Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 36

Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman & Partners, Solicitors

  Thank you for your letter of yesterday.

  I am grateful to you for seeing Mr Vaz and myself on 3 July. As you know Mr Vaz has always co-operated fully with your investigation but both he and I have continued to express our concerns as to the manner in which it has been conducted. These concerns were spelled out in great detail in my long letter of 25 May and I am sorry to say have not been resolved in our subsequent correspondence or conversations.

  In my letter to you of 15 June I said: "I welcome your confirmation that when your enquiries are complete you will put to my client any evidence which you have collected which might be at variance with his account." This is what you have promised in paragraph 8 of "The Investigation Process". In our conversation of 28 June, in which we discussed the purpose of the meeting which you proposed, I understood you to say that you had not yet reached the stage of assessing the evidence. Yet at the same time you said you intended that the meeting would be the last before you completed your report. I invited you to put in writing the questions you wished to ask Mr Vaz identifying the evidence which you considered required a response. In your letter of 29 June you say that you have "indicated... the source of the information which might be at variance with" his initial response. In a further conversation you again said that you had not assessed the evidence.

  The questionnaire which you invited Mr Vaz to answer did not in fact identify the evidence against him and repeated many questions which he had already answered. At our meeting on 3 July you contradicted your earlier statement that you had not yet assessed the evidence in accordance with paragraph 8 and asserted that you had in fact done so and the meeting was in fact the occasion described in paragraph 8 at which you were putting to Mr Vaz the "evidence which is at variance with what the Member has said." You also repeated what you had said to me in our telephone conversation following receipt of the questionnaire, namely that it contained all the evidence adverse to Mr Vaz which he was called upon to answer.

  You then contradicted this claim by saying that the allegations, for example by Mr Milne, were also to be treated as evidence or contained evidence which called for an answer. This led me to ask you to spell out what you regarded as evidence additional to what was contained in the questionnaire. Your letter of yesterday appears now to claim that there is evidence against Mr Vaz in a whole series of letters (eleven, if I have counted correctly) but you do not state what that evidence is.

  I make these detailed comments in order to explain why Mr Vaz is exceedingly concerned at the lack of clarity in your investigation in which you have repeatedly confused evidence, rumour, speculation and allegation and have not given Mr Vaz any clear indication of what the case is against Mr Vaz or the evidence in support of it. The incoherence, repetition, and lack of method in your approach have led to its inordinate length, which has been very damaging to my client. He continues to await a statement of the evidence which he is required to meet together with copies of all documentary material or transcripts of oral evidence on which you rely.

  Meanwhile, and notwithstanding his concerns, Mr Vaz wishes, as he has done throughout, to do the best he can to provide you with all the information you want in order to satisfy you of his complete innocence of any breach of the Code or Rules of Parliament. So far as he is able, therefore, he has provided answers to your questionnaire. These are set out below, following your numbering.

  1.  No evidence has been provided. I am not responsible for what is written in the cash book nor have I seen what is written on the cheque. I have stated in my letter of 16 February page 1 paragraph 6 and page 2 paragraph 1 my comments on this.

  2.  I have made my recollection clear in my letter of 16 February page 1 paragraph 6 and page 2 paragraph 1.

  3.  See 1 and 2 above and my letter of 7 March Page 1 paragraph 4 and page 2 paragraph 1.

  4.  No. For the reasons set out in answers 1, 2 and 3 above. This was not a payment to me and I was not present at any meeting.

  5.  No. See my letter of 7 March page 1 paragraph 2 and 3.

  6.  No. See my letter of 7 March page 1 paragraph 2 and 3.

  7.  If you have any evidence please put it before me and I will comment on it.

  8.  This is not evidence. See my letter of 11 April para 3. Nominations for honours are made in confidence. My campaign has had the endorsement of two Prime Ministers. It is well documented.

  9.  I have no "relationship" with Mr Kapasi. He is the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire and a holder of the OBE. I have known of him for 15 years.

  10.  No.

  11.  Mr Kapasi made a donation to the Sahara Trust, which was established following the death of my child. Instead of sending flowers to the funeral or to the annual service people volunteered to make donations. Mr Kapasi made a single donation of £52.

  12.  No.

  13.  See 11 above. This was administered by my mother-in-law whose idea it was to establish the Trust.

  14.  This is not evidence. It is not for me to explain this. I have dealt with the matter of payments in my letter of 19 March.

