Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report


Statement of: Eileen Margaret Eggington

Mr Vaz has said that I telephoned his mother in Leicester on Thursday 4th October and asked her questions, apparently on behalf of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. My answer to this serious allegation is that I have never telephoned Mr Vaz's mother. I do not know her address or telephone number and I would not dream of ever attempting to make contact with her. I am able to provide corroborative evidence, if required, by supplying copies of my home telephone and mobile telephone accounts. I have checked my diary for 4th October and I was working 'out of town' on a Foreign and Commonwealth assignment that day, arriving home at about 1930 hours.

Mr Vaz has also said that I have given newspaper interviews about this matter and he raises the question as to whether I and/or Mrs Gresty have received payment from the newspapers in relation to this enquiry. My reply is that in the past few months I have answered questions put to me by Chris Hastings of The Daily Telegraph, Jason Lewis of The Mail on Sunday and Nick Craven of The Daily Mail. I did not give any press interviews. I made no record of the questions asked or answers given. My contacts with the journalists were brief and I did not ask for, and have not received, any money or other reward from any newspapers. I have not made enquiries on behalf of newspapers. On the contrary, Nick Craven has sent me copies of documents he obtained in relation to the two marriages of Mary Matin and Creditline reports on the Bina Restaurant. I passed these on to the Parliamentary Commissioner. He also supplied me with two photographs of Mary and Abdul (known as 'Martin') Matin taken at their wedding on 26th January 1999.

In the light of the allegations against me made by Mr Vaz, I wish to add the following information, which may shed some light on why he appears to be attempting to undermine my integrity:

On 3rd June 2001 an article appeared in The Mail on Sunday entitled "Vaz's aide's passport dossier". I was quoted in this article. On 7th June I received a telephone call from Mr Barney Monaghan of David Price Solicitors telling me that he was preparing a letter on behalf of Maria Fernandes in relation to that article. He asked me if I had supplied The Mail on Sunday with a copy of Mrs Gresty's statement and if either of us had received any money from that newspaper. I said that I had not supplied the statement and that neither Mrs Gresty nor I had received any money. I told Mr Monaghan that Mrs Gresty was seriously ill in hospital and was not aware of the article. He then tried to ask me further questions and I told him that he must write to me. I received a copy letter by fax on 11th June and the original by post the next day. I attach a copy of this letter and my reply dated 20th June (document pages 1-4). I also enclose a copy of my draft letter which, on legal advice, I did not send (document pages 5-6). I have heard nothing further from David Price Solicitors.

On 11th June I made a formal complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner that Mr and Mrs Vaz had employed Mrs Mary Matin, an illegal immigrant from Bangladesh, as a nanny. The complaint was based upon evidence obtained by me from Mrs Gresty. On 25th June she provided more detailed evidence to support the complaint in a signed statement. Mrs Matin lived with her husband above the Bina Restaurant in Northwood, less than 100 yards from my home. I do not frequent the Bina Restaurant and I made no attempt to contact either her or her husband.

Early in September 2001 I paid one of my regular visits to a long-standing local friend, Mrs PU, a Gujurati Asian. I have supported P and her family of three boys, now adults, since the 1970's when she arrived as a refugee from Uganda and was widowed soon afterwards. I showed her the wedding photographs of Mary and Martin Matin and asked her if she knew them. She said she knew Martin but did not know Mary. She called to her son M to talk to me because he knew Martin well. M told me that Martin had died recently of cancer. He did not know Mary very well but had heard that the people who had taken over the Bina were trying to deny Mary her share in any inheritance. He believed that she was no longer living above the Bina but had moved locally and was living alone. M told me that it was not unusual for Bengali widows to be ostracised in this way. He then telephoned his boss, Mr Ali, proprietor of the Eastern Promise Restaurant in Northwood Hills. They talked and M handed the phone to me to talk to Mr Ali. I briefly told him why I was concerned for Mary Matin's welfare and asked him if he knew where she was living. He said he thought she was living locally in the Pinner Road, but did not know the address. He said his wife might know. P then telephoned Martin's former business partner, Abdul Miah (also known as Muhaimin), on his mobile phone to ask him if he knew where Mary was living and if she was all right. P told me that Abdul used "a very bad word" about Mary and said that she had been a very bad wife to Martin and had made him unhappy. He said he did not know where Mary was living. (NB: It was Abdul Miah, who with the help of Keith Vaz, had arranged the marriage between Mary and Martin Matin,) M offered to take me to see Abdul at his home in Reading, but I declined, not least because I assumed that he is still a friend of Keith Vaz.

On or about 13th September I went with a friend to The Eastern Promise because M had urged me several times to eat at this restaurant where he had recently agreed a business arrangement. M was not there but I introduced myself to Mr Ali. He sat down and talked to me. He confirmed that he had heard that Martin's wife was having problems but said that he thought M knew more than he did. He was very friendly towards me but I got the impression that he knew more than he was letting on. The restaurant was empty and he instructed a colleague to get a camera. He tried to take photos of the bar staff but could not get the camera to work. I offered to look at it and put the film in correctly so that it worked. After taking staff photos he took a couple of my friend and me. It was all rather bizarre but I did not object because I had nothing to hide.

