Examination of Witness (Questions 300-313)|
TUESDAY 15 JANUARY 2002
300. Can I respond and give just one example.
On 26 October last year the Commissioner asked you whether you
had "organised any other events for the Asian Business Network
since 1997 and if so please list them". Your reply was, "I
have attended many events over the last 14 years. I cannot give
you a list of each organisation's events." So it was a specific
question about organising and a specific date, and your answer
was not about organising at all, it was about attending.
(Mr Vaz) No.
301. Why not?
(Mr Vaz) Of course it is, because it is how you use
language. I have not organised any events for the AsianBecause
people would think, as Mr Zaiwalla did on the last occasion, because
I happen to chair an event, I am organising it. That is why I
gave the answer about attending Asian community events. Organising
requires you going around and organising things, but as Mr Ottaway
has correctly pointed out, if somebody in the cash book puts a
donation to a calendar and he puts my name against it
302. Why not say, "I have not organised
(Mr Vaz) Because then Mrs Filkin will write back and
say, "You say you haven't organised it, but Mr Zaiwalla said
you had," and we are then into this long discussion as to
what my role was in these various events.
Chairman: Are there any questions other
members of the Committee want to put on the generalities leading
to these events?
303. Could I pursue something which was mentioned
earlier. Could you turn to Ms Filkin's annex which is at page
(Mr Vaz) My annex?
304. No, Mrs Filkin's annex which is at page
(Mr Vaz) Sorry, Mr Cranston, annex what?
305. Page 26.
(Mr Vaz) My pages are not numbered.
306. Annex i6. That is a file note by Ms Filkin
of a conversation with you on 26 March. On page 2 of that, two-thirds
of the way down, about halfway through that paragraph, there is
a sentence that starts halfway across the page: "I said,
for example, there were claims that the Hindujas had paid Ms.
Fernandes for help with immigration. I fully understood that that
might have been in her capacity as a lawyer, but I thought he
ought to be aware of that." Then she goes on later on, towards
the end of the paragraph: "but I said that I felt, since
these matters" were "circulating, he might be best advised
to set the records straight on all of them." In the light
of that, is there anything that you want to correct or change
in your earlier evidence this morning?
(Mr Vaz) No, because the letter that
was referred to by Mr Sheldon was on 20 March when I replied to
him. Mrs Filkin, as I said, knew about this on 15 February. She
asked me about Ms Fernandes' immigration help, and I made it very
clear in the response that I gave to her throughout this whole
inquiry, once I became aware of itand I was only aware
of this when she wrote to me with the allegations, which she did
on the 26th. She met me on the 26th, and she handed me a letter
from Mrs Gresty. On 20 March I could not give evidence on this.
She had it since 15 February. So this does not affect it, absolutely.
If you look at the history, 26 March, 3 June, this all became
in the public domain. That is why I am so incensed by this allegation
that anyone has tried to conceal this information from Mrs Filkin.
No one has sought to conceal this information; first of all, because
Mrs Filkin has the information already; secondly, it has been
in the public domain; and thirdly, because it is also, frankly,
a slur on my legal adviser, because I have discussed all matters
with Mr Bindman, and there is no question that he has ever advised
me to conceal anythingon the contrary, he has advised me
to give as much information as possible, which is what I have
307. Mr Vaz, before I ask you if there is anything
else you want to say to the Committee, can I say that we all hope
that your mother does make a good recovery from what is obviously
a serious illness. Are there any other questions my colleagues
want to put? If not, is there anything else you want to say to
the Committee, Mr Vaz?
(Mr Vaz) Only to the extent that the comment that
Mrs Filkin has made about deliberate collusion to conceal is a
very serious defamatory comment that has been published in a number
of newspapers; that I have sought legal advice, and my wife has
sought legal advice, about taking legal action against the Sunday
Times or indeed The Independent which published it
last Saturday. If you accept what The Independent says
last Saturday, the Committee has already met and indeed decided
on a conclusion to all this. I would just like to know what is
happening about the leak inquiry, and whether or not we are going
to get the chance to answer the serious allegation which Mrs Filkin
has made about concealment, because I believe, having looked at
the correspondence, that in her capacity as a solicitor my wife
has been very open with both you and Mrs Filkin; she has sought
the advice of the Law Society, she has not concealed anything,
and I have not concealed anything. Mrs Filkin's statement is not
borne out by evidence.
308. As I think you know, the Committee is going
through the right process in response to the leak of information
which I very much regret. The Committee will come to its own conclusions
and publish them in due course, in the light of the exchange that
we have had. If there is nothing else to add to that
(Mr Bindman) Could I just have a word with Mr Vaz,
as there is one other matter I want to take up?
309. Very quickly. (Mr Bindman consulted
with Mr Vaz)
(Mr Vaz) I am just reminded of one very basic and
fundamental issue, which is that I have not received a copy of
Mrs Filkin's conclusions. When I appeared before the CommitteeI
think it is the practice of the Committee that when witnesses
appear, before they even start giving evidence, they are given
a copy of the conclusions. I have not, but the Sunday Times
has received it, of course.
310. Mr Bindman wrote to me asking for an opportunity
to submit fresh evidence with a view to changing the conclusions.
This is his letter to me of 13 December: "May I therefore
respectfully suggest that the matter should proceed as follows:
1. The Commissioner is invited to consider Mr Vaz's preliminary
response to the draft memorandum, which will be provided to her
and to you before 18 December, and make any changes to her report
which she considers appropriate."
(Mr Vaz) Right, so she has not concluded.
311. In the light of that, do you want to change
her conclusions, though those conclusions have not been circulated?
(Mr Vaz) Sir George, this is very important
as far as process is concerned, so that people understand the
process that is going on, especially me. Are you now saying that
the document that was circulated as Mrs Filkin's final memorandum
and conclusions is not her final memorandum and conclusions, and
on the basis of these documents that I have submitted and on the
basis of the evidence session today, there are going to be fresh
312. The position is that Ms Filkin has an opportunity
to change her report in the light of the extra evidence that you
(Mr Bindman) Would it help if I just summarise the
point, because there is another factor?
313. I am anxious to finish. (Mr Bindman)
I know you are anxious to finish, but I have not spoken up to
now, and I know I am not entitled to, but I think there is an
extremely important point here that the draft report was given
to Mr Vaz on 30 November, and he was given five days in which
to respond to it. He then asked the Committee for an extension.
Having first been refused an extension by Mrs Filkin, he then
asked the Committee to extend the time, and the Committee did
extend the time. However, Mrs Filkin submitted her full report.
We have not seen the full report, so we do not know what differences
there are between the draft report and the full report. We believe,
because of what appeared in the newspapers, that there is a conclusion
or a suggestion of collusion which was not in the draft report.
The letter that you quoted of mine was simply referring to the
draft report and whether that could be amended in the light of
the submissions we had then made, but we had no opportunity of
making submissions on the additional material that Mrs Filkin
added after the draft report when the full report was submitted
to you, and I suggest that it would be only fair that we should
have an opportunity of seeing the full report, in case there are
additional observations which we want to make.
Chairman: The Committee will consider
that request at its next meeting. The meeting is adjourned. Thank
you. Can I just say that of course the proceedings that have just
taken place are confidential Select Committee proceedings.
20 Note by witness: This of course came after
the letter from Robert Sheldon and my reply to him and after
my reply to Mrs Filkin. Back
Note by witness: Her conclusions had been circulated a
full month before. Back