Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 49

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

  Thank you for your letters of 24 October. I do apologise again for having to ask a series of questions as I complete my investigations into these matters but I do want to ensure, in fairness to Mr Vaz, that no inaccuracies are contained in my report to the Standards and Privileges Committee. And I am sorry to say that since some witnesses have seriously delayed their replies to me, it may be that I will need to add further questions in due course. I look forward to receiving Mr Vaz's replies to the questions which are currently outstanding at the end of this week or early next week.

  To turn to your question about the allegations passed on to me from the Sunday Telegraph. I do not regard these as having been made by the Sunday Telegraph. As I understand it they were sent to the Sunday Telegraph following the articles which were published by them and the Sunday Telegraph forwarded them to me. It was for this reason that I did not refer to them in my letter of 14 March to Mr Vaz as having been made by the Sunday Telegraph. I said:

    "During the course of investigating the complaints against you I have been sent further information alleging that you have not registered payments made to you as a Member of Parliament."

  I set out in my letter what appeared to be the further allegations.

  Mr Vaz responded on 19 March using the heading:

    "The Sunday Telegraph We spoke at length on Saturday and I have mentioned in my previous letters that I believe that the complaints that have been made form an orchestrated campaign by two journalists Chris Hastings and Rajiv Syal. I have clear evidence that they have visited each one of the complainants and have asked them to make complaints using the copy of these complaints in order to write defamatory articles about me. This tactic in my view merits serious consideration by the Committee. It completely undermines attempts to ensure an unhindered investigation. Two people named in your letter have made a complaint to me that these journalists have intimidated them. I ask you to investigate their conduct."

  For the sake of clarity I used the same heading as Mr Vaz had used in my letter of 4 July to you. I attach a copy of the information in the form in which it was sent to me by the Sunday Telegraph. You will note that I dismissed some of the allegations as too vague to include in my letter to Mr Vaz.

  The Sunday Telegraph had also informed me of allegations made to them concerning payments from Mr Attwall and Mr Kapasi. I therefore added these to the list to ensure that Mr Vaz was fully informed of the allegations of which I was aware. These allegations were published in the next edition of the Sunday Telegraph of 19 March 2000. When I saw the articles I asked the Sunday Telegraph for the tapes of the interviews with Mr Kapasi and Mr Attwall. Mr Kapasi also told me of his interview with the Sunday Telegraph. I have provided Mr Vaz with copies of the transcripts of both those interviews and Mr Vaz has commented on them.

26 October 2000

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