relating to Mr Vaz's alleged financial relationship with the Hinduja
a) Complaint by Mr Andrew Lansley MP
13. On 19 March 2001, Mr Andrew Lansley, Member
for South Cambridgeshire, wrote to me (Annex i1) to make a complaint
against Mr Vaz, alleging that he had received registrable benefits
from the Hinduja brothers which he had failed to register.
14. Specifically, Mr Lansley said that:
Third Report of Session 2000-01 had recorded that Mapesbury Communications
Limited had been established by Mr Vaz with the objective of supporting
his work with the Asian community and to receive his income from
the annual calendar and other earnings from outside Parliament;
the Report had also noted that Mr Vaz's
Register entries had never contained any reference to Mapesbury
when asked in a letter from me dated
14 March 2000 about
an allegation that he had failed to register a substantial donation
from the Hinduja brothers, Mr Vaz had replied "... no
donation has ever been made by the Hinduja brothers";
paragraph 57 of the Committee's Report
had recorded that Mr Vaz's wife, Ms Maria Fernandes, had showed
the Chairman and the Clerk of the Committee a list of the sources
of payments of £1,000 or more into Mapesbury Communications
the accounts of the Hinduja Foundation
(a charity established by the Hinduja brothers), as supplied to
the Charity Commissioners for the year 1995, had recorded under
the heading "Vaswani: Lecture and Reception" a payment
of £1,196.10 to Mapesbury Communications on 6 July 1995;
the Hinduja Foundation was wholly controlled
by the three Hinduja brothers, who were its trustees;
in 1995 Mapesbury Communications Limited
was a potential source of revenue to support Mr Vaz's Parliamentary
15. Mr Lansley summarised his complaint as follows:
"I am writing to
ask you to investigate this aspect of Mr Vaz's conduct, since
the payment from the Hinduja Foundation in 1995 to Mapesbury Communications
Limited could have given rise to a benefit to Mr Vaz and should
therefore have been registered."
16. Mr Lansley's letter concluded:
"On the face of it,
Mr Vaz's reply to you was accurate only on the basis that the
Hinduja Foundation is not interpreted as the Hinduja brothers;
that Mr Vaz did not, and could not have benefited from the payments
to Mapesbury Communications Limited; or that the transaction was
irrelevant since the payment solely reimbursed costs incurred
and did not include any element or profit payment in respect of
Mr Vaz's own time. All of these are arguable propositions or unsubstantiated.
The failure to provide sufficient information
regarding this payment, either in Mr Vaz's letter to you, or as
information supplied about Mapesbury Communications Limited, could
have had the capacity to mislead, or to frustrate the purpose
of your investigations and so, therefore, I would also ask you
to examine whether this constitutes a matter which should be reported
to the Committee."
17. With his letter Mr Lansley enclosed a copy
of the Report of the Trustees of the Hinduja Foundation for 1995.
Listed as the trustees were Mr S P Hinduja, Mr G P Hinduja and
Mr P P Hinduja. Attached to the statement of accounts of the Foundation
was a schedule of payments, including donations, made during the
12 months to 31 December 1995. Amongst these was an entry relating
to "Vaswani Lecture and Reception" which, in addition
to other payments, referred to the following item:
Mr Vaz's Response
18. I wrote to Mr Vaz on 20 March 2001 (Annex
i2) seeking his comments on the matters raised by Mr Lansley in
his letter of 19 March 2001. I indicated to Mr Vaz that I was
aware that the Chairman of the Committee had written to him requiring
him to provide me with information on the same matter, but I pointed
out that Mr Lansley's letter "raised wider concerns",
namely the possibility that Mr Vaz had misled me, on which I would
be grateful for his observations.
19. The Chairman's letter, dated 20 March 2001
(Annex i3), explained the reasons for his writing to Mr Vaz as
"The Committee at
its meeting today noted various press articles which alleged that
payments had been made to Mapesbury Communications from the Hinduja
The Commissioner also informed the Committee that
she had received a complaint from Mr Andrew Lansley raising this
matter. She has told me that she will be writing to you in due
course with a copy of the letter.
