Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex ii86

Letter to Mr Keith Vaz MP from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Thank you for your letter of 3 November 2001 which we received in this office on 12 November and the copy of your calendar for 2002. I have noted the contents of your letter carefully. Thank you also for the copy of your letter to me of 6 August 2001 which had not reached me previously. I note the copy of the letter to you from Brabners Solicitors concerning your contact with Mr XY. Since I commenced this reply I have also received your letter of 12 November and we have spoken on the telephone.

I am grateful to you for the information you have provided in your letter and have noted the matters where you say you will be providing a further response.

I now turn to matters which you raise on which I feel I should comment. The numbers refer to your paragraph numbers.

Your letter of 3 November 2001

107/108  I have provided you and your solicitor in writing with all the complaints which have been brought to me. Since it has taken a considerable time to establish the facts I have been obliged to collect information in relation to them all. This does not of course mean that I have decided that any complaints should be upheld.

112.   I have provided you with copies of the complaints from Miss Eggington and her statement.

115.   I have of course questioned Miss Eggington about your allegation that she telephoned your mother inappropriately.   

122/140   As I said on the telephone, I regard the consent form which I provided to you, signed by Mrs Williams, as sufficient for my purposes in this inquiry. A further form is not necessary for Mrs Williams and I do not regard some of the points you include in your redraft of a consent form as relevant to this inquiry. I will not therefore be sending your draft form to Mrs Williams. If you wish to respond to the information I have put to you which was provided to me by Mrs Williams please do so.

126.   I enclose the printout from the BT Website showing ABN's address as Teignmouth Road.

133.   I enclose the forms which you requested relating to Ms Coco.

142.  You ask me to provide you with a timetable for my report (memorandum) and I understand you are keen that this matter is concluded. I share your wish. I am therefore in the process of proceeding to draw up my report. I intend to provide you with the draft in December and allow you a week to provide your corrections and further comment.

Some items of information are still outstanding from various people and I will incorporate them as they arrive. I will then give you the complete draft report which will include all the items of information which I consider relevant. This will ensure you see in full all the information which I have thought relevant along with my analysis of it before I reach any conclusions on any matter. At that point you may wish to provide me with further information, comment or corrections which I will consider carefully and incorporate in my report where I am of the view that it is necessary. I shall of course append your full response to the report when I send it to the Committee so that they may scrutinise my views and decisions on the material.

123.   Finally I feel I must correct this point. You say I withhold information until after my draft report is published. This is not so. I have put the complaints with any supporting evidence to you on receipt of confirmation from complainants that they wish me to take matters forward. I have also put the information to you which I have collected after I have considered it and thought it relevant.

My draft report with all the information annexed to it is not published. It is shown in confidence only to the Member concerned. The draft does not contain any conclusions. My draft report is not shown to the Standards and Privileges Committee.

My report (the memorandum) is finalised and my conclusions are written after I have received the Member's corrections and comments and any other information he/she wishes to provide to me. When I send the completed report (memorandum) to the Committee I also append in full the Member's response to my draft.

The contents of my report are not published until the Committee agrees its own report and decides on a publication date. My report (memorandum) is appended to the Committee's report for publication. The Member is informed of the time and date of the publication by the Clerk to the Standards and Privileges Committee. The Member receives the published copy of the Committee's report one hour before it is released to the public.

Your letter raises a number of questions which we have already discussed at length over many months. I have made it clear throughout that you are most welcome to have a further meeting with me at any time to provide me with information to assist this inquiry. Please contact my office to arrange a time if you would find such a discussion helpful.

Your letter of 12 November 2001

I turn to the matters raised in your letter of 12 November 2001. You raise at 146 your letter of 6 August 2001. As you know I received this letter for the first time on 12 November 2001 as an attachment to your letter dated 3 November 2001. In my view I dealt with the points you raise some months ago as follows.

In my letter of 27 September 2001, responding to your question at 25, I explained that I had not received your letter of 6 August 2001 and I requested a copy. However, I answered your question as follows:

    "But to turn to your question. You may of course make whatever comment you wish on your employment by Richmond Council at the time when my husband was also Chief Executive but from our discussion I thought that we had agreed that this was an inaccurate and irrelevant story. Moreover, when we met you told me that you had not given this inaccurate information to the press and I accepted this.

    When I said you should consider dealing with the allegations raised in the media this was a general invitation to provide me with accurate information for the public record to set to rest matters raised in the media."

To repeat what I said on the telephone about documents provided to me which I have sent to you. You are welcome to give me any comment on them or none as you wish. I have set out in my letters the matters on which I wished to receive comprehensive answers from you. During this inquiry I have also stressed that if you wish to set any other matters straight, in regard to your obligations to Parliament under the Code of Conduct or Rules, which have been raised in any quarter you are welcome to do so in your responses to me. This invitation stands.

I would be grateful to receive any other information you wish me to consider as soon as possible. I shall contact you again to tell you the exact date on which I can give you the draft report.

15 November 2001

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