Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report




752.  On Friday 30 November 2001, in accordance with the procedure agreed by the Committee, I provided Mr Vaz and his legal adviser with a copy of my memorandum in draft (Sections I to V and Annexes). In my covering letter I explained the timetable (Annex I4) and asked for any corrections and further comments which Mr Vaz might wish to make by 8.30 am on Monday 10 December 2001. During the time Mr Vaz was considering my draft, as I had said to Mr Vaz, I made necessary corrections to sections I-V and the Annexes.

753.  Mr Vaz made no response to me but he wrote to the Chairman in a letter dated 7 December 2001 (Annex I5) to give his reasons for not responding by 10 December 2001. Mr Vaz asked for his request for more time to respond to this memorandum to be put to the Committee. The Chairman replied to Mr Vaz on 10 December 2001 (Annex I6). He said that Mr Vaz should include whatever points he wanted to make in a memorandum and send it directly to the Committee so that it was in their hands in early January before the Committee began a detailed consideration of this memorandum. This memorandum has not therefore had the benefit of Mr Vaz's corrections of fact, or other comments.

754.  In the introduction to this memorandum[158] I drew attention to the difficulty I had experienced in the previous inquiry in obtaining information and to the failure of Mr Vaz to provide full and accurate answers to certain questions. I recalled that as a result my memorandum was not as complete as the Committee would expect.

755.  In my memorandum to the previous inquiry I said that:[159]

    "I have endeavoured to establish the truth in relation to the complaints against Mr Vaz—a task which serves two distinct purposes. The public interest and fairness demand a clear rebuttal of unfounded allegations. But they equally require the upholding of any complaint supported by relevant and credible evidence."

756.  I also drew attention to improper pressure on witnesses and the Committee in their report stated that: "Intimidation that comes to our attention will be dealt with severely"[160]

757.  My aim in this inquiry, as in the earlier one, was to establish the truth in relation to these complaints against Mr Vaz. I am sorry to report that my experience during most of this inquiry has been similar to my experience during the previous one. Initially Mr Vaz appeared keen to draw a line under those events and to set the record straight. He undertook to assist me by providing the necessary information. Mr Vaz suffered a period of illness during this inquiry and this must have been somewhat debilitating. However, in the period from June onwards it was difficult to obtain straight answers from Mr Vaz and his wife, as the copious correspondence demonstrates. Their approach has too often been one of obfuscation, prevarication, evasiveness and delay.

758.  As a result I had to make many more enquiries of other organisations and people than would have been necessary if Mr Vaz had provided complete and accurate answers when first requested. This was highly unsatisfactory, because it was time-consuming and frustrated the inquiry. As a result some of my investigations are still incomplete.

759.  In addition there have been worrying occasions during this inquiry when a complainant or someone providing information has felt harassed by Mr Vaz or his wife. Mr Vaz has also reported a harassing telephone call received by his mother from a complainant.

158   Paragraph 4. Back

159   HC (2000-01) 314-I, Appendix 1, paragraph 30. Back

160   Ibid paragraph 69. Back

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