Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 43

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

  I write further to my letters of 3 and 17 August in order to respond to certain matters contained in your letter of 18 July and to review the status of the complaints which you are investigating as far as my client and I understand them. I find it necessary to do this because of your repeated failure to respond to my requests to supply evidence, save for the transcripts accompanying your letter of 18 July on which I will comment as appropriate.

  Until your letter of 7 June the only complaint you had said you were investigating was that by Mr Milne referred to in your first letter to Mr. Vaz of 4 February. In my letter of 25 May I examined the allegations and the evidence which you claimed to have in considerable detail and I invited you to reject the complaint. Since then you have provided me with transcripts which purport to be of interviews between a journalist, Rajiv Syal and Mr Zaiwalla, and between Mr Zaiwalla and yourself. You have also referred to payments in his accounts of £250 and £200 "mentioning" Mr Vaz. Mr Zaiwalla has repeatedly stated that he has made no payment to Mr Vaz personally and that any payments he has made at the request of Mr Vaz have been payments to charity (see, for example his letter to you of 7 February). Mr Vaz has confirmed this categorically. You have still provided no evidence to the contrary and it is frankly inexplicable that nearly 3 months after my letter of 25 May you apparently continue to pursue this complaint.

  On 7 June, for the first time, you set out the complaints other than that made by Mr Milne which you were investigating. These number 23. In my letter of 15 June in reply to your letter of 7 June, I referred you to the standards set out in your own memorandum called "the Investigation Process". I pointed out that there could be no justification for prolonging an investigation where no credible evidence had been produced to support it. I invited you to specify what breaches of the Code of Conduct and Rules were alleged by you but you replied only in general terms. I invited you to supply evidence contradicting what my client has said in reply to your numerous questions but you have not done so. You have merely referred obliquely to some possible evidence in the course of asking more questions. In an effort to clarify the situation I attempt as follows to summarise the current position in relation to each of your numbered complaints:

  1.  Denied. No evidence. See my letter of 25 May.

  2.  See 1.

  3.  Denied. No evidence of payment to or for Mr Vaz personally. Mr Kamal is obviously referring to contributions to the Labour Party.

  4.  No evidence provided of registrable payment or benefit which was not in fact registered.

  5.  Ditto.

  6.  Denied. No evidence supplied.

  7.  Denied. See 6.

  8.  Denied. See 6.

  9.  Denied. See explanation in Mr Vaz's letter of 19 March.

  10.  Denied. See 9.

  11.  Denied. See 9.

  12.  See explanation in Mr Vaz's letter of 19 March.

  13.  Denied. See 9.

  14.  Ditto. It is common ground that the payment claimed by Mr Attwall was a donation to the Labour Party. You have claimed no evidence to the contrary. If, notwithstanding this, the matter is to be pursued, please provide copies of all letters received from Mr Attwall together with copies of the relevant bank statement and of the cheque referred to in your letter of 18 July.

  15.  Denied. No evidence supplied of any concealed donation or inaccurately registered purpose.

  16.  This is highly speculative. Mr Vaz has explained the position and no evidence has been supplied which contradicts his explanation.

  17.  Denied by both Mr Vaz and Mr Zaiwalla. No evidence supplied or even claimed!

  18.  Mr Vaz denies receiving financial benefits from Mr Zaiwalla. See 1.

  19.  Denied. No contrary evidence supplied.

  20.  Denied. No evidence supplied of personal responsibility or involvement by Mr Vaz for the alleged club or its funds.

  21.  Denied. No direct evidence supplied or claimed. The evidence claimed is hearsay. If this matter is to be pursued, original tapes and witness statement, interview transcript and correspondence with Mr Kapasi must be provided.

  22.  See 21.

  23.  See 21.

  I hope the above summary will assist you in responding to the final paragraph of my letter of 3 August. If there remain any complaints in relation to which you still consider there is evidence which could justify any adverse finding against my client, could you please identify those complaints according to the list in your letter of 7 June and provide that evidence so that my client can respond to it before you come to your conclusions.

22 August 2000

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