Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex IV9

File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards


23 NOVEMBER 2001


Mr Vaz rang in a highly agitated state. He asked me what my role was in a criminal proceeding. I said I had no role in any criminal proceeding as far as I knew. He said why was I instructing the police to interview his mother. I said I was not instructing the police to interview anybody.

He said he had just received a phone call from the police asking where his mother was because they wished to interview her in relation to the telephone call she had received and that the police believed they were being asked to interview her by me.

Mr Vaz said his mother was very ill indeed and could not possibly be interviewed by the police and that it was dreadful that I was asking them to do so. I said that I was not asking the police to do anything. I said that I had asked the police to give me their account of the event which Mr Vaz had reported to me and which Mr Vaz had told me he had reported to the police. I reminded Mr Vaz that he had given me the name of the police officer who was dealing with the matter at my request. Mr Vaz said there was obviously a misunderstanding and he will tell the police immediately that I was not instructing them to interview Mrs Vaz senior. I said that if the police were in any way unclear about what I needed they were welcome to speak to me but I would request Mr Vaz not to pass on messages from this conversation to the police. I said I would much prefer that they spoke to me directly. I said if there was any misunderstanding, which I doubt, they were welcome to speak to me.

Mr Vaz rehearsed several times that this matter might well go to court and therefore it was quite wrong of me to interfere in any way. I said that if anybody was taken to court I should be informed but as far as I knew that was not the position at the moment. As far as I knew the police were inquiring into his report that his mother had been harassed. I said I was interested in the information since he had made an allegation about one of the complainants on the case that I was looking into. Mr Vaz repeated several times during the phonecall that Miss Eggington was only providing second hand information which she had taken from somebody who was seriously ill and who was in hospital and who had a mental health problem. He did agree that Miss Eggington had told me about Mrs Gresty's mental health but stressed that she had not done so initially. As Mr Vaz put it "until four months after it had appeared in the press".

I said that all I was doing by asking the police for their account of the events and the results of their inquiries was to seek to support or otherwise what had been reported to me about a complainant. That I had started as always with an open mind, and an assumption that the police record would support what Mr Vaz had said about his report to them.

Mr Vaz said that Mrs Gresty had already harassed his family and threatened to take his children away. He said that the Harrow Police knew all about this. That he had to have an alarm fitted in his house because of phonecalls and that he was very concerned for his family. I said I was aware of this from the letters that he had written to me.

During the conversation he also said that the police surmised that it was Mrs Gresty who phoned his mother. I was surprised by this. I asked him when the police had suggested this and who had suggested it. Mr Vaz said that when he had reported the phonecall on 5 October 2001 the police had told him that they were not going to follow it up. He said that on 6 October 2001 the police said that they did not want to speak to his mother.

During the course of the conversation Mr Vaz said that he thought that the action I had taken by instructing the police to interview his very sick mother and thereby interfere in criminal proceedings was quite wrong. He said I had no role in this whatsoever and that he would be reporting me to the Speaker.

I said at several points during the conversation that I thought we ought to conclude the conversation as I felt we had both said what we could on the matter. Mr Vaz said he would be ringing the police immediately. I asked him what he would be saying to the police. He said all he would say is that he had spoken to me. I said that that was fine by me but that if he believed there was any misunderstanding whatsoever he should ask the police to phone me themselves.

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Prepared 8 February 2002