III COMPLAINTS AGAINST MR KEITH
VAZ MP NOT RELATED TO, OR ARISING DIRECTLY FROM, THE PREVIOUS
against Mr Vaz alleging that Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes had employed
an illegal immigrant as a domestic servant and that Mr Vaz held
her passport in his constituency office as a means of exerting
improper influence over her
543. On 11 June 2001 Miss Eileen Eggington wrote
to me to allege that "from 1995/6 until at least May 2000
Keith and Maria Vaz employed an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh
[Mrs Mary Matin/Ahmed] as a nanny..." and that Mr
Vaz "kept Mary's passport in his Leicester office"
(Annex v1). Miss Eggington attached a document which she had prepared
following conversations with her friend, Mrs Rita Gresty, a former
personal assistant to Mrs Maria Vaz (Ms Fernandes) (Annex v2).
The document was signed as a correct record by Mrs Gresty. Miss
Eggington explained in her covering letter that Mrs Gresty was
in hospital receiving in-patient psychiatric treatment.
544. I considered carefully whether there were
any matters raised in this allegation into which I was required
to make enquiries. I decided that there werefor two reasons.
First, there is an implication in this allegation that Mr Vaz
may have used his position as a Member of Parliament improperly
to obtain preferential treatment from the Immigration Service
to assist clients of his wife's solicitors' practice, thereby
increasing the family income. Secondly, in this particular case
if, as alleged, Mrs Matin was working for Mr Vaz in his home or
in his wife's office either for nothing or for low wages in return
for Mr or Mrs Vaz's [Ms Fernandes's] intervention with the Immigration
Service, this would constitute a benefit to Mr Vaz arising from
his position as a Member of Parliament which had not been entered
in the Register of Member's Interests.
545. The document supplied by Miss Eggington
stated that in 1998, when Mrs Gresty took up employment with Mrs
Vaz [Ms Fernandes], Ms Matin was already working as a nanny for
Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes] and that Mr Vaz held Mrs Matin's passport
in his Leicester constituency office. In a further statement taken
by Miss Eggington on 25 June 2001, Mrs Gresty said
that Mrs Matin was employed as a nanny by Mr and Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes]
from 10 August 1998 until September 1999 and that she undertook
housekeeping and office duties for them (Annex v3). Mrs Gresty
added that she discussed with Mrs Matin the wages she [Mrs Matin]
was paid by Mr and Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes] in that employment.
Mrs Gresty said that Ms Fernandes paid Mrs Matin £1.50 an
hour, cash in hand, and that Mrs Matin had complained to Mrs Gresty
about her low wages.
Mr Vaz's response
546. On 28 March 2001 I had written to Mr Vaz
about the allegations contained in Miss Eggington's letter of
26 March 2001 (which related to the Hinduja brothers)
and the accompanying statement by Mrs Gresty.
547. On 19 June 2001 I wrote to Mr Vaz (through
his agent Mr Bennett, as Mr Vaz was ill) (see Annex v5) to inform
him of the second complaint from Miss Eggington based on the information
provided by Mrs Gresty, which I attached. I asked for his response
to this allegation so that I might decide whether any investigation
548. I asked him in particular to let me know:
"1. Whether you
[he] and your [his] wife ever employed Mrs Mary Martin/Ahmed
at any time for any purpose?
2. If so, whether you [he] were [was] aware
of the immigration status of Mrs Martin?"
549. Mr Vaz raised concerns about Mrs Gresty's
health in letters dated 9 July 2001 (see Annex i21) and 13 August
2001 (see Annex i23).
550. In his letter of 13 August 2001 (see Annex
i23) Mr Vaz said:
"Mary Matin has never
been employed by me or Ms Fernandes and we have always been fully
aware of her status. She is and remains a friend of our family..."
551. Mr Vaz made no comment on Mrs Gresty's allegation
that he had kept Mrs Matin's passport in his constituency office
and that while working in Ms Fernandes's office Mrs Gresty had
been required to confirm to the police that Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes]
employed Mrs Matin.
The Immigration Service
552. Miss Eggington, in her letter of 11 June
2001, said that she had copied to the Home Office Nationality
Division the documents signed by Mrs Gresty. I therefore wrote
on 25 June 2001 to Mr Stephen Boys Smith, the Director
General of the Immigration Service (Annex v6). I asked Mr Boys
Smith to provide me with information about Mrs Matin's case to
allow me to decide whether I was required to make any further
553. Mr Boys Smith replied on 1 August 2001 (Annex
v7). In his response he said that Mr Vaz had made a number of
representations on Mrs Matin's behalf to the Immigration and Nationality
Directorate (IND) and to Ministers. He also provided a note of
Mr Vaz's involvement in the case, showing that these representations
were made by Ms Fernandes and Mr Vaz from 1997 to 2001 (see Annex
554. Mr Boys Smith went on to say that the IND
were aware of the allegation that Mrs Matin had worked as a nanny
for Mr Vaz but that their files dating back to 1992 held no evidence
to support this allegation.
