Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex i5

Letter to the then Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, from Ms Maria Fernandes

Thank you for your letter of 20th March 2001. I also refer to the letter from Mr Sandall. I understand that the information you have requested concerning the event on 6th July 1995 has already been supplied. I have no personal knowledge of this matter.

Can I reconfirm that two chartered accountants who have had conduct of these matters have stated that neither Mr Vaz or his office has received a benefit from this company. When we met on 15th February I did ask several times if there were any particular payment that caused the Committee concern. You asked specifically for details of any payments by Mr Zaiwalla and I swore an affidavit confirming that there were none.

The list I showed you, as I explained to you, was constructed without the benefit of invoices or papers, but based on the filed accounts of company's house, copies of which you and the committee have, my recollection and that of former staff members who were associated with it over the last 5 years. After taking legal advice, I consider it proper that client confidentiality be preserved. I intend to work with some of these clients again, and sadly as can be seen by the hounding of myself, and my family since the Committee published its Report the current climate does not dispose itself to anything remaining confidential.

The Committee's Report states that "there were no accounts". This is not correct. Accounts were filed at Companies House in accordance with statutory requirements. The company has always taken independent professional advice and acted upon it.

There are no additional papers which I or anyone else holds other than what has been sent to the Committee. I have reconfirmed this position. The issue of dissolution has only arisen because of the disproportionate amount of time I have spent on these matters, and a number of other factors some of which you are aware of. Any papers will be preserved, although of course you will appreciate that I cannot preserve what I do not have. On the issue of VAT payments I have asked the accountants to prepare a list of these and any information that has been sent to the VAT office.

This has been a very difficult period for me. I have assisted the Committee as best as I can , by attending as a witness, answering questions, and providing information. A quarter of the company's assets have been spent on professional advice to assist the inquiry. I have given the Committee all that is in my knowledge * * *.

May I finally summarise the position:

1.  Two chartered accountants have unequivocally certified that neither Mr Vaz nor his office has benefited from this company.
2.  The company filed its accounts in accordance with statutory requirements.
3.  The accounts were prepared on an annual basis.
4.  The receipts and invoices were not available. I agreed to show you a list prepared from my recollection, and that of former members of staff.
5.  The current inquiry is about Mr Lansley's complaint concerning the Hinduja Foundation. I have no personal information about this, any information has already been supplied.

If you have any specific information which casts doubt on any of the points raised above regarding this company, and, and I reiterate, I did ask this both at the evidence session and when we met, I would be happy to help if it is within my knowledge.

20 April 2001

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