Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
from Detective Superintendent Nick Gargan,
Yesterday morning, Chief Inspector Paul Smith and
I attended your office to discuss the action taken by Leicestershire
Constabulary in response to information provided to us by Mr Vaz
on 5 October, 2001. I understand that the Parliamentary Committee
on Standards and Privileges asked you to see me to establish the
current state of police investigations. The purpose of this letter
is to set out our position in order to respond fully to the Committee's
I should begin by pointing out that there have been
two broad areas of investigation for Leicestershire Constabulary.
The first has addressed the extent to which Mr Vaz or his mother
may have been the victims of criminal acts performed by one or
more third parties. Secondly, we have looked for evidence of any
criminality on Mr Vaz's part that might lead to a criminal prosecution.
I will deal with each in turn.
The nature of allegations by Mr Vaz appears to have
changed subtly as time has gone on. Initially, Chief Inspector
Smith understood himself to be investigating a complaint of malicious
telephone calls and harassment. Mr Vaz has since said that it
was never his intention to make a formal complaint of any crime,
his contact with the Police was intended to be an informal request
for advice. He has now made it entirely clear that he does not
wish us to investigate these incidents; indeed he has refused
to co-operate with the investigation, specifically with a request
to have access to telephone billing data.
The presumed victim of any offence would be Mr Vaz's
mother. For some time after the allegations were made she was
in hospital but was discharged at the end of November, 2001. Chief
Inspector Smith wrote to her at the beginning of December, inviting
her to provide us with information. To date, we have not received
a reply from her and, given her current health problems, I am
not minded to sanction any addition contact with her.
We have not confined our enquiry solely to contact
with Mr Vaz. We have interviewed the most likely potential suspects,
who have co-operated fully and we have been provided with information
by independent third parties. We have found nothing that would
lend weight to the allegations originally made by Mr Vaz. Indeed,
I am satisfied that no malicious calls were made.
Chief Inspector Smith then focused on the question
of Mr Vaz's actions and whether he had himself been responsible
for any criminal offences in his contact with Leicestershire Constabulary.
We considered a range of possible offences, including Wasteful
Employment of the Police and an Attempt to Pervert the Course
of Justice. In deciding whether to continue with our investigations.
I have been mindful of the need to ensure that Mr Vaz's position
as a Member of Parliament and former Minister does not lead to
him receiving more or less favourable treatment by the Police.
Mr Vaz has not made a statement in respect of the
alleged malicious calls, neither has his mother. No crime report
has been prepared. The number of policing hours involved in this
investigation is augmented by what I would describe as "discretionary"
police activity; brought about by police management decisions
rather than by Mr Vaz's report itself. As Mr Vaz was not himself
the victim of the alleged offence, and the victim has chosen not
to co-operate with the investigation, I do not see that there
is sufficient prospect of a successful outcome to pursue the investigation
any further. That is not to say that police time has not been
wasted, merely that our criteria for initiating a prosecution
have no realistic prospect of being met.
The same is true of the other offences that we have
considered. We cannot rule out a tactical motivation for Mr Vaz's
contact with Leicestershire Constabulary in this matter, but the
evidence does not support further investigation of any attempt
to pervert the course of justice. Indeed, even if we were to produce
evidence that Mr Vaz was intending to undermine or de-stabilise
witnesses, they would be witnesses before the Parliamentary Committee
on Standards and Privileges rather than a court of law.
A final consideration, that is relevant to both parts
of the Police investigation, is the precise nature of the conduct
alleged by Mr Vaz at the outset. Although he describes the acts
as criminal, it is by no means clear that they do actually amount
to criminality. At no point is the caller to Mrs Vaz alleged to
have made threats and we have insufficient detail to establish
whether the pattern and frequency of calls amounts to harassment.
Without the official complaint from Mr Vaz we are now unlikely
to ever establish the truth.
I am now satisfied that we have explored all realistic
lines of enquiry and that no useful purpose would be served by
extending the Police investigation. This decision has been influenced
by my belief that no calls, of the sort described by Mr Vaz, took
place and that the Parliamentary Committee on Standards and Privileges
is, in the circumstances, better placed than the Leicestershire
Constabulary to deal with any residual issues.
I hope this letter adequately explains the current
position. I have no objection to it being forwarded to the Members
of the Committee on Standards and Privileges. Thank you for your
co-operation with our investigation.
10 January 2002