(iii) Complaint relating to
Mr Vaz's alleged failure to register remunerated employment with
Leicester City Council
439. I received a letter dated 26 April 2001
from Mr Andrew Robathan, Member for Blaby (Annex iii1), making
a complaint against Mr Vaz on the grounds of his alleged failure
to register remunerated employment with Leicester City Council.
440. Specifically, Mr Robathan drew attention
to the following extract
from the evidence given by Sir Peter Soulsby, former Leader of
Leicester City Council, to my previous investigation of various
complaints against Mr Vaz:
"The second strain
in our relationship was in 1987 when he was elected to Parliament
when, despite a number of requests from me and from the Town Clerk,
Keith delayed resigning from his post and continued to draw his
salary for I think it was, about eight months after his election."
441. The reference to Mr Vaz's "post"
was to a job he obtained, shortly after his selection as the prospective
Parliamentary candidate in Leicester East, at a council-funded
442. Mr Robathan added:
"There were several
other complaints about Mr Vaz's behaviour there, but I do not
see that any of them particularly relate to his behaviour as an
MP. However, remunerated employment other than from Parliament
has to be declared in the Register of Members' Interests and had
to be so declared in 1987.
Having checked the Register of Members' Interests
that covered that period, published in December 1987, I note that
under Remunerated Employment, Keith Vaz's entry is "nil"."
443. I wrote to Mr Vaz on 3 May 2001 (see Annex
I1) to ask for his response to this allegation.
444. Having received no response from Mr Vaz,
I reminded him, in letters dated 7 September 2001 to his solicitor
(see Annex ii56) and 27 September 2001 to Mr Vaz himself (see
Annex ii66), that a reply was due.
Mr Vaz's Response
445. Mr Vaz replied, in his letter dated 28 September
2001 (see Annex i9), as follows:
"First he [Mr
Robathan] raises a matter which is now 14 years old. Sir Peter
Soulsby made these allegations when he saw you on 14th
March 2000. You sent me a copy of his statement in your draft
report to the Committee nine months later on 20th December
2000. You presumably studied it carefully as you quoted from it
very extensively, giving his comments even more coverage in your
report than mine. Is Mr Robathan suggesting that you have not
No evidence was provided by Sir Peter Soulsby
to support his allegations. No questions were asked of me about
I respectfully suggest that it is not appropriate
to investigate a complaint after so long. When I was elected as
a Member of Parliament, I informed the Law Centre of the fact
that I had become an MP, though this was also a matter of public
knowledge. I would have explained to them that I wish to give
up my employment with the Law Centre. I would imagine that even
newly elected MPs would have to give some kind of notice to their
I would have taken the substantial holidays due
to me (as I had not taken any since I joined the Law Centre in
1985) and any flexitime that I was entitled to. As this was a
Law Centre my removal from the Law Centre would necessitate the
employment of another solicitor with a practising certificate.
Sir Peter Soulsby claims that I received letters
from the City Attorney. This is untrue. He also claims that he
wrote to me, but has provided no letters to confirm this and I
do not believe there are any. Perhaps you could ask him to provide
you with copies of his letters.
Since preparing the above I have now received
your letter of 27th September 2001. You say that
"the complaint is that you misled the Committee during the
last inquiry". (However, Mr Robathan himself does not say
that the Committee was misled). The sequence of events is as follows:
(a) You interviewed
Peter Soulsby on 23rd March 2000 when he made this
statement to you. You did not feel that it merited any further
examination. You sent my solicitor this statement on 20th
(b) You interviewed me on 3rd
July 2000. You did not mention this allegation.
(c) Between the commencement of your first
inquiry and the conclusion I answered over a hundred questions.
You did not feel that it was serious enough to ask a question
on this statement.
(d) The Committee examined me and Peter Soulsby
yet did not feel that this matter merited examination. You also
did not ask Peter Soulsby to provide copies of his alleged letters.
I believe there is some confusion on Mr Robathan's
part or perhaps he was not aware of the sequence of events."
446. During the previous inquiry I had said to
Mr Vaz's solicitor in a letter dated 9 November 2000:
"Finally, may I once again invite Mr Vaz
to provide me with any other information he wishes me to consider,
otherwise I shall assume that Mr Vaz has completed his replies
447. I made this offer to ensure that Mr Vaz
could provide me with any other information to deal with matters
raised or to fulfil his obligations to the House, for example
by registering interests which he had overlooked.
448. I asked the Chief Executive of Leicester
City Council, Mr Rodney Green, to provide me with information
about the terms of Mr Vaz's employment with the Law Centre between
1985 and 1987. On 18 October 2001, he telephoned me to say that
the Council no longer retained the relevant records and suggested
that I might approach the former Town Clerk, Mr Arthur Price-Jones.
