Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex iii7

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


24 OCTOBER 2001


Mr Vaz telephoned in response to my telephone call. I had wished to clarify which documents he wanted from his registration file and to assure him that I was aware of his 28 April letter to the Registrar and would be referring to that in my report. I conveyed this to Mr Vaz.

Mr Vaz then had a lengthy conversation with me in which he repeated a number of times the same information. He said he had written to me this morning and that he would go through what he had written about. I said I had not received the letter as yet but nevertheless he appeared most agitated and concerned about some matters.

He continues to be under the impression that some journalists are working for me to assemble information and he says that a number of journalists have claimed that I have given them information about him. He says he has a record of this and from time to time said that he might well have to produce his records in Court. I said to him that he could be assured that no journalist was working on my behalf. I said I could not of course prevent journalists from improperly claiming that they have obtained information for me or that they were trying to obtain information to assist me but that this was not accurate and that he was welcome at any time to ring me to confirm this. I reminded him that he had my home telephone number.

Mr Vaz referred back to the earlier inquiry when he says that he rang my home on a Saturday evening and told me what some journalists said they were going to publish. Mr Vaz said that he had recalled that I had appeared concerned for him but that when he read my report he believed that I had known about this information at the time. I did not comment on this to Mr Vaz. (I do of course know about information from a variety of sources which I do not pass on to other people during an inquiry).

Mr Vaz became most agitated about the allegation which had been taken up by Mr Robathan from the information which Sir Peter Soulsby had provided to the last inquiry concerning the date at which he had left the Law Centre's employment. He said that Peter Soulsby should be asked to produce the letters which he claimed that he had on file. I explained to Mr Vaz that I had not thought this necessary as I had assumed that this was information which Mr Vaz could produce himself and that I did not want to go chasing information if I could obtain it directly from the Member of Parliament himself.

I said to Mr Vaz that I would of course look carefully at this suggestion in his letter and it might well be that I would now follow up his request and write to Sir Peter Soulsby for any information which he held about Mr Vaz's employment dates with the Law Centre.

Mr Vaz said he was not going to provide me with any information in response to Mrs Williams' information until he had Mrs Williams' written consent to give me "her file". I explained to Mr Vaz that I was not asking for anything relating to Mrs Williams personally, I just wanted his comments on the information Mrs Williams had given to me. He said he was unwilling to do this without Mrs Williams' written consent as he might be sued at any time in the future by her or by her husband if the marriage broke down.

Mr Vaz said he didn't need to ask me about Laura Coco as he has received that information.

Most of Mr Vaz's concern related to journalists contact with him or with his solicitor, Mr Bindman. Mr Vaz says that he has to pay Mr Bindman £*** per hour for any work that Mr Bindman does for him and if journalists ring Mr Bindman and Mr Bindman speaks to them he is required to pay Mr Bindman at £*** per hour.

I suggested to Mr Vaz that he instruct Mr Bindman not to reply to journalists. Mr Vaz said he could not do this because otherwise there would be articles published about him which were not true and he would have Court costs if they went to Court. Mr Vaz went on to say that Mr Hastings and Mr Syal of the Sunday Telegraph had said both to Mr Bindman and to his agent last weekend that they were acting on my behalf and he said that this was in line with the actions of Miss Eggington in telephoning his sick mother.

Mr Vaz said he was told by Mr Syal and Mr Hastings that they were acting on my behalf. I once again underlined to him that nobody acts on my behalf and that he should check it with me if anybody says that.

I also encouraged him to complain to me if these journalists had indeed purported to act on my behalf and I said that I would investigate it as vigorously as I had investigated his complaint that Miss Eggington had purported to act on my behalf. Mr Vaz believes that he is subject to a ever increasing circle whereby journalists print a story, I write to them for the information which supports what they have printed or they offer me their information and then they write another article about my request for the information. He said Betty Boothroyd's book shows that I give journalists information.

Mr Vaz also says he believes that they obtain this information from me. Nothing that I could say appeared to reassure him that this was inaccurate. Mr Vaz says he thinks these journalists believe that they are protected because they are responding to my request for assistance. I made it clear to Mr Vaz that I had never asked for general assistance but I had asked for documents or information to be provided to me when information is printed in newspapers. I said I believe that it is helpful to Members if I put such allegations to Members so that Members could reply to them correctly and repudiate untrue information with the facts.

Mr Vaz stressed that he had answered all my questions about a large number of matters and that he had done so even when he was still ill. He acknowledged that I had made it clear that I did not expect him to reply while he was ill but said that he had tried to be helpful and begun replying before he was fully better. He said he was very keen to get this matter concluded and I confirmed that I was also extremely keen to get the matter concluded.

Mr Vaz said he had been informed that I had reported to the Committee that he was delaying this inquiry. I said I had reported to the Committee about the progress of the inquiry.

I had to conclude the conversation because I was due at another meeting but invited Mr Vaz to telephone me again if he wished to continue with the conversation. He said that he did not because he had written to me and if got a reply to that letter he would be able to finalise his replies to me very shortly.

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