Examination of Witness (Questions 40 -
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
KAPASI OBE DL MKD
40. Did he ask for any expenses or any other
cash or gifts or anything like that at any time?
(Mr Kapasi) No, he has never asked me for any expenses
or any other money.
41. You are an officer of the Dawoodi Community?
(Mr Kapasi) That is right. I am a trustee of it.
42. Could you tell me your relationship with
the community and their approach to you on the land that was required
for the building?
(Mr Kapasi) We have been trying to acquire a place
of worship since 1988. We had a mosque where we were given planning
permission in an area which was very racist. This particular mosque
was fire bombed four times in less than six months, so we were
forced to flee from that area and move into the city centre area.
At the moment we say our prayers in a former warehouse building
which is on the second and third floors of premises right in the
city centre surrounded by pubs, clubs, night clubs. You can see
that it is not a very conducive area for a place of worship to
be where our children could be trained in our religion and basic
philosophy of life surrounded by such organisations. We have been
fighting for a very long time for a proper place of worship, a
purpose built place in the city, and we got together with the
Hindu Swaminarayan Group and the Sikh Ramgarhia Board to develop
this site in Hamilton. Obviously we sought the help of Councillor
Sir Peter Soulsby who was the then Leader of the City Council,
who actually helped us in locating this site for a place of worship
where this really is for religious groups. We were allocated seven
and a half acres of land and this item was put in the Local Plan
so that we could have a place of worship there of some distinction,
because the Hindu Swaminarayan Group also had suffered the same
fate where their place of worship is right in the city centre
area surrounded by pubs, clubs and night clubs, no parking, no
proper amenities in the building, no access for the disabled,
and that is the reason why we got together, to achieve that.
43. Did Mr Vaz help you in proceeding with this
(Mr Kapasi) No. He has not given us any help at all.
44. Financial or otherwise?
(Mr Kapasi) No, not at all. I think the only other
person who has actually written a letter of support is Mr Jim
Marshall MP. He is the Member of Parliament for Leicester South.
Previously we have had help from Sir Derek Spencer, who was MP
for Leicester South prior to Mr Jim Marshall.
45. But over this period you had a number of
discussions or interviews or meetings with Mr Vaz. What were they
(Mr Kapasi) You see, in the earlyI cannot remember
the exact year, but around 1994/95 all the community groups got
together and wrote a letter which I signed requesting Mr Vaz not
to get involved in the local politics of the City Council.
46. Did you have discussions with Mr Vaz since
the Commissioner has started her inquiry at the early part of
(Mr Kapasi) You mean discussions?
47. About the inquiry that the Commissioner
(Mr Kapasi) Oh, since the Commissioner's letter?
(Mr Kapasi) No. In fact, I have met him onI
am trying to remember how many timesabout three or four
occasions but I have not discussed with him any of this at all.
49. You have never discussed these matters that
the Commissioner was raising with Mr Vaz and with you separately?
You have never discussed them together, never discussed with Mr
Vaz the questions that the Commissioner was putting to you and
to Mr Vaz? You have never discussed that with him?
(Mr Kapasi) No, not sincein fact, in the public
meeting where I met Mr Vaz, one was in September 2000 when he
attended the Asra Annual General Meeting, but we never discussed
this. Subsequently we met at the Leicester City Football Club
when E-commerce "3ees" Seminar was launched by Ms Patricia
Hewitt, when I met him the second time, and the third time I met
him was on the Indian Republic Day at the Indian High Commission
on 26 January which was last Friday, but I have not discussed
any of that with him.
50. You say you never paid him any money nor
expenses. Was any campaign contribution paid at all to the Labour
Party or to the organisation that was running the campaign?
(Mr Kapasi) No. I have personally never paid any money
to any political party or Mr Vaz because basically I am just a
non-partisan community worker. I have no affiliation to any political
party and I remain totally neutral seeking the help from Conservative
MPs, Mr Edward Garnier, previously Peter Bruinvels, Sir Derek
Spencer, Mr Jim Marshall, Ms Patricia Hewitt, Mr Keith Vaz, and
in fact the Liberal councillors in the area where I live, I always
referred to them on issues of cemeteries or any other problems
we had. I have never joined any political party or made donations
to any party. This can be verified if the Commissioner would like
by having an independent audit of my books and records, cheque
stubs, cash book, whatever, because I have personally taken the
trouble to check because this affair goes back quite a few years,
to make sure that no payments, bar the £52 donation to Sahara
Trust, have been made. I have made other donations to other charities,
including the Dawoodi Community charities, but not to any political
Chairman: Thank you. That is the end
of my opening questions which I will come back to again, but colleagues
will wish to come in at this stage.
