has no alternative but to use its formal powers to require
you to supply the list.
I am enclosing a copy of the Order which the Committee
has made. Failure to comply with the Order would be a contempt
of the House."
"Ordered, That Ms Maria Fernandes,
a director of Mapesbury Communications Ltd ("the company"),
do lay before this Committee on or before noon on Friday 11th
May a copy of the list of (a) persons or organisations who made
any payment to the company of £1000 or more for any purpose,
and (b) persons or organisations to whom the company made a payment
of £1000 or more or provided a benefit worth £1000 or
more, which she showed to the Chairman on 15 February.(The
154. On 10 May 2001 Ms Fernandes replied to the
Chairman (Annex ii26), enclosing the list of payments as follows:
"List of clients,
events and payments in and out in the knowledge of the directors
of the company"
The list records 13 "Payments in",
including the following which are referred to in this memorandum;
Work Permit Conference
Root Magazine (Antigua promotion)
Seminar/Event on Visa Policy
Dada Vaswani Event
The list records 12 "Payments out",
including the following which are referred to in this memorandum;
Bletchley Motor Group (car
Mohammed Pathan (employee)
Laura Coco (employee)
Olga Fernandes/Merlyn Vaz (directors payments out)
The Acacia Group (Rental of Offices)
155. She stressed that the list should not be
considered conclusive, and asked that it be kept private and confidential.
156. She also asked the Clerk to acknowledge
receipt of the list to the company secretary at the registered
157. On 11 May 2001 the Clerk to the Committee
wrote to Ms Fernandes thanking her for providing the list and
saying that he was writing to the secretary of the company as
requested, and also wrote to the secretary of the company.
158. On 14th May 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes
(see Annex i12) asking her to let me know:
the names and
addresses of the organisations or individuals who made the payments
into and out of the company, together with the amount concerned,
date and purpose of the payment
the period which the list covered and
the level of payment over which she had made an entry on the list
any payment in or out of the company
which was in any way related to the Hinduja family or Foundation
for whom the car(s) were purchased with
dates and by whom it/they were used
details of the complete funding arrangements
for the following events: the Work Permit Conference, the seminar/event
on visa policy and the Dada Vaswani event, and
since the list was 'not conclusive',
what were the totals covered by the list and received by the company
in each of the years covered by the list
whether she would prefer to meet me in
the first instance rather than write.
159. On 17 May 2001 Ms Fernandes telephoned my
office to say she would be replying "soon" to
my letter of 14 May.
160. On 30 May 2001 Mr Mohammed Pathan, another
director of the company, wrote to me (a letter which my office
received on 15 June 2001) saying that Ms Fernandes had passed
him my letter of 14 May 2001 and that he was replying as he had
compiled the list from memory and his knowledge as a former employee
and director. He said that he would be happy to meet me.
161. On 3 June 2001 an article appeared in The
Mail on Sunday containing some information which was similar
to that provided to me by Miss Eggington and the Grestys.
162. On 5 June the journalists Mr Chris Hastings
and Mr Rajeev wrote to me (Annex ii31) suggesting again that Mr
Vaz was more intimately connected with the Asian Business Network
than his Register entries suggested. They:
told me again
that until February 2001 BT Directory Inquiries had been giving
the address of the organisation as 70a Teignmouth Road the former
home of Mr Vaz and that at the time of writing it was still registered
at that address on the 192.com database
told me again that Mr Vaz had been using
House of Commons facilities to raise money for the Network.
163. On 6 June 2001 Mr Bennett wrote to the then
Registrar of Members' Interests asking him for copies of Mr Vaz's
entries in the Register of Members' Interests for 1987, 1988,
1989 and 1990.
164. On 12 June 2001 (Annex ii33) I wrote to
Ms Fernandes to thank her for her telephone call of 17 May 2001
and to remind her that her reply to my letter of 14 May 2001 was
still outstanding, and reminding her that I had said that if she
would prefer to discuss the matters with me she in person should
telephone me to suggest a convenient time to meet.
165. On 12 June I received from Mr Hastings and
Mr Syal material relating to the Asian Business Network as follows:
a print-out from
the website 192.com showing that the Asian Business Network was
as late as June 2001 registered at 70 Teignmouth Road
a brochure for the Asian Business Network's
Into Leadership Conference held at the New Connaught Rooms, London,
held on 23 June 1999, chaired by Mr Vaz: this included a telephone
number which they said was registered to Mr Vaz's office in the
House of Commons
a copy of an article which appeared in
The Sunday Telegraph on 10 June 2001 alleging that Mr Vaz
had actively canvassed donations to the Network despite having
denied to the previous inquiry that he had ever processed or collected
money for Asian causes
a transcript alleging to record a conversation
on 9 June 2001 between Mr Hastings and Mr Keith Bennett, Mr Vaz's
166. They subsequently provided me with an Office
of Public Service press release confirming that Mr Vaz had chaired
the Into Leadership Conference.
167. On 14 June 2001 Ms Fernandes wrote (in a
letter I received on 19 June 2001) to tell me she had passed a
copy of my letter of 12 June 2001 to Mr Mohammed Pathan, who,
she said, had written to me to arrange a meeting, and offering
to be present herself if required.
168. On 15 June 2001 my office wrote to Mr Pathan
thanking him for his letter of 30 May 2001 (which I had received
only that day) and inviting him to telephone me to arrange a date
for a meeting.
