Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 660 - 679)



  660. If I give you three possibilities, Keith Vaz is one; two is Keith Vaz's constituency office, if such an account exists; the other one would be the constituency Labour Party with the name at the front, in this case, Leicester East Constituency Labour Party.
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I would not have donated to the Labour Party, for the simple reason that I follow a policy personally that I think all good people must work together and therefore I would support an individual, no matter what political party he is.

  661. Is it fair to say that the money was given to support him as a Member of Parliament, rather than him personally?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) It was a payment given to him to support him for the work he was doing for the community. What his constituency office was doing I never inquired into.

  662. What did you think was meant by "the constituency office"? Did you think it was meaning stationery and postages or did you think it meant a new table or telephone? What was in your mind?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) What was in my mind was that he would do community service for the local Asian community.

  663. How was he to spend it or were you saying, "It is up to you how you spend it as long as it is for this essential purpose"?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I think Keith had asked for a donation for the Labour Party and I had said no. He said that he does a lot of community work through his constituency office. I said I had no objection to that, in the same way that I would support a member if he was a like minded member, but not necessarily the party.

  664. Is it possible that the cheques were made out to the constituency party or this charity work that they might do as opposed to their political activities?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) That is exactly what I intended.

  665. I do not want to mislead you in what I am asking you. Are you saying that it is possible that the cheques were to the Leicester East Constituency Labour Party for this purpose that you have indicated?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) The honest answer would be that I have never applied my mind. I would not be able to give you a correct answer.

  666. You just do not know?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I just do not know.

  667. You knew what the purpose was?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Yes.

  668. And that it was not for political activity?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Yes. I was supporting him as a Member of Parliament.

  669. Who the cheque was made out to was irrelevant?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I would not make it out to him. To give an example, because of the need to behave with propriety, even Tony Baldry, whom I have known for years as a friend and Member of Parliament, when he asked me for a personal loan, I insisted that there should be a loan agreement; I insisted that he should pay interest at the same rate that the bank would charge me. There should be no suggestion of impropriety on my part and therefore I would not make any payment to him without these documents.

Mr Williams

  670. You state quite categorically, do you, that Mr Brown was not in the office with Mr Vaz at the time when you gave money to Mr Vaz or money was asked for in relation to Mr Vaz? Mr Brown did not bring any to you?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I have not followed.

  671. You did say that you had no conversation with Mr Brown in one context. Why would you have no conversation with him?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I would just give him instructions. I would not discuss with him and I would not expect him to discuss with me.

  672. The proposition that he would have got money brought into your room in the presence of Mr Vaz and either you or he had given it to Mr Vaz—?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Mr Vaz was never present.

  673. Never?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Never.

  674. You are absolutely sure?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Absolutely sure. I say with absolute integrity that Mr Vaz was not present. I can say with absolute integrity that Mr Vaz has never asked me for money for himself.

  675. What about Mrs Vaz/Ms Fernandez? Do you know her as well?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Not as well as I have known Mr Vaz but I know her.

  676. Did you meet at the British Embassy in Portugal?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) I did meet her in Portugal.

  677. That was last year some time?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) That was in May 2000.

  678. Was there any discussion of this inquiry on that occasion?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) No, but my discussions with her became the grounds of my complaint to the Prime Minister.

  679. How?
  (Mr Zaiwalla) Because Mrs Vaz is very honest and very straight. I trust Mrs Vaz. This has been a bone of contention, rightly or wrongly, not that Mr Vaz gave evidence for Miss *** or evidence was read out, but his evidence was grossly inaccurate.

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