Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex IV22

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Chief Inspector K P Smith, Leicestershire Constabulary

I refer to the recent complaint made to me by Mr Vaz concerning an alleged telephone call made to his mother's home address in Leicester.

In accordance with your request I disclose the following information under Section 29 of the Data Protection Act 1998.

You will recall that, as a result of our conversation on Tuesday, 29th November, 2001, I received information to the effect that Miss Eggington and Mrs Gresty were potential witnesses in an enquiry relating to the activities of Mr Vaz and his wife, Mrs Fernandes.

In light of this new information I recontacted Mr Vaz on the morning of the 22nd November 2001. Mr Vaz and I had a telephone conversation concerning his mother. Mr Vaz informed me that his mother was still in hospital.

I then made some internal enquiries as to the feasibility of tracing calls into Mrs Vaz's house and at 10.30 am on the 23rd November, 2001, I again spoke to Mr Vaz over the telephone. I asked Mr Vaz for his mother's telephone subscriber details and asked him to seek consent from his mother in order to place a trace on the line for the dates in question.

Mr Vaz asked me for an explanation of what I was trying to achieve and went on to ask me if I had received any letters or telephone contact from yourself. I confirmed that I had. Mr Vaz became quite demonstrative and seemed audibly agitated. Mr Vaz asked why I had not tried to trace the calls at the point of first contact and I explained that this would normally require the consent of the subscriber and this had not been possible due to his mother's condition.

I explained that I had delayed pursuing his mother for a statement out of consideration for her condition but as it was clear that her illness may be long term I had to resort to the request being made through him.

Mr Vaz reiterated his mother's condition stating that he "did not think it was advisable to approach" his mother and he "did not want to waste any time for yourself".

When formally asked if he would seek consent from his mother he declined.

At one point in the conversation your role came up and Mr Vaz said that this case has "nothing to do with her" and stated that "she has no authority or remit".

Mr Vaz went on to say that this could get 'very messy' and involve the newspapers. He stated that I could end up "giving evidence at the High Court" to which I replied that I was quite willing to do so.

Many of the elements to the conversation were repeated and I continually reiterated that I had only called to seek the consent from his mother for the trace to occur.

Some speculation took place as to who may have made such a call and I terminated the call by reassuring Mr Vaz that he had made his position very clear.

At 1.35 pm, the same day I received an unsolicited phone call from Mr Vaz. On this occasion Mr Vaz appeared much calmer and we touched again on some elements of our previous conversation. He stated that he wished to view his contact with me as a separate issue to any parliamentary enquiry and he repeated that he would not seek consent from his mother for a trace to be effected.

Mr Vaz then claimed that his mother does not realise that he had reported this incident to the police. He went on to say that he had asked his sister to represent his mother. He proffered that I could write to his mother at her home address in Leicester and his sister would collect the mail and deal with her affairs.

Mr Vaz concluded the phone call by stating that I had been "very straight in the way that you have proceeded" and he was "happy in the way that you (the police) have handled it".

On the 22nd November 2001, I received information to the effect that Mrs Vaz had been discharged from hospital. On the same day Detective Inspector Worth and Detective Sergeant Elliott interviewed Miss Eggington and Mrs Gresty concerning the making of the phone calls to Mrs Vaz. Those officers would state that both denied the suggestion vehemently and fully co-operated with the officers, giving their consent for the Police to search data connected with their home, work and mobile phones.

Miss Eggington released written material to the officer which contextualises the allegation made by Mr Vaz.

Both Miss Eggington and Mrs Gresty provided witness statements to the Police Officers.

On the 5th December, 2001, Detective Inspector Worth attempted to make contact with Mrs Vaz by phone and on failing paged Mr Vaz to contact him. Mr Vaz telephoned the officer and again declined to facilitate contact with his mother stating that he was unhappy with the way the enquiry was being conducted. He formally asked the officer to pass his remarks to the Chief Constable which I have done.

The Leicestershire Constabulary are now in receipt of information to suggest that no calls were received by Mrs Vaz's home telephone on the 4th October, 2001, that could be attributed to either Miss Eggington and Mrs Gresty.

Today I have written to Mrs Vaz at her home address and have asked her to contact Detective Inspector Worth or myself in order to secure an interview to conclude these enquiries.

12 December 2001

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