Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 84

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Colin Hall, Chairman, Leicester East Constituency Labour Party

  Thank you for your letter of 17 May 2000, which I received today.

  In response to your enquiry, I received a copy of Mr Kamal's letter on or around 25 April 2000. I have no information about the identity of the person or persons who sent it. However, I was concerned about comments made by Mr Kamal in his letter, and considered that they should either be substantiated in sufficient detail to warrant further action, or withdrawn in their entirety.

  It was on the basis of these concerns, which I will be happy to explain in more detail if requested, that I subsequently wrote to Mr Kamal. I assume from the comments you have made in your letter to me that this letter, or parts thereof, have been forwarded to you.

  During the time between the receipt of Mr Kamal's complaint and my response to it, neither I nor Leicester East Constituency Labour Party were aware that your inquiry was ongoing, especially as we had never been officially notified of its existence in the first place.

  Given the nature of many of the allegations submitted to this inquiry, I am surprised that no notification of it, or any invitation to submit evidence to it, has to date been received by me, or to my knowledge any other officer of the Constituency Labour Party. Indeed, your letter is the first official indication I have received that this inquiry is taking place.

  I would therefore be grateful if you could let me have more details of the terms of reference of this inquiry, so that I and other members of the Constituency Labour Party can co-operate with and take part in it. In particular, if Mr Kamal's letter of 17 April is to form a significant piece of evidence in this inquiry, then I and others will seek the opportunity to respond to its contents in some detail. In fact, Mr Kamal specifically requests that you contact a number of present and former councillors, (including John Thomas, the Secretary of the Constituency Labour Party) to pursue your enquiries further. As a member of this group to whom he refers, I am again surprised that you have not communicated with me previously in relation to this matter.

  It has been suggested that comments made in my letter to Mr Kamal of 8 May 2000 may be interpreted as being potentially prejudicial or obstructive to your inquiry, or even being in outright contempt of Parliament. This was never my intention (as stated above, I was not aware the inquiry was ongoing) and I apologise unreservedly if that impression has been given. I can also confirm that neither I nor the Constituency Labour Party will commence any proceedings against Mr Kamal in respect of the contents of his letter to you of 17 April.

  I hope that this matter can be resolved as quickly as possible and will give every assistance to ensure that you are able to give a fair and informed judgement at the earliest opportunity.

  I assume that your comments about the confidential nature of the evidence submitted to this inquiry apply equally to all parties. However, I would be grateful if you could formally confirm that this is the case.

  I look forward to hearing from you.

18 May 2000

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