Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 147

Letter to Mr Jaffer A Kapasi OBE DL MKD from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

  Thank you for your letter of 16 June 2000.

  At its meeting yesterday the Standards and Privileges Committee decided that they wished you to assist my enquiry and the Chairman is writing to you separately. I look forward to your arranging to see me shortly when I will be happy to discuss fully the points you make in the letter.

  I accept the point you make about the misunderstanding between you and Ms Melville-Brown which led to her letter to me of 23 May.

  There is one further matter where I need to set the record straight as I can only assume there was another misunderstanding, in this instance between you and me. We spoke on the telephone on 24 May but at no time did I say that I have power to arrest you. I have not. You asked what would happen if you did not assist my enquiry. I explained that it was likely that the Committee would ask you to appear before them if you refused to answer my questions. I also explained the powers given to the Committee by the House of Commons to ensure that people provide the necessary information, and that they have said they will use those powers to support my enquiries. You said that you were aware of the Committee's powers including "that they could arrest you". We discussed your duty to the House of Commons which I believed you fully understood.

  When Mr Mark Stephens telephoned me on 24 May he told me that you had got such an impression from our conversation, I was most surprised and gave Mr Stephens the facts and my account of our conversation. I assume he set the matter straight with you on that date. For the avoidance of further misunderstanding the position is as follows. The Committee can compel a witness to attend to give evidence. If a witness refuses an order to appear before the Committee the Officers of the House can draw upon the assistance of the civil authorities, if necessary, to ensure the order is obeyed. It is only in this limited context and as a last resort that any question of arrest would apply.

  I fully accept that your hesitancy on your part to meet me is purely due to your concern over what you describe as Sir Peter Soulsby's motives in attempting to involve you in this matter. I must make it clear that Sir Peter Soulsby has not sought to involve you in this matter and his motives have no part in my invitation to you to assist me. I am solely responsible for asking you to answer questions about events in which you may or may not have been involved. All I require from you is a complete and truthful account of matters where you have knowledge and information about issues where you have no knowledge or involvement.

  I look forward to hearing from you or your solicitors to arrange a meeting but I am sorry to tell you that so far they have not followed your instructions to get in touch with me by 14 June. I trust you will put these arrangements in hand without further delay.

21 June 2000

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 16 March 2001