Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex i6

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


26 MARCH 2001


Mr Vaz asked to see me at 6 p.m and we discussed his responses for approximately 1 ¼ hour.

Mr Vaz brought with him a letter which he had worked on over the weekend and which did cover many of the items raised in my letters and the Chairman's. In addition, Mr Vaz gave me the following information:

He had not been able to track down the volunteer who ran the Swami Vaswami event.

He was now clear that he was the co-sponsor of the event as he had thought. He himself had received no payments in any way connected to the Hindujas.

He had included in the letter the extract from the list which Maria Fernandes had shown to the Chairman.

His evidence to Hammond was in the items attached to the letter. He had not provided any other evidence other than could be seen from the Hammond report itself.

Mr Pathan was a volunteer in his Leicester office from 1989. He then became a paid assistant in his Leicester office paid through the Office Costs Account. Mr Vaz agreed that I may check this information with the Finance Office and he will provide the details in his fuller letter to me. He will also inform me when Mr Pathan took on Directorship of Mapesbury Communications. Mr Pathan resigned as a Director in January 2001. He was never paid for his work as a Director of Mapesbury Communications. Mr Vaz says the two tasks did not overlap in any way. The work that he did in the office was separate from any work that he did to assist the Mapesbury Communications company. Mr Vaz told me that Mr Pathan was a long-term family friend who had been both a volunteer and then a paid worker and he had been helpful, taking on the trouble of sorting out the Mapesbury Communications.

Sally Walker had indeed worked for him and was one of the many interns which Keith Vaz had in his office. Keith Vaz said he has had 65 interns working in his offices over the years. He could not explain why letters continued to go out with Sally Walker's name on them, but he did not think it was in any way sinister. He said he would not have known that letters were going out in that form. He said it was absolutely untrue that he gave more time to Asian constituents than white constituents. He said he allocated more time to constituents whose first language was not English because he needed a translator as he spoke no Asian languages.

I asked Mr Vaz if he would include in his letter the explanation of the handwritten note on the invoice which related to the reception which he told me he had written himself. He said he had asked Keith Bennett, his assistant, for information on what those administration costs covered. Those were suggestions from Keith Bennett, but he could not be sure that that is what they covered. I asked him what the column headed "Rates" consisted of as it looked like an hourly rate. He said he did not know. He thought that the administration cost item would relate to the catering costs for the event.

When we had come to the end of looking at his letter and my adding other items that I believed he ought to add, I explained again that was I was trying to do was to get a full picture of the events referred to and to give him as the Member the opportunity of clearing out of the way any matters which were raised maliciously or were untrue or where people had put two and two together and made five. Mr Vaz said that he had always answered my questions precisely. I said I was not arguing with that, but answering questions precisely was not the same as giving a full picture.

I suggested to Mr Vaz that he should carefully reply to all the points which Andrew Lansley had made. I particularly drew his attention to the allegations that he had misled me and the Committee and I said I felt he should deal with those. He said he thought that the way in which Andrew Lansley's letters were written, did not actually raise any complaints because it said "Mr Vaz may" and "Mr Vaz may have". I said that as far as I was concerned, the paragraphs made clear Mr Lansley's contentions and I thought that Mr Vaz should take the opportunity of replying to them. And I said that what I wanted to make sure that he was absolutely clear what those complaints were so that he could be under no illusion that he had dealt with all the points when he had not. Mr Vaz said he accepted this. Mr Vaz said he would go away and write a longer letter which did cover these other points and would include in them the information which he provided me in the meeting about the smaller points.

I also said to him that, as I had mentioned previously, he ought to take the opportunity if the wished, to clear out of the way the various rumours which were circulating in relation to payments into Mapesbury Communications which related in some way to the Hindujas. I said I had not got evidence of such payments to put to him, but I thought that he ought to consider whether he wanted to make a fuller statement in relation to transactions between the Hindujas and Mapesbury Communications or indeed between the Hindujas and Maria Fernandes. I ran through the list of rumours which I knew about, none of which appeared to surprise Mr Vaz, but I can not be sure that he had heard of them before. I said, for example, there were claims that the Hindujas had paid Ms Fernandes for help with immigration. I fully understood that that might have been in her capacity as a lawyer, but I thought he ought to be aware of that. I also told him that I had been told that some payments might have been made to enable the nanny of the Hindujas to be brought into this country and if that was the case, he might wish to deal with that. I made it clear that I was not in any way implying that any of those payments related to him personally or that they were registerable, but I said that I felt, since these matters was circulating, he might be best advised to set the records straight on all of them.

I said there had been various allegations about other events which Mapesbury Communications had organised for the Hindujas and whether the Hindujas had paid some money to Mapesbury Communications.

  [irrelevant personal information removed]

* * *

At the end of the meeting we agreed that Mr Vaz would go away and write a fuller letter which he would let me have as soon as possible. I undertook to deal with it as soon as I had received it.

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