Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witness (Questions 200-219)



  200. The Committee is trying to get to the bottom of allegations against you about harassment of witnesses.
  (Mr Vaz) I have not harassed by Mrs Eggington.

  201. It would be helpful if you could answer the questions. Why did you suggest that the Commissioner was interfering in criminal proceedings?
  (Mr Vaz) Because she was. This is a matter that the police should investigate, and the police should be left to investigate it. They have to interview the complainant, who is my mother, they have to tell her where it is going to end up, and then she has to make a decision as to what she wants to do with the issue. It is not a matter for me; it is a matter for her and the advice that she has from her family, and I do not want to get my mother—If it is up to me, I do not want to get my mother embroiled in Mrs Gresty and Mrs Eggington, thank you very much. If this does end up in court, my mother will have to give evidence. She has to decide whether, in her state of health, she wants to do that, and I do not believe that these things should be taken lightly. It should be left to the police. The police have asked for something to happen. What Mrs Filkin did is she intervened in this matter unnecessarily. It should have been left to the police to work out what the situation was.

  202. You told the Commissioner that one telephone call allegedly was made to your mother by someone purporting to be Mrs Eggington, but you told the police there had been several.[8]

  (Mr Vaz) No, not that several calls had been made to my mother. We have had—She has had several calls from people. The only call that she relates to be from Mrs Eggington is on 4 October. Mrs Eggington has a history of contacting witnesses. So has Mrs Gresty. If you look at my annexes you will see that I have submitted to you a memorandum which shows that Mrs Gresty had been contacting my family for the last year. I am not going to get my mother involved in this. It is up to her to decide what she wants to do.

  203. So despite evidence from the police that no such call was ever made—
  (Mr Vaz) No, the police have not said that. The police have said they have looked at the home telephone records of Mrs Eggington and Mrs Gresty. That is what they have looked at. If you are going to make a call to somebody, I do not think you would go home and make it there.

  204. So you are insistent that your mother did report this to you?
  (Mr Vaz) Yes, of course she reported it to me.

  Chairman: Are there any more questions on this particular issue of harassment?

Richard Ottaway

  205. Yes. I am sorry, I am looking quickly for the original police memo, but I think it says that there was no incoming call at your mother's house. Do you accept that?
  (Mr Vaz) From Mrs Eggington?

  206. It said that on 4 October there was no incoming call. You just said that they checked the records.
  (Mr Vaz) That cannot possibly be right, because I rang her, because that was the day she collapsed and was taken to hospital. I do not think we should be discussing these issues about my mother's health and what happened to her. Only close members of my family knew the medical position.


  207. No, this is a serious issue, Mr Vaz, and the Committee has every entitlement to ask questions on the matter, respecting your mother's condition, but we are asking questions of you, not your mother.
  (Mr Vaz) Sir George, it is a serious issue, but the point is, why is this always about what other people have said to Mrs Filkin? What is the Committee going to do? This is about being fair.

  208. The Committee has allegations in front of it about you which we are trying to resolve fairly to you and fairly to the House, and the way to do it is to answer, as best you can, the questions that are put to you by members of the Committee. We are approaching the end. We have made a lot of progress. I hope we can maintain that progress with the remaining questions that can be put to you.
  (Mr Vaz) But, Sir George, with the greatest of respect, this is my only—The Clerk does not answer my questions when I write to him; he leaves it to the Committee. This is my only opportunity to ask questions. I do not have any opportunity.

  Chairman: At the moment we are in the middle of a series of questions about a specific issue, and Mr Ottaway is asking some questions. I would be grateful, if Mr Ottaway wants to ask any more questions, if he would do so: if not, Mr McNamara.

Richard Ottaway

  209. Could you have a look at the Leicester Constabulary memo, pages 491, 492 and 493?
  (Ms Filkin) Mr Vaz was sent this letter after the annex, because it is a letter that was sent before Christmas.
  (Mr Vaz) If you would let me have a look at your copy, then.
  (Ms Filkin) It is on page 3, and it is the next-but-last paragraph. (Copy handed to Mr Vaz)
  (Mr Vaz) Right, page 3.