Ms Fernandes [Mrs Vaz]
555. When I interviewed Ms Fernandes [Mrs Vaz]
on 4 July 2001 (see Annex i15) I asked her whether at any time
she had employed Mrs Matin. She replied "No"
556. I also asked Ms Fernandes [Mrs Vaz] the
"MS FILKIN: Did you,
through Mapesbury Communications or, indeed, through your practice,
because then I will be able to clear it out of the way, help her
with her immigration issues?
MS FERNANDES: No.
MS FILKIN: So you have never done work for her?
MS FERNANDES: No.
MS FILKIN: In any capacity. Thank you..."
557. On 10 September 2001 (see Annex ii58) I
wrote to Ms Fernandes to ask her to explain the discrepancy between
information I had received about the representations she had made
on behalf of Mrs Matin and the account she had given to me on
4 July. I quoted from the transcript as in the above paragraph
558. On 11 October 2001 I wrote again to remind
her that she had not responded to this request.
559. On 13 October 2001 Ms Fernandes replied
(see Annex i29) saying:
"With regard to Mrs
Matin you have asked me to explain a discrepancy without stating
what the discrepancy is. I maintain what I said at the meeting.
You have never explained why this is relevant to your inquiry."
Mrs Mary Matin
560. On 10 and 25 September 2001 (Annex v10 and
v11) I wrote to Mrs Matin. I asked her for information about:
whether she had
ever been employed by Mr & Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes];
whether, and if so what, information
she had given to Mrs Gresty about any such employment or the whereabouts
of her passport ;
her immigration status; and
whether Mr or Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes]
had ever provided her with assistance on an issue relating to
her immigration status.
561. On 15 October 2001 I received a letter dated
11 October 2001 (Annex v12) from the solicitors Coker Vis Partnership,
who were acting for Mrs Matin, promising me a reply to my letter.
My office telephoned Coker Vis on 30 October 2001 and were told
that a reply would be forthcoming after 9 November 2001.
562. On 9 November 2001 I telephoned Coker Vis.
Ms Coker's secretary said Ms Coker was out of the country until
that day. I was then telephoned by Ms Vis who told me that the
reason for some of the delay was that this firm was waiting for
the papers on the case to be forwarded by Bindman & Partners.
Ms Vis said that Coker Vis were only dealing with this matter
because there had been "conflict between Mr Vaz and Mrs
Matin" and that therefore the case had been transferred
to Coker Vis from Bindman & Partners (who represent Mr Vaz).
563. On 10 November 2001 Ms Coker telephoned
me (Annex v13). She said that she would ask Mrs Matin to come
to her office as soon as possible so that she could write to me
in response to my letter of 10 September 2001. She said they were
no longer waiting for papers from Bindman & Partners in order
to deal with my letter, as those papers related only to the issue
of Mrs Matin's immigration status.
564. Ms Jane Coker wrote to me on 20 November
2001 to confirm that she had taken instructions from Mrs Matin
and had sent her a draft response for checking. Ms Coker expected
to be able to send me a formal reply within the next few days.
565. On 23 November 2001 I telephoned Ms Coker
who said she hoped to let me have Mrs Matin's response by 28 November
566. On 29 November 2001, after a delay of more
than two months, Mrs Matin's reply through her solicitors was
as follows (Annex v18):
that she had
no recollection of any conversation with Mrs Gresty and had not
talked to Mrs Gresty about her employment or passport;
that it would not have been practical
for them to have a conversation as Mrs Matin's first language
was Bengali which, as far as she was aware, Mrs Gresty did not
as far as she could recall, Mr Vaz never
kept her passport in his constituency office;
Mr Vaz took up her case as a Member of
she had never been an illegal immigrant.
Additional Information provided by Mrs Rita Gresty
567. On 11 October 2001 I was telephoned by Miss
Eggington to say that Mrs Gresty was home from hospital and wished
to see me. I met Mrs Gresty that day and she said (see Annex i19)
that Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes] and Mrs Matin had told her that Mr
Vaz held Mrs Matin's passport in his Leicester office, as he was
dealing with the matter of her immigration status. She understood
that Mrs Matin believed Mr Vaz was helping her with this matter.
