File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
5 APRIL 2000, MEETING
Claire Ward came to see me on 5 April 2000 to bring
with her her notes from the Labour Party inquiry into issues in
Leicestershire. During the course of the conversation she told
me that when she had gone back through her records she found that
most of the issues were about Party matters and whether or not
gerrymandering had taken place, and in her view, they were matters
for the Labour Party and not me but she felt she should discuss
those issues with Robert Sheldon to see whether he felt other
information should be provided to me. However, she gave me the
following information during the conversation.
1. A city councillor at the time the Chief
Whip in 1994 Ned Newitt had provided information about improper
pressure on the planning process in relation to a Mr Sheikh. The
allegation was that the MP had used his position to acquire clients
for his sister's legal practice.
2. At the time in 1994 Imtiaz Farookhi was
Chief Executive in Leicester and there were allegations that he
had brought improper pressure to bear to support Mr Vaz.
3. I asked Claire Ward what her assessment
of Peter Soulsby was and she said it was her impression that he
is a good man and that he had given long service to the Labour
Party. But the only information that he had provided to the inquiry
which was "hard" was in relation to three groups seeking
to obtain land where he alleged that each of those groups had
paid £500 to Mr Vaz for his help in achieving access to that
4. She informed me about Mr Gosling refusing
to agree the accounts of the constituency.
5. The inquiry itself had on it Claire Ward,
Ron Lakey, Regional Executive and Sandy Feather from the Regional
Executive. It had another employee of the Party to welcome peoplea
Roy Kennedy also from the region. The members of the inquiry were
provided with a list of the people who said they wished to attend
on the day. The regional secretary at the time was Roy Maddox.
Claire Ward provided me with a copy of the press release issued
by the Party on that day and claimed that she was concerned that
the inquiry had been closed down so quickly because she believed
there were other people in the Party who wished to give evidence
and who did not have the opportunity and that the issues were
wider than those with which the press release and the subsequent
inquiry dealt. She was anxious that if those matters were not
dealt with at the time they were likely to resurface again as
she believes they now have, as part of my inquiryand she
felt that would be bad for the Party.
6. I asked her whether in fact a full membership
check had occurred as indicated by the press release. She said
that it had occurred and was carried out by the regional office
with the assistance of the Head Office of the Labour Party. As
far as she knows what they found was that some people on the list
hadn't paid recently but she has no knowledge of the outcome of
that check and whether Mr Vaz was implicated in any way with any
of the irregularities. Claire Ward is going to consult the Chairman
of Standards and Privileges, Robert Sheldon, prior to deciding
whether there is any other information she ought to provide to
me. She agreed she would let me know when she had seen him. I
asked if she would arrange to do so sooner rather than later as
that would help me.