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Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex ii76

Letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Standards and Privileges, from Ms Maria Fernandes

I enclose a copy of a letter that I have sent to the Parliamentary Commissioner following recent correspondence.

I have given her all the information that I have concerning matters she has raised with me.

You will see from the correspondence that I have objected to questions being asked about my professional and personal activities.

I have seen no rule and I have been offered no information or explanation as to why the spouse of a Member of Parliament conducting his or her own private or professional activities should be the subject of questioning. Indeed the Commissioner herself has said repeatedly that she does not wish to interfere in my affairs, yet continues to ask questions about those very same affairs.

Added to this I have explained to the Parliamentary Commissioner that as a result of newspaper articles I have begun legal proceedings. She has said that she does not wish to jeopardise these proceedings but is requesting information that will ultimately have that effect.

I wish to seek your reassurance that there will be no publication of information concerning either myself or my clients which would in any way compromise my professional duty. I would be happy to discuss this or any matter with you or the Committee in private if you so wish.

May I also say that I have found the conduct of this investigation quite bizarre. There appears to be no defined procedure and if one quotes the Ninth Report of the Committee to the Commissioner as I have done she does not acknowledge that it should be adhered to.

Citizens called upon by Parliament to assist with information have a right to know why they are being questioned.

Finally [the Clerk] has a letter that I sent you following the publication in a national newspaper of confidential correspondence between the Committee and myself. [The Clerk] informed me that he thought that a member of the Committee had passed that information to the newspaper. I look forward to receiving your response on this.

Thank you for taking the trouble to read this letter.

13 October 2001

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