Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 31

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


  28 JUNE 2000


  ... He telephoned me to arrange for me to meet with Mr Vaz. We had quite a lengthy discussion about trying to ensure that the process was fair. I made it clear that if Mr Vaz had questions to put to any of the other witnesses—that I would put them for him and that the procedure did not allow him to put them directly. I said Mr Vaz could put those questions to me at any point and that he could talk widely in the meeting to me to make sure I was fully informed. I was willing to turn off the tape recorder and that I assured him that any recording I made would be sent to Mr Vaz for checking before I used it.

  Mr Bindman asked if I would allow him to have a list of the questions beforehand and indications of any accounts that were at variance with Mr Vaz's. He made it clear that he was just trying to safeguard his client and protect him. He said Mr Vaz is totally honest and there is no danger that you would not have a full and honest answer—that even the most honest person can fall into traps. I said that nobody was trying to trap Mr Vaz and that neither I nor the Committee would ever wish to do that. I made it clear that my role was to provide a total and correct and accurate picture to the Committee and I wanted to make sure that Mr Vaz had every opportunity to provide that picture from his point of view. I said that I couldn't say what view I would take on the evidence provided from all the sources, but that Mr Vaz would have the opportunity of seeing my draft and commenting on it before I came to any conclusions.

  At various points I had to try to disabuse him of his view that this was some sort of court by saying to him that all I was doing was collecting information at this juncture. I explained that it well might feel different at a point where Mr Vaz was in front of the Committee but was not the point at which we were at at the moment and of course the Committee might decide that they didn't need to see Mr Vaz.

  The telephone conversation was cordial and constructive and we agreed that we would meet at 11am on Monday 3 July, unless Mr Vaz said he was not free on that date.

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