169. On 25 June 2001, having had no response
from Mr Pathan, my office telephoned Mr Keith Bennett (Mr Vaz's
agent) to obtain a contact telephone number for Mr Pathan so that
a meeting might be organised and suggesting a number of possible
dates on which I could meet Mr Pathan.
170. On 26 June 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes
(Annex ii36) saying I was concerned at the delay in organising
a meeting, rehearsing my efforts to do so, suggesting a number
of possible times for one, inviting her or Mr Pathan to contact
me by return to let me know when they were available to meet me,
and requesting a contact telephone number.
171. On 27 June 2001, following conversations
between Ms Fernandes and Mr Pathan and my office, I wrote to each
of them confirming a meeting on Wednesday 4 July 2001.
172. On 1 July 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to me (see Annex
eagerness that the matters should be concluded;
requested copies of
indicated that "in view of the
comments of the Committee" he would continue to correspond
with me but would be relying on the legal advice of Mr Bindman
told me that there was litigation pending
in respect of some of the matters already raised in the press.
173. On 2 July 2001 I interviewed Mr Gopichand
Hinduja and Mr Srichand Hinduja. A transcript was made of the
interview (see Annex i14). They both denied any involvement with
Mapesbury Communications Limited beyond the Dada Vaswani lecture,
and also that they had given any gifts to Mr Vaz or Ms Fernandes
beyond Diwali courtesies (see paragraph 52). They confirmed, however,
that their business had used the professional services of Ms Fernandes's
law practice, Fernandes Vaz, in immigration cases (see paragraph
53, 59 and Annex i30).
174. On 3 July 2001 I spoke to Mr Bennett about
the timing of Mr Vaz's response to my questions and Mr Bennett
undertook to contact me again the same afternoon.
175. On 4 July 2001 I met Ms Fernandes and Mr
Pathan in my office, accompanied by a House of Commons shorthand
writer (whom I introduced to Ms Fernandes and Mr Pathan and whose
function I explained) who made a transcript of the interview (see
Annex i15). As is the practice, the shorthand writer made a tape-recording
of the interview for her own use in compiling the transcript.
The tape recorder was on the table between Ms Fernandes, Mr Pathan,
the shorthand writer and me throughout the meeting.
176. I explained the purpose of the interview:
MS FILKIN: I am not wishing
to interfere in your affairs in any way that I do not have to,
and I have not wished to do that throughout.
MS FERNANDES: Thank you.
MS FILKIN: Having said that, I have a duty to
the House of Commons which is to make sure that I am giving a
full and accurate picture in relation to the complaints that I
have had and I have to verify information to them.
177. Ms Fernandes explained to me that she was
taking proceedings against the Mail on Sunday and said
that she would need to be very careful because she did not want
to do anything that would jeopardise those proceedings. I said
I would not wish to jeopardise any proceedings.
178. I asked Ms Fernandes and Mr Pathan what
work Mapesbury Communications had carried out for the Hinduja
brothers or Foundation: Ms Fernandes said "None that I
know of" and Mr Pathan said "None. No."
When I prompted Mr Pathan about the Dada Vaswani event he said
"They paid for the expenses or something of it, yes. That
is the only one I know of."
179. In the course of the interview I asked Ms
Fernandes not only about Mapesbury Communications but about any
dealings which Fernandes Vaz might have had with the Hinduja brothers
or Foundation (see paragraphs 53-59).
180. At the end of the meeting Ms Fernandes said
she had noticed the shorthand writer's tape-recorder, and she
and Mr Pathan objected to its use. I explained that the recording
was only for the use of the shorthand writer to enable her to
check the accuracy of her record. I apologised that I had not
given a fuller introduction and promised to provide Ms Fernandes
with the only copy of the tape.
181. On 6 July 2001 I sent Mr Vaz copies of the
documents he had requested.
182. On 6 July 2001 Ms Fernandes wrote to me
(Annex ii39) to complain about the shorthand writer's tape recording.
183. On 9 July 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to me (Annex
iv8) that in order to give me a complete picture he needed certain
additional information, namely:
whether I had
any document referring to Mrs Gresty's hospitalisation and the
related industrial tribunal proceedings;
the covering letters to the material
relating to property supplied by the BBC and The Sunday Telegraph.
Additionally he put it to me that several of the
complaints referred to events many years old, and asked
me what timetable I had in mind so that he might prepare a comprehensive
submission between his return from a visit abroad and his impending
184. On 10 July 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes
and Mr Pathan (Annex i26) thanking them for attending the meeting,
enclosing the transcript of the meeting for correction (I also
sent the shorthand writer's tape recording to Ms Fernandes) and
reminding them that they had undertaken to provide, for Mapesbury
the dates which
related to the history of the company and showed the activities
it was engaged in throughout its life;
a list of all the events which Mapesbury
Communications organised, with dates;
details of the work which the company
carried out for the Asian Business Network and the events organised
for the Network;
the payments made by the company to Wildberry
printers, with dates;
the dates during which Mr Pathan was
a director of Mapesbury Communications;
the amounts paid in salaries and fees
to directors and employees for each year;
the rent paid each year to Acacia Holdings
in respect of Savant House or any other property occupied at any
time by Mapesbury Communications.
