Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Preliminary observations of Mr Keith Vaz MP

in response to draft memorandum of

the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

delivered to him on 30 November 2001


R1. Because the current investigation by the Commissioner followed immediately after the Committee's report on the earlier investigation (Third Report of the session 2000-1 published on 9 March 2001) and is closely linked to it, I begin with some comments on the earlier report and the conduct of the previous investigation. There were many unsatisfactory and unfair aspects of the earlier investigation which I detail below. Although no misconduct was established against me in that investigation save in respect of one minor matter, the outcome was to cause irreparable damage to my reputation.

R2. Sadly, the draft memorandum in the present investigation is deeply flawed and I fear that without thorough and robust examination and action by the new Committee, the injustice done to me as result of the earlier investigation will be repeated in the current one.

R3. I therefore invite the Committee, many of whose members were not parties to the earlier report, to pay careful attention to the that report and in particular to read the correspondence in volume II which documents the account which follows in paras. R4 to R25.

The previous investigation and the Committee's report of 9 March 2001

R4.The previous investigation commenced with a complaint by Mr A J Milne on 4 and 8 February 2000 about alleged unregistered payments to me by Mr Sarosh Zaiwalla. It was apparently followed by a complaint by Mr Paul Gosling on 29 February 2000 that I had inaccurately registered a donation of £5000 from a company called Control Securities Ltd by describing the company as "Control Ltd" and had misdescribed the purpose of the donation.

R5. In para. 1 on p.vii of its Report the Committee states that it has considered the Commissioner's memoranda relating to these two complaints. It does not refer to any other complaints. Nor had the Commissioner (at least until 7 June 2000) notified me of any other complaints made by any identified complainants.

R6. In the course of the next three months the Commissioner asked me questions relating to two complaints all of which I answered to the best of my ability. Apparently without specific complaints but on the basis of newspaper articles by hostile journalists and others information volunteered to the Commissioner by political opponents within my own party and other a series of further allegations came within the purview of her investigation. I refer for example to the Commissioner's letter of 14 March 2000 (Annex 18 to Appendix 1 on p.xxxiii of volume II of the Third Report). Again I attempted to answer the many questions which she put I felt that the scale of the investigation was exceeding all reasonable bounds. At that point I instructed Geoffrey Bindman to represent me. My main concern was that an investigation which seemed to be getting out of hand should be brought back under control so all the allegations could be clearly identified and properly disposed of with the minimum of further delay.

R7. Mr Bindman wrote to the Commissioner on 25 May asking her to clarify what complaints were being investigated. At that time only the Milne complaint had been clearly identified as such. Mr Bindman examined the evidence which had been disclosed in relation to that complaint and submitted that there was no credible evidence in support of Mr Milne's allegations and accordingly that his complaint should be dismissed.

R8. The Commissioner replied on 7 June and for the first time identified the complaints she said she was investigating though without identifying the complainants and without indicating what violation if any of the Code or the Rules the complaints were directed at. In that same letter she confirmed that I had been helpful in discussing matters with her and in providing written replies and information. She also confirmed that I had already responded to all the allegations save one outstanding point which she acknowledged had now been resolved.

R9. At this stage it seemed that the investigation could be rapidly concluded. My solicitor wrote to the Commissioner on 15 June: "It appears that all that remains is for you to put to him (i.e. me) any substantial evidence which is at variance with his account ... I hope that any such evidence can now been communicated so that your report can then be drafted without delay." In relation to several of the allegations there appeared no reason why they could not be disposed of there and then because there was no sufficient evidence to support them.

R10. However, on 21 June the Commissioner wrote to say that it was not for her but for the Committee to decide whether a complaint should or should not be upheld. (This was contradicted by her subsequent actions: see para. R18 below). She also said that she still awaited evidence from "key witnesses " without which she could not complete her enquiry. There was not the slightest suggestion of non-co-operation or delay on my part or that of my solicitor. Quite the contrary.

R11. On 29 June the Commissioner submitted a long list of questions which purported to be "the substantial evidence which was at variance with (my) account." The questions did not identify that evidence. Several of the questions had no obvious relevance to any contentious issue and seemed almost random. Mr Bindman spelled out these concerns in details in his letter of 5 July including the failure of the Commissioner to provide particulars of the evidence which I was required to meet. Nevertheless his letters set out the best answers to the questions which I could give in the circumstances.

