This is a statement by Rita Gloria Gresty
dictated to Eileen Eggington QPM on 23 March 2001
In either late 1999 or early 2000, when I was working
as PA to Maria Fernandes, I was directed by Maria to renew ***'s
passportit was a British passport. I think her first name
was S. I should think she was late 50's, early 60's, but I remember
thinking she looked well preserved for her age. From her photograph
she looked distinguished and well dressed. The form was brought
into the Harrow office by "M", a manservant of the Hinduja
family. I put a cross in pencil against the questions to be answered,
and gave it to Maria to complete. I think I put it in the post
and sent it to New Zealand House, where the Hindujas offices are.
Once Mrs *** had signed it, the form would have come back to Maria.
I cannot remember if M brought it or if it arrived in the post.
I expect Murali brought it back because he was like a weekly messenger.
He sometimes came by chauffeur driven car. I know that he was
well respected in the Hinduja household. He was like their private
secretary. He is of small stature, quietly spoken and very polite.
He is Indian obviously.
I worked as Maria's PA from August 1998 until May
2000. Our office was at her *** home until September 1999. I was
aware of the Hindujas from the start. They were always showering
Keith and Maria with invitations. I can remember the name Gopal
Hinduja. I never met him or his family but I spoke to, I believe,
Gopal Hinduja on a number of occasions. This was to put him through
to Maria. She would always take his calls straight away, even
if she was meeting with a client. The only other person, apart
from Keith, who she would accept calls from straight away, was
a millionaire called EM, a South American who lived in London.
His wife, a millionairess in her own right, got Maria to help
her get British passports for EM and herselfI think her
name was MM, also British passports for their two young children
and Spanish speaking female servant. I believe they were all from
Bolivia. Maria managed to hurry up the applications because she
is a member of the IND User Panel at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon.
She sent faxes and made numerous telephone calls to a couple of
male senior officers in the Investigation Services, who would
have been serving with her on the IND Panel. She got the passports
within 2-3 weeksI know it was really quickly because they
wanted to go on holiday to the USA for Christmas 1999. They did
just make it on time. I remember Maria charged them £5,000
plus VAT for expediting the applications. EM sent me a lovely
travel wallet from Harrods as a Christmas thank you present. I
remember that Maria wrote an accompanying letter with the applications
stating that theirs was a special case because their significant
wealth contributed to the British economy. She subsequently managed
to track down by phone the Immigration Services official who would
be making the decision. I do not know his name but he gave her
his decision on the phone. EM went to the Croydon office and was
handed the passports by a named female official. I cannot remember
Returning to ***'s passport renewal application.
I remember M phoned and asked why it was taking so long. I think
I phoned the normal enquiry number and was told what the time
frame for applications was. I can't remember how long, but I told
Maria and I think she got on the phone to speak to a contact.
I do not know who. The passport came through in the post fairly
speedily afterwards. I think the whole process took about three
weeks, which is quite quick.
Soon after that M brought a visa application to the
office for a lady servant of the Hindujas. I cannot remember anything
about her. Either Maria or I filled in the form. I think Mrs ***
had to sign it as a sponsor. We sent it off to the Immigration
Service. It was returned quite swiftly, probably within a month.
I think it was the beginning of 2000, Maria managed
to get a visa for a computer boffin who worked for, I think, Gopal
Hinduja. It came through quite swiftly and this guy asked Maria
about getting visas for his wife and a servant to follow here.
I cannot remember his name. He is Indian, probably in his 40's.
Maria gave him written advice, which included the need for him
to return to India to get a stamp in his wife's and servant's
passport from the British Embassy, probably in Delhi or Calcutta.
Maria heard no more and therefore did not bill him. Then, later,
she met him at a social function when it became clear that he
had used her advice successfully. She wrote to him, enclosing
a bill. It would have been for the full amount of £1,200
x 2. He refused to pay. When she received his letter Maria was
so annoyed that she phoned Gopal Hinduja directly. He said he
would go into the guy's office and get him to write out the cheque
then and there. I remember he then put this guy onto Maria and
they hammered it out. He gave in, presumably because of his boss,
Mr Hinduja's influence . She received a cheque for the full amount.
From the first time I worked for Maria. I was always
aware that her house was like a florist shop, with floral arrangements
sent weekly by the Hindujas. When Keith Vaz was made a Minister
there were flowers everywhere. Another wealthy Indian used to
send Maria and Keith pre-packed frozen Indian food in bulk to
their * * * home. They did not pay for it. This was every 2-3
weeks. It was a gift. Maria used to write letters of thanks. I
think their company was in Southall and was taken over by Sainsburys
in the past 18 months. He was a millionaire.
When I first started working for Maria she told me
there was a whole filing cabinet drawer that I should not open.
She told me the name of the client was JAl. Only after working
for her for a few months was I able to open the cabinet and on
occasions phone his office, somewhere in LondonKensington
way I think because when Maria went to Harrods she met him there
for a coffee. He came once to our Harrow office in a chauffeured
Mercedes and two "heavies" stayed outside by the car.
He was South American and a friend of the EMs. As far as I understand,
he was wanted for offences in South America and Maria was helping
him to defend extradition proceedings against him. I think she
was successful in this. I believe most of the work was done before
I started and I know she had to go over to Geneva in connection
with this. I do not know what he was supposed to have done. He
was introduced to Maria by EM.
R G Gresty