185. I also added that the answers to the questions
set out in my letter of 14 May 2001 which were outstanding were
the period covered
by the list provided to the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges
Committee with Ms Fernandes's letter of 10 May headed "List
of clients, events and payments in and out in the knowledge of
the directors of the company";
since the list "should not be
considered conclusive" the total amount in round numbers
covered by the entries on the list, with dates, and the total
income received by the company in each of the years covered by
186. I also asked Ms Fernandes, so that I might
have a complete picture of all her transactions with the Hinduja
brothers, the Hinduja businesses and Foundation, if she would
approach any client who was connected in any way with any of these
to seek their agreement to disclose to me a list of the activities
carried out for them with dates and the payment received for each
piece of work.
187. On 11 July 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes
(Annex ii42) in reply to her letter of 6 July 2001 about her concerns
about the shorthand writer's tape recording, apologising again
for not referring to the shorthand writer's tape recording and
explaining that this was because the tape recorder and microphone
were on the table in front of her.
188. On 16 July 2001 I wrote to Mr Vaz (Annex
i22) saying I would be grateful for his response to all the matters
I had raised as soon as possible.
189. On 16 July 2001, Mr Pathan wrote to me (Annex
ii44) requesting a copy of the shorthand-writer's tape recording
which I had already sent to Ms Fernandes. (No copy was made of
the tape and Ms Fernandes holds it.)
190. On 18 July 2001 I replied to Mr Pathan (Annex
ii45) advising him to contact Ms Fernandes if he wished to listen
to the recording, as there was only one tape.
191. On 23 July 2001 Mrs Pauline Elizabeth Williams,
a former volunteer assistant to Mr Vaz in his constituency office
(Annex ii46) gave me information in a telephone call. Much of
this concerned Mr Hanif (Mohammed) Pathan and work he did for
Mr Vaz, with particular reference to the Into Leadership Conference
(see paragraphs 209 and 224). She said that she didn't know anything
about Mapesbury but she had heard it mentioned during her time
in the office. She added that "she had been told she didn't
need to know anything about it".
192. In the week of 23 July 2001, my secretary
telephoned Ms Fernandes's office twice to inquire when we might
expect to receive the corrected transcript, to be told she was
on holiday until 1 August 2001 (my secretary also attempted to
contact her on her mobile telephone and left a message).
193. On 1 August 2001 Mrs Williams telephoned
me with corrections and additions to the file note of our telephone
194. On 2 August 2001 my office telephoned Mr
Pathan about the transcript, after which he wrote to me (Annex
ii47) saying he had left a message with Ms Fernandes asking her
to contact him on her return from holiday but saying that a cursory
glance suggested that a number of points of the transcript needed
195. On 3 August 2001 I wrote to Mr Pathan (Annex
ii48) asking if I might have the transcript by return.
196. On 6 August 2001 Ms Fernandes wrote to me
(see Annex i27) referring to my letter of 11 July 2001 and the
telephone calls from my office. She complained again about the
shorthand writer's tape recording. Ms Fernandes said that:
Mr Pathan had
informed her that he was looking into the matters I had raised
concerning the company;
she would be taking legal and professional
advice on the points I had put to her about her law firm and would
respond as soon as she had done so;
she reminded me that some of the matters
were the subject of legal proceedings.
197. On 8 August 2001, Mr Pathan wrote to me
thanking me for my letter of 2 August 2001 which he suggested
had crossed with his of 2 August 2001, of which he enclosed another
198. On 9 August 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes
(Annex ii50) saying I was disappointed not to have received her
additions and corrections to the record of our meeting as I did
not wish to delay my work on the matter. I apologised once again
that my efforts to ensure that her answers were accurately recorded
by the shorthand writer had upset her.
199. On 13 August 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to me (Annex
i23) commenting on my requests for information and asking if there
were any other matters I wished to raise, as he wished to pass
my requests on to Mr Bindman his solicitor.
200. Ms Fernandes wrote to me on 27 August 2001
(Annex ii52) complaining again about the shorthand writer's tape
and saying "I would be grateful if all references to my legal
practice and any other personal matters be deleted. If you
wish to have page references I will be happy to provide this."
201. On 30 August 2001, my secretary recorded
that she had been trying to contact Mr Pathan since 1 August 2001
but that she had only a mobile telephone number for him, and that
the telephone was "switched off as always". She
left several messages to which Mr Pathan mostly replied in writing.
202. On 3 September 2001 I wrote again to Ms
Fernandes (Annex ii53) apologising again for our misunderstanding
over the tape, thanking her for her co-operation with my inquiry,
and inviting her to return the copy of the transcript with the
corrections and deletions she sought clearly marked.
203. On 4 September 2001, Ms Fernandes wrote
to me (Annex ii54) enclosing an annotated copy of those pages
of the transcript she wished to have deleted as referring to her
legal practice and friends. She added that her one brother-in-law
was not a director of Wildberry Printers.
