Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 160-179)



Mr McNamara

  160. Let me put this to you, Mr Vaz—
  (Mr Vaz) I am trying to give an explanation as to why.

  Chairman: I think we understand that.

Mr McNamara

  161. Let me put it to you another way. You would not necessarily have to be a director or a close associate but someone could say to you, "Keith, can you find out from this man who has this strange name what is going on?" and you ask this man to come and see you and in the course of this discussion you raise this issue with him, and he clamps up and goes away. We do not necessarily have to have written evidence of this, it is a casual conversation you had in your office as an MP, you were at that time a minister—
  (Mr Vaz) No.

  162. Were you not?
  (Mr Vaz) No.

  163. Fair enough. I have got a bit confused about the dates. It happens to us all; old age. Somebody would say that to you and you would raise that question with the individual.
  (Mr Vaz) No, because it would mean that I was misleading this Committee now, that first of all I know this some other person who cannot be identified; secondly, I would know Mr Peene was connected with this when all he has ever come to talk to me about is the DTI, the Metropolitan Police and the Attorney General's guidelines; thirdly, that I would go and ask a constituent rather than do what I should do as an MP, which is write to the chief executive of whatever organisation was looking into this. If you talk about patterns, since there is no evidence of what happened, what is the pattern which follows this meeting? There is no complaint until this year, until after all the publicity; then there is a complaint.

  164. But there is the record that Ms Filkin has checked, that he in fact went from the meeting with you—
  (Mr Vaz) We do not know that.

  165.—and complained.
  (Mr Vaz) We do not know when he made his statement. We do not know what has been said. According to Mr Peene's latest letter, he says the Intervention Board deny all knowledge of the affair. I am quite happy. If somebody wants to build up a case, look at Mr Peene's file. Just look at this file. It makes the most serious allegations about everyone you can talk about—government departments, Metropolitan Police commissioners, everybody else. I am basically small fry compared to what has been said. I think this is an opportunity to get on record this investigation of some kind or another. I do not know what his dispute his.

  Ross Cranston: Just for the record, the handwritten memorandum, I recognise the writing, it is a Mr McGinty who is a senior official in the Attorney General's department. This is the handwritten memorandum which says Mr Peene's case alleges corruption against a whole range of people. That is just for the record.

Mr Dismore

  166. Your surgery list has various hieroglyphics on it, perhaps you could interpret it for us. Some are straight forward.
  (Mr Vaz) Sorry, this is?

  167. This is the first page of 12. There is the address and then EV. I presume that must be your reference?
  (Mr Vaz) Mr Peene, his address. EV is Evington, the ward.

  168. What is 3+2?
  (Mr Vaz) That is the number of electors living in the household, the number of men plus women.

  169. In his household?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes. N is new or there is no file for it, ie, when she prepared the surgery stuff what she has not sent me is the whole file. The O for Mrs *** means I would have had her file there. Then his phone number. There are only seven here, I do not want you to think I only see seven people. This is actually the second page. At the end are two extra people who came to the surgery.

  170. Fine. Can I just ask when the list would have been typed up or prepared?
  (Mr Vaz) Normally I have a surgery on a Friday. This is a Saturday I think. It would be done on a Friday or Thursday.

  171. Where was Mr Peene's file kept? In your constituency office?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, all the files are kept in my office.

  172. I am not quite sure I understand your explanation as to why it is marked down as a new case if the file is already in the office.
  (Mr Vaz) This is a very, very big file. If they are not sending the whole file, they would just do a cover sheet. I do not know whether I have put the cover sheet in here and the N word would appear.

  173. So you did not see him at your constituency office, you saw him somewhere else?
  (Mr Vaz) I never see them at my constituency office. This is a mistake in Mrs Filkin's memorandum. No meeting took place at my constituency office with Mr Peene. Everybody is always seen in a public place. At the end of every surgery I record on a machine, in front of the constituent, the letter I am writing. Just to take up Mr McNamara's point, the next letter he writes to me after the surgery is dated 26 April. If he was going to say something about me, this is when he would say it. It is marked "Private and Confidential. Further to our recent meeting and my telephone calls to your . . . office which resulted . . ."—


  174. We have that. Where is the letter which you would have dictated to him immediately after the meeting?
  (Mr Vaz) That is 29th April.

  175. That is a fortnight afterwards.
  (Mr Vaz) Yes. I do not know. (After a pause) Actually it does not say there is a letter. ". . . which resulted in me being provided with copies of the Notices of Questions . . ."—

  176. You said your practice was to dictate a letter immediately.
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, it was. What he wants is a copy of the Notice of Questions.

  177. But in this case either you did not dictate a letter or it is not on the file.
  (Mr Vaz) He wanted a Notice of Questions which I imagine does not require a letter. "To date I have not as yet received the promised hand-written letter suggesting the way forward . . .". The reason he did not receive the handwritten letter is that I had to check with the Attorney General's department whether I could pass on the handwritten letter. It may well be he has not received this at all.

Mr Dismore

  178. Just to complete this line of questioning, where exactly did the meeting take place?
  (Mr Vaz) At the Belgrave Neighbourhood Centre, Rothley Street, Belgrave, Leicester. On the right hand side, "Alison, do you know if it is on the file? Can you check? If not, can I write. Please draft the letter."

  Peter Bottomley: Just in case anyone ever tries to understand what we are talking about and sees the second page of the surgery note, it might be worth saying for the record that the names crossed out are the names of Mr Peene and his wife backwards, which is their house name.

  Mr Dismore: Say that again?

  Chairman: He is explaining the rather odd word on the top of the address.

Peter Bottomley

  179. And therefore the copy of the private and confidential surgery note. Can I describe what I think happened? He wrote you a letter before the surgery, you or someone in your office under your signature invited him to come in, he and his wife turn up having made an appointment, there was discussion where nothing particular happened as far as you are concerned and this is reinforced by the letter he wrote a week or two later?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, absolutely right, Mr Bottomley, except his first paragraph sets out what I was supposed to do.

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