Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
for Standards from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman & Partners,
I am grateful to you for acknowledging my letter
of 5 July but in view of your anxiety to complete this investigation,
which my client strongly shares, I would be grateful if you could
let me have a substantive reply.
Let me repeat once again that Mr Vaz still does
not know what the case is against him or the evidence in support
of it. Although you have referred on many occasions to evidence,
we have seen no witness statements, transcripts, or any other
documentary material to support any of the allegations which have
been made. Your surprising suggestion in your letter of 5 July
that eleven earlier letters contain evidence requiring answers
from Mr Vaz makes it imperative that you spell out plainly once
and for all what that evidence is.
Mr Vaz has deliberately refrained from asking
you to put further questions to witnesses because he is anxious
not to cause further delay but I can see no reason why we should
not know precisely and in full what witnesses have said where
it has any relevance. It would be quite unacceptable for you to
draft a report which contains or refers to material which we have
not seen and had an opportunity to respond to.
My client is particularly concerned at two matters
raised in your questionnaire accompanying your letter of 29 June.
He has responded to these in my letter of 5
July but he has asked me to add the following:-
1. In relation to Sir Peter Soulsby, you
referred in question 17 to a letter written by him to the Town
Clerk of Leicester in 1994. You did not produce this letter until
I invited you to do so at our meeting on 3 July and you appear
to be relying on it as evidence of some impropriety by my client.
The allegations in the letter seem to be the same as those appearing
in paragraph 23 of your letter of 7 June but you had never said
before that Sir Peter Soulsby was the source of the allegation.
Sir Peter's allegation in his letter of 22 April is made without
evidence. On the face of the letter it is clear that it is based
simply on a claim attributed to another person, Mr Kapasi, which
we understand Mr Kapasi disputes.
In relation to Sir Peter Soulsby, I enclose
a copy of a report to the Executive Committee of the local Labour
Party illustrating a background of conduct by him at the relevant
time which must cast considerable doubt on the credibility of
any allegation he might make.
In sum, what appears to be happening is that
you are being used as a vehicle for pursuing a political wrangle
in the Leicester Labour Party concerning events more than 6 years
old. My client is naturally suspicious of any involvement by Sir
Peter Soulsby in this matter.
It has also come to my client's attention that
Sir Peter Soulsby is a fellow member with you of the Audit Commission
and obviously your working relationship with him could, however
unintentionally, predispose you to giving credibility to his complaint.
At the very least, it is plain that my client must have access
to any evidence provided to you by Sir Peter Soulsby in full if
any reliance whatsoever is to be placed on it.
2. My client is extremely disturbed by the
references in your questionnaire to evidence provided by the Sunday
Telegraph. It is surely extraordinary that newspaper reports or
evidence of journalists should form the basis of any investigation
of a Member of Parliament. Again, at the very least, my client
must have the opportunity to see and comment on the whole of that
evidence and must be informed of the manner in which it came to
be supplied to you and what individuals provided it.
In order that further delay may be minimised,
I would ask you for an early reply to this letter and my letter
of 5 July.
10 July 2000