Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 640 - 659)



Mr Lewis

  640. Mr Zaiwalla, you said there would be the existence of a receipt for £1,000 that Mr Brown, as a bookkeeper, would have insisted upon?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Yes.

  641. You then went on to say, in answer to the Chairman, that it may have been removed by Mr Milne because it would have incriminated him?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Not incriminated him, but to have something on me.

  642. That is the word you used; you said "because it might incriminate Mr Milne" it was removed. What did you mean by that?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) May I say, if I said "incriminate" him that is an incorrect word used by me. What I meant was that soon after Mr Milne's theft was discovered, he wrote me a long letter making all sorts of allegations, and he was prepared for the evil day. Mr Milne's strategy was that the firm would go bankrupt, and his theft was never discovered, his piece of fraud was not discovered, therefore he had prepared himself to attack me with, one after the other.

  643. But why would that particular document be advantageous to Mr Milne in this conspiracy that you are now describing; why that particular piece of paper?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Because he can then make this allegation.

  644. I do not really follow why that particular piece of paper should be significant in this conspiracy that you are describing.
  (Mr Zaiwalla) The only reason is because he could then make this allegation against Mr Vaz, just as he made the allegation against Mr Baldry and a lot of my other friends.

  645. Okay, I will leave that one. The other thing that interests me about this particular event—
  (Mr Zaiwalla) May I interrupt you, with your permission, sir. It is also possible that this document—the receipt—is genuinely lost, because after this event Brown's theft was discovered, the police investigated all the documents, the Law Society investigated all the documents, and the documents have been gone through so often. When the Milne theft was discovered four or five years later, we had a massive arbitration before Sir Brian Neill against a very, very difficult opponent. In fact, I now have a claim against the auditors and I find that the original cheques in the Milne claim have all disappeared. I am not suggesting there is anything sinister, but they are probably lost, because there is a huge box of papers, and it is very, very difficult to say with any degree of accuracy.

  646. Turning now to Mr Brown collecting the £1,000 in cash, the story we are hearing now is that two representatives of the charity that Mr Vaz recommended were in your office, or in the reception outside. Was Mr Vaz not on the scene at all during that transaction?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No.

  647. Mr Brown, as I understand it, then offered the cheque, to pick up the cash. What would be the timescale of this? As we understand it, the bank is in the same premises, is it?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Same building, yes.

  648. So it would be a very short timescale?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Ten to 15 minutes maximum.

  649. At no time was Mr Vaz at the bank?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No, absolutely certain. May I say this, sir, that both the allegations against Mr Baldry and Keith Vaz were calculated just to damage me, but I have stood firm, I have put God in front of me. I decided to take Mr Milne on, and I went through the most horrible cross examination before Sir Brian Neill the Arbitrator. I have been a witness for two days, and he believed me, he does believe me, and he made a finding that Mr Milne had stolen money.

Mr Foster

  650. I am still not entirely clear about this £2,450, how it is actually made up. You were very precise about the £2,450.
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I have roughly calculated this.

  651. It is not a precise figure?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No, I have just roughly calculated it.

  652. I wondered why there was the £50 on the end.
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I will tell you why: because before I came just now I read the papers which you sent me—papers which the Chairman sent me—and there is a letter from me to the Commissioner.

  653. This is the 14 February letter, is it?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) This is the 10 July letter, page 280, something like this (indicating). This is after a search which Mr Hodgson, the present bookkeeper, took for going up to 1991. There was a payment of £250 to Keith Vaz's constituency office, and a payment of £200 to Wildberry. It was made directly to Wildberry, but on the book there was an aide-memoire "Keith Vaz", and therefore I thought it was proper to disclose it. This was something which I had not disclosed, I did not know about it, but after a thorough search we found it out and it was voluntarily disclosed.

  654. Is there a possibility that there are two sums of £1,000?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No, none whatsoever.

  655. I wanted to ask about your definition of "charity". When you talk about charity, do you mean a formally constituted charity such as Save the Children or Dr Barnardo's, or do you give it a wider meaning?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) The honest answer is that for the purpose of this I would give a wider meaning. In 1993, I would not have inquired into a Cyclone Appeal Fund or a relief fund if I had to contribute, say, £500 or £1,000, if the newspapers or somebody organised it. If I knew who was the person behind it, I would not check whether it was a charity or not. I would consider that it was a charity. What you mean is that was it a registered charity?

  656. Yes. I understand that very recently there has been a number of ad hoc charities that have grown up as a result of the recent earthquake and people with lots of money tell me that it may not be a charity. Have you any experience of that?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) It is possible, but I have no personal experience. I have a busy practice and I have a lot of interaction with the Asian community. I had much more then than now, but I would not get myself into the nitty-gritty of it.

  657. I do not have experience but is it the case that within the Asian community generally "charity" would have a wider meaning? I simply do not know.
  (Mr Zaiwalla) It would be fair to say that there are possibilities of fraud where people hold themselves out as representing charities which are not charities. Therefore, I am very reluctant to make any donation unless I know the person behind it. If it comes from a Member of Parliament who says, "Donate to this charity", I would presume that it was pukka. I get lots of letters and I would simply not make any donation.

  658. One or two of the early payments were made out to Mr Keith Vaz, I believe. Is that right?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Not to Keith Vaz; Keith Vaz's constituency office.

  659. Can you be more precise about that? What do you mean by "Keith Vaz's constituency office"? Who is the payee?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) It is a question to which I had not addressed myself. I would expect that there would be a constituency office account and the payee would be not him personally but the office account. For example, this cheque of £250 or £200 was made out to the constituency office.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 16 March 2001