Examination of witness (Questions 300
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
300. It is your home and the Leicester East
Labour Party, prior to you being elected. After you were elected,
Leicester East Labour Party continued in that premise?
(Mr Vaz) No. The Leicester East Labour Party has never
been at 144 Uppingham Road. It was my home. One member of staff
used to come in to do all the PPC correspondence etc., but you
cannot get your office up and running until you get elected. We
were elected in 1987. 144 became the office and I retained one
room to live in.
301. It was somebody from the Leicester East
(Mr Vaz) No. Nobody from the Leicester East Labour
Party. They only operated the party office from 146, next door,
after 1989 when it was purchased in 1994-6, something like that,
for the 18 months that Alan Greatrix and John Thomas occupied
that part. There was planning permission for that.
302. Basically these two properties are next
door to each other. In the period of time we are talking about
they have been your home, your constituency office and the Leicester
East Labour Party and also the registered address for Mapesbury?
(Mr Vaz) No. Mapesbury has nothing to do with them.
303. It has been those three?
(Mr Vaz) No. Mapesbury has not been
304. Excluding Mapesbury.
(Mr Vaz) No. The Leicester East Labour Party has never
been in 144 Uppingham Road.
(Mr Vaz) 146 it has.
306. I said these two properties.
(Mr Vaz) They are very close to each other. That is
307. The premises fund which has been talked
about in the report is just in relation to the Leicester East
Labour Party or your office?
(Mr Vaz) No. It has nothing to do with my office.
Mrs Filkin has put in her annex the letter that I sent out to
members after communicating with Alan Greatrix. It was a letter
that any other MP would send out. The local party wanted to start
a lottery to raise funds for their party. They asked the Member
of Parliament to write a letter supporting it and we wrote a letter
saying that this was a very good idea. It is annex 100 onwards.
No Member of Parliament would not send a letter like this for
his local party. It is making it quite clear what it is for. There
is a letter from the chairman, which Mrs Filkin saysI do
not know how she comes to this conclusionwas me but in
fact is Alan Greatrix. It was prepared by the treasurer, John
Robinson, and you will see Alan Greatrix says it is. Nowhere does
Alan Greatrix say that I wrote the letter. It says, "In Leicester
East we relied heavily on Mr Vaz but we must build our own strength
... the next election ... we want premises. We would like a 100
Club." 100 people could join. My party has 326 members. 50
people did not join; we kept bringing down the name of this club.
In the end, 37 people joined. I am a contributor to this. I gave
my £5 like everybody else. This is not a benefit to me. No
MP can get away with not contributing to a lottery of a local
party. If they say, "Are you going to take out a standing
order?" you say, "Yes." What was it used for? It
was used for expenses as Mr Gerald Shamash says in the letter
he has written on behalf of the party. It tells you exactly what
it has been used for. Nothing came to me; this was not a benefit
308. Do you think, because of the proximity
of these properties, people may get confused between what was
your office and what is the Leicester East Labour Party office?
(Mr Vaz) No, because it only operated for 18 months.
Mr Greatrix had to resign for other reasons. Mr Thomas's wife
had a heart attack. He moved his office to his house and he claimed
exactly the same expenses that he would claim if he was sitting
there. All secretaries and officers of the party are able to claim
their expenses if they wish to do so.
309. Moving on to Mapesbury which was set up
for the purposes of the income that was never generated by the
Asian community calendars and your other earnings, is it still
used for that purpose? I think you have told the Commissioner
it is not.
(Mr Vaz) No, it was not used since 1996 for those
310. It still does exist?
(Mr Vaz) It does exist, indeed. I have had a conversation
with my wife after I saw Mrs Filkin's letter and I suggested to
her that they think carefully about how they want to proceed with
this company because it has been all over The Observer.
311. If the purpose of the company has changed,
what is its current purpose?
(Mr Vaz) As is said in the objectives, it is a public
relations company and a publishing company that is run by my wife.
I have never been a director or shareholder. I accept that when
it was established it was for a different purpose. She is an independent
person, perfectly entitled to do this if she wishes. She is also
a lawyer. She has her own practice. It happens to be called Fernandes
Vaz, but I have no part to play in the running of her legal practice.
In fact, I have been to visit her office five times in the last
312. You do realise within our rules there are
various rules relating to spouses and their activities?
(Mr Vaz) Absolutely, yes.
313. Have you any idea what the turnover of
the company is?
(Mr Vaz) No, but Mrs Filkin has the accounts. Mrs
Filkin again unfairly criticises me. She says she thinks I could
be more candid with her in providing this information. This is
something that my wife runs. She is an independent person. She
has her own surname and she does not want to be associated with
anything that I do politically. I know there are rules relating
to spouses but I do not think I have broken the rules. It is a
matter for her. There is another director who is not a member
of the family. There was no impropriety in respect of the fact
that members of the family could have a company independent of
Members of Parliament. The report does not in any way criticise
that fact or make any judgment about members of families having
their own thing to do.
314. Obviously there is a lot of paperwork here
but do you not feel it would assist you to have your wife produce
(Mr Vaz) I think it is a matter for the company. As
with the party, I will do my best but there is a company; they
have an accountant and a solicitor. They are under an obligation
to deal with things properly. Write to them and ask them and see
what they say. I will suggest to them that they should do it,
but I do not see why they should not be able to get some kind
of authorisation or certificate from their accountants to do whatever
you want. There has been no complaint about this. This comes from
Mrs Filkin's view of my file. She asked questions and I really
do not think in this world one can say generally, "Give me
everything that has ever been said about you and we will look
at it." If there was a particular transaction or a particular
bit of wrongdoing that you feel has been done into Mapesbury,
I think you should come to me first because I am a member. Then
Mapesbury can clear it up and it is for them to do that.
315. You were the one who went to the then Commissioner
to check out Mapesbury. You can appreciate where all the links
come from here. Obviously, we have to get this all clear.
(Mr Vaz) I do understand that. I know that Mrs Filkin
wanted to look through my file. I am glad she did. It is like
an MOT. She has found Mapesbury and she reminded me of the letter
to Downey which I appreciate. I think Mapesbury should go its
own way in the sense that it has gone its own way since 1996 but,
because it is on my register, it annoys me and I want to be able
316. Could you give me some sort of idea what
types of income that you described to the former Commissioner
were paid into the company before it changed to its current practice?
(Mr Vaz) Only the adverts for the calendar, I would
317. Which you said was a huge disaster?
(Mr Vaz) Yes.
318. It made a loss?
(Mr Vaz) It made a loss, yes. It was not successful.
319. Since its inception, Mapesbury has not
provided you with any form of benefit or support for your constituency
(Mr Vaz) No.