Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Third Report

Annex 56A

Response from Mr Geoffrey Bindman, Bindman & Partners, Solicitors, on behalf of Mr Keith Vaz MP to the draft memorandum by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


  1.  Thank you for your letter of 20 December 2000 enclosing your draft memorandum together with a large bundle of annexes. You have asked me to let you have Mr Vaz's corrections of fact, additional information, and any further comments by 10 am on 8 January 2001.

  2.  Obviously this has put us under extreme pressure in preparing our response over the holiday period. Allowing for public holidays you have given us only nine days to digest a mass of material which is sent to us for the first time. In the time available it has been impossible to deal with every detail and Mr Vaz may well wish to make additional comments to those contained in this letter. For example, there are several errors in your summaries in Appendix 2.

  3.  However, Mr Vaz and I find it very heartening that you do not uphold any of the complaints made against him. While he is not surprised at this outcome, having consistently denied all the allegations which you have investigated, he is naturally relieved.

  4.  He nevertheless has serious concerns about the content of your draft, which contains serious errors and omissions, and about unwarranted criticisms of his conduct which may unfairly tarnish his reputation notwithstanding the complete exoneration to which he is plainly entitled.

  5.  The commentary on the draft memorandum which follows in section II deals with these matters in detail.

  6.  As you know, this is the first opportunity given to Mr Vaz to respond to much of the material contained in the annexes. I draw attention to the repeated requests for disclosure of evidence adverse to him which have been made in correspondence and which are only now complied with. To take one example, your interview with Sir Peter Soulsby took place on 23 March and the transcript was approved by him on 14 July, yet it was sent to us only on 21 December.

  7.  I invite you to amend your draft memorandum to take account of the points made in this response before submitting it to the Committee.

  8.  Secondly, in section III, I raise the issue of material which is potentially prejudicial to and sometimes defamatory of third parties and of Mr Vaz, which is contained in your report and the annexes to it yet is not relevant to the resolution of any specific complaint. Third parties defamed or referred to adversely in the draft memorandum or previously undisclosed annexes include Mrs Merlyn Vaz, Amities Faro, Sir David Cokes, Andrew Foster and Mr Vaz's sisters.

  9.  I submit that such material should be removed from your memorandum so as to avoid harm. I deal with this matter in more detail in section II of this letter but I wish to stress now the importance of securing your prompt agreement to remove the passages which will be identified below. In the absence of such agreement Mr Vaz wishes to raise the matter with the Committee before your memorandum is completed.

  10.  In section IV, I make some observations about the manner in which your investigation has been conducted and some proposals with a view to improving the procedure to be adopted in subsequent cases. These have been prepared after consultation with Mr Richard Drabble QC. Mr Vaz would like to have an opportunity of discussing these matters with the Committee in due course.


  (these follow the order adopted in your draft)

A.  Complaints against Mr Vaz involving Mr Zaiwalla

  11.  Mr Vaz and Mr Zaiwalla have denied from the outset that any cash payments were ever made as alleged by Mr Milne and both have maintained that position consistently. (See, in relation to Mr Vaz, his letter of 7 February at annex 12.)

  12.  In paragraph 287 the word "initially" in relation to Mr Zaiwalla and "almost" in relation to Mr Vaz are inaccurate. In no case has either of them claimed or accepted that any payments were made to Mr Vaz personally or for his benefit. The issue of the calendar is dealt with in detail below. The evidence of Mr Milne and Mr Brown is contradictory and plainly unreliable and you have rightly rejected it. I invite you to include in your memorandum specific recognition that you do not regard them as witnesses of credit. Your statement in paragraph 70 that Mr Vaz initially declined your offer to comment on Mr Brown's account is incorrect (see his letter of 16 February at annex 13).

  13.  It is unfair to Mr Vaz and untrue to say, as you do in paragraph 297, that the evidence of payments to Mr Vaz is "inconclusive". The true position is that there is no credible evidence of any such payments. Mr Zaiwalla in his letter at annex 63 makes it clear that a thorough search of his accounts going back to 1991 reveals no payments other than those specifically examined in your report.

