IV PRESSURE AND HARASSMENT
REPORTED DURING THIS INQUIRY
Mrs Vaz senior
714. On 8 October 2001 Mr Vaz telephoned me and
I made the following note (Annex IV1)
"Mr Vaz told me that
his mother has now been taken ill again and was now in hospital,
having received a telephone call from Eileen Eggington who asked
her a lot of questions. Eileen Eggington gave Mrs Vaz senior the
impression that she was asking these questions on my behalf or
in relation to my office. I said I was extremely sorry to hear
that and if Mr Vaz would write to me about this I would see whether
there was anything at all that I could do. I assured Mr Vaz that
no one acts on my behalf other than people from my office or me.
Mr Vaz said he was reassured to hear this."
715. I wrote to Mr Vaz on 11 October 2001 (Annex
IV2) as follows:
"May I confirm what
I said during our telephone conversation earlier this week. No-one
acts on my behalf other than staff from this office. You told
me that Miss Eggington had indicated to your mother that she was
acting on my behalf and you asked me to look into that. You said
you would write to me about the incident so that I have the facts.
I would be grateful if you would do so."
716. Mr Vaz wrote to me in a letter dated 9 October
2001 (Annex IV3) which I received on 16 October 2001:
"92. I am writing
to confirm that Eileen Eggington telephoned my mother in Leicester
last Thursday and asked her questions apparently on your behalf.
You have informed me that she was not acting for you and had no
remit to gather information in this way. You will recall that
during the last inquiry you took action against those witnesses
who sought to interfere with your investigation. As Ms Eggington
has put herself forward as a complainant I would be glad to know
what action you propose to take.
93. I have informed the police of the
activities of Miss Eggington which I regard as harassment. My
mother is now in hospital."
717. I wrote to Miss Eggington on 16 October
2001 (Annex IV4) to make enquiries about this matter. I said:
"I have received
a letter from Mr Keith Vaz saying:
'I am writing to confirm that Eileen Eggington
telephoned my mother in Leicester last Thursday [4 October] and
asked her questions apparently on your behalf"
Mr Vaz also informs me that he has referred this
telephone call to the police as he regards it as harassment.
I would be grateful if you would let me know the
following so that I may decide whether I should take any action
on this matter:
1. Have you telephoned Mrs Vaz senior for
any reason recently?
2. If so, what was the purpose and content
of the call and when did it take place?
3. Did you imply in any way that you were
acting on my behalf? If so, please explain this and if not please
can you suggest any explanation for why Mrs Vaz senior might have
interpreted any conversation this way?"
718. On 19 October 2001 Miss Eggington replied
attaching a statement (Annex IV5). She said:
"I am very happy
to answer your questions and, in an effort to be as open as possible,
I have prepared a seven-page statement with attachments. These
You will understand that I am particularly concerned
about the complaint that I telephoned Mr Vaz's mother in Leicester.
If Mr Vaz has made this complaint against me in good faith, somebody,
presumably a female, must be impersonating me. Should this woman
be identified I would wish to consider taking legal action against
her. Also, Mr Vaz has made an allegation of harassment against
me to the police. I should like to know when and where Mr Vaz
reported this matter. During my thirty-six years service in the
Metropolitan Police Service I gained a reputation for complete
integrity. I am not happy that Mr Vaz appears to be trying to
undermine my unsullied reputation."
719. In her statement Miss Eggington said:
"Mr Vaz has said
that I telephoned his mother in Leicester on Thursday 4th
October and asked her questions, apparently on behalf of the Parliamentary
Commissioner for Standards. My answer to this serious allegation
is that I have never telephoned Mr Vaz's mother. I do not know
her address or telephone number and I would not dream of ever
attempting to make contact with her. I am able to provide corroborative
evidence, if required, by supplying copies of my home telephone
and mobile telephone accounts. I have checked my diary for 4th
October and I was working 'out of town' on a Foreign and Commonwealth
assignment that day, arriving home at about 19:30 hours."
