Response from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman
& Partners, Solicitors, on behalf of Mr Keith Vaz MP to the
draft memorandum by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
1. Thank you for your letter of 20 December
2000 enclosing your draft memorandum together with a large bundle
of annexes. You have asked me to let you have Mr Vaz's corrections
of fact, additional information, and any further comments by 10
am on 8 January 2001.
2. Obviously this has put us under extreme
pressure in preparing our response over the holiday period. Allowing
for public holidays you have given us only nine days to digest
a mass of material which is sent to us for the first time. In
the time available it has been impossible to deal with every detail
and Mr Vaz may well wish to make additional comments to those
contained in this letter. For example, there are several errors
in your summaries in Appendix 2.
3. However, Mr Vaz and I find it very heartening
that you do not uphold any of the complaints made against him.
While he is not surprised at this outcome, having consistently
denied all the allegations which you have investigated, he is
4. He nevertheless has serious concerns
about the content of your draft, which contains serious errors
and omissions, and about unwarranted criticisms of his conduct
which may unfairly tarnish his reputation notwithstanding the
complete exoneration to which he is plainly entitled.
5. The commentary on the draft memorandum
which follows in section II deals with these matters in detail.
6. As you know, this is the first opportunity
given to Mr Vaz to respond to much of the material contained in
the annexes. I draw attention to the repeated requests for disclosure
of evidence adverse to him which have been made in correspondence
and which are only now complied with. To take one example, your
interview with Sir Peter Soulsby took place on 23 March and the
transcript was approved by him on 14 July, yet it was sent to
us only on 21 December.
7. I invite you to amend your draft memorandum
to take account of the points made in this response before submitting
it to the Committee.
8. Secondly, in section III, I raise the
issue of material which is potentially prejudicial to and sometimes
defamatory of third parties and of Mr Vaz, which is contained
in your report and the annexes to it yet is not relevant to the
resolution of any specific complaint. Third parties defamed or
referred to adversely in the draft memorandum or previously undisclosed
annexes include Mrs Merlyn Vaz, Amities Faro, Sir David Cokes,
Andrew Foster and Mr Vaz's sisters.
9. I submit that such material should be
removed from your memorandum so as to avoid harm. I deal with
this matter in more detail in section II of this letter but I
wish to stress now the importance of securing your prompt agreement
to remove the passages which will be identified below. In the
absence of such agreement Mr Vaz wishes to raise the matter with
the Committee before your memorandum is completed.
10. In section IV, I make some observations
about the manner in which your investigation has been conducted
and some proposals with a view to improving the procedure to be
adopted in subsequent cases. These have been prepared after consultation
with Mr Richard Drabble QC. Mr Vaz would like to have an opportunity
of discussing these matters with the Committee in due course.
II. FACTUAL CORRECTIONS,
(these follow the order adopted in your draft)
A. Complaints against Mr Vaz involving Mr
11. Mr Vaz and Mr Zaiwalla have denied from
the outset that any cash payments were ever made as alleged by
Mr Milne and both have maintained that position consistently.
(See, in relation to Mr Vaz, his letter of 7 February at annex
12. In paragraph 287 the word "initially"
in relation to Mr Zaiwalla and "almost" in relation
to Mr Vaz are inaccurate. In no case has either of them claimed
or accepted that any payments were made to Mr Vaz personally or
for his benefit. The issue of the calendar is dealt with in detail
below. The evidence of Mr Milne and Mr Brown is contradictory
and plainly unreliable and you have rightly rejected it. I invite
you to include in your memorandum specific recognition that you
do not regard them as witnesses of credit. Your statement in paragraph
70 that Mr Vaz initially declined your offer to comment on Mr
Brown's account is incorrect (see his letter of 16 February at
13. It is unfair to Mr Vaz and untrue to
say, as you do in paragraph 297, that the evidence of payments
to Mr Vaz is "inconclusive". The true position is that
there is no credible evidence of any such payments. Mr Zaiwalla
in his letter at annex 63 makes it clear that a thorough search
of his accounts going back to 1991 reveals no payments other than
those specifically examined in your report.