568. Mrs Gresty said that the arrangement for
Mrs Matin to work for Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes as a nanny had been
made by a mutual friend and that afterwards Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes
helped Mrs Matin to resolve her immigration status.
569. Miss Eggington also wrote to me on 13 November
2001 to draw my attention to other correspondence relating to
the employment of Mrs Matin which she said came to light as she
reviewed her papers on this case. In particular she cited a letter
dated 9 June 2000 from Ms Fernandes to Mr Gresty (Annex v15A)
which includes reference to work done by Mrs Matin for Ms Fernandes.
570. Miss Eggington said that the letter of 9
June 2000 from Ms Fernandes to Mr Gresty corroborated the statement
that Mrs Gresty had made to me on 25 June 2001 that Mary Matin
was working in the solicitors' office for Ms Fernandes.
The letter reads at paragraph five:
"The volume of work
has increased, as I would expect it to but only to the point where
it needs a part-time additional member of staff. Mary was already
doing some work and I know that Rita found that it helped her."
571. Miss Eggington also provided a copy of a
letter dated 24 May 2000 (Annex v16) from Ms Fernandes to Mr Gresty
confirming a conversation in which Mr Gresty had told her that
Mrs Gresty would be ready to return to work part-time in around
three months time. Ms Fernandes says she would like to see Mrs
Gresty and says Mary will be preparing some food for him.
572. On 19 November 2001 Mr Gresty wrote to me
(Annex v17) to confirm the information about the employment of
Mrs Mary Matin and to describe a lengthy conversation he and his
wife had with Mrs Matin at Mrs Matin's late husband's restaurant
about Mrs Matin's and Mrs Gresty's mutual employment with Ms Fernandes.
Mr Gresty said that Mrs Matin was employed by Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes
at least from September 1998 to May 2000 and that when Mrs Gresty
arrived for work before 9 am in the mornings Mrs Matin would often
let her into the office of Fernandes Vaz through the home of Mr
Vaz and Ms Fernandes. Mr Gresty added that on two occasions he
was invited into the home for coffee by Mrs Matin when Ms Fernandes
573. On 24 November 2001 Mr Gresty wrote to me
again. He said:
of our dinner at the Bina Restaurant as guests of Mary Matin and
her husband may be of help to you in your enquiry.
My wife, Rita, had been working for Ms Fernandes
at her * * * [Middlesex] home, and
frequently came into contact with Mary in her capacity as a nanny
and housekeeper for the Vaz children. Rita and Mary struck up
a friendship, and Rita often reported that she would sit down
with Mary in the kitchen and talk about their relationship particularly
with Ms Fernandes. Rita took sandwiches from home for her lunch,
as it was neither practical or (because of the pressures of work)
possible for her to come home. Because Mary could not drive, Rita's
duties frequently included taking and collection the Vaz children
to and from nursery and school. I was often in contact with Rita
during working hours, and am able to confirm without hesitation,
that when Rita was out of the office, (which was sited in a 'shed'
in the Vaz garden), Mary would answer the phone at the house,
enabling me to leave messages.
Mary invited us both to the Bina Restaurant, in
Northwood High Street, where her husband worked, and they lived
in the flat above the restaurant. We were greeted by Mary, and
she spent a large part of the time with us, whilst we were eating
and during coffee afterwards. I recall very vividly that the main
part of the conversation was her work for Ms Fernandes. Mary did
not work at the restaurant whilst we were there, but acted as
our hostess for the evening.
She spoke about the long hours she was required
to work, giving details of how she got from Northwood to * * *
[Middlesex] (on most occasions by bus:
she was responsible for meeting her own travel costs) but occasionally
Rita gave her a lift home if she had her own car with her. Her
wages seemed to be pitifully low for what was required of her,
(I think under £2 per hour), and I recall trying to offer
her encouragement by telling her that the new Labour government
was in the process of introducing legislation for a minimum wage,
and I was sure that her employers would honour whatever level
Whilst writing, I can confirm that Mary often
took items of Indian food to the * * * [Middlesex]
address for Rita and I to share at home. Immediately after the
onset of Rita's illness, a large serving of food was delivered
to us, prepared by Mary, at Ms Fernandes' request."
145 See paragraphs 45-51. Back
Or Matin. Back
(Annex i15) transcript of interview between the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards and Ms Fernandes and Mr Pathan, p.42. Back
Ibid, p. 42. Back