  15.  The Dawoodis are part of the Muslim community. I am not "connected" to it. I am a Roman Catholic.

  16.  If you have any evidence you should put it before me and I will comment on it.

  17.  Peter Soulsby has spent his entire career in Leicester attacking me and my mother. You have told me that you know him and that you interviewed him. The letter was written on 22 April 1994 just before the time he was up for election as leader of the Council. You have spoken to the Town Clerk. No action was taken because there was no truth in his false allegations. He sent it to the Labour Party inquiry which found no truth in the allegations. If you intend to place any reliance on the letter of 22 April or indeed on any evidence of Sir Peter Soulsby, please supply a copy of his statement so that I may respond to it in detail with documentary support. Peter Soulsby tried to be the Labour Candidate for Leicester East in 1985 and I defeated him by one vote in the only contested selection meeting. He thus had an interest in denigrating me.

  18.  As I have told you on the telephone Mr Kapasi telephoned me after the newspaper article appeared to deny the allegations.

  19.  See paragraph 1 of my letter of 20 April.

  20.  Mr Kamal has offered you (on 17 April) details of the destination of his direct debits. I suggest you ask him as he has offered this. Please send me the evidence so I can comment on it.

  21.  See paragraph 1 of my letter of 20 April.

  22.  Please explain the purpose of this question. Mr Hall is not a party to this inquiry.

  23.  See my letter of 20 April paragraph 2.

  24.  If you have any evidence please put it before me and I will comment.

  25.  No. No allegations have been made with regard to these. All relevant entries have been put on the Register.

  26.  If you have any evidence please put it before me and I will comment.

  27.  I have not seen the cheque stub and I cannot be expected to explain its contents. In any event your question admits that Mr Atwall was making a donation to the Labour Party. Your original question 10 from your letter of 14 March refers to the 1997 General Election.

  28.  No. This was not a payment to me. According to your question 27 and the transcript in question 29 Mr Atwall confirms this.

  29.  His actual words on tape (as quoted by you and not seen by me) are:

  "The payment made was one cheque and it was made to the Labour Party through Mr Vaz."

  Mr Thomas says he collected the cheque in his letter of 24 March.

  30.  See my letter of 19 March point 10. Mr Attwall had made only one donation. You have this evidence and refer to it in paragraph 27 above.

  31.  If you have any evidence then you should put it before me and I will comment.

  32.  As advised by the Registrar when I sought his advice when this matter was brought to my attention this was a matter for the Company. I did not prepare their accounts.

  33.  I had no "relationship" with the company. I have explained to you in my letter of 19 March page 1 paragraph 4 of my involvement in Asian community work. Those with responsibility for community projects in my office would have approached various groups or corporate entities for support. As I have said "The funding of the work comes from registered contributions".

  34.  No. This was nine years ago. There was a great deal of national and ethnic media interest in the project at the time. I discussed the project with the Registrar in 1995 when this matter came to my attention.

  35.  I do not know.

  36.  I discussed this matter fully with the Registrar in 1995. I refer you to paragraph 3 in the letter of 4 April.

  37.  I asked advice of all aspects of this matter. Mr Gosling and Mr Syal raised all these points with me at that time.

  38.  I refer you to the letter of 4 April. There was no evidence to support this.

  39.  No. There was no conflict of interest. See the letter of 4 April. I sought the advice of the Registrar and confirmed this in writing. If he had advised that I should do anything I would have done so.

  40.  Yes.

  41.  Yes. I recall that the Prince of Wales introduced me to him at a community event.

  42.  Yes.

  43.  No. This was not the same Mr Patel.

  44.  I know of no Mr Pata. There is a Mr Pala. They did not give me a car or cars. Please supply the evidence so that I can comment on it.

  45.  If you have any evidence to suggest that I benefited from the 50 Club please supply it.

  46.  This is a matter for the Labour Party.

  47.  If you have any evidence from Mr Kapasi or anyone else on these matters please supply it and I will comment on it.

  48.  No. I have always sought and acted on the advice of the Registrar and will continue to do so."

  I am awaiting a note of the meeting on 3 July and will let you have it. I should make it clear, however, that the answers to your questions are those contained in this letter and not to be inferred from any thing said at the meeting.

5 July 2000

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