14. The final sentence of paragraph 297
inaccurately implies that Mr Vaz was aware of a cash withdrawal
of £1,000 which was intended as a donation to a charity nominated
by Mr Vaz. Mr Vaz has made it clear that he has no knowledge of
the withdrawal or payment though he accepts the explanation of
Mr Zaiwalla in paragraph 1(a) to (e) in his letter at annex 58
which of course does not claim that the persons who collected
the charitable donation had any connection with Mr Vaz. Mr Zaiwalla's
letter at annex 62 and cash book entry on the following page are
entirely consistent with his previous explanation. Mr Vaz is quite
properly in the habit of encouraging acquaintances to support
charities, as are other MPs. He said this to you in his letter
of 16 February. He has no recollection of the particular occasion
or charity more than six years ago and there is not the slightest
reason why he should have had any knowledge of the circumstances
of any payment which was not to him or for his benefit. Mr Zaiwalla's
letters and your summary of the position in paragraph 298 make
this perfectly clear.
15. For the above reasons your implied criticisms
of Mr Vaz in paragraphs 299 and 300 are unwarranted. It is not
correct to say that Mr Zaiwalla handed over cash to a person or
persons he assumed to be from Mr Vaz's office. It is quite plain
from his account in annex 58 and from the extracts from the transcript
of your interview with him in paragraph 61 of your draft memorandum
that he does not recall who they were but he was evidently satisfied
at the time that they came from the charity. The final sentence
in paragraph 301 is correct and sufficient to dispose of the matter.
16. Paragraphs 302 and 303 on the payments
for the two Gala dinners need no comment.
17. As to paragraph 305, Mr Vaz did not
"come close" to accepting that the payment of £250
in January 1993 was received by him or his office and the passage
you quote does not contradict or qualify his categorical denial
in the second paragraph of his letter of 7 February (annex 12)
that he had received cash payments of any kind from Mr Zaiwalla.
If it was indeed a payment for advertising in the calendar it
would not have been paid to Mr Vaz but to the publishing company
which was handling the advertising. The criticism of Mr Vaz in
paragraph 311 in unjustified. He did not recall the payment of
£250 in January 1993 which was not made to him and he had
no reason to be aware of it.
18. Paragraph 314 is equally unfair to Mr
Vaz in suggesting that acknowledgement that a payment might have
been made to a third party for advertising was inconsistent with
his denial of having received cash payments from Mr Zaiwalla.
In any case, as you accept in paragraph 316, Mr Vaz was entitled
to believe by virtue of his careful discussions with Sir Gordon
Downey and his colleagues Registrars Sands and Willoughby that
payments in respect of the calendar were not registrable benefits.
By the same token it is entirely natural and proper that he did
not consider the calendar when strongly refuting, as soon as it
was put to him, the allegation that he had received substantial
unregistered cash payments from Mr Zaiwalla.
19. Calendars are dealt with in more detail
20. The allegation that Mr Vaz intervened
on behalf of Mr Zaiwalla with the Inland Revenue has been properly
rejected and needs no further comment.
21. You have rightly rejected the claim
that Mr Vaz's recommendation of Mr Zaiwalla for an honour was
in any way improper. In view of the confidentiality of the honours
system you may wish to consider whether reference to the recommendation
should appear in your memorandum. Your account of the matter in
paragraphs 91 to 95 does not reflect Mr Vaz's legitimate concern
not to breach the confidentiality of the honours system which
led him to take up the matter with the Speaker, the Head of the
Honours Unit, and the Secretary to the Cabinet, Sir Richard Wilson,
a copy of whose letter is attached as Appendix 1 to this letter.
22. Paragraphs 328 and 329 criticise Mr
Vaz for failing to disclose a financial relationship with Mr Zaiwalla.
