Examination of witnesses (Questions 980
TUESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2001
980. This letter of Davenport Lyons.
(Ms Fernandes) To be quite honest, I have not been
sure what the Committee has been after. I have had these four
questions, I have replied to them. I have then had the four questions
back, and I have replied to them. If somebody could tell me what
it is you are looking for, I would be happy to provide that information.
For the first time today I think it is Mr Williams has opened
it up, and I am happy to provide information where I can.
981. How quickly do you think you could get
that information to the Committee?
(Ms Fernandes) How quickly would you like it?
982. As quickly as possible.
(Ms Fernandes) Days. I mean, I could get on with it
when I leave this room today.
Shona McIsaac: That would be very helpful,
983. May I ask one quick question that puzzles
me. I sit and agonise over my tax declaration, this wretched thing
we now have to fill in. How does a company satisfy the Revenue,
without having audited accounts?
(Ms Fernandes) I do not know what To be quite
honest, I do not know what you are getting at.
984. What does the Revenue accept from you,
if you do not have audited accounts, in order to judge the tax
liability of the firmnot you personally now, the company?
I am quite happy if your solicitorif you do not mind, Chairmanwould
like to answer on that.
(Ms Fernandes) Can I answer that. The Act itself provides
for an exemption of small companiesI think the word is
"small" companiesfrom being audited, and this
is a small company. It is not required to be audited. I rely on
my accountants, and that is where I place my trust, as far as
my tax and financial affairs are concerned. I was advised by my
accountants, and still am, that it is a small company, that accounts
do not need to be audited. I do not know why I would want to audit
them if I do not need to, because auditing is a very expensive
process. (Ms Fernandes conferred with Mr Conway)
985. I think she is getting some advice. I am
sorry, your solicitor was advising you, so we were told.
(Mr Conway) Forgive me, I was just asking something
which might have helped clarify this.
(Ms Fernandes) It is just that is what I was advised,
and I acted on the advice.
986. So you had accounts; it is just that they
are not normally audited accounts?
(Ms Fernandes) Yes.
987. I have one question on the assets of the
company. In simple terms, does Mapesbury provide anything of advantage
to Keith Vaz?
(Ms Fernandes) It does not.
988. Does Mapesbury have a vehicle?
(Ms Fernandes) Yes, it does.
989. A car?
(Ms Fernandes) Yes. That belongs to Mrs Vaz, the secretary.
It belongs to the company.
990. It is for her use?
(Ms Fernandes) Yes, it is for her use.
991. I have a question on the calendar that
was referred to and which the Commissioner held in her hand. Can
I confirm, your company is in no way connected with its production?
(Ms Fernandes) Not with that calendar.
992. In no way connected?
(Ms Fernandes) With the big one.
993. Only the big one. That was produced by
(Ms Fernandes) Yes.
994. Secondly, are you therefore saying that
your company is in no way connected with Mr Vaz at all?
(Ms Fernandes) Yes.
Mr Campbell-Savours: Thank you very much.
995. Thank you very much, Ms Fernandes, for
coming along today.
(Ms Fernandes) Thank you very much. Just before I
go, I want to make absolutely sure that we have got the information
written down that we are going to need to present.
996. We can put this information in precise
terms in a letter that we can send you, if that is convenient.
(Ms Fernandes) That would be very helpful. In order
to speed things up, that will help, I could get started on it.
997. We will want an answer very quickly indeed,
because we are ready to proceed immediately.
(Mr Conway) May I address the Committee again. Forgive
me, it was either Mr Williams or Mr Bottomley explained what he
wanted, and as I was taking a note it went through my mind that
actually what they are asking for is evidence of every single
payment that has gone into the company and every single payment
that has gone out of the company, to show that Keith Vaz was not
(Mrs Filkin) That is correct.
(Mr Conway) Therefore, what you are asking for is
every single piece of paper that has been generated relating to
income and expenditure of this company for a period of eight years
(because that is what the original letter indicated), and that
is why we simply thought it was very broad. That is a huge undertaking.
(Ms Fernandes) I understood something else, actually.
Mr Campbell-Savours: Could Mr Bottomley
repeat his question and the Clerk take it down?
Mr Bottomley: I think it is better
I do not mind the Clerk taking it down.
Mr Campbell-Savours: You did ask a question.
998. Quite so. The letter from the Clerk should
not necessarily be in these words, because you cannot really draft
it in front of a committee. The essential point, assuming it is
not possible to produce detailed accounts easily and willingly,
is to know what happened when the company was the vehicle for
Mr Keith Vaz, in so far as the company is able to provide that
information, because my understanding is that Mr Keith Vaz said,
"Apply to the company." That is roughly what I call
the pre-1996/97, the calender type of period, and the possibility
of other outside evidence.
(Ms Fernandes) Yes, that I understood.
999. I interrupt myself by saying we have heard
from the witness saying that that was Mr Mahmoud and his possible
garage, and that it is probably impossible to achieve, and anyway
the calendar business stopped because it was not successful, so
there was probably no benefit, but it will not help in showing
whether particular payments in relation to either of the calendars
were necessarily received by a printer, or by Mapesbury or by
anybody else. It may be that that dribbles away into an ocean
of nothingness. The second question is whether the company has
done things which may have been either receiving payments in some
way linked to Mr Keith Vazpayments from other people.
(Ms Fernandes) What do you mean "in some way
linked to" Mr Vaz? You see, that is the problem. What you
are asking for is, were any payments made for the benefit of Keith
Vaz since 1996?
Mr Bottomley: "For the benefit"
is a slightly stronger way of putting it than what I had in mind.
Chairman: Could you be fairly precise
in your question here, without getting into any expansion of this?
1000. The precise questions are, could any payments
have been received by Mapesbury, directly or indirectly, that
had come from people in some association with Keith Vaz, other
than Maria Fernandes with her own writing in particular; could
those have been received for the benefit of Mapesbury, directly
or indirectly, number one? Number two, has Mapesbury done anything
which is for the direct or indirect benefit of Mr Keith Vaz since
the time when he stopped being active in relation to the company?
Those seem to me to be the three issues: the pre-1996, the period
of the calendars, if you like, post-1996 could Mapesbury have
received money, directly or indirectly, and has it done anything
for the benefit of Mr Keith Vaz, directly or indirectly?
(Mr Conway) What you are really looking for are documents
showing how the income of the company has been achieved.