  14.  The final sentence of paragraph 297 inaccurately implies that Mr Vaz was aware of a cash withdrawal of £1,000 which was intended as a donation to a charity nominated by Mr Vaz. Mr Vaz has made it clear that he has no knowledge of the withdrawal or payment though he accepts the explanation of Mr Zaiwalla in paragraph 1(a) to (e) in his letter at annex 58 which of course does not claim that the persons who collected the charitable donation had any connection with Mr Vaz. Mr Zaiwalla's letter at annex 62 and cash book entry on the following page are entirely consistent with his previous explanation. Mr Vaz is quite properly in the habit of encouraging acquaintances to support charities, as are other MPs. He said this to you in his letter of 16 February. He has no recollection of the particular occasion or charity more than six years ago and there is not the slightest reason why he should have had any knowledge of the circumstances of any payment which was not to him or for his benefit. Mr Zaiwalla's letters and your summary of the position in paragraph 298 make this perfectly clear.

  15.  For the above reasons your implied criticisms of Mr Vaz in paragraphs 299 and 300 are unwarranted. It is not correct to say that Mr Zaiwalla handed over cash to a person or persons he assumed to be from Mr Vaz's office. It is quite plain from his account in annex 58 and from the extracts from the transcript of your interview with him in paragraph 61 of your draft memorandum that he does not recall who they were but he was evidently satisfied at the time that they came from the charity. The final sentence in paragraph 301 is correct and sufficient to dispose of the matter.

  16.  Paragraphs 302 and 303 on the payments for the two Gala dinners need no comment.

  17.  As to paragraph 305, Mr Vaz did not "come close" to accepting that the payment of £250 in January 1993 was received by him or his office and the passage you quote does not contradict or qualify his categorical denial in the second paragraph of his letter of 7 February (annex 12) that he had received cash payments of any kind from Mr Zaiwalla. If it was indeed a payment for advertising in the calendar it would not have been paid to Mr Vaz but to the publishing company which was handling the advertising. The criticism of Mr Vaz in paragraph 311 in unjustified. He did not recall the payment of £250 in January 1993 which was not made to him and he had no reason to be aware of it.

  18.  Paragraph 314 is equally unfair to Mr Vaz in suggesting that acknowledgement that a payment might have been made to a third party for advertising was inconsistent with his denial of having received cash payments from Mr Zaiwalla. In any case, as you accept in paragraph 316, Mr Vaz was entitled to believe by virtue of his careful discussions with Sir Gordon Downey and his colleagues Registrars Sands and Willoughby that payments in respect of the calendar were not registrable benefits. By the same token it is entirely natural and proper that he did not consider the calendar when strongly refuting, as soon as it was put to him, the allegation that he had received substantial unregistered cash payments from Mr Zaiwalla.

  19.  Calendars are dealt with in more detail below.

  20.  The allegation that Mr Vaz intervened on behalf of Mr Zaiwalla with the Inland Revenue has been properly rejected and needs no further comment.

  21.  You have rightly rejected the claim that Mr Vaz's recommendation of Mr Zaiwalla for an honour was in any way improper. In view of the confidentiality of the honours system you may wish to consider whether reference to the recommendation should appear in your memorandum. Your account of the matter in paragraphs 91 to 95 does not reflect Mr Vaz's legitimate concern not to breach the confidentiality of the honours system which led him to take up the matter with the Speaker, the Head of the Honours Unit, and the Secretary to the Cabinet, Sir Richard Wilson, a copy of whose letter is attached as Appendix 1 to this letter.

  22.  Paragraphs 328 and 329 criticise Mr Vaz for failing to disclose a financial relationship with Mr Zaiwalla. It is surely unreasonable to claim that two small payments for calendar entries not requiring to be registered amount to a "financial relationship". Mr Vaz does not consider that he had any such relationship.