720. I asked Mr Vaz for the name of the police
officer who was dealing with the matter. In his letter of 3 November
2001 Mr Vaz informed me that he had reported the matter to Chief
Inspector Paul Smith of Leicestershire Police.
721. I wrote to Chief Inspector Paul Smith on
21 November 2001 (Annex IV6) as follows:
I would be grateful therefore
if you would let me have the details, of which you are aware,
which relate to this phone call and the results of any enquiries
you have made."
722. Chief Inspector Smith replied on 22 November
2001 (Annex IV7) saying that he had that day paged Mr Vaz in order
to interview Mrs Vaz senior but Mr Vaz did not wish her to be
disturbed as she was in hospital. Chief Inspector Smith said his
report on this matter would be released when the Chief Constable
had given his consent.
723. On 27 November 2001 Chief Inspector Smith
provided me with a copy of his report concerning the telephone
call which Mrs Vaz senior allegedly received from Miss Eggington
724. Chief Inspector Smith also provided me with
a copy of his note of 22 November 2001 requesting clearance to
send me his report. He said:
"On the morning of
Friday, 5th October 2001, the Chief Constable's Secretary contacted
me to arrange contact with Mr Keith Vaz on his pager.
Later that day he rang me and related a story
covering an ex employee of his wife. This women, whilst in the
employ of Mrs Vaz became mentally ill and eventually became embroiled
in harassment allegations. I am told she was eventually arrested
and dealt with at Baker Street Police Station in the Metropolitan
Connected with this ex-employee was another woman
who was a friend/advocate.
This woman, a Miss Eggington initially presented
herself as a representative of the ex employee during her contact
with Mrs Vaz. (She claimed she was ex'employee' of the Metropolitan
However, Mr Vaz now claims that Eggington has
made several calls to his mother at her Leicester address claiming
to be a police officer. The exact content of these calls are not
known as soon after Mrs Vaz was admitted to the Leicester General
Hospital with asthma/heart problems, where she is still being
In short, I have given
some basic advice to Mr Vaz in connection with the receipt of
calls at his mother's address. I have been assured that no evidence/recording
exists of the alleged phone call to Mrs Vaz and Mr Vaz was extremely
vague as to the exact detail to these events although I know that
he has not pressed his mother due to her condition.
On the morning of Tuesday,
20th November, 2001, Mrs Filkin contacted me from
the House of Commons. A conversation took place concerning my
contact with Mr Vaz and she explained that she was conducting
an enquiry into his activities.
She explained that a Miss Eggington was a major
witness in that enquiry, a fact of which I was unaware.
I explained that Mrs Vaz had not been interviewed
as yet due to her condition but I stated that I would be following
this up in the near future."
725. On Friday 23 November 2001 Mr Vaz telephoned
me (Annex IV9) in a highly agitated state. He raised questions
I had 'instructed'
the police to follow up the call which he had reported to them;
I was improperly interfering in criminal
he would 'report' me 'to the Speaker'.
726. I explained to Mr Vaz that I had not instructed
anyone. I said I had contacted the police officer whose name he
had given to me as the officer who was making enquiries about
harassing telephone calls his mother had allegedly received. I
said I was surprised to hear there were criminal proceedings as
I did not know this. Mr Vaz agreed, there were not.
727. On 8 November 2001 I was telephoned by Mr
Gresty (Annex IV10) saying that Mrs Gresty had received a letter
from Ms Fernandes's (Mrs Vaz's) solicitors implying both that
Mrs Gresty had breached confidentiality and that Ms Fernandes
was contemplating legal action against Mrs Gresty. I suggested
he might wish to set out in writing what had occurred.
728. Mr Gresty wrote to me on 8 November 2001
(Annex IV11) about the letter which he had referred to on the
telephone which had been sent to Mrs Gresty from Ms Fernandes'
solicitors. He said he regarded the sending of the letter to be
"an act of unacceptable intimidation and harassment".
He also said "I judge it reprehensible that Ms Fernandes
should use the threat of legal action in an attempt to silence
witnesses to an investigation".
