Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Analysis (iii)

(iii)  Complaint relating to Mr Vaz's alleged failure to register remunerated employment with Leicester City Council

459.  Mr Robathan, drawing upon the evidence given to the previous inquiry by Sir Peter Soulsby, the former leader of Leicester City Council, alleged that Mr Vaz had continued to be employed by the Council at a community Law Centre for some time after his election to the House of Commons in June 1987 and that Mr Vaz had failed to register this paid position.

460.  As Mr Vaz accurately stated, this subject was first drawn to my attention by Sir Peter in his capacity as a witness in my investigation into the earlier allegations against Mr Vaz. But Sir Peter did not couch his evidence in the form of a complaint against Mr Vaz. When, however, Mr Robathan raised the matter as an issue of non-registration on Mr Vaz's part, I thought it right to make enquiries. Since Mr Vaz did not initially respond to my questions on this subject, I was obliged to investigate further by making enquiries of Leicester City Council, the former Town Clerk and Sir Peter himself.

461.  The Chief Executive of Leicester City Council said the understanding of his colleagues was that Mr Vaz had been employed at the law centre for a period after becoming a Member of the House.

462.  His recollection was supported by the former Town Clerk of Leicester City Council, Mr Price-Jones, who also told me that the former treasurer and accountant for the Law Centre confirmed this. Their joint memory of Mr Vaz's employment by the Council was that it continued at least until October 1987 and possibly longer. Mr Price-Jones told me that he recalled some agitation on the part 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. He said that he recalled that Mr Vaz ended this employment in or about October 1987 but that he could not be precise. The Head of Audit at Leicester City Council said the only possible route for verification of the duration of Mr Vaz's employment would be the Inland Revenue.

463.  Their evidence was further corroborated by Sir Peter Soulsby, who said that Mr Vaz delayed resigning from his post with the Council "for several months" after his election to Parliament, despite formal requests to him to do so by the Town Clerk and informal approaches by Sir Peter. Sir Peter added, however, that the files which might confirm his recollection had not been traced and might have been destroyed.

464.  Mr Vaz did not dispute the fact that he had been employed at the law centre during the period in question, but said that in the months after the election he was working out his notice period and taking accumulated paid leave. He did not, however, offer any documentary confirmation of this.

465.  The fact remains that three witnesses— two senior officers and the Leader of the Council at the time, whose veracity I have no reason to doubt—have stated that Mr Vaz continued to be employed (and presumably, therefore, paid) by the Council for a significant period after becoming a Member of Parliament.

466.  On the basis of this evidence, I am of the view that Mr Vaz's employment by the Council was not formally terminated for at least four months after his election and that he was paid up to that date. In 1987, as now, new Members were required to register any financial interests held from the first day of the new Parliament.

467.  This remunerated post with the Law Centre should therefore have been registered under Category 2 of the Register (Remunerated Employment, Office, Profession, etc) for the period it was held after the first day of the 1987-92 Parliament. The registration form which Mr Vaz submitted at the time was therefore incomplete. At the very least, Mr Vaz should have sought advice on the matter but apparently did not do so.

468.  Mr Vaz is also correct in saying that the Committee has agreed that it will not normally entertain complaints which relate to events more than seven years old, unless the allegation is of a serious nature.

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Prepared 8 February 2002