B.  Mapesbury Communications and the Annual Calendars

  23.  No complaint or allegation referring to Mapesbury Communications or Annual Calendars published by or on behalf of Mr Vaz appears in what purports to be a comprehensive summary in paragraph 17 of the draft memorandum of the 15 complaints which you were investigating. Neither Mapesbury nor the calendars are referred to in the longer list of 23 complaints which you informed me you were investigating in your letter to me of 7 June (annex 28). Your failure to identify the relevance of these matters to your investigation or to any complaint accounts to a large extent for Mr Vaz's reluctance, having answered your initial questions about them, to join you in your pursuit into their highways and byways.

  24.  In paragraph 96, you indicate that your interest in the calendars was triggered by a payment recorded in the cash book of Mr Zaiwalla which appeared to show that he paid £200 in September 1994 in connection with a calendar associated with Mr Vaz. You were then able to establish that Mr Vaz had registered income received from the calendar in 1995, 1996 and 1997, the last two entries emphasising that Mr Vaz had received no payment himself.

  25.  You were also able to establish from Mr Vaz's personal registry file that the calendar for 1995 did indeed contain an advertisement from Zaiwalla & Co. In my letter of 17 July, I quote Mr Vaz's response to your questions about the annual calendars. He refers you to the advice he received from Sir Gordon Downey and Roger Willoughby which he followed to the letter. The letter from Registrar Sands in paragraph 100 makes it quite clear that Mr Vaz was not required to register the payment of £200 from Mr Zaiwalla.

  26.  At this point it is difficult to see what more needed to be said. No allegation or evidence of any impropriety by Mr Vaz in relation to the calendars had been or to this day has been furnished. However, you draw attention in paragraph 98 to the fact that in the letter of 17 July Mr Vaz says that calendars for constituents contained no advertising yet those for 1994 and 1995 of which you have copies do contain advertising. You say there is a "discrepancy". If you will read again the third paragraph from the end of my letter of 17 July (annex 39) you will see that there is no discrepancy. The point is clearly explained that the constituency calendar which has never carried any advertising is primarily for his constituents in Leicester East. If there are any left over, he sends the remainder to friends and acquaintances. A copy of the 1999 calendar was enclosed with my letter. At the end of paragraph 286 you erroneously refer to the constituency calendar.

  27.  To remove any possible misunderstanding, may I reiterate that there are two types of calendar. The calendars with advertising were for the Asian community as explained to your predecessors, not for constituents, and were widely distributed. These were discontinued after the 1996 calendar because they were not a success, made no profit and produced no income for the benefit of the Asian community as was originally intended (see Mr Vaz's letter to Sir Gordon Downey at attachment A to annex 39). The correspondence and discussions with your predecessors relate only to these calendars.

  28.  The second type, calendars without advertising, are provided by Mr Vaz to his constituents, generally at his own expense. In 1999 a contribution to the cost was made by Mr A P Patel and registered accordingly. Your comment in paragraph 332 implies that you did not take into account that the calendars containing advertising had ceased in 1996.

  29.  As to Mapesbury Communications, it remains unclear what allegation in relation to it, if any, you are investigating. As you say in paragraph 330, Mapesbury was established by Mr Vaz primarily as a publishing company, including receiving income generated by the series of annual calendars for which advertising was to be sold, and for channelling his earnings from publications outside Parliament. As Mr Vaz has made clear he has not in fact received any benefit from the company because, as you point out, the calendar project was not a success and has produced no profit. Nor were any outside earnings of Mr Vaz paid to the company.

  30.  Although he "established" it, in the sense that he arranged for its formation, as has been repeatedly pointed out Mr Vaz has never been a shareholder or officer of the company and has never received any benefit from it. As you point out in paragraphs 106 and 333, Sir Gordon Downey informed Mr Vaz that in these circumstances his register entry appeared to be satisfactory.

