Examination of witness (Questions 787
TUESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2001
787. Welcome to the Committee once again, Mr
Vaz. We are sorry to have to call you a second time. There are
one or two things we wanted to find out, and we have received
the responses from Mr Bindman set out here. One or two questions
we had in mind to ask you followed those responses which some
Members felt needed to be elaborated on and expanded. Looking
at the answers to question (iii) in the letter from Mr Bindman,
that says, "Mr. Vaz has shown his bank statements to an independent
person who has found no such payment."we are talking
about Mr Zaiwalla's payment of £1,000 in February 1994, thought
to be a donation to a charity"Mr. Vaz has asked that
person to provide confirmation in writing." Can you say something
about that independent person?
(Mr Vaz) Yes, Mr Chairman. In fact, I
did have a letter that I was going to put before you, until I
discovered that the independent person is the same accountant
whom you use, therefore I am getting another one to certify it.
It is the same firm of accountants that you have used in the report
that was done on you.
788. The name of the accountant?
(Mr Vaz) Hard Dowdy.
789. I see. It is a national firm. They have
many branches. I just happen to use one branch.
(Mr Vaz) That is fine. I have brought the statements,
I have shown them to Mr Bindman, but I will let you have that
790. Thank you.
(Mr Vaz) I just felt, on the conflict of interest
point, it was wise to go to someone else. There are quite a lot
of accountants one can choose from.
791. Is Mr Vaz saying the statements are here?
(Mr Vaz) Yes, they are.
Mr Bottomley: Would it be possible perhaps
for an independent person like the Clerk to see them? That would
be a very good way of getting confirmation.
792. Would you do that?
(Mr Vaz) Yes, he can come and sit here. I do not want
793. Perhaps we can get a copy of that for the
Committee to see. (Document handed in to the Committee by Mr
Vaz) The other question I have concerns question (v). We asked
for information about the purpose of the "K Vaz MP office
account" into which the first of these two cheques was paid,
and about any other payments made into it. In the answer, Mr Bindman
refers to question (iv)"he has not and has never had
any access to their accounts." Can you say something about
the "K Vaz MP office account"?
(Mr Vaz) This, of course, Mr Chairman, comes from
Mr Zaiwalla's cash book, it does not come from me. I have not
said this is where any cheque would have gone to. In 1994 I do
not know whether there was an account called "K Vaz MP",
in the same way that it was usedmost Members of Parliament
would have an account of some kind to deal with their petty cash
payments. Checking with a member of staff who was there at the
time, she says that there may have been such an account. She does
know that there was a petty cash account. She cannot confirm that
it was called "K Vaz MP". I have not searched for it,
because, frankly, I do not know whether or not it was paid in
there. I mean, this hangs on Mr Zaiwalla's cash book. In his evidence,
as you saw, he said that it was not a payment to the Labour Party
and it was not a payment to me. In 1994, as Members can see from
the register, I was dealing with a number of different campaigns;
I was dealing with the Race Relations Amendment Bill, the BCCI
campaign. There were a number of people who were involved in various
activities. Mr Zaiwalla writes that down in his cash book and
claims that that is the name of the account, but I cannot confirm
794. As a matter of ground clearing, I am going
to ask you now, if I may, to describe the financial payments by
Mr Zaiwalla that in some way were connected with you or causes
that you were associated with.
(Mr Vaz) I do not know as fact, because it was eight
years ago, but I believe that these payments were payments for
an advert. As we have seen throughout this year-long inquiry,
people put down the word "K Vaz" as a reminder of "Let's
remember Keith Vaz, because he was in some way connected to this
payment." I do not know why people do that, but that is what
they do. So you are asking me to look back eight years and ask
me what somebody says a payment was for. What I can tell you with
absolute certainty is that neither were payments to me, and I
do not believe any were payments to the Labour Party, for the
simple reason that Mr Zaiwalla was not a Labour Party supporter
and he would not give money to the Labour Party. In any event,
the Commissioner has said that in those circumstances, in her
conclusions, these were not registerable payments. That is why
I went to see the Registrar and the Commissioner, and the second
Registrar, and we had such a long time discussing these calendars,
because I felt it was really important that this should be dealt
795. In terms of building blocks, the paymentsthe
£200 and £250were in relation to advertisements
(Mr Vaz) I think that they were, Mr Bottomley. I do
796. They are likely to have been?
(Mr Vaz) I would think so, yes.
797. Are they likely to have been payments because
you had suggested it, or some advertising salesman had gone to
Mr Zaiwalla? Are they more likely to be directly because of some
link between you and him directly?
(Mr Vaz) No.
798. That is not likely or less likely?
(Mr Vaz) It is very unlikely. I know hundreds of thousands
of people whom I have addressed. I addressed a meeting in Milton
Keynes where there were 100,000 people present each one of whom
will say they know Keith Vaz. I do not have a financial relationship
with Mr Zaiwalla.
799. I may have put the question inadequately.
Is it more likely that Mr Zaiwalla said, "Let us make these
payments for the calendars" because you had in some way suggested
it, or is it more likely that he made those payments because somebody
knocked on the door and said, "We're doing these calendars.
We'd be very grateful if you could pay for an advertisement"?
(Mr Vaz) I have no idea. He and other people were
very People advertise. I cannot look into his mind. They
make their own decisions. Frankly, I think he would have had a
bigger benefit than I would.
1 Note by witness: I should have said Hacker