R12. On 11 July the Commissioner submitted a list of follow-up questions. Again these were answered notwithstanding doubts about the purpose and relevance of many of them. On 3 and 22 August my solicitor again attempted to persuade the Commissioner to reach a conclusion. The Commissioner responded with a series of further questions in letters of 3, 12 and 19 October. On 26 October she wrote to say that "since some witnesses have seriously delayed their replies to me, it may be that I will need to add further questions in due course." There was no suggestion by the Commissioner that I had delayed my replies. I was not responsible for the conduct of any witnesses, with whom I had scrupulously avoided any contact.

R13. Among the questions in the several October letters were many which had no bearing on any of the 23 complaints listed in the Commissioner's letter of 7 June. For example, no complaint was alleged about the office and residential properties owned by me in Leicester, or indeed anywhere else; nor was there any reference to Mapesbury Communications Limited, a company which I discussed with Sir Gordon Downey and the Registrar at a time when I thought I might have a registrable interest but with which I subsequently ceased to have any connection, either as a director shareholder or beneficiary.

R14. While objecting on my behalf in his letter of 2 November to the manner in which this interrogation was being conducted, once again Mr Bindman on my behalf sought to provide answers on my behalf to outstanding questions. Once again, inexplicably, the Commissioner remained unsatisfied and put a series of further wide-ranging and often general questions in a letter of 27 November.

R15. The enquiry had by this time being going on for 10 months. It placed a huge burden on my time when I was trying to carry out my Ministerial as well as my constituency duties and caused considerable stress to me and my family. The Commissioner seemed unwilling to reach a conclusion. Although in her account of her investigation process (Ninth Report of 1999-2000) she denies in paragraph 3 that Members are required to prove a negative or prove their innocence, I felt that is precisely what I was being asked to prove. I wanted the Committee to consider the matter and to tell me if it wished me to answer any further questions. My solicitor made it clear in his letters of 4 and 7 December (annexes 53 and 55 in vol. II of the previous report) that I would be happy to answer any questions the Committee wished me to answer.

R16. In response the Commissioner could have asked the Committee to require me to answer her further questions. In paragraph 10 of "the Investigation Process" (Ninth Report of 1999-2000) she refers to the powers of the Committee (to send for persons, papers and records) and the fact that the Committee had undertaken to use those powers to back up their inquiries should she need this. She chose not to call on these powers and merely informed me in a courteous letter to my solicitor of 11 December that, as I had long wished, she would draw up her draft memorandum to the Committee. The Committee could equally have decided of its own volition to require me to answer for the Commissioner's further questions. Instead it decided to conduct further inquiries itself.

R17. The Commissioner's voluminous draft memorandum was delivered to my solicitor on 20 December. He and I were given nine working days to respond. (We were given five working days to respond to the current draft memorandum). The draft contained a mass of material which had never previously been disclosed to me, including, for example a lengthy transcript of an interview given to the Commissioner by Sir Peter Soulsby on 23 March 2000 (annex 117 on pages cxxix to cxxxv of vol II of the Committee's previous report). This and other newly disclosed documents contained a number of defamatory allegations against me, my mother and others who had been given no opportunity to respond to the allegations. My request that these allegations be omitted from the published report fell on deaf ears, with the result that these allegations appeared in print protected by privilege. Most of my other objections to the draft memorandum were rejected by the Commissioner and it was submitted to the Committee virtually unchanged from the draft.

R18. It is also worthy of note that the Commissioner's memorandum referred not to 23 complaints as set out in her letter of 7 June, but to 18 complaints including the two she added after 7 June (see para. R13 above). Although she had claimed (see para. R10 above) that only the Committee could decide whether or not to uphold a complaint she dropped 7 complaints without explanation or even mention.

R19. In paragraph 2 of its report the Committee said rightly that the inquiry had taken far too long. It went on to say that "if Mr Vaz and other witnesses ... had answered her questions fully and promptly, the Commissioner would have been able to complete her report in a much shorter time." The Committee does not apportion responsibility between me and other witnesses and appears to exonerate the Commissioner from any responsibility for delay. I suggest that a fair reading of the correspondence demonstrates that far from delaying or obstructing the investigation my concern and that of my solicitor was to bring it to an end as quickly as possible. The accusation of delay and obstruction led to a media storm which has done me immense personal damage. While theoretically I could have sued several newspapers for libel, and seriously contemplated doing so, the cost in time and money made it a wholly impracticable proposition.