  31.  After the calendars with advertising ceased after the 1996 edition, Mr Vaz's link to Mapesbury which had in fact been limited to the calendars (notwithstanding his intention expressed in his letter to Sir Gordon at attachment A to annex 39 to use it more widely) also ceased. The company continued to trade as a publishing company and its turnover referred to in paragraph 334 presumably related to such activities. The change of officers referred to in paragraph 335 occurred following the death of Mr Vaz's mother-in-law who was replaced as a director by Mr Vaz's mother. Mr Vaz's wife, Maria Fernandes, a practising solicitor of some years standing and a member of the Council of the Law Society, remains a director and the sole shareholder. It is for that reason that the address of the register of members of the company is the home which Mr Vaz shares and jointly owns with his wife.

  32.  It follows that your three concerns expressed in paragraph 337 are unwarranted for the following reasons:

    —  as has already been made clear, there has been no conflict or inconsistency in Mr Vaz's denials that he has received any payments from Mr Zaiwalla

    —  Mr Vaz freely acknowledges that there were two separate kinds of calendars, as explained above, and has never intended to claim otherwise.

    —  Because Mr Vaz has had no involvement of any kind with the company since the calendar project came to an end, and has never been involved in it as director or shareholder or beneficiary, he believed and still believes that the correct response to your unanswered enquiries was to invite you to direct your attention to the information available from Companies House which in turn would enable you to seek information from the officers of the company.

  33.  The criticism in paragraph 338 is unwarranted for the same reasons. Mr Vaz has repeatedly made clear that he received no benefit from the company and your access to company records and the officers of the company gave you every reasonable opportunity to verify his assertion.


  34.  Paragraphs 113 and 114 contain references to information (which Sir Peter Soulsby and Mr Syal have been alleging since 1994) claiming impropriety amounting to criminal conduct by Mr Vaz which is not substantiated yet whose publication is obviously prejudicial to him and plainly defamatory. No newspaper has published them for that reason, save the Sunday Telegraph after this investigation started when the paper evidently believed it was protected by Parliamentary privilege. You are entitled to investigate the alleged payments by Mr Kapasi but it is surely unfair to refer to other vague and unsubstantiated allegations which are unsupported by evidence and which cannot assist you in determining any complaint.

  35.  These unsubstantiated allegations are made in the lengthy quotations from Sir Peter Soulsby in paragraphs 119 and 121 to 125 and 27 to 129. These quotations contain several defamatory statements about Mr Vaz which are not relevant to any complaint which you are investigating, and some of which relate to matters arising as long as 16 years ago. The only complaints which any of Sir Peter Soulsby's evidence addresses are those alleging that Mr Vaz solicited or received payments from Mr Kapasi and three religious groups in return for assistance in land acquisitions (numbered 13, 14 and 15 in paragraph 17 of your draft). Two of these groups have denied categorically that they have made any payments to Mr Vaz (see paragraphs 158 and 159 and annexes 181 and 182) and you do not appear to have contacted the third group.

  36.  The only relevant evidence which Sir Peter can give and has given is as to his conversations with Mr Kapasi in about 1994, his file note of 20 April 1994 and correspondence with Mr Price-Jones. You have failed to disclose or annex the file notes of Mr Price-Jones sent to you with his letter at annex 121. Sir Peter's evidence about disputes relating to Leicester East Constituency Labour Party has no relevance to any complaint which you are investigating against Mr Vaz and all other material not relevant should be removed from your memorandum and from the transcript at annex 117 (see below in section III of this letter.) Sir Peter was not and has never been a member of Leicester East Labour Party. He sought the Labour Parliamentary nomination for Leicester East constituency for the general elections of 1983 and 1987 and in 1999 the nomination for the City Council in the Belgrave ward of Leicester East and was defeated for those nominations respectively by Patricia Hewitt MP, Keith Vaz MP and Councillor John Thomas.

