Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 102

Letter to Claire Ward MP from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

  You may be aware from press reports that I am investigating complaints that Mr Vaz has received payments or benefits which he has not registered.

  I am informed that you were appointed to serve on a Labour Party enquiry into concerns in the labour Party in Leicestershire and that you heard detailed complaints from members, some of which concerned Mr Vaz.

  I would like to invite you to see me to give me full details of the information you collected concerning Mr Vaz and the conclusions reached by the panel. I would also wish to see your records of that enquiry as they relate to Mr Vaz.

  I am sure I do not need to remind you but for completeness I should say that the House of Commons has conferred upon the Select Committee by Standing Order the power to send for persons, papers and records, and that the Committee reserves the right to use those powers in furtherance of its own inquiries or the Commissioner's if it should prove necessary to do so.

  In conclusion, I should point out to you (as is my practice with all witnesses) that evidence supplied for the purposes of this inquiry, and any related correspondence, is covered by Parliamentary privilege and remains confidential unless and until it is published by the Select Committee on Standards and Privileges to whom I shall report. If such evidence or correspondence were published or divulged to a third party without the express authority of the Select Committee it would not be covered by Parliamentary privilege, and this would also be likely to exclude reliance on any privilege which it would otherwise attract at common law. Moreover, such an unauthorised disclosure would be likely to constitute a contempt of the House. Any attempt to obstruct my inquiry by any means could also be treated as a contempt.

  I look forward to hearing from you.

20 March 2000

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