R20.The Commissioner in para. 387 [now 397] of the present draft memorandum refers to the Committee's statement in para. 2 of its previous report and alleges that I have again failed to answer her questions fully and promptly. I entirely reject this criticism. She accuses me of being "less helpful" but she relates this only to the chairman's request for information as to payments by the Hindujas (as to which see para. R34 below) and to information concerning Mapesbury which was not in my possession or available to me.

R21. In paragraph 3 of its report the Committee ignores the fact that I had put myself at the disposal of the Committee and made it clear that I would answer any questions on their direction, including the Commissioner's questions. (see para. R16 above). It was therefore inaccurate and unfair to claim, as did almost every newspaper and broadcasting organisation, that I prevented the Commissioner from completing her inquiries satisfactorily into eight complaints. In any event the Committee was able to do this by continuing the investigation itself.

R22. In paragraphs 4 and 5 of its report the Committee deprecates the failure of some witnesses to provide information. I do not take this criticism to apply to me though clearly the media have unfairly done so because the Committee has not as elsewhere distinguished my position from that of other witnesses.

R23. In paragraph 65 and 66 the Committee appears to endorse the Commissioner's criticism of me and to conclude that I failed to comply with my duty of accountability. For the reasons given in para. R21 above I believe this conclusion is wrong.

R24. In paragraph 67 the Committee recognises that Members facing a complaint (or in my case some 25 complaints) may wish to seek legal advice. It expresses a preference for Members communicating with the Committee directly. I have accordingly complied with this preference throughout the present inquiry. I would add only that the Committee's criticism of witnesses engaging solicitors in paragraph 72 was plainly not directed at me—indeed my solicitor was described as "courteous and efficient"—though the media have widely interpreted it as if it were.

R25. Although the Committee upheld only one of some 25 allegations against me, the manner in which the investigation was conducted by the Commissioner, and her unjustified criticisms which to some extent the Committee endorsed, led to a media storm which it was impossible to counter and which has caused me irreparable damage.

My concerns about the conduct of the present investigation

R26. I have examined the previous investigation in some detail because I am naturally anxious that its mistakes and injustices should not be repeated in the present investigation. Unfortunately there are strong indications in the Commissioner's new draft memorandum that this is exactly what will happen unless the Committee acts decisively to prevent it.

R27. I am particularly concerned that the draft memorandum contains serious allegations against my wife, Maria Fernandes, a solicitor who conducts her practice entirely independently of me. (Necessarily, because I am not now a solicitor). I regard the Commissioner's attempt to make my wife a party to the complaints against me as wholly inappropriate and outside her powers. Indeed the Commissioner acknowledges that her remit does not extend to Members' spouses in para. 71 of her draft memorandum. While it is of course true that a Member may benefit from this spouse's contribution to the family income from her professional activities, I have never heard it suggested that a Member is required to register his spouse's interests.

R28. The draft memorandum also contains throughout a large number of insulting and highly damaging allegations against me of 'obfuscation', evasiveness, answering questions 'precisely' but not fully, and perhaps worst of all, misleading the Commissioner and the Committee. The Commissioner has set out the latter allegations in a separate section (paras. 728 to 735[now 744 to 751]). The Commissioner must know that the media will seize on these allegations and, unless they are removed, they will again do irreparable harm to my reputation even though the Commissioner has herself concluded that all or virtually all the complaints are not substantiated or at worst are of a trivial nature. I can refute all these allegations and must be allowed to do so before any question of publication arises. I provide a preliminary response to these allegations in para. R56 below.

The Commissioner's failure to comply with her own procedures

R29. In several respects the Commissioner has failed in the current investigation to comply with the procedures which she herself laid down in her paper "the Investigation Process" which was endorsed by the Committee by publishing it in its Ninth Report of 1999-2000.