  37.  The whole of the evidence of Claire Ward MP (paragraphs 172 to 177) is irrelevant. She neither makes nor supports any allegation against Mr Vaz, whose conduct formed no part of the terms of reference or scope of the Labour Party inquiry initiated by the NEC in 1994. Contrary to the statement in paragraph 14 of your draft, the inquiry was into Leicester City Labour Party not Leicester East Constituency Labour Party.

  38.  Mr Vaz's response to the complaints relating to Mr Kapasi was given on 19 March (annex 19) and remains a categorical denial. Whatever Mr Kapasi may be alleged to have said to journalists or others which supports these complaints they are untrue and you are aware that Mr Kapasi has never substantiated them and has himself denied them in two statutory declarations.

  39.  Your analysis in paragraphs 339 to 356 understandably expresses doubts as to the credibility of Mr Kapasi but you do not give proper weight to the fact that he is the only person who is claimed to have given any first-hand evidence in support of the complaints. There is no documentary evidence supporting any of the allegations. Against them is the categorical evidence of Mr Vaz and of two of the three organisations alleged to have made or received requests to make payments that they did not do so, as well as that of Mr Kapasi himself.

  40.  You give no consideration to the documentary evidence which you have yourself disclosed at annex 122. This shows that the policy on land allocation was approved in 1987 and that the decision to allocate land to the three religious groups was not made until January 1994. Mrs Merlyn Vaz was not a councillor in 1987 and was dismissed by Sir Peter as chair of the relevant committee in May 1993. Sir Peter Soulsby has produced no evidence of any way in which Mrs Vaz, let alone Mr Vaz, could have influenced a decision in favour of the religious groups. I am informed that there are detailed minutes covering every meeting held on these matters. You will also have noted from the last paragraph of the document which is annex 122 that by 7 June 1998 no planning applications had been submitted by any of the three religious groups.

  41.  Sir Peter's evidence, even if truthful as to what Mr Kapasi said to him, cannot repair the inadequacy of the evidence against Mr Vaz, which he is entitled to expect you categorically to reject. Nonetheless, should the Committee decide that it wishes to take further evidence from Mr Kapasi, Mr Vaz would not object.

D.  Allegations involving Mr Kamal

  42.  In paragraph 210 you refer to your letter of 3 October (annex 45) in which you ask Mr Vaz to supply Labour Party bank statements. You do not refer to my reply of 2 November (annex 50) in which I repeated the view that it was unreasonable to expect Mr Vaz to produce Labour Party statements which are neither in his possession nor control. I also pointed out that you had failed to provide details of the destination of Mr Kamal's direct debits, which he had promised to supply to you. In paragraphs 208 and 209 you quote Mr Vaz's responses to questions from you on this matter on 5 July (annex 36) and 22 August (annex 43). You have now disclosed that you delayed until 4 October writing to Mr Kamal's bank (though Mr Kamal had given you its address in his letter of April) which on 9 November (annex 116) confirmed what Mr Vaz said in those responses, namely that the payments were made to the Leicester East Labour Party and not to him.

  43.  In the light of your conclusion in paragraph 364 that there is no issue of registration on which you are required to reach a judgment, I make no further comment on this allegation. However, your expression of certainty in paragraphs 362 and 364 concerning Mr Kamal's account of what he believed is unjustified and inappropriate.

  44.  In paragraphs 365 and 366 you refer to concern over what you characterise as attempts to apply improper pressure on Mr Kamal by Mr Colin Hall. In paragraphs 221 and 366 you imply that Mr Vaz to whom alone you sent a copy of Mr Kamal's letter of 17 April, may have been responsible for distributing copies of the letter and thereby have been implicated in bringing improper pressure. You reinforce this implication by suggesting that it would not have been in Mr Kamal's interests to circulate copies of his letter. I stated quite clearly in my letter of 25 May (annex 27) that Mr Vaz had neither passed or shown Mr Kamal's letter to anyone save myself. I also made it clear that Mr Vaz did not know how Mr Kamal's letter came into the possession of Mr Hall.