The Committee agreed that I should write to you
to require you to provide the Commissioner with full details of
any payment from the Hinduja family or their Foundation, to you,
or any member of your family, with the supporting documentary
20. In addition to seeking details about the
Dada Vaswani lecture and any associated payment to Mapesbury Communications
by the Hinduja Foundation,
the Chairman also asked Mr Vaz:
"... whether you,
or any member of your family, has received or been associated,
in any way, with any other payments or benefits provided by the
Hinduja family or their Foundation and, if so, provide full details."
21. On the same date (20 March 2001), the Chairman
also wrote to Mr Vaz's wife, Ms Maria Fernandes, in her capacity
as a director of Mapesbury Communications asking her to provide
similar information about the Dada Vaswani lecture and any resulting
payments to the company by the Hinduja Foundation (Annex.i4).
22. On 20 April 2001, Ms Fernandes replied to
the Chairman (Annex i5):
"I understand that the
information you had requested concerning the event on 6 July 1995
has already been supplied. I have no personal knowledge of this
23. Mr Vaz came to see me on 21 and 26 March
2001 (Annexes ii14 and i6) to discuss these matters and, in particular
on 26 March 2001, Mr Lansley's complaint. Following the meeting
on 26 March 2001 I recorded the following note (Annex i6):
"I suggested to Mr.
Vaz that he should carefully reply to all the points which Andrew
Lansley had made. I particularly drew his attention to the allegations
that he had misled me and the Committee and I said I felt he should
deal with those. He said he thought that the way in which Andrew
Lansley's letters were written, did not actually raise any complaints
because it said "Mr. Vaz may" and "Mr. Vaz may
have". I said that as far as I was concerned, the paragraphs
made clear Mr. Lansley's contentions and I thought that Mr. Vaz
should take the opportunity of replying to them. And I said that
what I wanted to make sure that he was absolutely clear what those
complaints were so that he could be under no illusion that he
had dealt with all the points when he had not. Mr. Vaz said he
accepted this. Mr. Vaz said he would go away and write a longer
letter which did cover these other points and would include in
them the information which he provided me in the meeting about
the smaller points."
24. On 26 March 2001 Mr Vaz wrote to me giving
his formal response (Annex i7). Mr Vaz said that he had already
replied to the Chairman's letter of 20 March on the same subject
(Annex.i8), and that the main points of that reply had been incorporated
in his response to my letter of 20 March.
25. Mr Vaz prefaced his response to me with a
statement consisting of the following points:
that the event
in question [the Vaswani lecture and reception] took place 6 years
that it was one of numerous events he
had attended during the previous 6 years;
that he had therefore asked others to
obtain information for him;
that he had no personal knowledge of
the details of the organisation of the event in question, other
than that it took place and that he had been present;
that he had taken it upon himself to
obtain as much information as possible from the company and that,
in doing so, he believed he had my approval on the basis that
this would "save [me] having to go through this
26. Mr Vaz's response to the main points in Mr
Lansley's letter were as follows:
the event in
question, a lecture given by Dada Vaswani of the Sadu Vaswani
Mission, took place at the House of Commons on 6 July 1995
and the event was attended by a number of other Members of Parliament;
the event was convened and chaired jointly
by Mr Vaz and another Member of Parliament;
the payment of £1,196.10 was made
by the Hinduja Foundation to Mapesbury Communications Limited
on the basis of an invoice for that amount;
the payment was intended solely to cover
the costs incurred in organising the lecture and, accordingly,
there "was no benefit to the company [Mapesbury Communications
neither Mr Vaz nor his co-sponsor of
the event, nor their offices had benefited from the event.
27. Mr Vaz added:
"I have not received
any payments from the Hinduja family; neither has my family, as
far as I am aware. This also applies to the Hinduja Foundation.
I may well have attended Hinduja Foundation events: the Hinduja
family were involved in a number of religious and community events.
