Examination of witness (Questions 280
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
280. If that came out in 1994, how does that
go in with the timing of the nomination of John Major in 1993
for Mr Zaiwalla?
(Mr Vaz) I did not nominate Zaiwalla in 1993; John
Major. I nominated him in 1996.
281. Just once?
(Mr Vaz) No. I wrote to Major in response to his Honours
List of July 1996. I then wrote to the Lord Chancellor, a copy
of which I think you have, telling the Lord Chancellor that I
had written to John Major, but John Major knows Zaiwalla very
well. You have met Zaiwalla, as you said.
282. I did not say that. I said he had a home
in my constituency.
(Mr Vaz) He was at the New Zealand House reception
that Mr Hinduja gave.
283. That I did not know. Was each advertisement
(Mr Vaz) I do not know. If I was asked these questions
earlier last year, the gentleman who organised these calendars
could have answered them. He died at the end of November. He was
organising it in his house. He would ring them up and go and see
them and write to them.
284. The community calendar may have been produced
in 1994, 1995 or 1996 but not much before that and not much after
(Mr Vaz) Not at all before that. When you have a print
run of 10,000, there is going to be someone who is going to complain
about this. I never thought it would take seven years. I knew
that there would be difficulties. That is why I went to see the
registrars, Sands, Willoughby and Sir Gordon Downey. If you were
to ask Sir Gordon Downey, of all the things that he remembers,
I am sure he will remember my calendar because I think he thought
it was bizarre.
285. So far as you are aware for the commercial
calendar, the business calendar, the only payments that you are
aware of were the ones for advertisements. There were not any
(Mr Vaz) When I went to see Gordon Downey in 1996,
I had hoped that my income from other sources would go into the
company. I had a radio programme, Spectrum Radio, and I was then
subsequently, having told Gordon Downey, sacked from itwell,
not sacked from it; they asked me to leave. No income came from
there. I am not a barrister; I do not practise; I have never practised
so there is not any outside income. You do things with the aim
of trying to achieve these things but it just did not work.
286. Am I right in thinking that from what you
have suggested you cannot tell us what the gross receipt was for
(Mr Vaz) I know that it made a loss. After he had
taken out his expenses, chased people and all that kind of thing,
in the end, there was no contribution to the office. That is why
many of the other schemes we did were all funded as we have indicated
on the register.
287. I want to ask about the cost of your office,
which probably exceeded what you would get on office costs allowance,
given the pressures and loads on you. How was that funded?
(Mr Vaz) Everything that went beyond what I was doing
in office costs allowance is down in the register. Whenever somebody
contributed to something, whenever they paid for a report to be
published, if there was extra staff, it was all down there.
288. Can you explain how there is a conflict
of interest in Peter Soulsby and the Commissioner having been
on the Audit Commission?
289. (Mr Vaz) I think there is an apparent
290. Are you saying there is not a conflict?
(Mr Vaz) It is a conflict that has come out and therefore
it needs to be dealt with.
291. Is there a conflict or is it an apparent
(Mr Vaz) I think there is an apparent conflict.
292. There is not a conflict?
(Mr Vaz) No. Mrs Filkin has left comments in here
which I want to challenge about me which I think are not fair
and she has put in things about members of my family who are third
parties who have never been part of this like, for example, the
whole Claire Ward thing which is totally irrelevant to this, because
frankly it has nothing to do with these complaints or this inquiry.
It should not have been put into the report. Mrs Filkin is a good,
firm Parliamentary Commissioner but there is a need to have a
register so that nobody can challenge her integrity. That means
she could put on there anything that she does outside the scope
of her job as Parliamentary Commissioner. That is what we do.
It does not criticise her at all. It does not say that she has
done anything wrong because I do not think she has. The Committee
may want to consider something which can be inspected. As Mr Bindman
put in his very reasonable response, we do not challenge her integrity.
We believe that she has done everything properly. She has told
the Chairman, but she knows Peter Soulsby. What she ought to have
done, some may sayI am not saying thisis she ought
to have written to me to say, "By the way, I must tell you
I served on the Audit Commission with Peter Soulsby. I am at a
meeting with him on 25 April. He is the chairman of my committee.
I just thought I would tell you. Do you have any objections?"
That is all. Then we would have said, "No." The other
thing that we should be clear on is that people might say something
about it. She wrote and told us later on that she had spoken to
the Chairman but the meetings of the Audit Commission that I have
found out from the House of Commons Library that Mrs Filkin attended
did happen throughout the inquiry.