204. On 6 September 2001 Mr Bindman (Mr Vaz's
solicitor) wrote to me (Annex ii55) asking for a list of the matters
205. On 7 September 2001 I replied to Mr Bindman
listing the letters I had written to Mr Vaz which required a response
from Mr Vaz as follows:
"The following are
the letters which I have sent to Mr Vaz asking for his comments
or for information. If any of these are not included in the bundle
provided to you by Mr Vaz perhaps your office would telephone
mine and we will send you copies.
|19 March 2001
||Letter to Elizabeth Filkin from Mr Andrew Lansley + accounts of Hinduja Foundation.
|20 March 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz attaching complaint letter from Mr Lansley
|27 March 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz
|28 March 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz
|26 April 2001||Letter from Mr Andrew Robathan to Elizabeth Filkin
|3 May 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz which rehearses the previous requests and also attaches the complaint letter from Mr Andrew Robathan dated 26 April 2001
|16 May 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz attaching complaint letters from Mr G H Peene, and attachments, dated 31 January, 8 February, 9 May and 15 May
|11 June 2001||Ms Eileen Eggington to Elizabeth Filkin with attachments
|19 June 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr K Bennett
|19 June 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz attaching complaint letter from Ms Eggington and enclosures and property schedule for comment and correction
|6 July 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz attaching copies of documents relating to:
|a) complaints made by Mrs Gresty and Ms Eggington
|b) information provided by the BBC & The Sunday Telegraph
|c) Mr Vaz's letter to Elizabeth Filkin on 26 March 2001
|16 July 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz
|7 August 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz
|23 August 2001||Elizabeth Filkin to Mr Keith Vaz
I have said to Mr Vaz that these letters cover
all the matters which require his response but that if any other
information is provided to me which might be at variance with
the information which Mr Vaz gives me I will, of course, give
him the opportunity to comment on it before I take any view on
206. On 7 September 2001 I wrote to Mr Vaz (ii57)
thanking him for his letter of 31 August 2001 and noting Mr Bindman's
letter of 6 September.
207. On 10 September 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes
(Annex ii58) saying that I did not wish to jeopardise legal proceedings
she was undertaking in any way but that as I did not know anything
of them I would be grateful if she would let me know which matters
covered in the transcript might be subject to those proceedings.
I asked her to inform me when the proceedings were complete. I
confirmed that she and Mr Pathan had visited my office following
her offer to assist me. I went on to say that I did, however,
need to ask her for some further pieces of information to ensure
that I had an accurate picture to report to the Standards and
Privileges Committee . I said that when we met I had asked whether,
through Mapesbury Communications or through her practice, Ms Fernandes
had helped Mrs Matin with her immigration issues and I set out
our exchange on the matter:
"MS FILKIN: ...Did
you, through Mapesbury Communications or, indeed, through your
practice, because then I will be able to clear it out of the way,
help her with her immigration issues?"
MS FERNANDES: No.
MS FILKIN: So you have never done work for her?
MS FERNANDES: No.
MS FILKIN: In any capacity. Thank you..."
I said that I had subsequently received information
that she had made a representation on Mrs Matin's behalf about
her immigration status and I asked her to explain this discrepancy.
I added that she had said that she expected that
Mapesbury would be wound up during the next month or six weeks
but that I had been informed that a stay had been placed upon
the proceedings and asked her to explain this discrepancy too,
telling me why, when, and by whom and for what reason the request
for a stay had been made.
208. On 10 September 2001 my office telephoned
Mr Pathan and left a message saying that we had received Ms Fernandes's
corrections to the transcript of the meeting on 4 July 2001 and
that if we did not receive corrections from him by the end of
the week we would assume that his corrections were included in
Ms Fernandes's reply.
209. On the same day, 10 September 2001, I also
wrote to Mr Pathan (Annex ii59) asking him to confirm that the
transcript I had now received back from Ms Fernandes contained
all the corrections he wished to see made. I continued:
"During our meeting
I asked you about a possible connection between Mapesbury Communications
and Coleridge House. As you will have seen from the transcript
of our discussion, the exchange between us ran:
MS FILKIN: How is Mapesbury Communications connected
with Coleridge House?
MR PATHAN: Coleridge House?
MS FILKIN: It is not?
MR PATHAN: No.
MS FILKIN: That does not mean anything to you
MR PATHAN: No."
Later on during the same meeting, another exchange
took place, as follows:
"MS FILKIN: Mapesbury
Communications booked an event on 23 June 1999 for the Asian Business
Network at the New Connaught Rooms Did you book that event?
MR PATHAN: Sorry, say that again?
MS FILKIN: I believe that Mapesbury Communications
booked an event at the New Connaught Rooms on 23 June 1999 for
the Asian Business Network. I was asking whether you were involved
in booking that event?
MR PATHAN: No, nothing I know about, no. The event,
MS FILKIN: I have been provided with information
that the booking for an event held in the New Connaught Rooms
by the Asian Business Network on 23rd June 1999 was made by Mr
Hanif Pathan of Coleridge House, 4/5 Coleridge Gardens, London
NW6. I understand that you collected the fees for this events.
I have also been told that Mapesbury Communications were involved
in a meeting at Coleridge Gardens around October 1988
and that you were present at that meeting.
I understand that in June 1999 you had an office
in Mr Vaz's Leicester constituency office where you collected
the fees for the conference held on 23 June 1999. On what basis
were you employed in Mr Vaz's office? Over what period did you
work at that office? Into which account were the conference fees
In the light of the information I have set out
above I would be grateful for your explanation of these apparent
discrepancies, and would you let me know whether there is anything
you would like to say adding to or altering anything which appears
on the transcript?"