(a)  she has never informed me that the allegations which she is investigating have such substance as would merit further inquiry (para. 2 of the "the Investigation Process"). Indeed it was only when I received the draft memorandum that I was plainly informed, in para. 2 of that document, what complaints I was required to answer. The Commissioner appears to have taken the view that any complaint concerning me requires investigation, notwithstanding her assertion that many complaints are not pursued. It would have been especially appropriate to reject the law centre complaint when it was made by Mr Robathan in April 2001, because it was nearly 14 years old, and it is accepted by the Commissioner to be the practice not to investigate complaints more than 7 years old (see para. 456 [now 468]of the draft memorandum);

(b)  in no case concerning me has she concluded the matter in accordance with para. 5 of "the Investigating Process", although in several cases she had received a satisfactory explanation (e.g. Mapesbury, General Mediterranean Holdings, Lord Paul) which made any further investigation unnecessary;

(c)  she has failed in every case to follow the practice set out under para. 8. She has not informed me of "evidence which is at variance with what the Member has said, and which I feel might have weight". Indeed the draft memorandum and its appendices contain a mass of material which had never been put to me. If it is not thought by the Commissioner to be "at variance with what the Member has said" and which she feels "has weight", it should not be there. Yet on the other hand, she has not told me it is at a variance with what I have said. And of course to present me with such material and give me only 5 days to respond is absurd and plainly contrary to natural justice.

Summary response to specific complaints

R30. I now give a summary response to each of the allegations so that the Commissioner may reconsider her draft memorandum before the Committee gives it detailed consideration. I deal first, in paras, R31 to R55, with the substance of the allegations of breach of the Code or Rules against me as set out by the Commissioner in para. 2 of the draft memorandum. I then go on to deal in para. R56 with the allegations of "misleading" in paras. 728 to 735 [now 744 to 751]of the draft memorandum, and in para. 57 with delay.

a) (i)

R31. that Mr Vaz had received registrable benefits, both in cash and in kind, from the Hinduja brothers (or the Hinduja Foundation) which he had failed to register, and that by not disclosing these matters when asked during the previous inquiry whether he had any financial interests to declare, Mr Vaz had misled both me and the Committee.

R32. Andrew Lansley MP drew attention to a payment by the Hinduja Foundation to Mapesbury Communications, a limited company, in July 1995 of £1196.10. Mr Lansley rightly suggests that my statement to the Commissioner that no donation had been received from the Hinduja brothers would be inaccurate if I benefited from this payment. I did not. It was not a donation. As I believe has now become abundantly clear, the payment solely reimbursed costs incurred for a lecture by a visiting Swami and contained no element or profit payment in respect of my time. The Commissioner states that she has seen no evidence to suggest otherwise (para. 68 of her draft memorandum).

R33. Under this same heading the Commissioner considers allegations made to her by Mrs Gresty, a former employee of my wife in her legal practice. I refer to the "credibility" of Mrs Gresty below at R56(h)(iii). The Commissioner has rightly pointed out that her remit does not extend to Members' spouses (para. 71 of her draft memorandum) yet she has chosen to interrogate my wife about her professional relationships with clients. I deplore the manner in which she has done so and the inclusion of criticisms of my wife in a potentially privileged document.

R34. As a specialist in immigration law, my wife is consulted by members of the Asian community among others. In fact it does not appear that she was instructed by any of the Hinduja brothers, who have confirmed that she did not receive instructions from them, or the Hinduja Foundation but by other members of the family. However, I must make it clear again that I do not discuss my wife's clients with her. Obviously I did not understand the Chairman's question in his letter of 20 March 2001 to relate to professional fees (I would be astonished to learn that he intended to do so). I reject categorically the assertion in paragraph 84 that I made inaccurate statements to Mr Sheldon. In any event plainly fees received by my wife in her professional capacity are not payments to me or registrable by me. In passing may I point out that this yet another example of the Commissioner's propensity for concealing relevant evidence from me when asking questions. She had received a document from Vyan Gresty dated 15 February 2001 claiming that his wife had seen documentation in my wife's office relating to "a Mrs ***". (annex ii5B to the draft memorandum). This was never put to me until I saw it after 30 November 2001.

R35. The Commissioner has rightly rejected the other allegations made by Mr Gresty which are referred to in para. 78 of her draft memorandum.


R36. that Mr Vaz had received registrable benefits through Mapesbury Communications Limited, a publishing company established by him in 1995, and that on the basis of information which had come to light since the publication of the Committee's report in March 2001, his denial of having received such benefits was inaccurate and misleading.

