Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from Mr Keith Vaz MP
Thank you for your letter of 8 March 2000. I
am astonished, but in view of the nature of this complaint, not
surprised at the extracts of the alleged conversation between
Mr Andrew Milne and Mr Brian Brown which is supposed to have taken
place on 14 January 2000.
Can I refer you to my letter of 16 February
2000 to you when I was asked about Mr Brown by Chris Hastings
from the Sunday Telegraph.
Can I confirm:
I do not know Mr Brian Brown, I have never met
Mr Brian Brown, I have never spoken to Mr Brian Brown, I have
never received any envelope containing cash or anything else from
Mr Brian Brown or anyone else. This is a malicious falsehood,
for which not a shred of evidence has been produced.
Since you wrote to me I have been told that
Mr Brian Brown has served a prison sentence for false accounting.
I now know that he is a convicted criminal. You are aware from
the correspondence you have had that Mr Milne has been subject
to legal proceedings in respect of his employment with Mr Zaiwalla.
You asked me to comment on the "transcript"
which you say was at variance with my statement. Of course it
would be. I am telling the truth and Mr Brown and Mr Milne are
lying and they seek to cover up their lies by manufacturing a
telephone conversation between themselves. They have provided
no evidence of what they have said, they are merely confirming
to each other events which they have invented.
You will no doubt remember that in the statement
to you dated 22 February, Mr Brown says a £1,000 payment
was made to me by Mr Zaiwalla and that a third party has stated
to him that cash was required rather than a cheque. He goes on
to say "this may or may not be the case, but I simply cannot
Yet in his conversation dated 14 January he
says "Well however much it was it was to him personally"
and the figure mentioned by Mr Milne was £2,000. These two
statements are not compatible and indeed if the conversation took
place on 14 January I would ask the following:
1. Why did Mr Brown say in his statement
to you that this was done by a third party?
2. Who is the third party referred to in
the letter of 22 February?
3. Why did he say it was £1,000 when
he had said it was £2,000?
On 14 January Mr Brown says he was handing out
the money but this is not what he says on 22 February.
3. Mr Brown says in his statement of 22
February that the third party alleges that he (The third party)
went downstairs withdrew the money and came upstairs and handed
the envelope to me.
Yet on 22 February he says he did this "just
going collecting, taking it up, getting it done".
4. Mr Milne in his complaint dated 4 February
states that a young man from Mr Vaz's office called to
collect the cash. Yet if we are to believe Mr Brown and Mr Milne
he knew that this was not true as he asked "do you remember
the name of Vaz's assistant you handed the cash to". He is
told that it was given to Vaz personally. If he knew this why
did he tell you on 4 February that it was an assistant who called
to get the money rather than Vaz. Surely he should have said that
it was Vaz there in person. He should have said as Mr Brown has
done that "this may or may not have been done".
5. This has now become a fiasco, on 4 February
Mr Milne says it was £2,000 on the 22 February Mr Brown says
it was £1,000 and on 14 January Mr Milne says it was £2,000
and Mr Brown says it was £2,000. On 4 February 2000, Mr Milne
says it was an unidentified young man, and on 22 February Mr Brown
says it was a third party.
Yet on 14 January Mr Brown says it was me. Vain
though politicians undoubtedly are I would not describe myself
as a "young man".
May I suggest to you the following scenario,
two journalists from The Sunday Telegraph Rajiv Syal and
Chris Hastings have orchestrated with the help of Mr Milne and
Mr Brown two bitter former employees of Mr Zaiwalla to assist
in printing articles which are defamatory, but once these allegations
are sent to you as soon as you confirm that you have received
them they become protected by privilege.
As you said to me on Saturday 5 February, you
believe Mr Syal had a copy of Mr Milne's letter to you. I consider
that it was conveniently faxing to you to fit into the papers
deadline. As I said to you in my letter of 16 February, Chris
Hastings has asked me to comment on Mr Brown's statement before
you received it. Each of these allegations have produced not a
shred of evidence. Now that they have decided to provide you with
a transcript of a conversation which they allege has taken place
on 14 January, which shows them in their statement of 4 February
and 22 February to be even the most charitable, untruthful. They
are attempting to string this out with more unsubstantiated nonsense.
Two people, one a convicted criminal, the other
whose conduct has been described as being "unbefitting of
a solicitor" have decided to collaborate with each other's
Even the cursory reading of Mr Milne's comforting
words to his friend can be seen through as a set up.
His opening statement he says he finds reference
to me "concerning". But why? He is the complainant and
he should be delighted if any information is discovered. He has
already named one Member of Parliament and wants to involve othersthe
more the merrier. If he listed all those members of Parliament
who attended Mr Zaiwalla's parties or events he would be naming
at least 20 MPs and a number of Judges including the former Lord
Mr Brown has been convicted of false accounting.
Without knowing anything of the circumstances of the conviction
somehow a reasonable person would suspect there is a significance
in the £1,000/£2,000 payment. They allege to a cash
drawing with no indication of where it's gone which they seek
to say was Mr Zaiwalla's payment to me. It may be as Mr Brown
has been convicted of false accounting that the police statements
relating to his case that led to Mr Brown's conviction should
be disclosed to you.
The transcript does not mention the basis of
Mr Milne's original complaint that the payment of "£1,000/£2,000"
had failed to be registered and was related to a question over
Mr Zaiwalla's tax affairs. What has become of this allegation?
It is clear from the questions put by Mr Milne
that the purpose of them was to elicit the responses that were
given. I would not be at all surprised if Mr Syal was with Mr
Milne and Mr Hastings was with Mr Brown or perhaps they were in
the same room together.
If these were legal proceedings, I would have
a legal redress because by their own inconsistencies it can be
argued that they are seeking to pervert the course of justice.
If this was printed in the newspaper I would be able to sue them
for defamation. These people are seeking to destroy the reputation
of others reputation on evidence that is not subjected to any
burden of proof indeed, Mr Brown was convicted on the higher burden
of proof required in criminal proceedings.
I am sorry to go on at such length, but I have
read their statements very carefully. It seems that anybody can
make up statements about any Member of Parliament without producing
a shred of evidence and provoke an investigation into an MP. I
know you have said there is no sanction.
However, having had a conversation on 14 January
presented to us as apparent fact did they go on to make two statements
totally contradictory of each other and of their statements on
14 January. If the statements of 14 January are correct they have
deliberately mislead you, the Parliamentary Commissionerdoes
that attract some sanction?
Are they not in contempt of Parliament for seeking
to mislead the Parliamentary Commissioner or is there no rule
containing frivolous or vexatious complaints?
I will be writing to you separately concerning
Mr Gosling another friend of Mr Syal.
13 March 2000
Handwritten note: I am sorry to go on
at such length, but I just had to go through their allegations