  45.  Paragraph 366 fails to point out that, according to Mr Hall, copies of the letter were sent to Councillor John Thomas and several of his colleagues at Leicester City Council. It also fails to refer to the letter to you from Councillor Piara Singh Clair (annex 126) which says that Mr Kamal handed him an envelope on 11 May containing a copy of his letter to you (evidently the letter of 17 April). Since you have unequivocal evidence that Mr Kamal was handing out copies of his letter (which would he have given a copy only to Councillor Piara Singh Clair?) you should make clear that you now accept that Mr Vaz had no part in disclosing it to Mr Hall.

  46.  I do not need to comment on the remaining allegations by Mr Kamal, apart from the "50 Club".

E.  The "50 Club"

  47.  Your criticism of Mr Vaz in paragraph 370 is unfair. Mr Vaz's response to your inquiry about this matter in my longer letter of 2 November (annex 50) which you quote in paragraph 242 explains that this club was run by the Labour Party and that he received no payment from it. Given the vast amount of information supplied by Mr Vaz at every stage and the fact that you were able to correspond directly with the chairman of the local Party, Mr Gratrix, (not treasurer as you say in paragraph 259) it is unreasonable to accuse him of lack of co-operation and this criticism should be removed. In addition you had a detailed letter from Councillor John Thomas' solicitor (annex 80) setting out the Labour Party's position in the matter.

  48.  In paragraph 372 you raise for the first time the possibility that Mr Vaz should have registered his ownership of 146 Uppingham Road. This cannot be right as 146 is used as his private residence and is not registrable. Your intention may have been to refer to 144 Uppingham Road. You accept in paragraph 246 that Mr Vaz was concerned in January 1994 as to whether he should register 144 Uppingham Road and sought advice when returning his annual register form. Attached to this letter is a copy of his registration form (appendix 2 to this response). He was advised that he need not register the property but the form provides the information the Registrar needed had he thought registration was appropriate. It would not therefore be right to imply that Mr Vaz had acted incorrectly, even inadvertently.

F.  Allegations involving Mr Attwal

  49.  There is no dispute that a payment of £1,000 was made by Mr Attwal by cheque as a donation to the Labour Party at about the end of 1992. There is no dispute that the cheque was received by the Labour Party and Councillor Thomas has stated in a letter which you have not annexed to your memorandum (copy attached as appendix 3 to this response) that he collected the cheque from Mr Attwal's premises and that it was made payable to the Labour Party. Mr Attwal, who is 78 years old, says that the cheque was payable to Mr Vaz and was collected by Mr Vaz's mother. Mr Vaz has no recollection of this and you have chosen not to raise the matter with Mrs Vaz.

  50.  You were evidently concerned that the payment might have been used for Mr Vaz's Parliamentary office in which case it should have been registered. As Mr Vaz has consistently denied this and as you acknowledge in paragraph 385 that you have received no evidence which would justify the conclusion that there had been any overlap or blurring between the funding of the Constituency Labour Party office and Mr Vaz's Parliamentary office, your criticism of Mr Vaz in that paragraph is unwarranted.

  51.  Your claim that officers and members of the Constituency Labour Party have found difficulty in gaining access to accounts and other records and in disentangling Mr Vaz's finances from those of the Party is quite incorrect. That allegation was made by Sir Peter Soulsby who is neither an officer nor a member of the Leicester East Party and is not entitled to access to its accounts (se paragraph 189 and annex 117). To the extent that Mr Vaz's accounts might be relevant it would be for the purpose of proving a negative: that he had not received particular payments. It is not reasonable to expect him to conduct this complex exercise without evidence that he had received them. You are also in error in saying in paragraph 380 that Mr Vaz claimed the payment of £1,000 was received in the financial year 1991/2. He did not use this word. Nor in paragraph 381 is it appropriate to refer to "benefit of the doubt". There is no evidence to justify doubt.

