Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 20 - 33)



  20. Had you received any intimation from anyone that you were going to receive such a letter?
  (Mr Hall) None whatsoever.

  21. So it came out of the blue. So we have established it did not go to either of the committees, it was essentially a closed decision—I am not saying this in any critical way, I am just clarifying the facts—the secretary, yourself and the treasurer made the decision to take the action you did. The other letters, did they come to you spontaneously or were you warned you were going to get copies of letters councillors had received?
  (Mr Hall) The letters came to other councillors and they contacted Mr Thomas and Mr Clair who were both mentioned in the letter and informed them that they had received the letter. I am advised through Mr Thomas that the status of the letter was that it was part of an investigation and that the Commissioner should be sent any copies of the letter that the councillors or anybody else had received.

  22. I think the final point is on the original letter you received, have we had that original one or have you just sent copies to the Committee?
  (Mr Hall) No, the original letter was sent to the Commissioner on 22 or 23 May. I should say that the original letter that I received was evidently a copy letter; it was not an original.

  23. Yes, thank you. Those are all my questions, I do not know if any of my colleagues wish to follow up on anything. What happened to the envelope for the first letter?
  (Mr Hall) The envelope was destroyed. I am sorry about that but I did not think it was that relevant at the time. It just had my name typed on it and I did not think it would be helpful in identifying the source of the document.

  Mr Williams: Okay. Thank you.

Mr Foster

  24. Why was it thought by 8 May that the inquiry which you knew about had been concluded? What evidence did you have to sustain that belief?
  (Mr Hall) I made enquiries with Mr Thomas and Mr Clair to ask if they had been contacted regarding the contents of Mr Kamal's letter. At that stage they had not been contacted and I did not know of any other person who would have been contacted, certainly as far as Leicester was concerned, to follow up some of the allegations which Mr Kamal had made. So therefore I felt no further action was being taken on it.

Mr Williams

  25. The councillors were informed but not by you, did you notify your MP about the fact we had received this letter?
  (Mr Hall) I talked to Mr Vaz after the letter from the Commissioner and Mr Vaz would presumably have responded himself if he had been aware of any of the comments Mr Kamal had made in his letter, but I was primarily concerned with the letter as it referred to the Constituency Labour Party and the officers, past and present, and it was on that basis that I responded to Mr Kamal.

  26. Okay. What did Mr Vaz say to you when you discussed it with him?
  (Mr Hall) Mr Vaz basically advised that I should try and get some representation for myself to assist me in my correspondence and indeed other evidence that I am giving to the Commissioner and the Committee in order to ensure that we give as full co-operation to the Committee as possible.

  27. Thank you. I have no other questions. Is there anything else you would like to say to us at this stage?
  (Mr Hall) Yes. Basically all I want to say is that I can give a list of names of people who have received the original letter of 17 April 2000 to you and/or the Commissioner,[1] and if you want to take any further action in regard to that, then obviously it is up to you whether you want to do so.

  Shona McIsaac: Mr Hall, there is a letter of 15 May from Mr Kamal. Have you got that one?

  Mr Williams: Number 4 in our bundle.

Shona McIsaac

  28. It is responding to your letter. Have you got that one?
  (Mr Hall) I have, yes.

  29. You notice that Mr Kamal has copied the letter to Roy Kennedy, Labour Party Regional Director for the Midlands, and Howard Knight. I understand he is a local government officer for the Labour Party.
  (Mr Hall) That is correct, yes.

  30. Have either of those, because there is clearly correspondence between you, people made contact with you in this regard?
  (Mr Hall) No, neither of them have done so and basically as it is a parliamentary matter I am not sure that either of them would want to become involved at this stage.

  31. Do you know if they made contact with Mr Kamal?
  (Mr Hall) No, I am not aware of anything like that.

Mr Williams

  32. Anything else you would like to add as a final statement?
  (Mr Hall) Mr Chairman, first of all can I thank yourself and the rest of the Committee for inviting me to your meeting and allowing me to answer the questions. Once again, I do apologise for any contempt of this Committee or the House which may have been committed. I want to stress again that it was done so inadvertently and unintentionally. If there are any further matters on which I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.

  33. Thank you for that. As you will appreciate by now, it is not a happy occasion for anybody. We do not like bringing people in from outside the House, and most of our deliberations involve members of the House, as you understand, but any attempt to interfere with a witness must be treated as an extremely serious matter by the Committee. The Commissioner carries out her duties not just on our own behalf but on behalf of the House of Commons and with the authority of the House of Commons and therefore it is essential she must be able to carry out her inquiries effectively and without interference. It equally follows that anyone who is helping her with an inquiry should be protected from any threats or pressure. I thank you again for your assurances, you have repeated them several times to this Committee. We expect you to comply with them, in the spirit as well as in the letter, and we have to advise you that if we have evidence that anyone else is involved then of course we would not hesitate to act in their case and conceivably even recall you again if it became necessary. The House has powers to punish for contempt and these can be used if the case warrants it. In your case, I think the Committee at this stage is happy to issue that warning and we want you to take that message back to anyone else who is aware of the situation which has arisen here. Thank you for coming.
  (Mr Hall) Thank you.

1   Note by witness: This list has now been supplied through by solicitor, Mr Shamash. Back

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