I have attended many religious and community events, but I would
not be aware of any particular funding arrangements or agreements
about these matters. But I have not received any payments from
28. Mr Vaz's letter concluded:
"The answer to your
question in March 2000 was fully accurate, and even if it was
posed as the Hinduja Foundation it would be the same: I have received
no payments or benefit from this charitable event.
You further asked me whether there were any other
payments or benefits. The answer to this question is no."
29. In a letter to me dated 28 September 2001
(Annex i9) giving his response to outstanding matters, Mr Vaz
repeated his denial and confirmed that it applied equally to alleged
payments from the Hinduja family and their Foundation.
30. Mr Vaz attached to his letter of 26 March
2001 a copy of the invoice (Annex i7a) for £1,196.10 raised
by Mapesbury Communications Limited in respect of the arrangements
for the lecture. The invoice, which was dated 4 June 1995over
a month before the date given by Mr Vaz for the event to
which it relatedwas
addressed to Mr Hugh Carless at the Hinduja Foundation. Among
the larger costs itemised were the printing and re-printing of
invitation cards (totalling £491); arrangements for the venue/caterer
(£150); and administration (£320.04).
31. On 26 March 2001 I wrote to Mr David Broad,
Director of the Hinduja Foundation (Annex i10), seeking information
as to the purpose of the payment of £1,961.10 to Mapesbury
Communications Limited and about any other payments made by the
Foundation to Mr Vaz, his wife, or Mapesbury.
32. Mr Broad replied in a letter dated 30 March
2001 (Annex i11), stating that a thorough review of all the Foundation's
files and records going back to 1991 had revealed no payments
to either Mr or Mr Vaz or Ms Fernandes, or Mapesbury Communications
Limited, other than that made on 6 July 1995 to Mapesbury.
33. Mr Broad confirmed that the payment was for
services provided by the company to facilitate arrangements for
the lecture given by Dada Vaswani at the Palace of Westminster
and for a reception immediately afterwards. Mr Broad, however,
gave the date of the lecture as 8 June 1995 (not 6 July 1995 as
stated by Mr Vaz).
34. On 14 May 2001 I wrote to Ms Fernandes (Annex
i12), asking her to elaborate on the list of "clients,
events and payments in and out in the knowledge of the directors
of [Mapesbury Communications Limited]", which she had
provided to the Chairman of the Committee on 10 May 2001 (see
attachment to Annex ii26). In particular, in relation to Mr Lansley's
complaint, I asked Ms Fernandez to indicate any payment in or
out of the company "which was in any way related to the
Hinduja family or Foundation".
35. I interviewed Mr G P Hinduja and Mr S R Hinduja
on 2 July 2001 (Annex i14). By way of background and in order
to establish the nature of the relationship between Mr Vaz and
the Hinduja family, I asked about the circumstances in which Mr
Vaz had provided help with passport applications on behalf of
the brothers. Mr G P Hinduja told me: "Firstly, he has
never offered anything voluntarily. It has so happened that whenever
the community found problems in getting visas in Bombay from the
Consul General, from the Delhi High Commission, or at this end,
the matter was brought to his attention and he used to verify
and let us know what the problems were."
But Mr Hinduja denied ever having requested Mr Vaz to intervene
in order to expedite a particular application, or that Mr Vaz
himself had volunteered such a course of action. And Mr Hinduja
strongly rejected the suggestion that Mr Vaz had ever indicated
in any way that he expected to receive anything in return for
assisting with passport or visa applications.
36. I also took up with the Hinduja brothers
the statement in Sir Anthony Hammond's Report on the circumstances
surrounding an application for naturalisation by Mr S P Hinduja
in 1998, published in March 2001, that on 17 July 1997 "Mr
Vaz wrote to Mr [Peter] Mandelson, at the request
of the Hindujas,
saying that he was disappointed that there were no Asian projects
in the [Millennium] Dome and saying that he hoped that
it [a religious project sponsored by the Hindujas] might be accepted...
Mr G P Hinduja challenged the accuracy of Sir Anthony's assertion,
saying: "We would not have told him [Mr Vaz] to
write to Mandelson."