G.  Complaints by Mr Gosling

  52.  No comment is required here save to suggest that Mr Vaz is unfairly criticised in paragraph 402 for failing to declare a financial interest in Control Securities Limited when speaking or participating in activities concerning BCCI in the light of your conclusions in your previous paragraphs. Though you say it was not serious it is surely unnecessary and wrong to claim that there was any breach at all.


  53.  It is obviously undesirable that any report of your investigation should contain irrelevant material, especially where it is defamatory or prejudicial to any individual. While it is to be expected that the Committee would not in any event wish to publish such material, it would be preferable and appropriate in order to minimise the risk of harm to innocent persons to remove it from your memorandum at this stage before it goes to the Committee.

  54.  Furthermore, the inclusion of such material in your memorandum to the Committee would be unfair without giving the individuals concerned an opportunity of rebutting defamatory allegations, even where they do not relate to any complaint which you are investigating. Even if it could be argued that material is marginally relevant as background, it should not be included if the benefit of including it is outweighed by the potential harm to individuals against whom unsubstantiated allegations are made.

  55.  Our main concern is with the evidence of Sir Peter Soulsby, other than that which refers specifically to claims alleged to have been made to him by Mr Kapasi. Paragraphs 118 to 131 quote large parts of the transcript of your meeting with Sir Peter and the full transcript is annex 117. The section quoted in paragraph 119 contains a number of defamatory allegations against both Mr Vaz and against his mother, who obviously is not the subject of any complaint and who has been given no opportunity to respond to the allegations. Contrary to the allegation quoted in paragraph 121, she was not in fact chair of the property committee during the period claimed by Sir Peter (see paragraph 40 of this letter). The only relevant passages quoted from Sir Peter's statements to you are in paragraphs 122 and 123. None of the documents referred to in paragraph 126 are relevant and indeed none are annexed to your memorandum.

  56.  The evidence from Claire Ward MP is not relevant to any complaint which you are investigating and paragraphs 172 to 177 should be removed together with annexes 102 to 107.

  57.  If necessary Mr Vaz is fully prepared to answer in detail all the allegations made by Sir Peter Soulsby and to explain the background from his own perspective. To do so properly would need access to the relevant Council and other documents and would obviously require this investigation to be considerably prolonged. He must in fairness be given an opportunity to do this should you not agree to remove the parts of Sir Peter Soulsby's statements which do not relate to the alleged Kapasi payments.

  58.  In your analysis (paragraphs 340 and 342) you repeat unsubstantiated defamatory allegations against Mrs Merlyn Vaz. These allegations are demonstrable nonsense because at the time Mrs Vaz was not responsible for making decisions on land allocation. In paragraphs 350 and 351 you make assumptions about the credibility of Sir Peter when there has been no opportunity to respond to his evidence. As has been made clear above Mr Vaz does not rely merely on a history of disagreement to cast doubt on Sir Peter's credibility but can refute many of the facts which Sir Peter claims if it is necessary for him to do so.

  59.  Paragraph 353 is defamatory both of Mr Vaz and Mrs Vaz and as you acknowledge is unsupported by any "direct" evidence. If you are suggesting there is any other evidence other than that of Mr Kapasi, whose evidence you accept in paragraph 355 plainly cannot be relied on, you have not identified it.

  60.  Other statements which are irrelevant and prejudicial are the following:

    —  in paragraph 114 the unsubstantiated allegation that there are about 20 people who had provided Mr Vaz with money

    —  in paragraph 204 the quotation from Mr Asmal and annex 187

    —  annex 21(d) is a privileged communication by Mr Vaz to his then solicitor. He has no objection to the Committee seeing it but would not wish it to be published.

  61.  I await your response on the excision of this material and repeat that if you do not agree Mr Vaz would like to address the Committee on the matter before your memorandum is completed.

Geoffrey Bindman

8 January 2001

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