R37. As to Mapesbury, there is no evidence whatsoever to dispute the clear evidence I have given consistently throughout both inquiries that I have never had any involvement with this company, although I was instrumental in establishing it, apart from the matters in which I consulted Sir Gordon Downey. I acted on his advice. I recently confirmed this advice with him (see personal letter from Sir Gordon dated 27 September 2001 annexed to this response). I received no benefit from the failed calendar enterprise and I have received no other benefit from the company. The Commissioner appears grudgingly to accept this in para. 424 [now 436]. In para. 425 [now 437] the summary of the company's history is obviously correct and there is no evidence to contradict it. The allegation of "deliberate obfuscation" is nonsense and a wholly unjustified slur.


R38. that Mr Vaz failed to register a remunerated post with Leicester City Council.

R39. This complaint is misconceived because the post was not Leicester City Council but with the independent former Highfields Law Centre where I employed until elected as MP in June 1987. I have never been employed by Leicester City Council.

R40. The allegation was made by Sir Peter Soulsby in his evidence to the Commissioner on 23 March 2000 which she chose not to disclose to me until 20 December 2000. There was no suggestion by the Commissioner that she considered it worthy of investigation until it became the subject of a complaint by Andrew Robathan MP on 26 April 2001, almost 14 years after the event.

R41. I am frankly astonished that the Commissioner decided to pursue this complaint. After this length of time it has been impossible to ascertain the facts. I did not work at the law centre after my election and it was not my responsibility to advertise for a successor. I resigned on my election but payments were still made to me because I was owed holiday pay and flexitime. This surely must be the case with many new MPs. Is it not appropriate for the Commissioner, who recognises that complaints are not normally considered more than 7 years after the events to which they relate, to reflect on the value and purpose of such an investigation? The fact that had worked at the law centre was widely known in Leicester as was the fact of my election. Surely, after this lapse of time and in the absence of any clear evidence, the complaint cannot fairly be upheld.


R42. that Mr Vaz had registrable interests in various properties which he had failed to register and, more particularly, that when asked during the previous investigation whether he had any further property interests to register, gave an inaccurate and misleading answer.

R43. The Commissioner acknowledges that these allegations were not the subject of specific complaints and the basis of her investigation appears to be the claim that I had failed to give full and accurate answers to questions asked by her in the previous investigation. The basis of this claim appears to be that I declined to answer the Commissioner's wide ranging question on 19 October 2000 about properties owned by me. That question had no relevance to any complaint then being investigated by the Commissioner as she made clear by her statement that she was asking the question "for the sake of completeness". I declined to answer it not because I had or having anything to hide but because the Commissioner had been pursuing me with questions for nearly 10 months despite my solicitor's repeated efforts to persuade her to conclude the investigation. I had learned from bitter experience that every answer led to more questions. Is it seriously claimed that I was under an obligation to assist the Commissioner to extend her investigation into areas in which there was no complaint and no evidence whatsoever that I had done anything wrong? I deeply resent the suggestion that my courteous response could be characterised as inaccurate or misleading. In any event, I was invited by the Committee to confirm my property interests with the Registrar which I did.

R44. The Commissioner has accepted that apart from one matter already resolved in the previous investigation, I appear "to have fulfilled the registration requirements in relation to these properties according to the rules as they now stand and as they have been interpreted hitherto". I am grateful for this. I only wish that her account of this part of the investigation had not been accompanied by numerous slurs and criticisms, all of which I can refute.


R45. Complaint against Mr Vaz alleging that Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes had employed an illegal immigrant as a domestic servant and that Mr Vaz held her passport in his constituency office.

R46. I make two preliminary points. A complaint against my wife is, as the Commissioner has acknowledged (para. 71), not within the Commissioner's remit and no reference to it should appear in her draft memorandum. Secondly, while I accept that employing an illegal immigrant would be improper for a Member, the Commissioner has not explained what rule would be breached had I held a passport in my constituency office.

R47. The simple answer to this complaint is that (a) Ms Matin was not is not an illegal immigrant and (b) I did not employ her. These facts have been confirmed to the Commissioner in a letter from Coker Vis, Ms Matin's solicitors, dated 29 November 2001. This letter is included in the appendix to this response. This letter also confirms that I did not in fact hold Ms Matin's passport in my constituency office. Again I protest strongly at the personal slurs made against me (and my wife). I can and wish to refute several other factual misstatements by the Commissioner when I am given time to do so.