37. On the specific issue of the Dada Vaswani
lecture in 1995, the main points of the evidence given by the
Hinduja brothers were:
that they had
been unaware, until my inquiry, that Mr Vaz had any connection
with Mapesbury Communications Limited;
that it had been the responsibility of
the Hinduja Foundation to check that the amount charged by Mapesbury
for arranging the event was reasonable;
that they could not explain the reason
for the discrepancy between the evidence of Mr Vaz and Mr Broad
as to the date of the Dada Vaswani lecture.
38. When I interviewed Ms Fernandes, accompanied
by Mr Mohammed Pathan (a co-director, with Ms Fernandes, of Mapesbury
Communications), on 4 July 2001 (Annex i15), Ms Fernandes denied
any personal knowledge of the Dada Vaswani lecture, saying: "That
was something that was done by Mapesbury." She added that,
as far as she was aware, this was the only work carried out by
Mapesbury Communications either for the Hinduja brothers or the
Hinduja Foundation. Neither Ms Fernandes nor Mr Pathan could shed
any light on the reasons why the Mapesbury Communications invoice
was dated before the lecture took place.
b) Complaint by Miss Eileen Eggington
39. On 26 March 2001, Miss Eileen Eggington of
Northwood, Middlesex wrote to me (Annex i16) making a number of
complaints against Mr Vaz,
including an allegation that he had a financial relationship with
the Hinduja brothers. Consequently, according to Miss Eggington,
the information available to her suggested "that Mr Vaz
and, in particular his wife, Mrs Maria Fernandes Vaz, have been
unduly influenced by the wealth of the Hindujas". Miss
Eggington added: "Maria has been used by the Hindujas
to receive highly preferential treatment in obtaining British
passports and visas."
40. Miss Eggington attached to her letter of
26 March a seven page statement dictated to her on 23 March 2001
by her friend, Mrs Rita Gresty, who had worked for Ms Fernandes
as a personal assistant from August 1998 to May 2000. Miss Eggington
said that Mrs Gresty was now an in-patient receiving psychiatric
treatment. Miss Eggington had previously informed me of this in
earlier correspondence in February 2001.
41. The main points of Mrs Gresty's statement
that either in
late 1999 or 2000 she was directed by Ms Fernandes to renew Mrs
that Ms Fernandes had used her position
on a member of the IND
user panel to speed up applications for passports for a Mr and
Mrs ***, a wealthy couple from Bolivia, and their two children;
that Ms Fernandes also secured the rapid
granting of visas for a lady servant of the Hindujas and for a
computer scientist working for Mr G P Hinduja;
that the Hindujas "were always showering
Keith and Maria with invitations";
that the Hindujas sent floral arrangements
to the Vaz's home every week, so that the house "was like
a florist shop" and "there were flowers everywhere";
that "another wealthy Indian"
used to send Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes "pre-packed frozen Indian
food in bulk to their * * * [Middlesex] home"; this happened
every two to three weeks and Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes "did
not pay for it."
42. I wrote to Miss Eggington on 28 March 2001
(Annex i17) requesting her to ask Mrs Gresty to let me have any
evidence of Mr Vaz's personal involvement in passport applications
connected with the Hindujas, together with details of any fees
paid. Similarly, I invited Mrs Gresty to provide any evidence
of Mr Vaz's role, if any, in the handling of passport applications
for the family of Mr ***.
43. Since I had received no reply from Miss Eggington
when I came to review the information I had gathered in relation
to this complaint against Mr Vaz, I wrote to her again on 27 September
2001 (Annex i18), reminding her that she had not yet provided
me with any further evidence which might be in Mrs Gresty's possession.
44. On 11 October 2001 Miss Eggington came to
see me, along with Mrs Gresty, who was recovered and home from
hospital. Mrs Gresty confirmed the substance of her written statement,
in so far as it related to work carried out by Ms Fernandes on
a passport application for Mrs ***, as well as that on behalf
of Mr *** and his family. She added that Ms Fernandes had contacted
an official at the Home Office who had "sped the whole matter
up through his contacts there." (Annex i19).
