Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence


Letter to the Clerk of the Committee on Standards and Privileges from Ms Maria Fernandes

Thank you for your letter of the 23rd January 2001 which I received today.

In your letter you refer to a letter from Mrs Filkin dated 22nd January which was only received on 23rd January 2001. I hope that you will appreciate that it was not possible to reply to Mrs Filkin's letter before I received your letter.

As I and the company are not parties to these proceedings I would be pleased to receive an answer to the following questions:

1.  Who has made a complaint or allegation about this company? Mrs Filkin has not informed me of any.

2.  What evidence has been produced to support this complaint or allegation? Mrs Filkin has not sent me any.

3.  Would you kindly supply a copy of your agreed procedures for dealing with third parties and the circumstances in which you request information from them. Mrs Filkin has not sent me such a document.

Notwithstanding the above and in order to assist the Committee in any way I can my answers to you questions are as follows:

1.  The purpose of the establishment of the company was explained to Sir Gordon Downey in a letter from Mr Vaz to him a copy of which was set to the Board. I do not have a copy of this letter to hand but can obtain a copy if you wish. The objects of the company are as stated in its Articles and Memorandum. The company is a publishing and public relations company. It ceased to assist with the publication of the calendars in 1996 for the reasons set out in my letter to Mrs Filkin of 18th January 2001. In 1996 it went on to pursue its commercial activities.

2.  The accounts for the period when it dealt with Mr Vaz's calendars are lodged at Companies House and available for public inspection. I do not have any further information on this, this matter goes back 8 years. However it is apparent from the calendars themselves who the advertisers are. Mr Vaz's calendars project manager the late Raihan Mahmoud dealt with these issues with the then company secretary.

3.  As far as I am aware no publication by the company other than what is stated above (the calendars) contains the words "Keith Vaz". As I have said previously we have only dealt with the calendars for Mr Vaz. The calendars made a loss and did not benefit the company.

4.  The full accounts are available at Companies House. As the secretary is currently in hospital undergoing treatment for cancer, I have asked the accountant who prepared the audited accounts to look through the accounts and let me have a certificate as to any benefits from this company to Mr Vaz. I will forward this to you as soon as I receive it. I have asked him to do this urgently.

5.  In the meantime if there is any payment in or out of the company which the Committee feels is improper or questionable, or has any concerns about I will ask the company accountant to look into the matter and produce a report or an explanation. Please let me know which transaction Mrs Filkin has concerns about, because in her two letters to me she has not identified any. However I must make it clear that the Board has a duty to ensure the confidentiality of its clients who have nothing to do with this inquiry.

6.  As far as any further disclosure is concerned, I would not wish to do anything improper in respect of my duties as a director, just because the subject of Mrs Filkin's inquiries happens to be my husband. The reputation of this company has already been damaged by an inaccurate newspaper article, you will have seen my correspondence with Mrs Filkin on this point.

7.  It would greatly assist me if you could supply me with any precedent concerning disclosure by a third party of information where there has been no complaint about that third party.

Finally may I repeat to you: Mr Vaz has neither been a shareholder nor a director of the company. Neither he nor his office have received any personal benefit from it. Since 1996 neither he nor his project managers have had dealings with this company.

I hope this assists you. I am sending a copy of this letter to the company solicitor.

24 January 2001

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