(v) Complaint alleging that
Mr and Mrs Vaz 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
574. I decided (see paragraph 2 of Section V
above) that I must make enquiries into the issues raised by Mrs
Gresty because of the implication in her allegations 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. Similarly, if Mrs Matin was working
for Mr Vaz in his home or in his wife's office for nothing (or
for unusually low wages) in return for Mr Vaz's or Ms Fernandes's
intervention on her behalf with the Immigration Service this could
result in 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
The employment of Mrs Mary Matin/Ahmed
575. Miss Eggington alleged that from 1995/6
Mr Vaz & Ms Fernandes had employed an illegal immigrant from
Bangladesh, Mrs Mary Matin, as a nanny and domestic servant in
their home and later in the office of Fernandes Vaz solicitors
and that Mr Vaz held Mrs Matin's passport in his constituency
576. This complaint was supported by statements
made by Mrs Rita Gresty who said that when she took up employment
in 1998 with Ms Fernandes at Fernandes Vaz, Mrs Matin was already
working for the family, that Mrs Matin's employment had been arranged
through a mutual friend and that Mr Vaz & Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes]
helped Mrs Matin with the resolution of her immigration status.
Mrs Gresty also stated Mrs Matin discussed with her the wages
she (Mrs Matin) was paid by Mr & Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes]. Mrs
Gresty added that Mrs Matin told her that Mr Vaz held her passport
in his constituency office and that Mrs Matin believed that Mr
Vaz was helping her to resolve her immigration status.
577. Miss Eggington provided a copy of a letter
dated 9 June 2000 from Ms Fernandes to Mr Gresty which referred
to Mrs Matin working in the office of Fernandes Vaz.
578. She also sent me a copy of a letter from
Ms Fernandes to Mr Gresty, dated 24 May 2000 (See Annex v16),
which refers to "Mary" preparing food for Mr and Mrs
Gresty and the children. This letter also says that "Mary"
passes her best wishes to Mr and Mrs Gresty. Mr and Mrs Gresty
have confirmed that the Mary referred to is Mrs Mary Matin.
579. Mr Gresty confirmed that Mrs Matin worked
for Mr and Mrs Vaz [Ms Fernandes]. He said he had been invited
into the Vaz home for coffee by Mrs Matin while Ms Fernandes was
present and provided an account of a discussion he had had with
Mrs Matin while he was entertained in Mrs Matin's late husband's
580. Mrs Matin said she had never been employed
by Mr or Mrs Vaz.
Representations made about Mrs Matin's Immigration
581. Mrs Matin's immigration or employment status,
as such, is not a matter for me. My concern was solely with Mrs
Gresty's allegation in so far as it related to Mr Vaz. I therefore
sought to establish whether Mr Vaz and/or Ms Fernandes had made
representations on behalf of Mrs Matin while she was working for
582. Many Members of Parliament properly take
up cases concerning the immigration status of their constituents
and their interventions are no doubt given serious consideration
by the Immigration Service. Ms Fernandes's solicitors' practice,
Fernandes Vaz, specialises in immigration work.
583. Mr Vaz said that he and his wife had always
been aware of Mrs Matin's immigration status but neither Mr Vaz
nor Ms Fernandes have confirmed that they took action to resolve
584. I asked Ms Fernandes if she had ever helped
Mrs Matin with her immigration issues and she denied doing so,
or that her firm was representing Mrs Matin.
585. The Immigration service has provided me
with information about various representations made by Mr Vaz
and Ms Fernandes about Mrs Matin's case. They have informed me
that on 30 July 1997 Ms Fernandes contacted IND to say that Fernandes
Vaz were representing Mrs Matin/Ahmed and that Mr Vaz on several
occasions took up Mrs Matin's immigration status with the Immigration
service between 1997 and 2001.
586. Although I have put this apparent discrepancy
to Ms Fernandes and asked her for an explanation she has not provided
one, and she claimed she did not understand my question.
587. Coker Vis told me in November 2001 that
Bindman & Partners (Mr Vaz's solicitors) had until recently
been assisting Mrs Matin with her immigration issues but, because
of a conflict between Mr Vaz and Mrs Matin, Bindman and Partners
had now passed the case to Coker Vis.
588. Mrs Matin answered my enquiries on this
matter through a solicitor after a delay of over two months. She
said that as far as she could recall she had never had any conversation
with Mrs Gresty and had certainly never discussed her employment
or passport with Mrs Gresty. She said Mr Vaz took up her case
as a Member of Parliament but he had never kept her passport in
his constituency office.
589. I have not interviewed Mrs Matin so cannot
say what, if anything, she told Mr and Mrs Gresty about her possible
employment by Mr and Mrs Vaz or whether, if she did so, it was
590. Ms Fernandes has given me no explanation
for the answer "no" which she gave me when I
asked her whether she had made representations about Mrs Matin's
immigration status. Her answer is contradicted by the information
provided by the Immigration Service. Ms Fernandes's response to
my request for her to explain the inconsistency between what the
Immigration Service told me and her answer led me to question
the accuracy of her reply to me on 4 July 2001. For his part,
Mr Vaz has made at least six separate representations on behalf
of Mrs Matin.
591. Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes have denied that
they employed Mrs Matin and Ms Fernandes has denied that she has
assisted Mrs Matin to resolve her immigration status. Mr Vaz chose
not to respond to the allegation that he held Mrs Matin's passport
at his constituency office, nor, if that was true, to give the
reason. Nor has he described the nature of his representations
on Mrs Matin's behalf.
592. I have received detailed accounts from Mr
and Mrs Gresty, whom I regard as credible witnesses, that Mrs
Matin was employed by Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes, and copies of letters
signed by Ms Fernandes which support this.
593. The information provided to me on this matter
is contradictory and in the case of Ms Fernandes it appears inaccurate.
Mrs Matin may be unaware that Ms Fernandes contacted the Immigration
Service to say that Fernandez Vaz would be representing Mrs Matin/Ahmed
and indeed Mr Vaz may have taken on the representations himself
in collaboration with his wife. Mr Vaz has not fully answered
my questions on this matter.