Letter to Claire Ward MP from the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards
You may be aware from press reports that I am
investigating complaints that Mr Vaz has received payments or
benefits which he has not registered.
I am informed that you were appointed to serve
on a Labour Party enquiry into concerns in the labour Party in
Leicestershire and that you heard detailed complaints from members,
some of which concerned Mr Vaz.
I would like to invite you to see me to give
me full details of the information you collected concerning Mr
Vaz and the conclusions reached by the panel. I would also wish
to see your records of that enquiry as they relate to Mr Vaz.
I am sure I do not need to remind you but for
completeness I should say that the House of Commons has conferred
upon the Select Committee by Standing Order the power to send
for persons, papers and records, and that the Committee reserves
the right to use those powers in furtherance of its own inquiries
or the Commissioner's if it should prove necessary to do so.
In conclusion, I should point out to you (as
is my practice with all witnesses) that evidence supplied for
the purposes of this inquiry, and any related correspondence,
is covered by Parliamentary privilege and remains confidential
unless and until it is published by the Select Committee on Standards
and Privileges to whom I shall report. If such evidence or correspondence
were published or divulged to a third party without the express
authority of the Select Committee it would not be covered by Parliamentary
privilege, and this would also be likely to exclude reliance on
any privilege which it would otherwise attract at common law.
Moreover, such an unauthorised disclosure would be likely to constitute
a contempt of the House. Any attempt to obstruct my inquiry by
any means could also be treated as a contempt.
I look forward to hearing from you.
20 March 2000