Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 22

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


  Thank you for your letters of 5 and 7 April which I received today.

  I refer to your letter of 7 April. I note that Mr Milne no longer writes as a solicitor as he has now become bankrupt owing his creditors £800,000 and therefore can no longer practice.

  I have already read Mr Milne's wild, defamatory and unsubstantiated allegations in The Sunday Telegraph of 8 April. The pre-publication of complaints is one of the flaws in our procedures.

Paragraph 1

  This is a repetition of his letter of 4 February. It is completely untrue. There is not a shred of evidence to support this. I have never discussed my financial affairs with Mr Zaiwalla, Mr Milne or anyone else. I have already dealt with this in my letter of 7 February.

Paragraph 2

  No one from my office has ever called at "their" offices to ask for money or anything else in 1994 or at any time. This is pure fantasy. My present Assistant is called "mark" and he joined my office in 1999. No one called "Mark" worked for me in April or May 1994. The Sunday Telegraph interviewed former members of my staff (my letter of 7 February). The rest of the allegations are repetition and are completely untrue.

  His comment that There is a tradition in India of making payments to politicians—it is simply expected is a racist comment. I am not an Indian politician. I am British. This tells us a great deal about Mr Milne's state of mind and motives.

Paragraph 4

  This is completely untrue. The Law Society Gazette has not paid him any damages for libel in respect of any article.

Paragraphs 5, 6 and 7

  I am appalled and saddened that Parliament's complaints procedures could allow someone like Mr Milne to hide behind parliamentary privilege and make defamatory statements about a third party.

Paragraph 8

  This is completely untrue. I have never been asked to help Mr Zaiwalla in any tax investigation, I have already dealt with this point on 7 February.

Paragraph 9

  This is completely untrue. I have never discussed honours with Mr Milne. I have had a very public and well-publicised campaign since 1992, which I have pursued vigorously with successive Prime Ministers for more awards to be given to people of Asian and Afro-Caribbean origin who have been until very recently underrepresented in the honours list. This has been a public not a private campaign.

  I now turn to Mr Milne's letter of 4 April referring to Mr Brown. Mr Milne changes his original story for the third time. I have already pointed out to you the differences between Mr Milne's letter of 4 February and his telephone conversation on 14 January and the difference between Mr Brown's statements of 14 February and of 22 February.

  Mr Milne has confused himself. In his conversation of 14 January (page 2, line 7) he says that "On one occasion he insisted on cash which I found very amusing at the time" but he says on 4 April that he remembers "the young man". But if this is the only occasion he can recall, and he says that I was not there, how could I "insist" on this? The fact it that this never happened.

  As for Mr Brown's statements Mr Milne says it "confirms my impression of giving (Mr Vaz) money regularly for some years prior to 1994". Yet Mr Brown says when asked by Mr Milne about how many times he says "on one occasion, yes" he changes that to "I am sure that there was more than one, but". For some reason there is a break in the transcript. None of this ever happened.

  All of this is untrue, summed up eloquently in Mr Brown's four year prison sentence and despite all his defamatory statements about others, Mr Milne wants to keep his letter confidential. It's a funny old world!

11 April 2000

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