449. On 22 October 2001, Mr Green wrote to me
as follows (Annex iii5):
"Further to your
recent telephone enquiry I confirm that Keith Vaz worked at a
law centre run by Highfields and Belgrave Law Centre Limited.
The company was funded by Council grant. I understand that around
1986/7 the Board broke down and the Council withdrew funding.
In an attempt to maintain the provision of law advice services,
the Council took a shell company which it had registered and changed
the name to Leicester Advice and Information Services Limited.
This company was then paid the grant previously paid to the Highfields
and Belgrave Law Centre. It also inherited the staff including
LAIS Limited ran the Law Centre until a new company
was set up to take over the task around 1990 or 1991. LAIS was
formally dissolved on 6th April 1992.
It is understood by colleagues that Keith Vaz
was employed by LAIS for a period after his election to Parliament,
but no records are available to confirm precise details."
450. I also wrote to Mr Vaz on 19 October 2001
(Annex ii78) to request details of his employment by the Law Centre.
Mr Vaz replied on 24 October 2001 in a telephone call (Annex iii7).
He said Sir Peter Soulsby should be asked to provide the letters
to which he referred. I said that I would consider his suggestion
but had assumed Mr Vaz could provide the correct information himself.
451. I wrote to Sir Peter Soulsby on 24 October
2001 to ask him to provide me with any information he had about
the dates of Mr Vaz's employment at the Law Centre. Sir Peter
Soulsby replied to me on 7 November 2001 (Annex iii8) saying:
"I can confirm that
Keith Vaz delayed resigning his post with the Law Centre for several
months after he was first elected to Parliament in 1987.
The requests for him to resign were made formally
by the Town Clerk at the time, Mr Arthur Price-Jones, and informally
by me, as the then Council Leader.
The reason for our concern was that he was obviously
not actually working for the Centre and this Council-funded project
had already had embarrassing questions asked about how Mr Vaz
got the job: whether he had been practising without a valid Law
Society Certificate and whether the Law Centre was effectively
being used by him as his Campaign Headquarters.
Unfortunately we have been unable as yet to find
the files from this period and it seems possible that they have
been destroyed in the intervening years, most likely during the
period of dramatic departmental reorganisation that took place
prior to and at the time of local government restructuring in
I have however asked for further searches to be
made and if any of the papers are found will contact you again."
452. I had a telephone conversation with Mr Price-Jones,
the former Town Clerk of Leicester City Council on 19 October
2001 (Annex iii9) to ask him for information about Mr Vaz's employment
period with the Law Centre.
453. Mr Price-Jones wrote to me on 19 November
2001 (Annex iii10) saying:
is as follows. I clearly recall some agitation on the part of
the directors of Mr Vaz's employing company because of what was
perceived as a delay on his part in ending his employment as a
Law Centre Solicitor following his election to Parliament. I recall
that Mr Vaz ended his employment in or about October 1987, but
I cannot be precise.
I enclose a copy of a letter I have received from
Mr Goldberg who was the company's accountant at the time. The
newspaper cutting, to which he refers, contains a reference to
the resignation of Mr Vaz."
454. Mr Price-Jones attached a copy of a letter
dated 14 November 2001 from Mr L Goldberg, Head of Audit at Leicester
City Council which says:
"I attach the cutting
I referred to during our conversation earlier today. You will
see that as at 7 September 1987, arrangements to recruit a replacement
for Keith Vaz were in hand. Given that he would almost certainly
have been on one month's notice, it could be inferred that Mr
Vaz remained on the payroll of Leicester Advice and Information
Services Ltd until at least the end of September 1987.
As far as I can recall, Mr Vaz continued to be
employed by the company after he was elected in June 1987. The
duration of that employment however, I cannot recall.
In view of the fact that the account files held
by the City Treasurer, in his capacity as Company treasurer, and
yourself, in your capacity as Company Secretary, are no longer
in existence, the only possible route by which verification of
the duration of Mr Vaz's employment could be obtained would be
through the Inland Revenue."
455. Mr Goldberg attached a copy of a newspaper
cutting which is dated 7 September 1987 which says:
"... a post of solicitor
was now being advertised to replace Mr Keith Vaz, who is now MP
for East Leicester."
456. Mr Vaz was elected on 11 June 1987. In 1987
the Rules required new Members entering Parliament to make a register
entry of their financial interests within four weeks.
457. In a letter dated 25 June 1987 (Annex iii11)
which went to new Members it was made clear that financial "interests
should be entered which date from the first day of the Parliament"
and that the registration form should be returned "within
four weeks of taking your seat".
458. Mr Vaz's registration form, which was acknowledged
on 8 October 1987 by the Registrar of Members' Interests, registered
no financial interests.
131 HC (2000-01) 314-II, Annex 117, p cxxix. Back