Examination of Witness (Questions 160
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
KAPASI OBE DL MKD
160. Mr Kapasi, can I just go back to the time
when some community leaders suggested to Mr Vaz he should not
be involved in local council issues. Do you know if we have had
a copy of that or whether there is a copy available?
(Mr Kapasi) I have tried to find a copy from my files
but I have not been able to get it. I am sure other community
leaders would have it.
161. If it is possible for you to make it available
to the Committee, that would be helpful. If there is anything
further you can say about the context, that would help us as well
because it will help us get an understanding of what was happening
in about 1994. I want to go to the middle of last year, about
May last year, and I think I am right in saying you came to an
agreement with the Commissioner that you would come to have a
meeting with her.
(Mr Kapasi) That is right.
162. Then I get a sense from the documents that
there was a sort of change of mood and instead of you responding
to the Commissioner, your lawyers did, about which I make no comment,
but what I do ask you to comment on is whether you were saying
to yourself, "I will meet the Commissioner" or whether
you were happy not to meet her, because from May last year to
our gatherings now is seven months or so?
(Mr Kapasi) That is right. Yes, as you quite rightly
say, I was very willing to meet the Commissioner to clear the
allegations. But then when I realised the conflict, and the independence
and the neutrality of the person who was actually going to question
me came to my mind, then I obviously started to go back and say
whether I would get a fair or independent hearing at all. The
other problem for me has been, and this has been through my solicitor
as well, that there are no clear or definite rules when an independent
person like me gets involved as a witness and then what rights
he has or he has not got to question the parties involved, to
have all the information, to have all the documents. What rights
are there for the third party? That clearly made me very nervous
in seeing the Commissioner alone and the only recourse for me
was to rely on a committee like yourself with totally independent
judgment on whether I would receive a fair hearing. One has to
be, as my solicitor has mentioned, like Caesar's wife, beyond
allegations or reproach.
163. When you made the arrangement in early
May to meet the Commissioner I think on 25th May, did you have
worries then about some conflict? If so, was the conflict a conflict
you were experiencing or were you saying that the Commissioner
might be experiencing a conflict?
(Mr Kapasi) The conflict obviously has been with the
Commissioner and Sir Peter Soulsby and his involvement in this.
Because the Commissioner was going to ask me questions and has
to remain independent on this one, it was whether she would be
biased in any way because I would have expected a totally independent
person with no bias at all to have questioned me.
164. When you talk of this word "bias"
or "conflict", can you explain what you think this bias
or conflict might have been in the Commissioner's mind or behaviour
(Mr Kapasi) I think from the people I know in the
city and from the experiences I have dealing with some community
affairs, there is no way I would have any link to make a decision.
For example, if I sit on any of the committees, the first thing
they ask is a declaration of interest, "Would you have any
interest in the agenda which is going to be approved in this particular
meeting?" From time to time I think one has to declare. The
other point is that my solicitor actually tried four times to
acquire any information about whether there was a conflict or
not, and because there was hesitancy in declaring this interest,
I felt very uncomfortable.
165. Can you say very simply what is the interest
which either you wanted to declare or what you thought the Commissioner
had to declare?
(Mr Kapasi) The Commissioner had to declare that the
Commissioner and Sir Peter Soulsby sat on the Audit Commission
and that they may have had other dialogue about this, I do not
166. And that was it? The fact they had been
on the Audit Commission together. Was that it?
(Mr Kapasi) Sorry.
167. Was there anything other than that?
(Mr Kapasi) No, I do not think so.
168. It was just the fact they had been on the
Audit Commission together?
(Mr Kapasi) Yes. If the Commissioner had declared
this earlier, then I think I would have seen her by now herself.
169. I see. Do you want to add something, Mr
(Mr Kapasi) (After talking to Mr Stephens)
My solicitor has kindly informed me that a judge would have declared
this if that was the case.
170. So the reason why you did not attend to
have the discussion which you had planned to have with the Commissioner
was the fact for a time Sir Peter Soulsby and she had been on
the Audit Commission together?
(Mr Kapasi) Yes, and that she failed to declare it
from the very beginning until writing about four letters. After
writing to the Commissioner four times by my solicitor, this fact
171. I do not want to get involved with your
discussions with your solicitor, so I will put the question a
different way, was it your idea that this was a conflict of interest?
(Mr Kapasi) It was I who informed the solicitor, because
I found out from the communityin fact somebody within the
council told methat here we have a case whereby the Parliamentary
Commissioner may be quite close to Sir Peter Soulsby.
172. And that is the only reason why you did
not go to meet her and explain the various things which you had
said and done?
(Mr Kapasi) Yes, absolutely.
173. Can I ask about two other areas? The first
one is this, when did you last have a conversation with Keith
Vaz MP about this investigation or any of these issues?
(Mr Kapasi) As I mentioned to you earlier, I have
had no direct discussion with him since the investigation.
174. Since? When you had the conversations with
the journalists early last year, any conversations with Mr Vaz
(Mr Kapasi) Before. I think before, when Rajeev Syal
actually made this allegation in a newspaper, I did have a conversation
with Mr Keith Vaz and I denied and I said this is an off the record
conversation which has no meaning for me.
175. So you did not deny the conversation, you
denied what you put in the conversation had a meaning?
(Mr Kapasi) Yes. This was before the parliamentary
176. But since then you have had no conversations
with Mr Vaz?
(Mr Kapasi) I did not discuss this issue at all.
177. You may have had pleasantries at some function
but not discussed this?
(Mr Kapasi) I would not say "pleasantries"
because I do not think he is a happy man.
178. In your conversations with Mr Leppard,
one conversation ended. Was it you who ended that conversation?
(Mr Kapasi) No, it was him, because I was trying to
tell him. Once he told me he was going to do an article and when
I tried to retract, he suddenly realised I was going to deny everything
I said in the previous matter, so he put the phone down.
179. And then the second conversation, how soon
(Mr Kapasi) I think I have not spoken to him since
then. Sorry, after the second conversation with David Leppard.