  210. Page 3, penultimate paragraph: "The Leicestershire Constabulary are now in receipt of information to suggest that no calls were received by Mrs. Vaz's home telephone on the 4th October, 2001, that could be attributable to either Miss. Egginton or Mrs. Gresty." Do you accept that, and also that that phrasing would dispute that the call could be made from elsewhere?
  (Mr Vaz) No, what you said was that there were no phone calls made to her house. That is not what they have said. Secondly, they have based this information on going to a former Chief Superintendent and Deputy Head of Special Branch, who has been contacting witnesses throughout this case, to look at her home phone records. Frankly, if I was going to make a call, I would not do it from my home phone.

  211. I accept that the premise of my original question was inaccurate that there were no incoming calls, but in your response you said, "They could make the calls from anywhere."
  (Mr Vaz) Yes.

  212. The point is that this memo confirms that actually what they are looking at is the records of your mother's house, so that would seem to discount your suggestion that they could make the phone calls from anywhere[9].

  (Mr Vaz) No, because they said that she did receive calls on that day. They have also looked at the home telephone of Gresty and Eggington and the calls that they have made. That is the information they have. When I rang the police on 5 October I said, "I'd like this call traced", and they said they could not trace these calls, it would be too expensive. I said, "Well what is your advice, then?" They said that their advice was not to answer the phone. So nothing then happened until Mrs Filkin decided that she wanted to intervene in this process.

  213. So you are actually suggesting that either Mrs Eggington or Mrs Gresty did make a phone call, but not from their phone?
  (Mr Vaz) I am not suggesting anything. It is not for me to suggest. What I did was pass on the information that I was given that the call was made, that the word "Filkin" and "Eggington" was used, and that is it. I went to seek the advice of the police immediately as to what we could do. They said—well, they pointed to two things—"First of all, your mum's on a ventilator, so she cannot receive any calls." They then said, "Don't answer the phone." They then said they cannot trace the call, and that was it. What they have done subsequently is they have gone and looked at somebody's home—Well, they have said what they have said.

  214. If you are making these suggestions as to what happened, why should I not accept the wording in this letter?
  (Mr Vaz) I am not asking you not to accept it.

  215. But in a sense it says here that no phone call was made which could be attributable to Mrs Eggington or Mrs Gresty.
  (Mr Vaz) On the basis of looking at their telephone records.

  216. It does not say that.
  (Mr Vaz) No, but that is all they have looked at, is it not?

  217. How do you know that?
  (Mr Vaz) I could only assume. I do not know. I do not know what—

  218. It is an assertion.
  (Mr Vaz) I do not wish to get my mother involved in a lifetime's activity with Mrs Eggington and Mrs Gresty. I know what it has meant to my family over the last year. There have been calls to my house. I have had a police alarm put in. I have had harassment over the last year. I do not want this to continue. It must be up to my mother to decide how she wants to take matters further. When she is fit and well, she will then decide what she wants to do.

  219. I quite understand that, and indeed I sympathise with the point you are making. None the less, before your mother went into hospital it is said by the Leicestershire Constabulary that she did not take a call from Mrs Eggington or Mrs Gresty.
  (Mr Vaz) Well if you look at the letter it is phrased very carefully, is it not? I am not going to comment on what the Leicestershire Police have said. There is an ongoing investigation. They must be allowed to investigate.

  Chairman: Mr McNamara, then Mr Bottomley.

  Mr McNamara: I wonder if Mr Vaz has a copy of the letter of 10 January which was sent to Ms Filkin by Nick Gargan, Detective Superintendent of Crime Support?

  Chairman: Perhaps we can pause and make that letter available, as it has only just come in to us. I think it is fair that he should have it. (Copy handed to Mr Vaz)

  The Committee adjourned for a short time

  Chairman: Mr McNamara, do you want to pursue your questions?

8   Note by witness: No, in the past there have been several silent calls. There was only one call. This is confirmed in the letter from the police to my mother of 10 December 2001. Back

9   Note by witness: Completely accurate tracing of calls is not possible. It is very difficult to trace calls made via the internet through a server. Back

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