Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex IV4

Letter to Ms Eileen Eggington QPM from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

I am sorry to write to you on a matter of concern.

Before coming to the specific issue I should perhaps first set out the parliamentary framework within which I operate. As I am sure you are aware any inquiry which I conduct, on behalf of the Standards and Privileges Committee, is a Parliamentary proceeding and any action which might obstruct such an inquiry in any way could be a contempt of Parliament. It would also be improper for any complainant or witness to contact other witnesses, potential witnesses or the media in relation to such an inquiry. Any information relevant to such an inquiry should be treated in the strictest confidence.

To turn to the subject of this letter.

I have received a letter from Mr Keith Vaz saying:

"I am writing to confirm that Eileen Eggington telephoned my mother in Leicester last Thursday [4 October] and asked her questions apparently on your behalf".

Mr Vaz also informs me that he has referred this telephone call to the police as he regards it as harassment.

I would be grateful if you would let me know the following so that I may decide whether I should take any action on this matter:

1.  Have you telephoned Mrs Vaz senior for any reason recently?

2.  If so, what was the purpose and content of the call and when did it take place?

3.  Did you imply in any way that you were acting on my behalf? If so, please explain this and if not please can you suggest any explanation for why Mrs Vaz senior might have interpreted any conversation this way?

Mr Vaz also tells me that you have given newspaper interviews about this matter and he raises the question as to whether you and/or Mrs Gresty have received payment from newspapers in relation to this inquiry.

4.  Please would you therefore let me know of any contact you have had with any of the media in relation to information related to this inquiry and whether you and/or Mrs Gresty have received payment from any newspaper for such information.

If you would prefer to discuss this matter in the first instance perhaps you would contact this office.

16 October 2001

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