51. You said in reply to the Chairman's question
that you had written to Mr Vaz asking him not to interfere with
local council politics. Why did you do that? In what way was he
interfering in local council politics?
(Mr Kapasi) I think we were approached by Sir Peter
Soulsby and his Deputy Leader, Councillor Bhupen Dave, at that
time, who actually summoned us to a meeting in the City Council
and explained to us that there was a lot of interference from
Mr Vaz in the local authority affairs and whether he could support
us in requesting Mr Vaz not to do that.
52. So there was not any particular event directly
connected with you or your community that was concerning you?
(Mr Kapasi) I cannot recollect them mentioning any
particular issues but I think there were a number of issues where
they felt that there was interference by Mr Vaz in council politics.
53. What work are you involved in?
(Mr Kapasi) By profession I am a qualified financial
accountant. I have my own practice. Previously I have been engaged
in manufacturing of garments with a company called Leicester Garments
54. Did I understand from the Chairman that
you are Lord Lieutenant?
Chairman: Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Leicester.
55. Which is a Royal appointment?
(Mr Kapasi) It is a very high honour.
56. So from a position which is one of considerable
statusvery few people have the honour you haveand
backed by the fact that your occupation is a financial accountant
of some standing, not only does anything you say but also anything
you say in a financial context bear very considerable weight,
does it not, more weight than if I said it as an individual? (Mr
Kapasi) It all depends on the circumstances, yes.
57. We will exercise our political inferiority
complex and say that I would value your financial judgment rather
more highly than I would value mine. However, what puzzles me
is that you are in a double position of integrity: you are in
an honourable position of integrity and you are in an occupation
that demands considerable integrity. Why on earth did you come
to say to the journalists what you said to the journalists?
(Mr Kapasi) If I can explain to you
58. Please do, and take your time.
(Mr Kapasi) The background to this interview, which
is in Annex 158 at page 468 and then carries on to 469 and 470,
the extracts from the tape-recorded interview with The Sunday
Times, is that on 11 May I was working in my office late trying
to finish my work and suddenly I had a call, because nobody was
in the office except myself. I had only had a call from my wife
saying "Could you be here at 7 pm because dinner is waiting
for you and otherwise it is going to get cold." These two
intruders come in, asking me -well, telling methat they
are from The Sunday Times "and we would like you to
be interviewed on Mr Keith Vaz." My immediate response was
"I do not wish to get involved and I do not wish to be interviewed".
My immediate response to seeing this on 469 is that these transcripts
are not complete. Also, whether only the relevant facts have been
taken out to compile this. It is a fact, because all I was trying
to do was trying to do my work and suddenly I had this intrusion
and a lot of questions put to me. The reason why I allowed them
into my office, my second office, was that when they told me they
have got evidence against me and that they are aware of the correspondence
which I have had with the Commissioner. The second thing that
happens is "Well, look, okay, you are not prepared to be
interviewed, we will do this off the record and we will not take
any notes at all." If I had the opportunity of requesting
the Commissioner to actually let us hear this now because this
statement I have made every effort to remember is that Mr David
Leppard stated categorically that "This conversation is off
the record. We are not taking any notes at all". So what
I did was to tell him a story. I know that it sounds awful and
I am totally embarrassed by what I told him, and not realising
the consequences then of the story, because I was considering
doing my work when I told him what actually he wanted to hear.
He had an agenda of coming to see me, he was very well-briefed
by whoever and he was fully aware of what is going on. Then the
conversation goes on, followed by another conversation the next
day. There again, having told him a total story and being put
in a very embarrassing position to rectify, if you look at page
471, page 4, and just before (B), I asked him a question "Are
you going to do a story on this ... ?" and that is, actually,
when I realised that I am in serious trouble. So I immediately
tried to retract my position by stating I would deny this anyway
and that I do not wish to get involvedwhich I told him
at the beginning when he came to see me. What happens, if you
look towards the end of page 4, is that the call ends because
Mr Leppard soon found out that I was retracting the whole story
and that it will have no meaning to what I told him before.
59. Mr Kapasi, I can understand you were put
in an embarrassing position and having to rectify, but did you
not think you were putting Mr Vaz in am embarrassing position
by saying what you said?
(Mr Kapasi) Yes, I am, but the question is