210. On 12 September 2001 I received a letter
from Mr Pathan dated 30 August (Annex ii60) suggesting corrections
and making comments on the transcript of the meeting. In this
he was unable to remember the precise date of the Swami Vaswani
event as it was so long ago and that the explanation I had suggested
(namely that the invoice would have been raised before the event),
was the most likely one;
denied that Mapesbury Communications
had booked or been involved in an event in central London on 23
June 1999 and asked me to supply any information I had to enable
him to enquire further;
said that he had written to the company
accountant to obtain the dates of his employment by Mapesbury;
confirmed that he had become a director
on 1 April 1999 and resigned on 31 January 2001 for the reasons
he had adduced at our interview, namely that Mr Mahmoud had died
and 'there was no future, nothing left to follow' .
211. Mr Pathan's answers to the questions I had
put in my letter of 10 July 2001 were as follows:
Q1 The dates which relate
to the history of the company and show the activities it was engaged
in throughout its life.
A1 We have explained the activities of
the company. I cannot comment on the precise dates. As we explained
to Mr Sheldon and to you this was a small company that at all
times had professional advice and assistance.
Q2 A list of all the events which Mapesbury
Communications organised with dates.
A2 We have explained to you all that
is within our knowledge and pointed out that Mr Mahmoud was principally
dealing with these matters. We have set out what has been done
in the transcript on page 19.
[Page 19 of the transcript reads as follows:
"MR PATHAN: That is right, yes, the priest
MS FILKIN: Are you saying that as far as you know
those were the only events?
MR PATHAN: That is right, yes.
MS FILKIN: So you do not recall any connection
between Mapesbury Communications and the Asian Business Network?
MR PATHAN: Mr Mahmoud... I do not know about that.
Mr Mahmoud might have, I do not know. I cannot answer that question.
MS FILKIN: And would you have a record of that
MR PATHAN: I do not know. Really I do not know.
MS FILKIN: Does that mean anything to you, Ms
MS FERNANDES: It does not.
MR PATHAN: It does not, no.
MS FILKIN: Take me through then, if you would,
the Dada Vaswani event. What was the role of Mapesbury in relation
to that event?
MR PATHAN: I was not involved in that.
MS FILKIN: No.
MR PATHAN: I remember the event because it was
a priest who came and did something, a lecture or something like
MS FILKIN: Yes.
MR PATHAN: That is all I know. Mr Mahmoud used
to deal with the paperwork and all that, so he would know.
MS FILKIN: So you do not know whose initiative
that was set up on?
MR PATHAN: I do not know, no.
MS FILKIN: Who was promoting it, who wanted it
to happen, etc?
MR PATHAN: No, I do not, no. I only know that
the event took place and the Hinduja Foundation paid for the expenses.
That is all I know about it.
MS FILKIN: And those were processed through Mapesbury?
MR PATHAN: That is right, yes."]
Q3 Details of the work which the company carried
out for the Asian Business Network and the events organised for
A3 See my reference to Page 22 above.
[Mr Pathan had written "You stated
that you believed the company booked an event in central London
on the 23rd June 1999. The company did not book the event nor
was it involved in it. If you have any information to enable me
to enquire further please let me know"]
Q4 The payments made by the company to Wildberry
printers with dates.
A4 I have answered this question on Page
36 of the transcript .
[Page 36 of the transcript reads as follows:
"MS FILKIN: There were no other publications
that you can recall that carried his name?
MS FERNANDES: No.
MS FILKIN: Right. This list here does not record
any payments to Wildberry, the printers Wildberry. They were the
printers who, if you recall, printed Mr Vaz's calendars.
MS FERNANDES: Which calendars?
MS FILKIN: Certainly some of the calendars.
MS FERNANDES: There are two types.
MS FILKIN: Yes, I know, but some of them were
printed by Wildberry and they have got that written on them, so
they were. You did not include this in this list. Perhaps you
could explain to me why Wildberry was not included in this list
as some body whom the company made payments to?
MR PATHAN: I do not know. I do not know about
MS FILKIN: You do not know about that?
MR PATHAN: No."]
Q5 The dates during which Mr Pathan was a director
of Mapesbury Communications.
A5 I have answered this question above.
[He said "I became a director
from 01.04.99 and resigned on 31.01.01 for the reasons I have
given you. I received no remuneration"]
Q6 The amounts paid in salaries and fees to
directors and employees for each year.
A6 These are in the company accounts
for each year, which I understand that you have. If you would
like me to total these up I will do so.
Q7 The rent paid each year to Acacia Holdings
in respect of Savant House or any other property occupied at any
time by Mapesbury Communications.
A7 I have written to the landlords and
ask for this information. I will send it to you when I received
Q8 The period covered by the list which you
provided to the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee
with your letter of 10 May 2001 headed "List of clients,
events and payments in and out in the knowledge of the directors
of the company".
A8 As we have explained to Mr Sheldon
and yourself this list has been compiled from what is within our
knowledge from our involvement with the company.
Q9 As you have confirmed that the list "should
not be considered conclusive", would you kindly inform
me of the total amount in round numbers covered by the entries
on the list, with dates, and the total income received by the
company in each of the years covered by the list?
A9 For the reasons given to you it is
not possible to do this without the benefit of Mr Mahmoud's help.
I would not like to guess and give you an inaccurate reply.