I became increasingly concerned about the welfare of Mary Matin and on or about 15th September I asked PU if she could find out where she was living and in what circumstances. P soon discovered that she was living in council accommodation nearby at * * *. P suggested that we both go to see her because she wanted to offer Mary condolences. During the morning of 19th September 2001 I went with P to her Bengali friend at * * *. I told the friend why I was concerned for Mary's welfare. the friend told me that she knew little about Mary but she had supported her as a neighbour since her husband passed away in July this year. She said that she was almost always at home and said, "we will go and see her now". We went to the address, but there was no reply. That afternoon I went back with P and rang the bell on the communal outside door, which has a plain glass panel. I got a fleeting glance of a female as she opened the door of the ground floor flat, but immediately closed it when she saw me. I rang the bell again but she did not answer.

P and I then went back to her friend at *** and told her what had happened. She immediately offered to come with us. She rang the bell, knocked on the window and called out. Mary opened the door. The friend talked to her in Bengali and she invited us in. P embraced her and said how sorry she was about Martin. She then introduced me to Mary. She said I was a police officer and wanted to help her. I immediately corrected her and said I was no longer a police officer but I had come as a friend. P told her that we were concerned for her welfare because we had heard that her late husband's business associates were trying to prevent her inheriting his money. Mary stood all this time and looked frightened. She spoke only a few words of English and spoke to P in Hindi. She told P that was all right and that her husband's two children would make sure that she got her share of the money. She said that she and Martin were given a council flat in June this year because her husband was too ill to climb the stairs to the flat above the Bina. She said that he passed away a month later. She said she lived on her widow's pension. P stressed that I had been a good friend to her for many years and she was sure that I could help her if she was being swindled out of her inheritance. Mary said she trusted Martin's children to help her. I then told her that I knew her friend Rita Gresty, who was also sad to hear that Martin had passed away. She did not answer and just stared wide-eyed at me. I told her that Rita herself had been very ill for more than a year, but was now getting better. Mary continued to stare and said nothing. We were in the flat for about 15 minutes and Mary stood for most of the time, while we sat down. She was clearly ill at ease and looked terrified when I mentioned Rita Gresty's name. Her living room/kitchen was well appointed with modern, clean, furniture and fittings and included a high quality double oven and large fridge-freezer. There was a bowl of fresh fruit on the table and about a dozen onions in the vegetable rack. While we were there an elderly Asian lady arrived to collect some bags from her freezer. P knows her and they talked briefly in Hindi. The lady totally ignored me. As soon as she left, Mary said she had to get on with some cooking and so we left. I have made no attempt to contact her since that time.

P said afterwards, "I tell you something is wrong. She does not dress like a widow and there are no pictures of her husband in the room. She is not grieving like she should be. You can be sure that Martin's children will not give her any money. She was very rude to us. She did not offer us a drink or something to eat. This does not happen among our people. I tell you, she is hiding something." From my own observations, Mary Matin is a frightened woman but she looks in good health and is living in quite comfortable circumstances.

On 20th September I went to the Shanti Restaurant in the High Street where I live and during the evening got into conversation with the proprietor, a Bengali called "Harry", who I have known for several years. I asked him if he knew Martin and Mary. He said he had known Martin well and had visited him above the Bina a month or so before Martin passed away. He said his wife was there, but he did not know her name. He commented that he had seen Martin's wife a few times in recent weeks walking down the High Street, but she always had her head down and never acknowledged him. I told him what I had heard about Mary and he said that he was not surprised because that is typical of the way his fellow countrymen treat women. Then he commented that she should be all right for money. I asked him why. He said, "Doesn't she work for Keith Vaz?" I said, "Does she?" Harry said, "Well, I heard she worked for him so I thought she must have money of her own". I said, "Who told you that?" Harry said, "I can't remember now. It was a year or so ago. It was just something I picked up that Martin's wife was working for Keith Vaz." I said, "What work did she do for him?" He said, "I think she was his secretary or something like that".

On 8th October 2001 I was telephoned at home by Police Constable Sheila Waring, a community beat officer from Hayes Police Station. She said that Mary Matin was at the front counter with two Asian men, alleging harassment by me. Mary said that I had called on her with P and then twice more by myself. I told the officer the truth about my reason for visiting Mary and she then told me that she had already spoken to PU on the telephone, who had confirmed my story and given her my full name and telephone number. I then told her the brief background to my original interest in Mary and about the complaint I had made to the Parliamentary Commissioner.

She said she would explain to the callers about my concern for Mary and try to assess if she needed support from the local Domestic Violence unit. I rang PC Waring few days later and she said that Mrs Matin and her companions had accepted my explanation and did not pursue their complaint. She said that, from her body language, Mary Matin did not appear to be under any sort of duress.

To the best of my knowledge and belief, this statement is true. I am aware that any action I take which might obstruct an inquiry of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards could be contempt of Parliament.

Signed: [Eileen M Eggington]

19 October 2001

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