Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex vi5

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Graeme Peene

Thank you for your letter of 3rd May 2001 the contents of which have been noted and I would advise as follows:

Mr VAZ should have had no involvement whatsoever with the Russian Butter criminal investigation. The investigation was highly confidential, there was a suspected Russian Mafia/Irish connection also of interest to HM Customs & Excise, and as a consequence the investigation had been kept within a very limited circle within the Intervention Board Anti Fraud Unit.

At the time of Mr VAZ writing to myself only one visit/enquiry had been made in connection with the Russian Butter investigation, the premises visited were those of M Ltd, and my colleague and I spoke to the Export Director. The officer who accompanied me was Mr F, Intervention Board, Research & Intelligence Section, Reading. Mr F would hold the papers in relation to the investigation.

The following chronology of events are important:

    ·  The letter received from Mr VAZ was dated 14th April 1999 less than two weeks after the initial visit had been made to the premises of M Ltd.

    ·  The visit to Mr VAZ's Surgery took place on 17th April 1999.

    ·  The Companies House searches were made on 21st April 1999 (See print date on Companies House Direct Extracts).

It is my understanding that Mr S is a Director, or was connected with M Ltd. Given the confidential manner in which the investigation was being conducted it can only be concluded that the Export Director must have spoken with Mr S or one of the other of Officers of the company.

Mr S is a Director of Skillshare Africa appointed on 30th May 1992. Mr VAZ was a Director of Skillshare Africa—resigned on 13th July 1992. I can only surmise that Mr S contacted Mr VAZ after the initial visit to the premises of M Ltd and requested him to make enquiries on his/their behalf.

The other Companies House Direct extracts were included because it was thought they might assist you in the course of your enquiries in relation to other matters you may be investigating.

The approach made by Mr VAZ was reported to my immediate line manager former Senior Investigation Officer David Webb, and the former Head of the Anti Fraud Unit, Mr James Hutchison, and the reason why the Companies House Direct Searches were carried out on 21st April 1999.

It would now appear that the Intervention Board Senior Management are now denying having any knowledge of the approach. This is in line with other events occurring at the Intervention Board where matters are being denied, suppressed, covered up, and one of the reasons for my taking the matter out of their hands to ensure that in this instance the appropriate action is taken.

I am sorry I have no further information.

9 May 2001

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