212. On 13 September 2001 I wrote to Mr Pathan
(Annex ii61) thanking him for his letter of 30 August 2001, explaining
that I had received it only on 12 September 2001 and that it had
probably crossed with mine of 10 September 2001. I expressed my
gratitude for his suggested corrections and for providing some
information in response to my questions of 10 July 2001. I also
asked him to let me have:
the totals which
he offered for the salaries and fees for each director and employee
for each of the years the company operated;
the information he was obtaining from
his estimate of the period covered by
the list which he provided for the Committee (with a caveat that
I understood that it might not be comprehensive);
his estimate of the total amount (with
the same caveat).
213. I noted that he confirmed that Mr Vaz did
not receive any payment from Mapesbury Communications, asked him
for his replies to my questions of 10 September 2001 without delay
and apologised again for the misunderstanding about the shorthand
writer's tape recorder.
214. On 14 September 2001 Mr Bindman (Mr Vaz's
solicitor) telephoned my office asking for copies of some of the
letters which I had itemised in my letter of 7 September 2001
which he had not received from Mr Vaz.
215. On 14 September 2001 Mr Pathan wrote to
me (Annex ii63) thanking me for my letter of 10 September 2001,
which he said had obviously crossed with his of 30 August 2001.
I received this letter on 25 September 2001. He wrote:
"I made it clear
in our meeting of 4th July 2001 in response to your question as
to whether the company booked the meeting on 23rd June 1999 that
it did not. I expressed surprise at this suggestion, as can be
seen from the transcript. I repeated this again at paragraph 2
of my letter of 30th August. If you would let me know who your
informant is I can enquire further.
I did not have an office in Mr Vaz's constituency
office in June 1999 nor was I employed there. It seems that someone
is deliberately giving you false information, if you will let
me know who your informant is I can enquire further.
I have now heard from the landlords. They have
informed me that the rental per month was £108.33 and that
a total of £3,509.83 have been paid to them. Please let me
know if you require any further information on this.
I have spent a great deal of time on these matters.
Please let me know if my bill of costs could be submitted to you
as a reimbursement".
216. On 21 September 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to me
(Annex ii64) asking questions about my inquiries and seeking information
about the witnesses.
217. On 25 September 2001 I wrote to Mr Pathan
(Annex ii65) thanking him for his letter of 14 September 2001,
and for answering some of my questions. I reminded him that there
were still a number of questions from me to him to which his replies
remained outstanding, that when we had met on 4 July 2001 he had
kindly said that he would try to obtain the information I needed,
and that he had said in his letter of 30 August 2001 that he had
written to the company's accountant for the financial information
I required. I asked him for a copy of the accountant's letter
to him, which I suggested might cover most of the outstanding
questions. For ease of reference I listed the outstanding questions
From my letter of 10 July 2001:
list of all the events Mapesbury Communications organised with
details of the work which the company
carried out for the Asian Business Network and the events organised
for the Network;
the amounts paid in salaries and fees
to directors and employees for each year.
From my letter of 13 September 2001:
his estimate of the period covered by
the list which he provided for the Committee [with the caveat
his estimate of the amount [with caveat
218. In reply to his request for the names of
witnesses to my enquiry I wrote: "You ask if I can provide
you with the names of witnesses who have provided me with information
that may be at variance with yours. As I am sure you will understand
I do not provide the names of any witnesses to others during an
enquiry. I would not give your name to other witnesses and likewise
I would not disclose the names of other witnesses."
219. On 27 September 2001 I wrote to Mr Vaz (Annex
ii66) answering the questions he had raised, explaining my procedure
with witnesses, and inviting him to include in his response to
me any information he wished.
220. On 27 September 2001 Mr Pathan wrote to
me thanking me (Annex ii67) for my letter of 13 September 2001,
which he suggested had crossed with his of 14 September 2001.
your letter of 10th July 2001
6. The company accountants have provided
me a copy of the published accounts,
which I enclose a copy for your information so that you can extract
the totals you require.
7. The information I was obtaining from the
landlords has been provided to you in my letter of 13th September
8. I am still trying to work out an estimate
by studying the published accounts, but as you appreciate this
is extremely difficult, and I doubt this can be done.
Re: Your letter of 10th September 2001
I have replied to this on the 14th September.
If you have not received this please let me know so that I can
send you copy of the letter.
I have never attended a meeting on behalf of the
company at Coleridge Gardens, around October 1988 or any other
He told me he was about to go on annual leave.
221. On 28 September 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to me
(see Annex i9). He reiterated his statement of 19 March 2000 that
"No donation was ever made by the Hinduja brothers".
He referred to the account of the Swami Vaswani event in his letter
of 26 March (see Annex i7), and rejected Mr Lansley's suggestion
that the payment by the Hinduja Foundation to Mapesbury Communications
undermined this denial of any such donations (see paragraph 16).
222. Mr Vaz reminded me of the evidence received
by the Committee and the evidence of the accountants that no payments
were made to him and ended "I can state categorically
that I am aware of no other 'transactions' [between himself
or Mapesbury Communications or Ms Fernandes and the Hinduja family
or Foundation] other than those referred to in this letter
and my other communications with you and the Committee".
223. On 1 October 2001 my office received back
my letter of 25 September 2001 to Mr Pathan with "No longer
at this address" written on the envelope. My office telephoned
him on his mobile number (having no other) and spoke to him. He
confirmed that the address was correct. My office offered to fax
the letter to him. He asked for it to be posted again, and my
office did so.
