Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex ii7

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Keith Vaz MP

Thank you for your letter of 15th November 2001 following our conversation.

148  When we met after the Mail on Sunday article was published you asked for a "paragraph" on my response. Pauline Williams then saw you. You have not shown me a copy of the statement she has made. You told me that you have no documentation in your possession that you would like to put to me.

149  I am providing you with Pauline's file on your assurance that you regard the consent form that you drafted as sufficient. I prefer the one I sent you as it will cover all eventualities, however you said to me that Pauline was aware that information she gave you may be published and indeed co-operated with its publication in the Mail on Sunday.

150  I have no "disputes" as you suggest. As you will see from the file Pauline has thanked me several times for my help see especially the first three documents marked A, B and C. I have helped her with the following matters:

* * *

151  There are I am afraid a number of inaccuracies in your narrative marked "C". You accept that the first statement in paragraph one in inaccurate. As you now accept no such claim is made in Mrs Gresty's statement. My wife was invited in her own right. Husbands and wives in separate jobs get invited to the same thing. I am quite certain that both you and first Geoffrey and then Michael would have been invited to the same events but in different capacities.

152  In "C" para 2 you have already answered the question about who booked the venue see para 124.

153  In "C" para 3 Pauline has given you dates when she worked in the office I can confirm the end date, but as she came in frequently with personal problems (see her file) it is difficult to give you a precise start date. I would see Pauline at my surgery at appointments she booked for herself.

154  As I was Chairing the conference (see para 130) I would certainly have spoken to as many people involved in the event and motivated them to do a good job. I would obviously have wanted the day to be a success. I am not sure what point is being made here.

155  The information that I have is that Pauline asked to be involved in the conference at a Lionel Richie concert. I have been informed that her task for the day was to sit on the late registration desk. This involved the collecting and filing of cheques and recording the names of people who paid on the day. I understand that she said that she really enjoyed the experience. Pauline could not have performed this task while working in my Leicester Office as for the 4 hours she was there each day she was constantly on the telephone booking appointments (see "A" attached).

156  Pauline was able to make a number of useful contacts in my office. Those who volunteer in the offices of MPs usually go off and find other (paid) jobs. I have always wanted people who work for me in whatever capacity to feel that they have improved their skills. Pauline certainly has (see her letter from here marked "A" in the file and her profile in the Mail on Sunday).

157  I understand that the list you mentioned was prepared by her. Everyone would be encouraged to have their own contact list as the number of people they deal with is large and the turnover constant. I understand that Pauline's duties included ringing people up to ask what they did when she did not speak to the individuals she would get this information from others. Mr Pathan's mobile number would be listed as that is how he would be contacted. As you have gathered from your meeting Mr Pathan is a Muslim and most Muslims use the name Mohammed. He was not the "director of events" for me. I understand that some of the "titles" used did not represent the reality of the situation.

158  You kindly provided me with certain extracts which I have already commented on. You keep saying that the information you sent me is from the BT Website. It is not! I already told you paragraphs 76,126, 127, that this statement is inaccurate and I offered you an explanation. Further it is clear from what you have sent me that the words "70a" have been written in by hand though you do not say who has done so. is a separate company which gathers information from a variety of sources. Even if it is inaccurate it is not altered until someone writes in to correct it which has now happened. This inaccuracy has persisted over the years. The extract from the website you sent me is dated 28th March 2001. I know of no connection between either myself or any organisation and this property that is remotely connected to this date. Incidently the same website lists you as owning four properties in four different parts of the country or they could be four different Elizabeth Filkins!

159  Thank you for sending me the extract from the Register of Staff. This of course relates to the dates of issue of a pass and the date returned not necessarily the dates that a person uses the pass.

160  As to your proposed timetable, 5 working days is insufficient to deal with any new matters.

161  Although of course I accept that by now according to the Ninth Report you have sent me notice of any discrepancies between me and witnesses I just do not want a repetition of the Peter Soulsby scenario where you interviewed him in March 2000 and then gave me his full statement in December 2000 and allowed me only 10 days over Christmas to go through a huge number of pieces of information dating back over a decade. If you could possibly bring this forward to late November or the first days of December this would be very helpful to Mr Bindman and myself.

162  I take it that you do not wish for any further comments from me concerning the Frances Gibb story in "The Times" about my relationship with your husband. My recollection of our conversation is somewhat different from yours about this matter.

I look forward to receiving your draft memorandum.

18 November 2001

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