R48. that Mr Vaz had improperly sought information from a constituent, Mr G H Peene, about a criminal anti-fraud investigation Mr Peene was engaged in on behalf of the Intervention Branch Executive Agency relating to a company with which Mr Vaz had a connection and that Mr Vaz had failed to declare a relevant interest in the company during communications with a civil servant.

R49. I remain mystified by this complaint. I supplied the Commissioner with the complete file relating to my dealings with Mr Peene who consulted me as a constituent and with whom I was in contact only in that capacity. Mr Peene had asked me to assist him in connection with allegations he was making of corruption in the DTI, where he was formerly employed, and the Metropolitan Police. He wanted me to get a copy of the Atorney-General's guidelines on prosecutions. I tried to obtain these for him. The Commissioner told me that the file did not relate to the subject matter of the complaint and returned to me. (It remains available for the Committee should they wish to see it). She asked me a number of questions which I answered. I made it clear that I did not make the comment alleged and there is no truth in the claim that I have some connection with any company or investigation as alleged.

R50. I was aware that Mr Peene had been a civil servant in the DTI and he had informed me that he had retired or resigned. I was not aware that the Intervention Branch Executive Agency was a civil service body. I did not "seek to mislead". I cannot understand the statement by the Commissioner in para. 620 [now 635] that I have not been able to provide documentary evidence predating 17 April 1999 which supports my account. I cannot prove a negative. All I can say is that I did not do what Mr Peene alleges.

R51. It was only when I received the draft memorandum that I became aware of the basis for the suggestions that I had some connection with *** Limited, a company of which I had not heard when I was notified of this complaint. This appears in para. 588 [now 602] where the suggestion is made that I was a fellow director with a Mr *** (referred to in the earlier correspondence with the Commissioner as ***) of Skillshare Africa. My involvement with Skillshare Africa is fully explained in the letter (included in appendix to this response) from Mr Jack Bharier, Head of Support Service of Skillshare. It may well be true that there was an overlap of some 6 weeks in our directorships but I never knew Mr *** or recall ever having heard of him and Mr Bharier says that Mr *** has no recollection of ever meeting me. Obviously I had no knowledge of any connection of Mr *** with *** or any other company.


R52. that Mr Vaz had failed to register a remunerated directorship with a company, General Mediterranean Holdings, or with subsidiaries of that company.

R53. I explained clearly to the Commissioner that I accepted an offer of a non-executive directorship on or about 13 April 1999. I took steps to register this interest some two weeks later. I resigned on 17 May 1999 on being appointed a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Lord Chancellor's Department. I informed the Registrar of my resignation and he decided to remove my entry. I received no remuneration from this company or any other registrable benefit. There is no evidence to contradict these clear facts, except some vague and unsubstantiated assertions by Mr Sackville and Mr Kennady neither of whom was a director. The chairman of the company has confirmed that no payment was made or benefit provided to me and the Company Secretary has confirmed that a statement that I was a director in a brochure referring to 1998 was a mistake.


R54. that Mr Vaz had failed to register a donation to him of £3000 by Lord Paul (or by a company owned by Lord Paul) in 1993.

R55. It is undisputed that Lord Paul, through his company Caparo, made two donations to me in1993 and 1995 for computer and electronic equipment. Evidently I should have registered all his donations in the name of his company, though, as the Commissioner has accepted (para. 697 [now 713]), there is no evidence that I had any intention to mislead when I ascribed one to Lord Paul personally. The total of the two donations was registered in 1995. It remains the case, as I said in my letter of 28 September 2001 to the Commissioner, that if there was an unreasonable delay in registering the first payment, I cannot now explain it after this length of time. I would respectfully suggest that any fault was cured by the fact that registration did take place in 1995.

My comments on other allegation

R56. I now turn to the matters referred to in part V of the draft memorandum.

(a) para. 728 [now 744]. I have responded to these complaints and I do not know in what respect it is alleged that I may have misled "us". While I absolutely deny that I have misled either the Commissioner or the Committee in relation to any of these complaints, I cannot respond further without particulars of the allegations. Unless they are forthcoming this damaging allegation should be withdrawn.

