(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 doubthave stated that
Mr Vaz continued to be employed (and presumably, therefore, paid)
by the Council for a significant period after becoming a Member
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.