Letter to Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman
& Partners, Solicitors, from the Parliamentary Commissioner
Thank you for your letter of 25 May and for
confirming that Mr Vaz has asked you to say that he has not passed
or shown Mr Kamal's letter to any person other than you.
First, may I record that Mr Vaz has been helpful
in discussing these matters with me and in providing me with written
replies and information and you are correct in saying that Mr
Vaz has already responded to all the allegations other than informing
me whether he had recommended Mr Zaiwalla for an honour.
I am glad to receive now the response from Mr
Vaz on this question to the effect that he recommended Mr Zaiwalla
for an honour and confirms the information I have received about
it from the Permanent Secretary at the Lord Chancellor's Department,
namely that he recommended Mr Zaiwalla for an honour to Mr Major
in August 1996 and to Lord Mackay in March 1997.
In response to your general points and questions
and to try to ensure there is no misunderstanding I will set out
the allegations concerning Mr Vaz in his role as a Member of Parliament
which I am investigating against the Code of Conduct and Rules.
My task, as you are aware, is to conduct an
investigation into these allegations. On the basis of the information
I collect during the investigation I report to the Standards and
Privileges Committee as to the facts of the matters, my view on
whether the Member has breached the Code of Conduct or Rules in
any way and therefore whether any of the complaints should be
upheld. It is for the Committee to decide whether a complaint
is upheld and, if any breaches have occurred, to recommend any
penalty to the House of Commons.
I stress again that at this point the matters
under consideration are solely allegations and I shall take no
view on whether there is any substance in any of them until Mr
Vaz has had every opportunity to comment on or challenge any material
I put to him. The intention behind my remark that Mr Vaz might
have felt that the replies he had given to date were "not
sufficiently comprehensive" was to give him a further opportunity
to provide any additional information he wished. I am glad he
has now done so with regard to the question on honours.
As I have informed Mr Vaz, when my enquiries
are complete I shall put to him any evidence I have collected
which might appear to be at variance with his account. This will
give Mr Vaz another opportunity to provide me with any other information
he believes to be relevant. Further, when my report is drafted,
I shall provide Mr Vaz with a copy in confidence before I come
to my conclusions, to give him another chance to comment and to
offer corrections of matters of fact before I present my report
to the Committee.
To turn to the points in your letter which I
have not dealt with above.
The complaints which I am investigating and
which I have put to Mr Vaz are as follows:
Possible failure to register payments and other
benefits in the Register of Members' Interests
1. That in April or May 1994, Mr S R Zaiwalla
gave Mr Vaz £2,000 and that Mr Zaiwalla made him other cash
payments regularly from 1994.
2. That on at least one occasion Mr Brown
(Mr Zaiwalla's book-keeper) was involved in withdrawing £1,000
from the bank in cash which Mr Brown gave to Mr Vaz. That this
payment was thought to be for Mr Vaz's "office fund".
3. That Councillor M Kamal made payments
to Mr Vaz of £8 per month for four years from around 1987-88
and that he believed that other members of Leicester City Council
also made such payments at the request of Mr Vaz.
4. That Councillor Piara Singh Clair told
Councillor Kamal that he, Councillor Singh Clair, had made the
Sikh business community donate £10,000 to Mr Vaz's 1997 election
5. That Bipin Jewellers donated a car to
Mr Vaz's 1997 election campaign.
6. That Mr Vaz had a tenant (Mr Thomas)
in a property which he owned at 146 Uppingham Road. The tenant
was receiving housing benefit, the implication being that Mr Vaz
may have received this benefit as rent.
7. That following Mr Vaz's election Mr Nazmu
Virani provided him with computers and other equipment.
8. That Mr I K Patel (now deceased) made
collections of money on Mr Vaz's behalf.
9. That Mr Harish I K Patel sponsored a
breakfast meeting for Mr Vaz at the Regency Hotel where Mr Gordon
Brown was the guest of honour.
10. That an organisation in which Mr Vaz
was involved called Indo-British Business was set up to sponsor
dinners for Cabinet Ministers but the sources of funding, which
benefited Mr Vaz, were not registered.