It is surely unreasonable to claim that two small payments for
calendar entries not requiring to be registered amount to a "financial
relationship". Mr Vaz does not consider that he had any such
B. Mapesbury Communications and the Annual
23. No complaint or allegation referring
to Mapesbury Communications or Annual Calendars published by or
on behalf of Mr Vaz appears in what purports to be a comprehensive
summary in paragraph 17 of the draft memorandum of the 15 complaints
which you were investigating. Neither Mapesbury nor the calendars
are referred to in the longer list of 23 complaints which you
informed me you were investigating in your letter to me of 7 June
(annex 28). Your failure to identify the relevance of these matters
to your investigation or to any complaint accounts to a large
extent for Mr Vaz's reluctance, having answered your initial questions
about them, to join you in your pursuit into their highways and
24. In paragraph 96, you indicate that your
interest in the calendars was triggered by a payment recorded
in the cash book of Mr Zaiwalla which appeared to show that he
paid £200 in September 1994 in connection with a calendar
associated with Mr Vaz. You were then able to establish that Mr
Vaz had registered income received from the calendar in 1995,
1996 and 1997, the last two entries emphasising that Mr Vaz had
received no payment himself.
25. You were also able to establish from
Mr Vaz's personal registry file that the calendar for 1995 did
indeed contain an advertisement from Zaiwalla & Co. In my
letter of 17 July, I quote Mr Vaz's response to your questions
about the annual calendars. He refers you to the advice he received
from Sir Gordon Downey and Roger Willoughby which he followed
to the letter. The letter from Registrar Sands in paragraph 100
makes it quite clear that Mr Vaz was not required to register
the payment of £200 from Mr Zaiwalla.
26. At this point it is difficult to see
what more needed to be said. No allegation or evidence of any
impropriety by Mr Vaz in relation to the calendars had been or
to this day has been furnished. However, you draw attention in
paragraph 98 to the fact that in the letter of 17 July Mr Vaz
says that calendars for constituents contained no advertising
yet those for 1994 and 1995 of which you have copies do contain
advertising. You say there is a "discrepancy". If you
will read again the third paragraph from the end of my letter
of 17 July (annex 39) you will see that there is no discrepancy.
The point is clearly explained that the constituency calendar
which has never carried any advertising is primarily for his constituents
in Leicester East. If there are any left over, he sends the remainder
to friends and acquaintances. A copy of the 1999 calendar was
enclosed with my letter. At the end of paragraph 286 you erroneously
refer to the constituency calendar.
27. To remove any possible misunderstanding,
may I reiterate that there are two types of calendar. The calendars
with advertising were for the Asian community as explained to
your predecessors, not for constituents, and were widely distributed.
These were discontinued after the 1996 calendar because they were
not a success, made no profit and produced no income for the benefit
of the Asian community as was originally intended (see Mr Vaz's
letter to Sir Gordon Downey at attachment A to annex 39). The
correspondence and discussions with your predecessors relate only
to these calendars.
28. The second type, calendars without advertising,
are provided by Mr Vaz to his constituents, generally at his own
expense. In 1999 a contribution to the cost was made by Mr A P
Patel and registered accordingly. Your comment in paragraph 332
implies that you did not take into account that the calendars
containing advertising had ceased in 1996.
29. As to Mapesbury Communications, it remains
unclear what allegation in relation to it, if any, you are investigating.
As you say in paragraph 330, Mapesbury was established by Mr Vaz
primarily as a publishing company, including receiving income
generated by the series of annual calendars for which advertising
was to be sold, and for channelling his earnings from publications
outside Parliament. As Mr Vaz has made clear he has not in fact
received any benefit from the company because, as you point out,
the calendar project was not a success and has produced no profit.
Nor were any outside earnings of Mr Vaz paid to the company.
30. Although he "established"
it, in the sense that he arranged for its formation, as has been
repeatedly pointed out Mr Vaz has never been a shareholder or
officer of the company and has never received any benefit from
it. As you point out in paragraphs 106 and 333, Sir Gordon Downey
informed Mr Vaz that in these circumstances his register entry
appeared to be satisfactory.