Mr Vaz's Response
45. On 28 March I wrote to Mr Vaz (Annex i20)
seeking his response to the matters contained in Miss Eggington's
letter of 26 March 2001 and the accompanying statement by Mrs
46. In a letter to me dated 9 July 2001 (Annex
iv8), Mr Vaz drew my attention to what he described as "[Mrs]
Gresty's mental illness, her hospitalisation [and] the industrial
tribunal proceedings." He added: "You will understand
why I am reluctant to deal with accusations by someone who (on
the admission of Miss Eggington) may not be fully well."
47. I wrote again to Mr Vaz on 16 July 2001 (Annex
i22) confirming that Miss Eggington had indeed informed me of
Mrs Gresty's ill health and asking for Mr Vaz's response to Miss
Eggington's complaint, including details of any relevant matters
such as industrial tribunal proceedings or ill health.
48. In a further letter dated 13 August 2001
(Annex i23), Mr Vaz stated that information about Mrs Gresty's
state of health had not been available when she was appointed
as Ms Fernandez's personal assistant. He was unaware of the outcome
of the legal proceedings brought against Ms Fernandez by Mrs Gresty
for unfair dismissal. Mr Vaz added: "The information that
Miss Eggington purports to give is both inaccurate and wrong and
the 'statement' that has been made by Mrs Gresty is untrue."
49. In his letter dated 28 September 2001 (see
Annex i9) Mr Vaz repeated his claim that the state of Mrs Gresty's
health made her an unreliable complainant.
50. In relation to the allegation concerning
invitations to him from the Hinduja brothers to attend social
functions, Mr Vaz said:
"... like many other
Members, ... I have attended social events hosted by the Hinduja
brothers. I have been advised by the Registrar that it is not
necessary to register such attendances. If you take a different
view, please let me know."
51. So far as gifts of flowers and food from
the Hinduja family were concerned, Mr Vaz added:
"I have no recollection
of ever receiving flowers from any member of the Hinduja family.
I believe I may have received sweets at Diwali, as this is common
practice amongst Asian families. It is my practice to distribute
sweets received as gifts at Diwali amongst elderly constituents.
Rita Gresty says that I received regular provisions
of pre-packed frozen foods. This is untrue and there have never
been such arrangements. I do recall an occasion when Mrs Gresty
was given frozen foods from our freezer, which had broken down.
It was our own food, which we had purchased. Perhaps that is what
she is thinking of. I still have the list of food that she received,
would you like a copy?"
52. When I interviewed two of the Hinduja brothers
on 2 July 2001 (see Annex i14)), they denied ever having provided
benefits to Mr Vaz and Ms Fernandes. As Mr G P Hinduja put it:
"... no gifts or any monies were given."
On the specific allegations by Mrs Gresty, Mr S P Hinduja stated
categorically that no food had ever been supplied, and that, while
it was possible that they had sent flowers at the wedding time,
this had not been "a regular event."
53. Of his relationship with Ms Fernandes, Mr
G P Hinduja said that he and his brother did not know her "that
well"; it was the head of their legal department, Professor
Marchant, who had most contact with her in her capacity "as
an expert on immigration."
The only payments they had made to Ms Fernandes were for professional
services involving four separate immigration and nationality cases.
At the end of the interview they provided me with a copy of a
schedule of fees paid by the Hinduja business to Ms Fernandes
in respect of these cases (Annex i25) The Hinduja brothers strongly
denied Mrs Gresty's claim that Ms Fernandes had assisted Mrs ***
with her passport application. None of the cases listed in the
schedule provided by the Hinduja brothers referred specifically
to Mrs ***.
54. During my interview with Ms Fernandes and
Mr Pathan on 4 July, I told Ms Fernandes (without indicating my
source) that I understood her to have carried out legal work,
through her practice, for the Hinduja brothers, their family or
their business. Ms Fernandes replied that her duty of confidentiality
towards her clients prevented her from confirming the information
I had put to her. I explained that the purpose of my questioning
on this point was not to pry into her professional affairs but
to establish whether any "part of any payment for such
work was transferred to the account of Mapesbury Communications."
