Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 151A

Letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges from Finers Stephens Innocent, Solicitors

  We act for Mr Jaffer Kapasi.

  We have seen a copy of your letter to Mr Kapasi of 20 June 2000, and trust, therefore, that you will have seen the correspondence passing between our client and Elizabeth Filkin and indeed ourselves and Mrs Filkin. You may be aware that our client is a Leicester based accountant and a prominent businessman, well respected within his field, his home town and religious community. He is the Deputy Lieutenant of Leicestershire and Officer of the British Empire.

  We are writing to your as Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privacy of the House of Commons in order to express our client's and our grave concern as to the way in which this matter is being dealt with as regards our client. You will be aware that he is an independent third party, not under investigation by Mrs Filkin, but that he is being put to considerable time, expense and anxiety as a result of Mrs Filkin's requests for him to meet with her to discuss Parliament's enquiry into the MP Keith Vaz.

  We have asked Mrs Filkin for her confirmation as to whether or not she knows Sir Peter Soulsby, the former Leader of Leicester City Council, or indeed had met him prior to this enquiry in our letters dated 9, 16 and 21 June—we expect that you have seen copies of these letters—but despite her protestation to the contrary in her fax of 21 June, she is refusing to provide this information. This is giving considerable concern to our client. If she has an interest arising out of any dealings with Sir Peter Soulsby then she should declare it. Her impartiality (both perceived and actual) is vital to both the credibility and validity of her enquiry. She must, if you will, be like Caesar's wife—beyond allegation or reproach. What was an original and quite understandable hesitancy on the part of our client in meeting with Mrs Filkin, has developed into what now clearly appears to be a justified concern.

  It seems to us apparent that there are no clear rules or regulations which deal with the treatment of third parties in such investigations and that effectively, Mr Kapasi is at risk of being used as pawn through his forced involvement in this matter by Sir Peter Soulsby. Our client is not being investigated, Mr Vaz is. If Sir Peter Soulsby makes allegations concerning Mr Vaz, then he should be asked to appear and state the reason, not our client. The sum total of the allegations seem to be a reported telephone conversation between Mr Kapasi and Sir Peter Soulsby which Sir Peter Soulsby asserts to have recorded and reported to the local authority who took no action contemporaneously. Mr Kapasi denies the conversation. Therefore, the "evidence"—although I am not sure one should properly and safely refer to information of such poor quality as evidence, as its probative value is so low—should not safely be relied upon.

  If there is to be an examination of this conflict between Sir Peter Soulsby and Mr Kapasi, then it is clearly appropriate that Mr Kapasi should be given the opportunity to cross-examine Sir Peter Soulsby. In the circumstances we should be grateful if you would sent us Mrs Filkin's agreed procedures dealing with third parties if any exist, together with details of allegations or information which she believes our client has not responded to.

  Sir Peter Soulsby's motives in attempting to involve our client in this matter are of course of great concern to our client and highly relevant. Allegations have been made about him by Sir Peter Soulsby and suggestions have been made by Sir Peter Soulsby and reported in a Sunday Times article on 14 May 2000 (copy enclosed), that Mr Kapasi may be involved in or have some knowledge of the matters which have been raised. It is our client's belief that there has been a long standing political grudge by Sir Peter Soulsby against Mr Keith Vaz, evidenced in numerous newspaper articles since 1994.

  In addition, our client has a number of specific concerns about the apparently unorthodox procedure adopted by Mrs Filkin:

    1.  our client has not made any complaint against any Member of Parliament;

    2.  our client has always answered any questions put to him by Mrs Filkin quickly and honestly;

    3.  that she threatened to arrest him (for further details see the attached exchange of correspondence) which concerningly even though now denied and clarified by Mrs Filkin, raises a concern at how this so fundamental matter could have been so misunderstood;

    4.  despite making no complaint or being involved in any way, our client's reputation has been adversely affected by newspaper reports which were inspired/contributed by Sir Peter Soulsby;

    5.  Mr Kapasi is not a Member of Parliament, yet it now appears that he is being investigated; and

    6.  Mr Kapasi is being offered no opportunity to examine Sir Peter Soulsby.

  Our client has no desire to be deliberately unhelpful nor to delay Mrs Filkin's enquiry. To this end he has taken the step of preparing a statutory declaration of his understanding of the matter, a copy of which I enclose. I have also enclosed all correspondence in this matter, as it is clearly a matter you should be fully appraised of.

  We have also sent a copy of this statutory declaration to Elizabeth Filkin.

  It would be helpful, I would be quite happy to amplify my client's situation in a meeting with either yourself and/or the Committee.

  If I have caused any inconvenience in my delay in responding to your letter, please understand that I have had a bereavement.

26 June 2000

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