11. That Mr Vaz received from Mr M Mudhavani
£10,000 to pay for a visit to the UK of the son of Martin
Luther King. Although the trip has not taken place the funds have
not been returned.
12. That the following business people have
made substantial donations to Mr Vaz:
Mr G K Noon
Mr Lakshmi Mattal
Mr T R Sutterwalla
Mr Raj Loomba
and the Hinduja Brothers.
13. That Mr G K Noon paid for Mr Vaz to
travel to Bahrain and for his accommodation during the visit.
14. That Mr B Attwal provided Mr Vaz with
cheques made out to Mr Vaz prior to the 1997 election.
Possible incorrect Register entry
15. That Mr Vaz may have concealed a donation
provided by Control Securities Ltd by a Register entry which referred
to Control Ltd and that the purpose of that donation may also
have been inaccurately registered.
Possible conflict of interest
16. That if a misleading entry was made
in the Register it might have concealed a conflict of interest
in relation to Mr Vaz's parliamentary activities around the collapse
of the Bank BCCI because Control Securities Ltd had an improper
financial relationship with BCCI. Consequently Mr Vaz might have
been in breach of the rules on declaration of interest and/or
advocacy when speaking in the House and/or have failed to resolve
a conflict of interest in favour of the public interest as required
by the Code of Conduct.
Possible interference in an Inland Revenue investigation
17. That Mr Vaz agreed to a request from
Mr Zaiwalla that he try to influence the outcome of an investigation
into Mr Zaiwalla's tax affairs contrary to the requirements of
the Code of Conduct.
Possible lack of openness with Ministers when
making a recommendation for an honour
18. That Mr Vaz recommended Mr Zaiwalla
for an honour in 1997 without disclosing that he had received
financial benefits from Mr Zaiwalla as required by the Code of
Possible misuse of parliamentary postage
19. That Mr Vaz circulated copies of the
Caribbean Times and Asian Times using parliamentary
postage, contrary to the requirements of the Code of Conduct.
Possible misuse of funds
20. Since the accounts for a Club, established
by Mr Vaz as a Member of Parliament, were not made available to
subscribers they were not able to assess whether the money had
been spent for proper purposes when it appeared that the funds
collected were in excess of those distributed, contrary to the
requirements of the Code of Conduct.
Possible soliciting and receipt of payment for
help with planning permission or site acquisition in Leicester
and failure to register payments received
21. That in 1991-92 Mr Vaz offered to help
Mr Jaffer Kapasi obtain planning permission for a mosque in return
22. That between 1992 and 1996 Mr Vaz received
three payments from Mr Kapasi in respect of land acquisition for
a religious building.
23. That Mr Vaz solicited £500 each
from three religious groups which were seeking to purchase land
at discounted prices from Leicester City Council, contrary to
the requirements of the Code of Conduct.
I hope the above settles most of the matters
which you raise in your letter, but I would like to make one further
point which I hope will allay your concerns about my office's
contact with the press on these matters.
I share your concerns about the damage which
irresponsible press articles can cause. May I assure you that
my office has given no information to the press about the content
of my enquiry or any of the evidence provided to me. As Mr Vaz
is aware in this case, the press were informed of many of these
complaints prior to my receiving them or Mr Vaz receiving them
from me. Mr Vaz has informed me that he is aware that several
newspapers have been carrying out extensive enquiries into some
of these matters over a number of years. I have been informed
by a number of witnesses of approaches they have received from
the press and one witness, who provided me with evidence, has
apologised to me for responding to press questions.
I have informed Mr Vaz of requests I have had
from the press to confirm that I have received specific complaints
from named individuals. I am pleased to say that on several occasions
when the press has been informed that I have been sent complaints
I believe my denials have prevented other allegations being printed.
Mr Vaz has kindly informed me of approaches he has had from the
When Mr Vaz has had the opportunity to consider
this letter I would be grateful to hear whether he wishes to put
any further information to me at this juncture as I share his
wish to conclude my enquiry as soon as possible.
7 June 2000