293. Are you saying she does not have a conflict
(Mr Vaz) No. I think there is an apparent one.
294. The plain answer to the question, "Is
there a conflict of interest?" in your view is, "There
(Mr Vaz) No. We have made that clear. Mr Bindman has
made that clear. We do not think there is but so that nobody can
question anything that has been done the best way is to have a
register so that the Commissioner is able to put out her other
activities. That is all.
295. You were saying earlier you had been quite
astonished at some of the things that have appeared in the tape
transcripts that you have now had sight of. There were allegations
made about property in Goa and so on. Neither you nor anybody
in your family have properties or anything like that in Goa. Why
would you assume somebody would say such a thing?
(Mr Vaz) I do not know. I have no idea. I have been
to Goa. I am of Goan origin. I would like to visit them and claim
them. I shall be writing to Mr Kapasi and asking for the addresses.
296. Does it not disturb you, the pattern that
seems to appear with Mr Kapasi and Mr Attwal in that they make
allegations on tape and say they will deny them? What is your
view about that? Do you think somebody has been putting them up
to this? Where do you think all this has emanated from?
(Mr Vaz) People think they can get away with much
more if they say it privately, when they think it does not see
the light of day. Hence the words, "off the record".
It is when you confront people with their words that they get
very worried. One of the most difficult aspects of this whole
investigation which I cannot really understand is the involvement
of so many journalists. Mrs Filkin kindly wrote to us and told
us the whole facts about The Daily Telegraph. Mrs Filkin
will know because I put her to great difficulties on Saturdays.
I would have a phone call from Rajeev Syal or Chris Hastings to
say, "We are going to publish this thing. We have spoken
to Mrs Filkin. Mrs Filkin says X, Y and Z." I would page
Mrs Filkin who would be at some dinner partyI am not suggesting
she goes to dinner parties every Saturdayor somewhere and
she would say, "This is absolutely untrue. I have never spoken
to them." Then they would print an article in which they
would say, "Sources close to Mrs Filkin" or "Friends
of Mrs Filkin" or other matters of that kind. It has been
a nightmare this last year. I have not had a single Sunday where
I have been able to sit down with my children. That is why I kept
writing to the Chairman, saying, "Please hurry up."
I know you probably do not want to but just the thought of one
journalist sitting in front of you, having to go through a select
committee, is wonderful for me because they never think they are
going to have to. I did not realise then, although I realise now,
Mrs Filkin having written to us, that they were having meetings
and conversations with Mrs Filkin. From those innocent conversations,
they were rushing off and doing other things. I complained at
the start and I talked about contempt. The best way to protect
the integrity of what you all do and to make people understand
that this is a really serious issue is that, when the press start
printing things about the report, people are tough with them,
as tough as you were with Colin Hall, because Colin Hall will
never do that again. The Guardian today said I was going
to be cleared. The Telegraph today said I was going to
be convicted. Members of Parliament simply cannot go through these
inquiries when every day there is another newspaper article about
297. You have never spoken to the press about
any of this?
(Mr Vaz) I have always said to the press what I have
always said to Mrs Filkin: I cannot talk about the next inquiry,
as I said last week. "I will talk to the investigator and
you will have to wait for the outcome." That has not stopped
them printing a whole lot of stuff about what is going on.
298. You have not asked anybody else to speak
to the press on your behalf?
(Mr Vaz) No. I spoke on Sunday to Kim Sengupta, the
journalist on The Independent who announced that I was
to be cleared except for one technicality. He rang me about Mr
Hinduja and I said, "Now that I have you on the phone, can
you please tell me why you have said these things? Have you spoken
to a member of the committee?" "No." "Have
you spoken to Mrs Filkin?" "No." "Have you
spoken to my supporters?" "No." "How can you
write an article like this? I hope the Committee brings you before
it." I sat on the Home Affairs Select Committee. John Wheeler
was the chairman. Somebody kept leaking all our reports before
publication and we had had enough. We dragged one journalist before
us, John Pienaar, who was promoted after that, and we said, "Will
you stop printing our reports. Tell us your source." They
never reveal their sources. They will give you transcripts of
what Mr Kapasi says and what Mr Attwal says but they will never
reveal their sources.
299. As a former journalist, I do understand
that aspect of it. I want to move on to the property in Uppingham
Road. This was both your home and your constituency office?
(Mr Vaz) There are two. 144 Uppingham Road started
as my home. It was purchased in 1985, before I became a Member
of Parliament. 1989 was the house next door. This is the bottom
floor of which I allowed the Leicester East Labour Party to occupy.