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

Annex 1

Letter to Ms Eileen Eggington

from David Price, Solicitors


We act for Maria Fernandes.

On 3 June The Mail on Sunday published an article entitled "Vaz's aide's passport dossier" with the subtitle "Mrs Vaz 'helped fraud charge banker'". Much of the information contained in the article appears to have come from you. The article suggests that you supplied the newspaper with a copy of the statement that you had apparently prepared for the Filkin Inquiry.

As you must be aware, a solicitor owes a duty of confidence to his or her clients. Employees of a solicitor owe a similar duty of confidence to the clients and to the solicitor employer. This duty continues after the termination of their employment. Where the employee or ex-employee passes the information to a third party, such as yourself, the duty of confidence is imposed on the third party. In other words, you owe a duty to our client and her clients to keep confidential material supplied to you by Mrs Gresty. You will appreciate that our client is concerned that you have been passing such confidential information to a national newspaper for publication. She is also concerned that you have supplied them with material that is defamatory of her knowing that it was their intention to republish it.

We are not at present concerned about the propriety of you providing information to a parliamentary enquiry. However, we would stress that providing information to a national newspaper for publication is of a completely different order.

In the circumstances, please answer the following questions: —

1.  Did you supply the Mail on Sunday with a copy of the statement you gave to the Filkin inquiry?

2.  Did you give a copy of the statement that you took from Mrs Gresty either to her or her husband or her children? Please state who had a copy of the statement?

3.  Did the information in the Mail on Sunday accurately reflect the information that Mrs Gresty gave you? Please consider this in relation to the questions outlined below.

(i)  That Mrs Gresty was responsible for filing the accounting details from Mapesbury Communications.

(ii)  [This paragraph not supplied to the Committee.]

(iii)  That Maria Fernandes sent dozens of faxes and made numerous telephone calls to senior Immigration Officials to speed up the procedure.

(iv)  [This paragraph not supplied to the Committee.]

Further, please provide the following details: —

4.  Did you approach the Mail on Sunday or did they approach you?

5.  Did you or Mrs Gresty or any agents acting on your behalf receive any money or other benefit from the Mail on Sunday?

6.  We note the sad circumstances in which Mrs Gresty finds herself. You are quoted in the Mail on Sunday as stating that Mrs Gresty will make 'a very good witness'. If the information in the article accurately reflects information that she provided, much of it is factually incorrect. In view of her enduring mental health problems, please explain the basis of your assertion.

7.  In answering the Mail on Sunday's questions, did you request anonymity for Mrs Gresty.

The article suggests that you are or have been in possession of documentation emanating from our client's legal practice. Please let us know whether this is the case and if so, identify the documentation that you either have or have had.

We look forward to hearing from you within 7 days. In the meantime our client's rights are fully reserved.

11 June 2001

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