(b) para. 729 [now 745]. I refer to para. R43 above. I declined to answer questions which were not the subject of or relevant to any investigation or complaint. It would be an abuse of language to regard this as misleading. As the Commissioner has found, I have complied with my duty to register properties owned by me. This allegation should also be withdrawn.

(c) para. 730 [now 746]. I have dealt with both these allegations in paras. R53 and R55. The complaint in relation to General Mediterranean Holdings is baseless and at worst it could be said that there was delay in registering a donation from Lord Paul or his company. No one could be in any doubt that Lord Paul has supported my work generously as other donations from him have also been registered. In neither of the cases raised by the Commissioner is there any evidence that I misled anyone and this allegation too should be withdrawn.

(d) para. 731 [now 747]. I have dealt with this point in para. R34. I cannot accept that my proper ignorance of the clients of my wife's firm falsified my answer to questions about whether I or members of my family had received donations or benefits from the Hinduja family. It would be unreasonable to regard such questions as embracing fees for professional services, which were plainly not in my mind since I had no knowledge that there had been any, and which in any event could not be regarded as a registrable benefit to me. The view of the Commissioner that my answers were inaccurate and that I am at fault for not correcting them is at best pure pedantry. However, it must be obviously that I had no intention of misleading.

(e) para. 732 [now 748]. I have already expressed my concern at criticism of my wife and others who have been given no opportunity to respond to damaging allegations. I deny absolutely that I have misled anyone because I did not succeed in obtaining for the Commissioner information known only to third parties. That again would be an abuse of language.

(f) para. 733 [now 749]. I cannot comment on these allegations against my wife save to repeat my comment in the last paragraph. However, I will deal with these matters in my detailed response.

(g) para. 734 [now 750]. Again I can only suggest that it is quite inappropriate for criticisms to be made of Mr Pathan without giving him an opportunity to respond. However, I will deal with these matters in my detailed response.

(h) para. 735 [now 751]. If there are other examples of instances in which am being accused of giving inaccurate answers which are not spelled out in this paragraph, then I must be told what they are and given an opportunity to respond or the allegation must be withdrawn and removed from the report. As to the three points which are specified:

(i)  I have explained (R50) that when Mr Peene came to see me he had ceased to be a civil servant in the DTI. He consulted me about matters relating to his former employment there. I honestly believed he had ceased to be a civil servant and was not aware that he had joined another civil service department.

(ii)  I told the Commissioner that I believed Mrs Gresty was involved in an industrial tribunal case against my wife. I did not know how far the case had got. I have now been able to establish that Mrs Gresty, whom the Commissioner has described as a "persuasive" witness, (para. 426 [now 438] of draft memorandum) did in fact threaten an industrial tribunal case through solicitors. My wife has been able to supply me with documentary evidence of this without breaching professional confidentiality because of course she has no solicitor and client relationship with Mrs Gresty. (see correspondence included in appendix to this response). The annexed correspondence shows not only that Mrs Gresty threatened an industrial tribunal case against my wife but through her solicitor made blatant threats that such a case would damage my reputation including contract with a Mr Max Clifford, in order explicitly to intimidate my wife into making a financial settlement. I am sure the Commissioner will in the light of these documents wish to re-evaluate her view of the credibility of Mrs Gresty.

(iii)  It is surely self-evidence that a person's mental state may affect his or her credibility and is a relevant factor to be taken into account in evaluating it. Mr Gresty himself raised the matter of his wife's illness with the Commissioner in his note of 15 February 2001 (appendix ii5B to the draft memorandum) but does not identify the illness. Mrs Eggington makes constant reference to Mrs Gresty's mental illness.


R57. I refer to the comments made by the Commissioner in para. 11 of her draft memorandum. She does not refer to me in this paragraph and it is not clear to me whether she is accusing me of causing or contributing to the difficulty to which she alludes. Bearing in mind the media storm to which I was subjected during and following the previous investigation it is imperative that the Commissioner spells out clearly what allegations of "obstruction" she levels against me so that I have an opportunity of answering them. Already, in the Sunday Times of 16 December 2001 (see article included in appendix to this response) it has been claimed that I am criticised by the Commissioner "for failing to co-operate fully with the investigation". This is a lie which will be repeated and do me immense damage if I am not given a proper opportunity to respond to particularised allegations.

17 December 2001  Keith Vaz MP

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 8 February 2002