Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 50A

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

  As you are aware, while giving consideration to the questions in your letters of 3 and 12 October (and the purported transcript accompanying the latter), I received a further letter dated 19 October asking yet more questions. While preparing a reply I have received yet another letter dated 26 October in which you say that because "some witnesses have seriously delayed their replies" it maybe that you will need to ask further questions in due course.

  I am sure you will agree that this is a most unsatisfactory and improper way to conduct an investigation. The questions in your recent letters (and several previous ones) constitute a type of interrogation which conflicts with natural justice and with article 6 of the European Human Rights Convention. Frequently it has been impossible to identify any complaint to which the question relates, what evidence you have received to support the complaint or what specific breach of any code of conduct or rules you are investigating. Furthermore, you have repeatedly ignored my objections over many months and have failed to give adequate answers to my questions in which I have tried to ascertain the nature of the complaints which you are investigating, the source of those complaints, and the evidence which appears adverse to my client and which he therefore can reasonably be asked to respond to.

  This cavalier approach, as I have several times pointed out, conflicts with your own description of the investigation process in the Ninth Report of the Committee. I refer in particular to paragraph 8. In an attempt to clarify the position in relation to the complaints first listed in your letter of 7 June, I pointed out the absence of evidence against my client in virtually every case and I invited you to tell me which complaints, if any, had not in your view been effectively rebutted. You have not answered that reasonable request but have merely asked a whole lot more questions, many of inexplicable relevance.

  Of course, Mr Vaz could properly decline to answer without the clarification for which I have repeatedly asked and has done so in relation to the questions repeated in paragraph (b) of your letter of 3 October. However, by doing so he risks the accusation that he has failed to co-operate with your investigation. That is the last thing he wants. Throughout he has co-operated far beyond the call of duty, undergoing great stress, legal expense and distraction from his other important responsibilities in responding to false and probably malicious accusations. On 4 July you said you hoped, on receiving his replies (which were sent to you the following day) to report to the Committee. At that time Mr. Vaz had seen no evidence of wrongdoing which he had not already rebutted and he has seen none since. Yet you have still not dismissed a single complaint. If you still have no evidence it is wholly unjust that you should still be delaying your draft report merely because you are hoping to obtain evidence against Mr. Vaz from witnesses "who have seriously delayed their replies."

  Having said all this in order that his view of the matter should be absolutely clear, Mr. Vaz has instructed me to reply as follows to your further questions under the headings which you have given them:


  (a) Mr Zaiwalla told you in his letter of 7 February 2000 that apart from certain charitable donations, neither he nor his firm made any payments "by cash cheque in kind or inferred any financial benefit directly or indirectly either to or on Mr Vaz MP or his constituency party or his family". Mr Vaz made it quite clear to you in his letter of 16 February 2000 that he could well have encouraged Mr Zaiwalla to make contributions to charities or events, but he is equally adamant that he has never received any personal benefit in any shape or form from Mr Zaiwalla. In my letter of 17 July I supplied a full explanation of the calendar which Mr Vaz discussed in detail with your predecessors. Doubtless, the second payment by Mr Zaiwalla related to the calendar arising out of a suggestion by Mr Vaz or could have been a part payment for the advert in the calendar. This is speculation because Mr Vaz simply does not know. Though I have repeatedly asked you to identify any evidence of wrongdoing on which you rely, you have declined to do so. Are you suggesting that these entries in Mr Zaiwalla's cashbook are evidence of wrongdoing and if so what?

  (b) Question 7: These questions were not answered previously because you had not made it clear whether they were based on any evidence and if so what; nor had you said to what possible wrongdoing they could be relevant. For the avoidance of doubt, may I make it clear that Mr Vaz did not solicit or receive any payment or benefit from Mr Zaiwalla in any circumstances which required to be registered under the Rules.

  Question 24: As Mr Sing Clair was treasurer of the local party, it is highly probable that Mr Vaz discussed with him the possibility of obtaining donations for the Labour Party or even for election funds, but you have produced no evidence whatsoever of any wrongdoing in relation to any matter concerning Mr Sing Clair. Mr Vaz categorically denies that any such discussions were improper or involved any suggestion of impropriety.

  Question 26: The answer to the previous question is repeated.

  Question 31: As you are well aware, Mr Attwall has stated that he made a payment of £1,000.00 to the Labour Party. You have confirmation that this payment was received by the Labour Party. Mr Vaz has received no personal payment or benefit from Mr Attwall and is aware of no payment made by Mr Attwall other than that referred to.

  Question 45: As your letter of 12 October asks a number of questions about the 50 club and the 100 club, please see answers to that letter below.