31. After the calendars with advertising
ceased after the 1996 edition, Mr Vaz's link to Mapesbury which
had in fact been limited to the calendars (notwithstanding his
intention expressed in his letter to Sir Gordon at attachment
A to annex 39 to use it more widely) also ceased. The company
continued to trade as a publishing company and its turnover referred
to in paragraph 334 presumably related to such activities. The
change of officers referred to in paragraph 335 occurred following
the death of Mr Vaz's mother-in-law who was replaced as a director
by Mr Vaz's mother. Mr Vaz's wife, Maria Fernandes, a practising
solicitor of some years standing and a member of the Council of
the Law Society, remains a director and the sole shareholder.
It is for that reason that the address of the register of members
of the company is the home which Mr Vaz shares and jointly owns
with his wife.
32. It follows that your three concerns
expressed in paragraph 337 are unwarranted for the following reasons:
as has already been made clear, there
has been no conflict or inconsistency in Mr Vaz's denials that
he has received any payments from Mr Zaiwalla
Mr Vaz freely acknowledges that there
were two separate kinds of calendars, as explained above, and
has never intended to claim otherwise.
Because Mr Vaz has had no involvement
of any kind with the company since the calendar project came to
an end, and has never been involved in it as director or shareholder
or beneficiary, he believed and still believes that the correct
response to your unanswered enquiries was to invite you to direct
your attention to the information available from Companies House
which in turn would enable you to seek information from the officers
of the company.
33. The criticism in paragraph 338 is unwarranted
for the same reasons. Mr Vaz has repeatedly made clear that he
received no benefit from the company and your access to company
records and the officers of the company gave you every reasonable
opportunity to verify his assertion.
C. THE COMPLAINTS
34. Paragraphs 113 and 114 contain references
to information (which Sir Peter Soulsby and Mr Syal have been
alleging since 1994) claiming impropriety amounting to criminal
conduct by Mr Vaz which is not substantiated yet whose publication
is obviously prejudicial to him and plainly defamatory. No newspaper
has published them for that reason, save the Sunday Telegraph
after this investigation started when the paper evidently believed
it was protected by Parliamentary privilege. You are entitled
to investigate the alleged payments by Mr Kapasi but it is surely
unfair to refer to other vague and unsubstantiated allegations
which are unsupported by evidence and which cannot assist you
in determining any complaint.
35. These unsubstantiated allegations are
made in the lengthy quotations from Sir Peter Soulsby in paragraphs
119 and 121 to 125 and 27 to 129. These quotations contain several
defamatory statements about Mr Vaz which are not relevant to any
complaint which you are investigating, and some of which relate
to matters arising as long as 16 years ago. The only complaints
which any of Sir Peter Soulsby's evidence addresses are those
alleging that Mr Vaz solicited or received payments from Mr Kapasi
and three religious groups in return for assistance in land acquisitions
(numbered 13, 14 and 15 in paragraph 17 of your draft). Two of
these groups have denied categorically that they have made any
payments to Mr Vaz (see paragraphs 158 and 159 and annexes 181
and 182) and you do not appear to have contacted the third group.
36. The only relevant evidence which Sir
Peter can give and has given is as to his conversations with Mr
Kapasi in about 1994, his file note of 20 April 1994 and correspondence
with Mr Price-Jones. You have failed to disclose or annex the
file notes of Mr Price-Jones sent to you with his letter at annex
121. Sir Peter's evidence about disputes relating to Leicester
East Constituency Labour Party has no relevance to any complaint
which you are investigating against Mr Vaz and all other material
not relevant should be removed from your memorandum and from the
transcript at annex 117 (see below in section III of this letter.)
