Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 139

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Finers Stephens Innocent, Solicitors


  We write further to our telephone conversation with you on, Wednesday 24 May.

  Firstly, we wish to clarify the position as regards our letter to you of 23 May 2000. You told both us and our client, that you read this as an indication that our client was refusing to meet with you. This is not the case. We had understood from our client that you had made various suggestions as regards a proposed meeting with him, culminating in an invitation that he meet with you on Thursday 25 May. Our letter had intended to inform you that he would not be able to make any such meeting on Thursday 25 May, not as you read it, any meeting at all.

  We have, however, yet to form a view as to whether it would be appropriate for Mr Kapasi to meet with you. As we explained to you, we have not yet had the opportunity to discuss this matter with our client and to advise him. Accordingly, we are not yet in a position to advise whether he even has information, which might assist your enquiries. As we also informed you, Mr Mark Stephens who is now dealing with this matter is unavoidably out of the country on business until Monday 12 June but will deal with this matter expeditiously on his return, and will in any event revert to you with a progress report by Wednesday 14 June.

  As we informed you in our letter of 23 May and on the telephone, our client has no intention to be deliberately unhelpful in this matter. Indeed, he has already written four letters to you confirming and re-confirming his position. However, he does of course wish to seek advice from us which you acknowledged and appreciated is entirely appropriate and sensible.

  Mr Kapasi reported to us on 24 May, that you had threatened that if he did not meet with you on Thursday 25 May as you had proposed, you would have him arrested. However, when we spoke to you, you confirmed that what you had intended to do, was simply to explain to him the Committee's power to require him to give evidence before them, and not to leave him with the impression that you had the power of arrest and to compel attendance at your office. We both expressed our concern that the impression left with Mr Kapasi should be so wide of the mark.

  You informed us that at any proposed interview, you will be putting certain allegations to him as made by third parties as have been fully disclosed to him in advance. For our part, we informed you that what you have said to us and to our client, appears to be part at odds with our understanding of our instructions and until we have investigated this further, we are not in a position to advise our client as to whether or not he should meet with you.

  In al the circumstances, therefore, we are not able to agree to a meeting at this stage, but as we have said will revert to you by Wednesday 14 June.

  We are, as you know, instructed by him to act on his behalf in this matter. We trust that now we have established contact, there will be no further need for you to discuss this matter directly with our client. In that way hopefully no further misunderstandings can arise.

  Finally, you advised us that your desire to meet Mr Kapasi is the last thing holding up your enquiry. We have yet to see the other submissions and would be grateful to receive a copy of the other submissions and in particular Mr Soulsby's and Mr Vaz MP's submissions to you.

1 June 2000

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