Letter to Mr Keith Vaz MP from the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards
Thank you for your letter of 21 September 2001.
Following the paragraph numbering in your letter:
25. I am afraid I have never received a letter
from you dated 6 August. I received a letter from you dated 5
August and when you referred to a letter of 6 August in your letter
of 13 August I replied in my letter of 23 August that I assumed
that your reference to the 6 August letter referred to your letter
of 5 August. You did not correct this. If you do have a letter
of 6 August for me, please send me a copy. I see from the sequence
of your numbered paragraphs, which began in your letter of 1 July
2001, that 5 August letter contains paragraph 15 and your letter
of 13 August begins with paragraph 17 therefore paragraph 16 may
be in the missing letter.
But to turn to your question. You may of course make
whatever comment you wish on your employment by Richmond Council
at the time when my husband was also Chief Executive but from
our discussion I thought that we had agreed that this was an inaccurate
and irrelevant story. Moreover, when we met you told me that you
had not given this inaccurate information to the press and I accepted
When I said you should consider dealing with the
allegations raised in the media this was a general invitation
to provide me with accurate information for the public record
to set to rest matters raised in the media.
26. Members of the public often engage in correspondence
and discussion with me before deciding whether they wish me to
look into a matter. Mr Peene confirmed to me on 15 May 2001 that
he wished to pursue this complaint.
27. This is a misinterpretation on your part.
I am not making any enquiries into how you have dealt with any
of your casework related to Mr Peene or Mr Peene's personal matters.
The matter I have asked you about is Mr Peene's allegation that
you improperly intervened in a matter with which he was dealing
as a civil servant. As I understand it, Mr Peene had not raised
this matter with you in any way.
You kindly allowed me to check your casework file.
I found no mention of this matter. I returned your case file to
you on 7 August saying "However, as far as I can see the
matters referred to in these case file papers do not relate to
the complaint Mr Peene has raised with me and on which I asked
for your comments." Your response on this matter remains
28. The complaint is that you misled the Committee
during the last inquiry. Mr Robathan drew attention to a matter
which had been raised by a witness to that inquiry and which was
published in the report. I asked you for the facts so that this
matter could be concluded.
The advice you quote is correct. The Committee does
not normally entertain complaints which are more than 7 years
old unless they consider a matter serious. An allegation that
a Member has misled the Committee during a previous inquiry is
potentially serious. In such cases I review a complaint against
all the information provided during a previous inquiry. I therefore
need to have an accurate account of the facts from the Member.
I then report the information provided by the Member to the Committee
which allows the Committee to decide whether a matter is serious.
The Committee may of course decide not to come to a conclusion
on any particular matter when they are fully informed. Your response
on this matter remains outstanding.
29. Sir Peter Soulsby is not a witness in this
30. I am sure that the information about your
agent's conversation would be helpful to the solicitor dealing
with the matter.
31. I know nothing of Ms Eggington's meeting
with the Mail on Sunday.
32. I know nothing of any payments to any people
from newspapers but you are welcome to include any information
from your knowledge when you respond to me about any allegation.
33. The health of complainant, in so far as I
am aware of it, does not disqualify a complaint from being considered
by me so long as the information provided by the complainant appears
to warrant an enquiry. My response in any case therefore depends
entirely on the substance of the complaint. Many complaints, regardless
of the health of the complainant, are dismissed when I receive
the facts from the Member concerned.
34. I am somewhat surprised by this question
as I have provided you with information given to me by journalists.
As I have explained previously my office provides members of the
public and journalists with factual information about the Code
of Conduct and Rules for Members and the registration and complaints
processes. We also receive complaints and information from journalists.
I treat any such complaints and information exactly as I treat
complaints or information from any member of the public. We never
provide information to journalists about complaints under investigation.
I hope this is of assistance but may I remind you
that I requested your response to the first of these complaints
on 20 March 2001 and will need to report to the Committee on the
progress of my inquiry at their meeting on 23rd October 2001.
On 7 September I provided your solicitor with a complete list
of the letters in which I had asked you for a response or information
and at his request provided copies of some of the letters which
I had sent to you over the last six months.
27 September 2001