(vi) Complaint against Mr
Vaz alleging that, during a meeting with Mr G H Peene, an employee
of the Intervention Board, he failed to declare an interest when
dealing with a civil servant; and that he inappropriately inquired
about an investigation by the Intervention Board into the Russian
Butter Export Refund
626. The Code of Conduct requires Members of
"always draw attention
to any relevant interest in any proceeding of the House or its
Committees, or in any communications with Ministers, Government
Departments or Executive Agencies."
and it adds:
"In any activities
with, or on behalf of, an organisation with which a Member has
a financial relationship, including activities which may not be
a matter of public record such as informal meetings and functions,
he or she must always bear in mind the need to be open and frank
with Ministers, Members and officials."
627. Mr Peene and his wife attended Mr Vaz's
constituency office on 17 April 1999 in response to a letter from
Mr Vaz inviting Mr Peene to a meeting. Mr Peene had previously
consulted Mr Vaz, as his Member of Parliament, about some personal
628. According to Mr Peene, Mr Vaz asked him
about the Russian Butter Export Refund investigation at the M
company on which he was engaged. As this investigation was highly
confidential Mr Peene was concerned and withdrew from the meeting.
Mr Peene wrote a report on the meeting for his superiors at the
Intervention Board Anti-Fraud Unit.
629. Mr Peene alleged that Mr Vaz was connected
to a director of M as they had previously been directors of another
company, Skillshare Africa at the same time.
630. Mr Vaz denied that there was a 'meeting'
on 17 April 1999, saying it was a normal constituency surgery
following a routine letter to a constituent who had asked how
a case was progressing.
631. Mr Vaz said he only knew of the investigation
from the information given to him by Mr Peene or from correspondence
concerning Mr Peene's personal issues. This correspondence was
not apparent in the file provided by Mr Vaz.
632. Mr Vaz said that Mr Peene had ceased to
be a civil servant before 17 April 1999 and reiterated this view
in his letter of 3 November 2001.
633. Mr Peene responded in his letter of 16 October
2001 to my inquiries about his employment status by saying that
he was appalled that Mr Vaz had sought to mislead me by alleging
that he, Mr Peene, was no longer a civil servant on 17 April 1999.
He confirmed that he was still a serving civil servant. Mr Peene's
description is confirmed by his employers.
634. It appeared that Mr Vaz was seeking to undermine
Mr Peene's reliability as a witness by challenging his description
of his employment status as a civil servant.
635. I therefore have an account of a conversation
in Mr Vaz's constituency office from a constituent, Mr Peene,
which according to him is confirmed by his wifethe only
other person present apart from Mr Vaz. Mr Peene made a written
report of this conversation, at the time, and gave it to his superiors.
I also have Mr Vaz's account which is quite different. Mr Vaz
denies that he raised this investigation at the meeting and says
he only knew of it through Mr Peene. Mr Vaz has not been able
to provide any documentary information which predates 17 April
1999 which would support his account.