Examination of witness (Questions 860
TUESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2001
860. Chairman, I am not challenging in any sense
the electoral expenses return put in by Mr Vaz and his agent,
I am asking specifically, these sums amounting to around £17,500it
may be less, it may have been more
(Mr Vaz) No, it was £17,500. It was not less
or more. That was the figure.
861. The reason I say it may be more is because
somebody may have offered £10 towards Mr Vaz's election and
that is why I say the precise sum does not matter, what does matter
is into which bank account were these cheques paid originally?
(Mr Vaz) I have said I will show this to the Chairman.
I do not think that question is relevant. Election law has been
fully complied with and therefore I have nothing to say about
the election. He will see, when he sees it, where they went and
what the purpose was. All right? I am not answering questions
on electoral law, I am not competent to do that, I am not an agent.
862. I am not asking questions about electoral
(Mr Vaz) You are asking me about the election. I do
not know, I was not involved in all this. I was all the way round
the country doing these things. I was not a signatory to any of
863. Does Mr Vaz accept that I am not asking
a question about electoral law?
(Mr Vaz) No, I do not accept it. I do not understand
your question. I am sorry, I do not know. I do not know the answer.
This is not a question which should be addressed to me. I am here
as a Member of Parliament to talk about what is on my register
and any complaints which have been made. It is not a lifestyle
investigation into Keith Vaz. I do not know the answer.
864. Does Mr Vaz accept I am not asking a question
(Mr Vaz) No, I do not accept that!
865.about electoral law?
(Mr Vaz) No, I do not accept that! I do not know what
your question is.
866. Will Mr Vaz accept I am not asking a question
about electoral law?
(Mr Vaz) No, because I do not know what the question
is. I do not understand.
867. If there is an entry in the Register of
Members' Interests which is supposed to be of benefit to a Memberand
we are told this is a mistaken entry because these payments were
not of advantage to the Member, they were contributions to a constituency
party and/or to an election fund and/or to the National Labour
Party, who had the discretion as into which bank account they
were paid, first, and, secondly, which bank account were they
(Mr Vaz) I will show the Chairman. I am not going
to release information about my party at this stage. I have a
letter here from a solicitor who has got all this information
and I am not going to disclose this information, neither would
you. I do not think the Conservative Association of Worthing West
would want you to do it.
868. Will Mr Vaz confirm it was not paid into
his election expenses account?
(Mr Vaz) Yes.
Chairman: Any further questions?
869. To come back to Mr Brown, very brieflyI
have a fixation about him
(Mr Vaz) Yes, I saw your questioning, Mr Williams!
870. I thought you listened to it as well and
answered it. You say you would not know him in a crowd of two,
so how do you know you have never seen him?
(Mr Vaz) Because I think I would remember someone
called Brown. The only Browns I know are called Nick and Gordon.
I really do not know any other Browns.
871. When we listened to Mr Zaiwalla, Mr Zaiwalla
seemed to have a very master-and-servant view of people who were
lower down in the pecking order in his establishment. That may
be an injustice to him.
(Mr Vaz) That was a mistaken impression.
872. I had the impression that Mr Brown did
not in any case rank very high in his establishment. He actually
said of course that he sent him to get the money, to cash the
chequesthis is general practiceif he wanted cash
he would send him to do it but he would not discuss with him what
it was for and that sort of thing. He is not the sort of person
he would have introduced to you by name on the basis of what Mr
Zaiwalla was saying. How do you know, when you went to Mr Zaiwalla's
place, you did not meet Mr Brown? You are so adamant you did not
meet Mr Brown. Perhaps there were a number of people in Mr Zaiwalla's
office whom you saw and met but were never formally introduced
to, so how can you be so sure you never met him?
(Mr Vaz) Because I have not met him. I have met Mr
Milne, the man who started this complaint, but I have not met
873. There used to a question in Oxford's peculiar
school of philosophy, "Can you see something and not notice
it?" Mr Brown sounds as if he is someone you can see but
not notice. You can see things without being aware, you can see
a burglary but you think you are seeing someone cleaning a window.
(Mr Vaz) That is true.
874. I am coming back to this but it just fascinates
me why you are so absolutely adamant that you know in your various
visits there this rather inconspicuous employee was someone you
never ever met.
(Mr Vaz) Mr Williams, I am a Labour MP, these kind
of divisions of hierarchy do not make any difference to me.
875. No, but they made a difference to Mr Zaiwalla.
(Mr Vaz) That is a question for him.
876. It is a question whether he was introduced
to you, not whether you would have wanted to meet him.
(Mr Vaz) I tell you, Mr Williams, I would know somebody
who scuttled out of the office, went and got a cheque cashed,
scuttled back and handed over £1,000 in cash.
877. You would know him by sight?
(Mr Vaz) I think I would because it is not something
which would happen very often.
878. You would know him by name?
(Mr Vaz) No, I would not know him by name. The first
time I knew about Mr Brown, as the Commissioner will tell you,
is when I rang her up on a Saturday night and she was at home
and I said to her, "The Telegraph have been on the
phone and the Telegraph have said, `Mr Brown says X, Y
and Z'." I said, and my letter is in the file, "I do
not know Mr Brown. The only Browns I know are Gordon and Nick."
Then Mrs Filkin writes to me and says, "Mr Vaz did not tell
me he did not know Mr Brown." Of course I did. I told her
before she even received the complaint because I know Mr Milne
went to see Mrs Filkin before he made the complaint. I know also
that Mr Milne subsequently changed his story as a result of the
transcript of the conversation he had with Mr Brown. Even if you
say I have never met them, and then think "Could I have met
them", the answer is no, it is an emphatic no but I have
met Mr Milne.
879. A final semi-flippant question. Your party
was incredibly generous giving £8,700 to the Central Labour
Party. I think you frightened a lot of us round this table because
we are now afraid that come the next election our own constituency
parties are going to have a letter saying, "Look what Mr
Vaz did, go down and do likewise." £8,700 seems a rather
generous contribution to make to the central cause from a constituency
party because usually they are not overly endowed with cash, are
(Mr Vaz) No, but these people chose to donate in this
way. They could have donated nationally but they chose to donate
in this way. I do not know of any politician who has an excess
of money who does not then say to the donor, "Thank you very
much, I am going to send this money back to you." Of course
not. If the national party asks for support, of course you give
them support. We were in a position to do so. I am in the fortunate
position this year, thank goodness, where I will not have to raise
a single penny for the election campaign, and I am glad about
that. I cannot tell you how glad I am about that!