729. In the evening of 8 November 2001 I received
a telephone call from Mrs Gresty (Annex IV12). She said she had
received a letter that day from Ms Fernandes's solicitors and
as a result she wished to withdraw the statements she had made
to my inquiry. She said she felt frightened and that the only
option open to her was to retract her evidence. I asked her whether
her decision to withdraw her statements was based on the fact
that she now wanted to say they were untrue. She replied that
this was not the case as her statements were true. I said she
should think carefully over the weekend about whether she wished
to withdraw the statements and she agreed to come to my office
on the following Monday to let me know her decision.
730. I replied to Mr Gresty on 9 November 2001
to say I was very concerned to hear that he felt that Mrs Gresty
was being subjected to approaches which seemed like intimidation
and harassment and that I was referring the correspondence to
the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee forthwith
731. On 8 November 2001 Miss Eggington wrote
to me (Annex IV14) about a letter she had received from David
Price, Ms Fernandes's solicitors, which she found concerning (Annex
IV15). She attached a statement dated 8 November 2001 in which
she said she had felt threatened by the tone of the letter. She
said she thought Ms Fernandes "has not believed me [her]
and still has it in mind to sue me [her]". She continued
"I also sense that she is trying to intimidate and bully
732. I replied on 9 November 2001 (Annex IV16)
that any attempt to put pressure on a witness to a Parliamentary
investigation would be a contempt of the House and that I was
bringing her letter to the attention of the Chairman of the Standards
and Privileges Committee.
733. I drew to the attention of the Chairman
the letter and statements from Miss Eggington and the letter from
734. The Chairman wrote to Miss Eggington on
12 November 2001 (Annex IV17). He said he had seen a copy of her
statement about the communications she had received from David
Price solicitors and he was disturbed to learn that she felt threatened
as a result of what had happened.
735. He explained that any evidence given to
me for the purposes of my inquiries into complaints against Members
of Parliament are fully protected by parliamentary privilege and
that any attempt to put pressure on a witness in connection with
evidence would be a contempt of the House.
736. The Chairman also wrote in the same vein
to Mrs Gresty on 12 November 2001 (Annex IV18) having seen the
letter from her husband to me about the communication she had
received from David Price Solicitors.
Further information from Miss Eggington and from
Mr & Mrs Gresty
737. On 12 November 2001 Miss Eggington and Mr
& Mrs Gresty came to my office to discuss the letters they
had received from Ms Fernandes' solicitors (Annex vi16)
738. Mrs Gresty told me that she had found the
letter she had received very distressing and was considering whether,
in the light of it, she felt able to continue to assist my inquiry.
Mrs Gresty confirmed that the contents of her statements to me
were true. Mr Gresty said his letter to me was to remain on the
739. I suggested that Mrs Gresty should consider
whether the information she had provided to me should stand and
she told me that she had decided that it should.
740. Following the meeting Miss Eggington wrote
to me on 12 November 2001 (Annex IV20 see also V15A and V15B)
confirming that neither Mr nor Mrs Gresty had commenced employment
tribunal proceedings against Ms Fernandes. She enclosed correspondence
which she said illustrated why Ms Fernandes had no good reason
to believe that Mr and Mrs Gresty had any intention of taking
their case to an employment tribunal.
741. The attached correspondence dating from
21 December 2000 to 2 February 2001 concerned attempts to obtain
from Ms Fernandes the statutory sick pay to which Miss Eggington
believed Mrs Gresty to be entitled.
742. Following our meeting Mrs Gresty wrote to
me on 13 November 2001 (Annex IV21) to describe the disquiet the
letter from Ms Fernandes's solicitor had caused her and to explain
why this threat of legal action had made her consider withdrawing
the evidence and statements she had given to me. She confirmed
that her statements to me were true and that she was willing for
them to remain part of the evidence given to this inquiry. Mrs
Gresty also set out the facts regarding the termination of her
employment with Fernandes Vaz.
743. On 13 November 2001 I wrote to Mrs Gresty
to thank her for her letter and for coming to see me. I suggested
that she should contact me immediately at home or in the office
if she was approached by any other party in a way which she felt
might constitute improper pressure.