Examination of witness (Questions 360
TUESDAY 30 JANUARY 2001
360. It may have been put. If it were no more
than a rumour, I think it is fair none the less that it should
be put to you.
(Mr Vaz) No, absolutely. I do not know of any solicitor
who would want somebody else telling them how to run their business.
Mr Foster: I have no other questions.
361. Keith, City 2020 which you headed uphow
was that financed? Was it sponsored?
(Mr Vaz) Yes, it was dealt with by someone at Sheffield
who used to work for Sheffield City Council and someone else who
worked for Leicester City Council. They would have their events
362. Was the party involved there?
(Mr Vaz) Was the party involved there? No, I do not
Only in the sense that I would be chairing some meetings. Yes,
I suppose I do not know really.
363. Was it done on your initiative?
(Mr Vaz) No, it was the Commission, with people like
Richard Rogers on it and various people like that.
364. Was it funded by sponsorship?
(Mr Vaz) Yes.
365. From where, can you recall?
(Mr Vaz) From various organisations that are interested
in regeneration issues and that kind of thing. I am not sure where
we went to.
366. The people we have discussed nowZaiwalla
and the rest, and Kapasinone of those were sources of sponsorship?
(Mr Vaz) No.
367. Does anybody else have any questions? If
not, thank you, Keith, for coming along and answering our questions
today. Is there anything else you want to say?
(Mr Vaz) There is, actually, Mr Chairman. There are
a couple of things. First of all, the point is that I hope the
Committee will look at the submission put forward by Mr Bindman.
It is not a long one, but I think it is an important one. There
are just three elements that we want to highlight. One is the
inclusion in the report of comments about third parties who have
not had anything put to them or are not involved in terms of the
way in which this report is being prepared and comments about
them. Secondly, it is matters that are totally irrelevant to the
inquiry. The report into Leicester Labour Partyis totally
irrelevant, yet there are pages devoted to what Claire Ward says,
and it is totally irrelevant to any complaint against a Member
of Parliament. I would also argue that about what Mr Peter Soulsby
has said and indeed what I have said about Peter Soulsby, other
than the complaint or the allegations that he made, and of course
you are entitled to look at that. I think those are the most important
things that I wanted to put to you. The final thing is, every
day that this inquiry goes on continues to damage my reputation.
Practically anything that you say is not really going to exonerate
me, even the fact that Mrs Filkin has not upheld any complaint
in 14 out of the 15 cases. It is the length of time that is so
crushing. If it goes on any longer, it will really be not worth
all the effort that Mrs Filkin has, rightly, put into it. I keep
reading about the conclusions. It is really not fair to us that
every single newspaper seems to think about what is going on in
this. Every day it goes on, it is very damaging. I looked at the
outstanding matters that have to be looked at and, frankly, I
do not think that they are necessarily relevant to any of the
complaints and not complaints, for the simple reason that I think
that you dealt with the complaints very, very well, except for
the honours point which I made very strong submissions on, because
those really are important points, and I do disagree with Mrs
Filkin on that. I agree with her on all the other ones, because
she has not upheld a complaint. On the Hinduja caseI know
this is not an issue for this Committee, because there is an inquiryI
have any letters that the Committee may want. It is no good wrapping
up this inquiry and then anything else being produced. If the
Committee wants the letters that I wrote, I am happy to supply
those letters. I have just gone through them, so I know what they
are. There is another inquiry which is ongoing, which has been
started by Sir Anthony Hammond and will conclude in only 28 days'
time, which is very good for all the Ministers and Members of
Parliament involved. I think that is a very good precedent, to
complete things quickly, because at least we do not have to have
this hanging over us. Now they say it is a year-long inquiry.
It started on 7 February. I have replied to questions really quickly.
The only questions we have not replied to are where they are very
bland and very open. If it is a specific question, we have. But
the issue of relevance is a matter for us too. I think it is right
that we have not answered irrelevant questions, and I do not think
Mrs Filkin is the sole judge of what is irrelevant, we must be
allowed to have our views on that. I urge you to make a quick
decision, because in a few weeks' time it is going to be a year
since Andrew Milne made his complaint, and look at how far we
have gone on from there. Every aspect of my life has been investigated,
every bit of my reputation has been looked into. I would ask the
Committee to bear this in mind.
368. I would like to ask a question to seek
to know whether Mr Vaz has a comment on this. If there are suggestions
of keeping things from someone or being misled by someone, I think
it is right to say that we have not yet had accounts from Mapesbury,
the constituency Labour Party and there is one other area, we
have not had the accounts on the calendar, which we may not be
able to get because of the death of the person involved, so if
we were to try to conclude our inquiry without getting that information,
we have to do that openly.
(Mr Vaz) On that point, in respect of the Labour Party,
I think that the Labour Party is a voluntary organisation, and
the company is a separate company that is independent of me. I
think that if the Committee wants to make allegations, or if allegations
have been madeand I do not see what the allegations are
against either the company or the Labour Partythen I think
they need to be specific: "Did you on this day do this, that
or the other? Have you received this income", not a general
kind of round, because I think that is dangerous, it will go on
forever in those circumstances. I think there needs to be a specific
thing that needs to be looked at if there is anything that is
improper, and I say that as someone who obviously wants this to
be done. If the Labour Party refuses, if they demand to have a
meeting, they have nothing to lose on this. They have made it
quite clear they see this whole inquiry as Peter Soulsby and Mustapha
Kamal seeking to get to them. That opens the door to anyone saying
anything about an MP and their constituency association, and their
wife's businesses, their family's businesses, being opened up
to examination and published in a report when they have not been
involved in any impropriety. Finally, we were seeking to buy a
house in London to live in. The Sun is running an article
tomorrow about it. Just so the Committee knows, we have withdrawn
from purchasing this housewe are selling a house and buying
this new house for my mother to live inbecause there is
a crack in the wall. There is no question of us having to withdraw
for any other reason. I am happy to show you the survey, if you
Chairman: Thank you for coming along