224. On 4 October 2001 Mr Pathan wrote thanking
me (Annex ii70) for my letter of 25 September 2001 which he said
he had that day received and which had crossed with his of 27
September 2001. He told me again that he was about to go on annual
leave. He said that he had answered questions about the list of
events organised by Mapesbury in his letter of 30 August. He said
that he had replied to the question about work for the Asian Business
Network in his letter of 30 August and repeated that the company
did not book the event in the Connaught Rooms on 23 June 1999,
nor was it involved in it and that he was unaware of any work
carried out for the Network. He said that he had answered the
questions in my letter of 13 September in his letter of 27 September.
225. On 8 October 2001 I wrote to Mr Pathan (Annex
ii71) thanking him for his letters of 14 and 27 September 2001
and for the information he had provided. I said I looked forward
to receiving his estimate for the total covered by the list or
to being informed in writing that he could not provide it.
226. On 11 October 2001 I replied to Mr Pathan's
letter of 4th October 2001 (Annex ii72), noting the points he
reiterated and explaining that it was for me rather than for witnesses,
such as himself, to make any necessary inquiries.
227. On 11 October 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes
(Annex i28). In this letter I reminded her:
that at our meeting
and by my letter of 10 July 2001 I had asked her to seek permission
from her clients to enable her to tell me of any legal work her
firm had done that was in any way connected with the Hinduja brothers
that at our meeting and by the same letter
I had asked her to obtain certain detailed information about the
history and activities of Mapesbury Communications;
that certain information requested by
me in my letter of 14 May 2001 was still outstanding;
that on 14 September I had written asking
certain additional questions.
228. I told her which of my questions to Mr Pathan
remained unanswered and what letters I had written to him reminding
him of them. Finally I listed the questions to which I still required
229. On 12 October 2001 Mr Pathan wrote to me
(Annex ii74) expressing his disappointment that I felt he had
provided only "some" information about the company
and expressing regret that I had felt it necessary to write again
to Ms Fernandes. He said that he had already answered all my questions
(though he set out the answers again) but had delayed going on
leave to go through them again. He said that he had that day spoken
to the accountant who confirmed that there was no stay to the
winding up process. He ended by reiterating that it was not only
he who had said no payments had been made to Mr Vaz but the accountants
230. On 13 October 2001 Ms Fernandes wrote to
me (Annex ii75). She:
about the way I had conducted the meeting in July, with particular
reference to the tape, the way I had dealt with her request for
deletions from the record, and my questions about her law practice;
declined on the grounds of her duty of
confidentiality to approach any clients who might be connected
with the Hindujas for permission to reveal their names to me;
declined to furnish information about
the legal proceedings in which she was engaged on the grounds
that in the past communications had been leaked;
said that she had referred my request
for additional information about Mapesbury Communications Limited
to Mr Pathan.
231. Ms Fernandes copied this letter to the Chairman
of the Committee under cover of a letter of the same date (Annex
ii76), criticising the way I had conducted the inquiry.
232. On 17 October 2001 I acknowledged Ms Fernandes's
letter of 13 October 2001.
233. On 19 October 2001 I wrote to Mr Vaz (Annex
ii78) putting to him information I had received, and asking him
a number of questions about:
the Into Leadership
Conference held for the Asian Business Network at the New Connaught
Rooms on 23 June 2001, his involvement in it, and the role played
by Mr Pathan;
the extent of his involvement with the
Asian Business Network;
a former member of his parliamentary
staff who had been an employee of Mapesbury Communications Limited;
his family relationship with the firm
of Wildberry printers.
234. On 22 October 2001 the Chairman of the Committee
wrote to Ms Fernandes saying that I was independent in my conduct
of investigations and declining to give any blanket assurance
that the Committee would accede to requests for deletions from
the transcript of our meeting.
235. On 22 October 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to the Chairman
of the Committee (Annex ii80), about my procedures and sources
236. On 22 October 2001 (Annex ii79) Mr Vaz wrote
to me asking me to forward Mrs Williams's consent to his providing
me with her file and asking about the people who had provided
me with information.
237. On 24 October 2001 the Chairman replied
to Mr Vaz (Annex ii81), explaining the circumstances in which
journalists may contribute information to my inquiries and expressing
the hope that Mr Vaz would be able to respond promptly to my outstanding
238. On 24 October Mr Vaz telephoned me. He said
that he could not provide me with any information in response
to Mrs Williams's information without her written consent as he
might subsequently be sued by her or her husband.
239. On 29 October 2001 I wrote, by recorded
delivery (Annex ii82), to Mr David Golding at the Coleridge House
address telling him that I had been told that: "at some time
during the period August 1998 to January 2000" he was assisting
the Asian Business Network, and that he had collected mail from
a rented office in Coleridge House and had used it as an office
address, and asking him:
whether he visited
or had visited Coleridge House to pick up mail or to attend meetings;
what is or was the purpose of any such
meetings or contacts;
if he had or had had an office in Coleridge
House (and if so when) and which organisations were connected
with his office there;
if he was connected in any way with the
Asian Business Network and if so what was the nature and purpose
of this connection;
if he had ever had any contact with Wildberry
printers and if so of what kind and for what purpose;
if he was or had been connected in any
way with Mapesbury Communications or had knowledge of the company;
what contacts he had had with Mr Keith
Vaz, MP, Ms Maria Fernandes his wife, Mr Mohammed Pathan, Mrs
Sally Williams or Mrs Rita Gresty or any other person connected
with Mr Vaz in any way and what was the purpose of any such contacts.
