Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex ii58

Letter to Ms Maria Fernandes from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

Thank you for your letter of 4th September 2001 and the suggested corrections to the transcript of our discussion on 4 July 2001, pages 15, 16, 17, 26, 40, 41 and 42.

First I will deal with the matters which you raise in the sequence of your letter:

1.  As I said when we met I do not wish to jeopardise the proceedings you are undertaking in any way. As I do not know anything of those proceedings other than hearing from you that they are in progress I would be grateful if you would let me know which matters covered in the transcript might be subject to those proceedings. Please would inform me when the proceedings are complete.

2.  I am happy to confirm that you and Mr Pathan visited my office following your offer to assist me. My remark at the meeting was in reply to Mr Pathan's question to confirm that his attendance at the meeting was entirely voluntary. I phrased my reply in that way because as you may recall I had said in my letters to you of 14 May and 12 June 2001 that you might prefer to discuss these matters with me in the first instance. I understood from your letter of 14 June that you had asked Mr Pathan to meet me to assist me.

3.  Thank you for informing me that your one brother-in-law is not a director of Wildberry.

I am afraid I do need to ask you for some further pieces of information to ensure I have an accurate picture to report to the Standards and Privileges Committee. I am sorry that I need to bother you in this way.

When we met I asked you for information about Mrs Mary Matin. I asked whether, through Mapesbury Communications or through your practice, you had helped Mrs Matin with her immigration issues.

Our exchange was as follows:

Ms Filkin:      "...Did you, through Mapesbury Communications or, indeed, through your practice, because then I will be able to clear it out of the way, help her with her immigration issues?"

Ms Fernandes:  "No."

Ms Filkin:      "So you have never done work for her?"

Ms Fernandes:  "No."

Ms Filkin:      "In any capacity. Thank you..."

I have subsequently received information that you did make a representation on Mrs Matin's behalf about her immigration status.

In the light of this information I would be grateful if you would explain this discrepancy.

You also answered my question about your expectations in relation to the winding up of Mapesbury Communications as follows -

Ms Filkin:      "...I understand you have taken the decision to wind up the company."

Ms Fernandes:   "I have."

Ms Filkin:     "Why did you do that and when was the company wound up? Has it been wound up yet?"

Ms Fernandes:  "It has not been completed."

Ms Filkin:      "No."

Ms Fernandes:  "The winding up has not been completed but it is very close to being completed."

Ms Filkin:      "Do you know when you expect to wind it up?"

Ms Fernandes:  "Within the next month or six weeks. The final stages of the closing accounts are currently being prepared and when that has been done then it will go through a formal process, I believe, of winding up. So it is very soon."

Ms Filkin:      "Do you want to say anything to me about why you have taken that decision?"

Ms Fernandes:  "The first thing is the company, to be quite honest, was not trading as such for a while."

Ms Filkin:      "I see."

Ms Fernandes:  "I was involved ---- I was more interested in my practice, to be quite honest. I did not know what was going on. Mr Mahmoud, in the middle ---- He died last year."

Ms Filkin:      "Yes, I know."

Ms Fernandes:  "There were changes happening. With this current publicity I did not feel that it could get itself back on its feet and it was best to dissolve it. And I am fed up with it, frankly speaking. It has taken up a huge amount of my time which is disproportionate to what it is, which is a small company..."

I am now informed that a stay has been placed on that winding up process. Please would you let me know why this has occurred, when it occurred, which creditor/s intervened, and for what reason? If you feel you should alter the information which you provided when we met perhaps you would do so.

I look forward to hearing from you on these two matters and thank you in advance for your further assistance.

10 September 2001

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