Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 13

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Keith Vaz MP

  I refer to our conversation this morning and my letter of 7 February.

  I had a telephone call from Chris Hastings on Saturday 12 February at 12.35 pm. He said that you had contacted a second ex-employee of Mr Zaiwalla a "Mr Brown" and "had Mr Brown given you any cash". He asked me to comment on this. My response was as follows:

  "I am delighted that Mrs Filkin is conducting an investigation into the maliciously false claims of Mr Milne. I have every confidence in the office of Parliamentary Commissioner and I am sure that she will deal with the matter in a proper way. The only Mr Browns I know are Gordon and Nick. I do not know anyone called Mr Brown in connection with Mr Zaiwalla, nor a Mr Smith and Mr Jones."

  When his phone went dead I rang the News Editor and read out the quote.

  You said that I could comment on Mr Zaiwalla's letter to you dated 10 February 2000. I will not comment on his points concerning my standing in the Asian community, but refer in particular to his points concerning financial matters.

His paragraph 5

  It is highly likely that I suggested to Mr Zaiwalla that he make a contribution to a charity or event as he describes. Every month and at virtually every function I attend there is a cause or another that needs supporting. Members of Parliament are often approached for support and pass these requests on. For example, I am currently being asked by two separate organisations to suggest names of people to help them with funding for their Millennium projects.

  As a prominent and successful member of the Asian Business community, Mr Zaiwalla is known to support Asian causes. Neither I nor any member of my office would be involved in collecting or processing such donations. No payment was made to me or any member of my staff. In the end it would be up to him to decide whether to make a donation or not. It is his money and his decision.

His paragraphs 6 and 7

  The event was indeed organised by the Asian Business network. I chaired the proceedings. The Home Secretary spoke as did the Chairman of the Association of Town Centre Management. It was at the Portman Hotel, London on 2 July 1998. Mr Zaiwalla bought a table. No payment was made to me.

  The concert he mentioned was also an Asian musical recital. I "Chaired" the concert. The guest speakers were The Foreign Secretary, The Cabinet Secretary and The Chief Executive of Tescos. Mr Zaiwalla did not attend this event, but was thanked for his support. This event took place at the Radisson Edwardian Hotel on 17 July 1997 and Ravi Shankar's daughter did indeed perform. No payment was made to me.

  I know that the ABN was grateful for support on both these occasions. I am glad he supported both events. There are many Asian organisations that hold such events. This is not the same organisation as Mr Zaiwalla's Breakfast Club.

  In his letter Mr Zaiwalla confirms that there were no payments to me in cash or by cheque, nor to any member of my staff identified or unidentified.

  Please let me know if I can help further.

16 February 2000

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