240. Having received no response I wrote again
on 12 November 2001 via registered post. No reply was received.
241. On 30 October 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to the Chairman
of the Committee (Annex ii83).
242. On 31 October Mr Vaz telephoned my office
to say he was redrafting the consent form I had supplied for Mrs
Williams and drew attention to an inaccuracy in the attribution
of information in my letter of 19 October 2001, for which I apologised.
243. Mr Vaz wrote to me on 3 November 2001 (Annex
vi16). He corrected what I had written in that letter, namely,
that Mrs Gresty had told me of his involvement with the Into Leadership
Conference. He was right to do so; I had by mistake named the
wrong person, as the information came from Mrs Williams not Mrs
Gresty. I immediately apologised for the error and provided him
with a corrected copy of the letter. Nonetheless, the substance
of the suggestion, that Mr Vaz's involvement with the Conference
was deeper than the information supplied by Ms Fernandes or Mr
Pathan had indicated, remained.
244. In the same letter, Mr Vaz:
asked me for
the statement Mrs Williams had made to me;
sought more detail about my information
about the Into Leadership Conference;
agreed that Mr Pathan had been involved
in organising the Conference, but not on his behalf;
said that Coleridge House was the office
of the Asian Business Network which had organised the Conference
and that he had probably been there once;
said that he knew two people called David
Barnes and two David Goldings;
said that the information on 192.com
about the address of the Asian Business Network was inaccurate
and commented that '70a' had been written on by hand;
reiterated his Register entries as to
his relationship with the Asian Business Network;
said that the Black Caucus had asked
the House authorities for a room and staff access in the Palace
said that he had agreed to allow access
to his office for the conference (presumablythe Into Leadership
Conference ) 'organisers' as long as they had their own telephone
and paid their own bills and services and that this had been cleared
with the House authorities on a number of occasions;
said that Ms Coco's name was not on the
[current] Register of Members' staff held in the Oriel room but
that from recollection she had been a part-time overseas intern;
confirmed that Paul Townsend was his
245. Mr Vaz wrote to me on 12 November 2001 (Annex
ii85), and asked me to forward Mrs Williams's "consent to
the publication of her file".
246. On 12 November Mr Vaz wrote to the Chairman
of the Committee thanking him for a meeting they had just had
and saying he had let me have all the answers I required on 3
November, with the exception of one outstanding matter.
247. Mr Vaz telephoned me on 15 November (Annex
ii85A); the discussion centred on the question of Mrs Williams'
248. I replied to Mr Vaz on 15 November 2001
(Annex ii86). In my letter I:
said that the
consent form I had supplied for Mrs Williams was sufficient for
supplied him with the website 192.com
print-out showing the Asian Business Network at the Teignmouth
sent him the list of staff showing Ms
further explained my procedures.
249. Mr Vaz wrote to me on 18 November 2001 (Annex
told me he had
no dispute with Mrs Williams and sent me his file on her, which
ran to 147 pages;
criticised again the inaccuracy of my
reference to the Into Leadership Conference;
confirmed (by reference) that Mr Pathan
had booked the venue for the Into Leadership Conference;
agreed that he had spoken to many people
involved in the conference as he had been chairing it;
explained that Mrs Williams's task on
the day of the Conference had been to "sit on the late
registration desk. This involved the collecting and filing of
cheques and recording the names of people who paid on the day";
said that Mrs Williams would have constructed
her own contact list which was not necessarily accurate, and denied
that Mr Pathan was his "director of events";
commented again on the issue of the 'BT
thanked me for the extract from the list
of staff but said that the dates of issue and return of a pass
were not necessarily the dates on which it was used.
250. On 21 November I wrote to Mr Vaz, returning
Mrs Williams' file which did not appear to be relevant to my inquiry.
89 HC (2000-01) 314. Back
This interest was first registered on 18 July 1994. Back
See paragraph 87. Back
I noted in my memorandum of 17 January 2001 (HC 314 (2000-01)),
Annex 1, paragraph 100, footnote 27 that it is not clear to what
this phrase refers since the only enclosure with Mr Vaz's letter
was a copy of the calendar itself. Back
HC 314 (2000-01), Annex 1, paragraph 337. Back
Ibid paragraph 338. Back
HC (2000-01) 314, Appendix 32. Back
HC (2000-01) 314. Back
Ibid, paragraph 57. Back
Ibid paragraph 58. Back
HC314 (2000-01), Annex 18. Back
Ibid Annex 19. Back
HC (2000-01) 314, Annex 1, paragraph 313. Back
See paragraphs 64-68. Back
Figure derived from accounts of subsequent year. Back
HC (2000-01) 314, Annex 39. Back
Ibid Q809. Back
Mr Vaz's emphasis. Back
Which I never received. Back
See Annex 15. Back
This should have read 1998 but since Mr Pathan replied "I
have never attended a meeting on behalf of the company at Coleridge
Gardens around October 1988 or at any other date", (see Annex
ii67) this error is immaterial. Back
Which I had already obtained. Back
When the material arrived in my office '70a' appeared too faint
to photocopy well, so I myself overwrote it. Back