Sir Peter was not and has never been a member of Leicester East
Labour Party. He sought the Labour Parliamentary nomination for
Leicester East constituency for the general elections of 1983
and 1987 and in 1999 the nomination for the City Council in the
Belgrave ward of Leicester East and was defeated for those nominations
respectively by Patricia Hewitt MP, Keith Vaz MP and Councillor
37. The whole of the evidence of Claire
Ward MP (paragraphs 172 to 177) is irrelevant. She neither makes
nor supports any allegation against Mr Vaz, whose conduct formed
no part of the terms of reference or scope of the Labour Party
inquiry initiated by the NEC in 1994. Contrary to the statement
in paragraph 14 of your draft, the inquiry was into Leicester
City Labour Party not Leicester East Constituency Labour Party.
38. Mr Vaz's response to the complaints
relating to Mr Kapasi was given on 19 March (annex 19) and remains
a categorical denial. Whatever Mr Kapasi may be alleged to have
said to journalists or others which supports these complaints
they are untrue and you are aware that Mr Kapasi has never substantiated
them and has himself denied them in two statutory declarations.
39. Your analysis in paragraphs 339 to 356
understandably expresses doubts as to the credibility of Mr Kapasi
but you do not give proper weight to the fact that he is the only
person who is claimed to have given any first-hand evidence in
support of the complaints. There is no documentary evidence supporting
any of the allegations. Against them is the categorical evidence
of Mr Vaz and of two of the three organisations alleged to have
made or received requests to make payments that they did not do
so, as well as that of Mr Kapasi himself.
40. You give no consideration to the documentary
evidence which you have yourself disclosed at annex 122. This
shows that the policy on land allocation was approved in 1987
and that the decision to allocate land to the three religious
groups was not made until January 1994. Mrs Merlyn Vaz was not
a councillor in 1987 and was dismissed by Sir Peter as chair of
the relevant committee in May 1993. Sir Peter Soulsby has produced
no evidence of any way in which Mrs Vaz, let alone Mr Vaz, could
have influenced a decision in favour of the religious groups.
I am informed that there are detailed minutes covering every meeting
held on these matters. You will also have noted from the last
paragraph of the document which is annex 122 that by 7 June 1998
no planning applications had been submitted by any of the three
41. Sir Peter's evidence, even if truthful
as to what Mr Kapasi said to him, cannot repair the inadequacy
of the evidence against Mr Vaz, which he is entitled to expect
you categorically to reject. Nonetheless, should the Committee
decide that it wishes to take further evidence from Mr Kapasi,
Mr Vaz would not object.
D. Allegations involving Mr Kamal
42. In paragraph 210 you refer to your letter
of 3 October (annex 45) in which you ask Mr Vaz to supply Labour
Party bank statements. You do not refer to my reply of 2 November
(annex 50) in which I repeated the view that it was unreasonable
to expect Mr Vaz to produce Labour Party statements which are
neither in his possession nor control. I also pointed out that
you had failed to provide details of the destination of Mr Kamal's
direct debits, which he had promised to supply to you. In paragraphs
208 and 209 you quote Mr Vaz's responses to questions from you
on this matter on 5 July (annex 36) and 22 August (annex 43).
You have now disclosed that you delayed until 4 October writing
to Mr Kamal's bank (though Mr Kamal had given you its address
in his letter of April) which on 9 November (annex 116) confirmed
what Mr Vaz said in those responses, namely that the payments
were made to the Leicester East Labour Party and not to him.
43. In the light of your conclusion in paragraph
364 that there is no issue of registration on which you are required
to reach a judgment, I make no further comment on this allegation.
However, your expression of certainty in paragraphs 362 and 364
concerning Mr Kamal's account of what he believed is unjustified
44. In paragraphs 365 and 366 you refer
to concern over what you characterise as attempts to apply improper
pressure on Mr Kamal by Mr Colin Hall. In paragraphs 221 and 366
you imply that Mr Vaz to whom alone you sent a copy of Mr Kamal's
letter of 17 April, may have been responsible for distributing
copies of the letter and thereby have been implicated in bringing
improper pressure. You reinforce this implication by suggesting
that it would not have been in Mr Kamal's interests to circulate
copies of his letter. I stated quite clearly in my letter of 25
May (annex 27) that Mr Vaz had neither passed or shown Mr Kamal's
letter to anyone save myself. I also made it clear that Mr Vaz
did not know how Mr Kamal's letter came into the possession of
45. Paragraph 366 fails to point out that,
according to Mr Hall, copies of the letter were sent to Councillor
John Thomas and several of his colleagues at Leicester City Council.
