Letter to Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman
& Partners, Solicitors, from the Parliamentary Commissioner
I have received your letter of 5 July with enclosures
relating to Sir Peter Soulsby and have today received your fax
of 10 July.
In the light of your comments in both your letters
I repeat that the process in which I am engaged is a fact finding
investigation designed to enable me to make a full and accurate
report to the Standards and Privileges Committee. It is not a
judicial process nor an adversarial one.
As you are aware, Members have duties placed
on them by the Code of Conduct which is the framework within which
the Standards and Privileges Committee is required to judge the
conduct of a Member where a complaint is received.
The Code of Conduct places Members under obligations
in respect of their conduct. Members are required to be open and
accountable and thus are expected to provide me with accurate
and complete information so that I may make a fully informed report
to the Committee.
Members are also responsible for making a full
disclosure of their interests in the Register of Members' Interests.
The main purpose of the Register is "to provide information
of any pecuniary interest or other material benefit which a Member
receives which might reasonably be thought by others to influence
his or her actions, speeches or votes in Parliament, or actions
taken in his or her capacity as a Member of Parliament".
When a complaint is received it is my duty to
assess whether it has any substance and it is for the Member to
provide accurate information as part of this procedure. A refusal
to fully answer questions which have arisen from information received
during the course of an investigation is not appropriate nor is
it in a Member's own interest.
As the Committee said in their 5th Report 1999-2000,
published 16 February 2000,
"Members have a duty of accountability
under the Code of Conduct and "must submit themselves
to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office". The
Commissioner can only perform her duty, which is to investigate
complaints against Members thoroughly and impartially, if she
is in possession of a full and frank explanation of the relevant
circumstances. This may involve the disclosure in confidence to
the Commissioner of relevant details of a Member's personal and
financial arrangements which the Member in question would prefer
to remain private.
Members should not seek to mislead by keeping
information from the Commissioner on the ground that they do not
themselves consider the interest to which it relates to be registrable."
Having said that, I am pleased to have received
Mr Vaz's responses to some of my questions though I note several
are unanswered. I would be glad to receive his answers to the
others without delay and assure him again that they are all necessary
to complete my enquiry. In particular I require his answers to
Questions 7, 24, 26, 31, 45.
As I feared, to enable me to be clear about
the facts, I need to ask Mr Vaz some follow-up questions. These
questions are as follows, numbered as in my original list;
13. Please would Mr Vaz let me know the
purposes of the Trust, whether his mother-in-law is the sole signatory
on the Trust's accounts. If she is not the sole signatory, who
are the other signatories to all the Trust's accounts. I would
be grateful for sight of any documents relating to it.
15. Has Mr Vaz ever received payment or
support from the Dawoodi community organisation for any purpose
either personally or through Mrs Vaz senior? Has Mr Vaz been connected
with this organisation in any way, at any time?
43. Please would Mr Vaz let me have the
name and address of the Mr H Patel who made the donation for his
office costs which Mr Vaz registered.
I look forward to receiving the note of the
meeting and any additional information which Mr Vaz wishes to
I trust that the above allows Mr Vaz to deal
with my questions.
I have today received further information from
Mr Zaiwalla. He has provided extracts from his office cash books
showing payments to Mr Vaz:
January 1993 £250
September 1994 £200 to publishers Wildberry
for advertising in a calendar connected to Mr Vaz (recorded as
K Vaz Calendar).
Mr Vaz may wish to provide me with comment on
May I finally trouble you for one further piece
of information? Mr Vaz has three Register entries (31 January
1995, 31 March 1996 and 31 January 1997) which refer to "Annual
Calendars", from which income was used to support projects
in which Mr Vaz was involved. Could he please explain what Annual
Calendars was, how its income was generated, and who, apart from
Mr Zaiwalla, made donations to the cost of producing "Annual
Calendars". Mr Vaz's entry for 31 January 1999 refers to
a contribution from Mr A P Patel towards the cost of "constituency
calendars" for 1999. Could you please explain what these
calendars were, what Mr Vaz's personal involvement was with them
and how they differed, if at all, from "Annual Calendars"?
What was the purpose of the company called Mapesbury Communications
Ltd which Mr Vaz established in 1996 and can you please provide
me with the company's accounts for each year since its establishment?
What projects was the income from Mapesbury Communications Ltd
used to support?
In answer to your question about full copies
of information provided to me, as I have said, I will make sure
that Mr Vaz sees any relevant information which I am considering
putting to the Committee so that he may comment on it or challenge
it before I come to my conclusions or report to the Committee.
11 July 2000