Examination of Witness (Questions 1 -
TUESDAY 13 JUNE 2000
1. Good morning, Mr Hall. Welcome is the wrong
word really for coming to this Committee but thank you for attending
and responding to our request to be here. Would you please introduce
your solicitor to the Committee?
(Mr Hall) Mr Chairman, with your permission
I would like to introduce my solicitor, Mr Gerald Shamash.
2. Thank you. Please stay seated, this is as
informal as we can make it. You are free to seek advice from Mr
Shamash but Mr Shamash can only himself speak if a question is
directed to him, so he cannot address the Committee; he can advise
you. Are you quite happy with that? Do you understand that?
(Mr Hall) Yes, thank you.
3. You know the background, clearly, to the
fact we had to call you here. The letter you wrote on 8 May to
Mr Kamal obviously caused great concern in this Committee. You
in effect threatened him with possible disciplinary and legal
action because of allegations he had made in his letter of 17
April to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, and Mr
Kamal is a witness to an investigation which she is carrying out,
and there will be some questions probably in relation to that.
I also want to make it clear that we are in no way here going
to discuss the Commissioner's investigation nor, I am sure, would
you want to. We are primarily concerned that a copy of a letter
which was a Committee document, which has a special status in
House of Commons' terms, fell into your hands and we would like
to probe a little as to how that may have happened. Of course,
as we have made clear in correspondence, it is regarded as a very
serious matter indeed if a witness has been threatened. Your solicitor
and you have provided information for which we are grateful. Your
solicitor has advised us you apologise unreservedly to us and
to the House for the contempt which has been committed and that
you undertake to refrain from any other further actions of this
kind. Would you please for the record confirm both these statements?
(Mr Hall) Yes, Mr Chairman, I am happy to confirm
that I unreservedly apologise for any contempt that may have been
committed and I undertake to refrain from committing any further
such actions in the future.
4. Thank you, that is helpful. We will go into
questions and, as I say, take your time, seek advice if you feel
you need it. I should advise you, because you are from outside
the House, to be fully aware of the rules that operate here, and
of course it is another contempt to in any way try to mislead
this Committee. Therefore it is in your interests to be as open
as you can because there is always the possibility that in the
course of our enquiries and the Commissioner's enquiries into
the case itself we may come across further information which throws
further light on this matter, so do not out of any false sense
of loyalty hold back in telling us the correct answers to questions
that you may be asked. If we go to the letter you wrote to Mr
Kamal on 8 Maydo you have copies of that?you stated
you were unaware that Mr Kamal was involved with the Commissioner's
investigation but in that letter you made it clear you understand
fully who Mrs Filkin is. You referred to her as the Parliamentary
Commissioner and "therefore responsible for investigating
the conduct of Members of Parliament." In his letter of 17
April, it is quite clear that Mr Kamal was answering questions
which had already been put to him by the Commissioner. How do
you reconcile these two facts?
(Mr Hall) Sorry, could you repeat the question please?
5. Yes. It is clear from the letter of which
you received a copy that Mr Kamal was replying to questions from
the Commissioner. You, in your letter, indicate that you were
unaware that he was involved in the Commissioner's investigation.
We find these two facts a little difficult to reconcile.
(Mr Hall) Mr Chairman, the letter that I wrote to
Mr Kamal was dated 8 May 2000 and the letter that Mr Kamal wrote
was dated 17 April. As I explained in my letter to the Commissioner,
I was not aware that the investigation was still continuing at
6. "Still continuing", so you realised
there was an investigation?
(Mr Hall) As you have said, there was a letter written
by Mr Kamal in response to the Commissioner dated 17 April, but
the allegations by Mr Kamal were ones which I did not think were
ones which could be substantiated unless there was any follow-up
work which needed to be done and I was not aware of that either.
7. Your solicitor stated on your behalf, having
I assume taken full advice from you as to the circumstances, that,
"my client in writing the letter of 8 May to Mr Kamal had
absolutely no knowledge that Mr Kamal was a witness in proceedings
before the House."
(Mr Hall) I did not know, Mr Chairman, that the Committee
were involved in the investigation in any way. Had I known that,
I would obviously not have written to Mr Kamal at all, I would
instead have sought this Committee's advice on how to proceed
8. Whose advice?
(Mr Hall) This Committee's.
9. Which Committee is that? Which Committee
are you referring to? This Committee?
(Mr Hall) Sorry, the Commissioner.
10. In your letter to Mr Kamaland may
I tell you, because I do not want to lead you into giving an answer
and then bouncing information on you, we have had a letter, or
we have had information, and this comes from more than one source,
that at no time has the letter been brought as an agenda item
either to the executive committee or to the full CLPyou
said, "It has been agreed that I, as the CLP Chair, should
respond to this matter on the CLP's behalf." With whom was
(Mr Hall) This decision was taken by myself in conjunction
with the secretary and the treasurer of the Leicester East Constituency
11. The secretary and treasurer, so that is
another person who is now aware of it. Was there anyone else involved?
Did you seek further advice? Did you seek advice outside the local
(Mr Hall) No. No advice was sought.
12. None whatsoever?
(Mr Hall) No, I did not feel it was appropriate at
that time because, as I said, I did not know there was a parliamentary
investigation taking place, and I felt the letter was so contentious
that I did not want too many people to become aware of its contents
at that time.
13. That is understandable. I understand that
since you wrote to us you have now supplied the Commissioner with
further copies of this letter which have arrived from other sources.
Where did these come from?
(Mr Hall) The first letter came anonymously in the
postwell, it was not in the post because it did not have
a post mark. The second one had a post mark and I sent that directly
to the Commissioner. I have also advised that there are other
recipients of that letter, mainly among colleagues of Mr Kamal
and indeed Mr Thomas at Leicester City Council.
14. Does there seem to be any identifiable category
of people who have received the letter? Are they members of your
(Mr Hall) Apart from myself, all the recipients of
the letter that I am aware of are members of Leicester City Council.
15. They are councillors?
(Mr Hall) Yes.
16. But no covering letter to indicate origin?
(Mr Hall) No, but I do understand that one of the
recipients actually received his copy directly from Mr Kamal himself.
17. Received it from Mr Kamal?
(Mr Hall) Mr Chairman, I understand also that the
Commissioner is aware that that person, Mr Clair, did receive
the letter in that way because he wrote to her informing her of
18. Do you confirm that, Mrs Filkin?
(Ms Filkin) If it is Councillor Singh Clair that you
are referring to Is that the person you are referring to?
(Mr Hall) Yes, Mr Piara Singh Clair of 9 Jellicoe
Road, Leicester, wrote to the Commissioner on 22 May.
(Ms Filkin) Yes, he did, and Mr Kamal has confirmed
that to me.
19. You say when you received the letter there
was no post mark on it, are you saying it was hand-delivered rather
than through the post?
(Mr Hall) Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.