  (c) There is no dispute that the payment by Mr Attwall was for and received by the Labour Party. Is there any evidence that the cheque was paid personally to Mr Vaz or that it was paid into a personal bank account of Mr Vaz? Surely not, or you would have mentioned it previously. It is difficult to understand why you have refused to supply photocopies of the cheque stub and bank statement. Do you contend that any of the evidence relating to this matter is evidence of wrongdoing by Mr Vaz? If so, please say what that is and supply copies of any relevant documents.

  (d) Question 4: There is no evidence that the two payments attributed to Mr Zaiwalla were paid to Mr Vaz personally and Mr Zaiwalla himself has denied that he made any such payments. Mr Vaz has made it clear that he did not receive any such payments and has said where, to the best of his knowledge, they went. Are you suggesting that he should produce all his bank accounts to enable a search to be made for any possible entries which would contradict his assertions? If not, I cannot see what further answer you require. In any case the amount of the payments seems to be below any registrable amount. The issue of the calendar was dealt with at great length by the previous Commissioner.

  Question 5: In the absence of any evidence that Mr Vaz received any benefit from the charity donations in question, it is unreasonable to expect him to track down the organisers of events which took place so long ago or to interrogate them as to their bank accounts.

  Question 6: This is sufficiently answered in my letter of 17 July which makes it clear that Mr Vaz was neither a shareholder or a director and derived no income or personal benefit from the company. See also reply to your letter of 19 October below.

  Question 7: The Attwall matter has been exhaustively answered in this letter and elsewhere.

  Question 8: See reply to letter of 19 October.

  (e) Apart from the transcript of your meeting with Mr Zaiwalla which contains no evidence of any wrongdoing by Mr Vaz (apart from a complaint relating to *  *  *  * which you have not pursued), the transcripts are mere hearsay and of no evidential value. You have failed to respond to my request for the tape recordings or to provide any evidence to support Mr Kapasi's allegations which have been categorically denied.

  (f) It is unreasonable to expect Mr Vaz to supply Labour Party bank statements which are not in his possession or control. In my letter of 5 July (page 4, para. 20) I asked for the details of the destination of his direct debits, which Mr Kamal had offered to supply to you. You have not provided these.


  1. The full transcript which you have supplied of the alleged conversation between Mr Milne and Mr Brown indicates that on 14 January 2000 Mr Brown told Mr Milne that he had no recollection of handing over an envelope containing money to Mr Vaz or his assistant. Mr Brown and Mr Milne have apparently made a series of contradictory statements which have been fully analysed and debunked by Mr Vaz in his letter to you of 13 March. Mr Milne's further letter of 4 April did nothing to remove the contradictions and Mr Vaz dealt with them in his letter to you of 11 April. On 25 May I invited you to reject Mr Milne's claim which had been completely demolished. I am at a loss to understand why you are still pursuing it.

  2. The club, variously described as 50, 100, and 200 club (the latter by Mr Kamal) was set up by the local Labour Party for the purposes stated in the statement of the chairman Mr Gratrix which you have supplied. In fact Mr Vaz believes it never had more than 30 members. Mr Vaz did not prepare the chairman's statement. Mr Vaz believes it was prepared by the Treasurer. Mr Vaz was happy to support and endorse the club but has never had any involvement in its finances. He believes it is no longer in existence. Mr Vaz repeats that this is a matter for the Labour Party which would have received any donations and doubtless could account for them and provide any other information. He also says that he has never received any payment from the Labour Party and indeed has donated money to the Party.



  1. Mr Vaz owns 144 and 146 Uppingham Road, one as residence and the other he allows to be used as the constituency office. The only complaint as to these properties which you have mentioned in your letter of 7 June relates to the possibility that Mr Vaz has received housing benefit as rent from Mr Thomas. Mr Thomas does not live in the property and neither he nor the Labour Party pays Mr Vaz any rent or has ever done so. Save that you have transposed the addresses in a and b and for the dates in sub-para e, you may therefore infer that your understanding of the position is correct.

  2. Not relevant.

  3. He owns his home jointly with his wife. "Completeness" is hardly a sufficient reason for asking questions which are irrelevant to any complaint.

  4. The Labour Party pays its own office expenses. Mr Vaz confirms that he has received no personal benefit from the occupation by the Labour Party of his premises.


  You have not claimed at any stage to have received any complaint relating to this company the purpose of which was fully explained to Sir Gordon Downey and which must be documented in your files. Mr Vaz has already confirmed in my letter of 17 July that he has been neither a shareholder or director of this company and has received no financial benefit from it. All the information you seek can be obtained from the Companies Registry.


  See separate reply.

  Before you submit your draft report may I also invite you to consider seriously the extent to which it is necessary for you to put the mass of material which has been accumulated in this inquiry into a form which could become public. Even though my client is entitled to be fully exonerated of all the false allegations made against him you owe him a moral if not a legal duty to safeguard him as far as possible from the continuation of a damaging campaign evidently mounted against him by political opponents.

2 November 2000

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