It also fails to refer to the letter to you from Councillor Piara
Singh Clair (annex 126) which says that Mr Kamal handed him an
envelope on 11 May containing a copy of his letter to you (evidently
the letter of 17 April). Since you have unequivocal evidence that
Mr Kamal was handing out copies of his letter (which would he
have given a copy only to Councillor Piara Singh Clair?) you should
make clear that you now accept that Mr Vaz had no part in disclosing
it to Mr Hall.
46. I do not need to comment on the remaining
allegations by Mr Kamal, apart from the "50 Club".
E. The "50 Club"
47. Your criticism of Mr Vaz in paragraph
370 is unfair. Mr Vaz's response to your inquiry about this matter
in my longer letter of 2 November (annex 50) which you quote in
paragraph 242 explains that this club was run by the Labour Party
and that he received no payment from it. Given the vast amount
of information supplied by Mr Vaz at every stage and the fact
that you were able to correspond directly with the chairman of
the local Party, Mr Gratrix, (not treasurer as you say in paragraph
259) it is unreasonable to accuse him of lack of co-operation
and this criticism should be removed. In addition you had a detailed
letter from Councillor John Thomas' solicitor (annex 80) setting
out the Labour Party's position in the matter.
48. In paragraph 372 you raise for the first
time the possibility that Mr Vaz should have registered his ownership
of 146 Uppingham Road. This cannot be right as 146 is used as
his private residence and is not registrable. Your intention may
have been to refer to 144 Uppingham Road. You accept in paragraph
246 that Mr Vaz was concerned in January 1994 as to whether he
should register 144 Uppingham Road and sought advice when returning
his annual register form. Attached to this letter is a copy of
his registration form (appendix 2 to this response). He was advised
that he need not register the property but the form provides the
information the Registrar needed had he thought registration was
appropriate. It would not therefore be right to imply that Mr
Vaz had acted incorrectly, even inadvertently.
F. Allegations involving Mr Attwal
49. There is no dispute that a payment of
£1,000 was made by Mr Attwal by cheque as a donation to the
Labour Party at about the end of 1992. There is no dispute that
the cheque was received by the Labour Party and Councillor Thomas
has stated in a letter which you have not annexed to your memorandum
(copy attached as appendix 3 to this response) that he collected
the cheque from Mr Attwal's premises and that it was made payable
to the Labour Party. Mr Attwal, who is 78 years old, says that
the cheque was payable to Mr Vaz and was collected by Mr Vaz's
mother. Mr Vaz has no recollection of this and you have chosen
not to raise the matter with Mrs Vaz.
50. You were evidently concerned that the
payment might have been used for Mr Vaz's Parliamentary office
in which case it should have been registered. As Mr Vaz has consistently
denied this and as you acknowledge in paragraph 385 that you have
received no evidence which would justify the conclusion that there
had been any overlap or blurring between the funding of the Constituency
Labour Party office and Mr Vaz's Parliamentary office, your criticism
of Mr Vaz in that paragraph is unwarranted.
51. Your claim that officers and members
of the Constituency Labour Party have found difficulty in gaining
access to accounts and other records and in disentangling Mr Vaz's
finances from those of the Party is quite incorrect. That allegation
was made by Sir Peter Soulsby who is neither an officer nor a
member of the Leicester East Party and is not entitled to access
to its accounts (se paragraph 189 and annex 117). To the extent
that Mr Vaz's accounts might be relevant it would be for the purpose
of proving a negative: that he had not received particular payments.