I asked Ms Fernandes if she would be prepared to approach the
relevant clients to see whether they would be willing to waive
confidentiality in order to enable her to answer my question about
payments for her legal work for the Hinduja brothers or their
business. I undertook, at Ms Fernandes's suggestion, to write
to her with this request.
55. I accordingly wrote to Ms Fernandes on 10
July 2001 (Annex i26) as follows:
"So that I have a
complete picture of all your transactions with the Hinduja brothers,
the Hinduja businesses and Foundation I would be grateful if you
would approach any client who is connected in any way with the
Hinduja brothers, businesses or Foundation to seek their agreement
to disclose to me a list of the activities carried out for them
with dates and the payment received for each piece of work."
56. On 6 August 2001, Ms Fernandes replied (Annex
i27), explaining that she was taking advice about my request for
information concerning certain of her clients and that she would
respond fully when this process was complete.
57. Since I had by then received no substantive
reply from Ms Fernandes I wrote to her again on 11 October 2001
(Annex i28) reminding her that an answer was overdue and asking
for her response by 19 October 2001 at the latest.
58. Ms Fernandes replied on 13 October 2001 (Annex
i29) as follows:
"I have consulted
my professional body, the Law Society, on issues of professional
conduct and at their suggestion also taken further legal advice.
My Code of Conduct sets out my duty of confidentiality
in detail. It is fundamental to the relationship between solicitor
and client. The duty extends to members of my staff and exists
beyond the grave and rarely overridden. All information including
the address of clients is confidential. My duty remains intact
even though the information may already be in the public domain.
I have to act in the best interests of my clients.
It is particularly important to me as a solicitor
married to an MP, and other professionals who are married to MPs,
to be able to represent their clients without fear of such information
and client affairs being made public property, through the back
door. I practised law for a decade before I met my husband and
I never discuss my clients with him.
You have given me no cogent reason or explained
the relevance for taking the unusual step of departing from my
duty of confidentiality. I am not aware that the professional
and personal relationships of the spouses or partners of MPs are
subject to scrutiny."
59. A table comparing the dates of the interventions
made by Mr Vaz with officials or Ministers on immigration and
with the dates of the invoices raised by Ms Fernandes for professional
services to the Hinduja business or family is annexed to this
memorandum (Annex i30).
(c) Allegation relating to use by Mr Vaz
of office facilities provided by the Hinduja Foundation
60. In the context of the complaints that Mr
Vaz had received registrable benefits from the Hinduja brothers,
I received information, which was passed to me by a member of
the previous Committee, alleging that Mr Vaz had for some time
enjoyed the use of office facilities, including a desk, at the
Hinduja Foundation and that this might have constituted a registrable
61. When I wrote to Mr David Broad, director
of the Foundation, to ask whether he could confirm this allegation
he telephoned me to say that as far as he was aware Mr Vaz had
not been provided with office facilities. He added that Mr Vaz
was in the habit of calling in "probably about every six
weeks to discuss matters [and] sometimes to help draft speeches",
for which purpose he was given the use of a telephone and secretary.
Mr Broad also said that to the best of his knowledge, no such
facilities (ie an office) had been made available to Mr Vaz by
the Hinduja business. Mr Broad confirmed in a letter dated 3 April
2001 (Annex i31) what he had told me over the telephone.
62. When I interviewed the Hinduja brothers on
2 July 2001 (see Annex i14) they denied that Mr Vaz had been provided
with office facilities either by the Foundation or by the Hinduja
business. The Hinduja brothers' recollection was that Mr Vaz's
visits to the Foundation had been somewhat less frequent than
Mr Broad had implied. They also thought that Mr Broad's reference
to speech-drafting might have overstated Mr Vaz's role, although
he was one of those who was consulted from time to time about
community relations, including policing issues and "what
was happening in the Asian areas." The Hinduja brothers
added that whilst Mr Vaz might have the use of a telephone when
he visited the Foundation, there was no question either of an
office or a researcher being provided to him.
63. On the basis of this information, I did not
think it necessary to put this specific allegation to Mr Vaz.