It is not reasonable to expect him to conduct this complex exercise
without evidence that he had received them. You are also in error
in saying in paragraph 380 that Mr Vaz claimed the payment of
£1,000 was received in the financial year 1991/2. He did
not use this word. Nor in paragraph 381 is it appropriate to refer
to "benefit of the doubt". There is no evidence to justify
G. Complaints by Mr Gosling
52. No comment is required here save to
suggest that Mr Vaz is unfairly criticised in paragraph 402 for
failing to declare a financial interest in Control Securities
Limited when speaking or participating in activities concerning
BCCI in the light of your conclusions in your previous paragraphs.
Though you say it was not serious it is surely unnecessary and
wrong to claim that there was any breach at all.
53. It is obviously undesirable that any
report of your investigation should contain irrelevant material,
especially where it is defamatory or prejudicial to any individual.
While it is to be expected that the Committee would not in any
event wish to publish such material, it would be preferable and
appropriate in order to minimise the risk of harm to innocent
persons to remove it from your memorandum at this stage before
it goes to the Committee.
54. Furthermore, the inclusion of such material
in your memorandum to the Committee would be unfair without giving
the individuals concerned an opportunity of rebutting defamatory
allegations, even where they do not relate to any complaint which
you are investigating. Even if it could be argued that material
is marginally relevant as background, it should not be included
if the benefit of including it is outweighed by the potential
harm to individuals against whom unsubstantiated allegations are
55. Our main concern is with the evidence
of Sir Peter Soulsby, other than that which refers specifically
to claims alleged to have been made to him by Mr Kapasi. Paragraphs
118 to 131 quote large parts of the transcript of your meeting
with Sir Peter and the full transcript is annex 117. The section
quoted in paragraph 119 contains a number of defamatory allegations
against both Mr Vaz and against his mother, who obviously is not
the subject of any complaint and who has been given no opportunity
to respond to the allegations. Contrary to the allegation quoted
in paragraph 121, she was not in fact chair of the property committee
during the period claimed by Sir Peter (see paragraph 40 of this
letter). The only relevant passages quoted from Sir Peter's statements
to you are in paragraphs 122 and 123. None of the documents referred
to in paragraph 126 are relevant and indeed none are annexed to
56. The evidence from Claire Ward MP is
not relevant to any complaint which you are investigating and
paragraphs 172 to 177 should be removed together with annexes
102 to 107.
57. If necessary Mr Vaz is fully prepared
to answer in detail all the allegations made by Sir Peter Soulsby
and to explain the background from his own perspective. To do
so properly would need access to the relevant Council and other
documents and would obviously require this investigation to be
considerably prolonged. He must in fairness be given an opportunity
to do this should you not agree to remove the parts of Sir Peter
Soulsby's statements which do not relate to the alleged Kapasi
58. In your analysis (paragraphs 340 and
342) you repeat unsubstantiated defamatory allegations against
Mrs Merlyn Vaz. These allegations are demonstrable nonsense because
at the time Mrs Vaz was not responsible for making decisions on
land allocation. In paragraphs 350 and 351 you make assumptions
about the credibility of Sir Peter when there has been no opportunity
to respond to his evidence. As has been made clear above Mr Vaz
does not rely merely on a history of disagreement to cast doubt
on Sir Peter's credibility but can refute many of the facts which
Sir Peter claims if it is necessary for him to do so.
59. Paragraph 353 is defamatory both of
Mr Vaz and Mrs Vaz and as you acknowledge is unsupported by any
"direct" evidence. If you are suggesting there is any
other evidence other than that of Mr Kapasi, whose evidence you
accept in paragraph 355 plainly cannot be relied on, you have
not identified it.
60. Other statements which are irrelevant
and prejudicial are the following:
in paragraph 114 the unsubstantiated
allegation that there are about 20 people who had provided Mr
Vaz with money
in paragraph 204 the quotation from
Mr Asmal and annex 187
annex 21(d) is a privileged communication
by Mr Vaz to his then solicitor. He has no objection to the Committee
seeing it but would not wish it to be published.
61. I await your response on the excision
of this material and repeat that if you do not agree Mr Vaz would
like to address the Committee on the matter before your memorandum
8 January 2001