Letter to the Chairman of the Committee
on Standards and Privileges, from Mr Keith Vaz MP
As you know Elizabeth Filkin started a further investigation
of Andrew Lansley's allegations against me after the publication
of the Third Report of the Committee published on 9 March 2001.
In accordance with her usual practice she has now supplied me
and my solicitor in confidence with copies of her draft memorandum
which she proposes to submit to your Committee in order to enable
me to make suggested corrections and any further comments I wish
On the previous occasion Mrs Filkin provided me with
her draft on 20th December 2000 and allowed me until 8th January
2001 to make my submissions. The draft and its appendices ran
to several hundred pages and contained a vast quantity of material
on which I had been given no previous opportunity to comment.
For example it included allegations by Peter Soulsby about my
employment at the North Leicester Advice Center at the time of
my election to Parliament 14 years ago. Because in the short time
available I could not possibly deal adequately with this new information,
a complaint was then made by Andrew Rowbothan and Mrs Filkin has
pursued the matter in her current investigation.
Her latest draft memorandum was delivered to me and
Geoffrey Bindman my solicitor, in the late evening of Friday 30th
November. I had previously been told that it would be ready for
collection at 8 am on Friday morning. The draft memorandum itself
is 238 pages long and in addition there are annexes of approximately
800 pages. There are a number of interviews with witnesses (8)
some of which run to 30 pages each. I have not seen these before.
I have not seen before 136 of the annexes. In the previous investigation
I was offered the opportunity to listen to the tapes of the interviews
The memorandum makes new allegations based on press
reports. If these allegations are put into the public domain without
my having a fair opportunity to rebut them (which given time I
can certainly do) I will be caused irreparable damage, as I was
on the previous occasion. And if this is not dealt with now there
may be further complaints in the future that I have mislead the
Committee or the Commissioner.
Yesterday I was sent additional material dating back
to March 2001. I have also had to obtain copies of Annexes which
were missing from the bundle, I do not blame anyone for his, it
is just the sheer volume of material which the press has provided
her with all of which needs to be answered.
Elementary justice demands that I should be given
a reasonable opportunity to respond to all of this new material
and the allegations against me so the Committee can see my response
at the same time as they see the case against me and to assist
Mrs Filkin in reaching her conclusions I also want to gather all
the additional information that Mrs Filkin needs so that this
can be concluded once and for all. She said to me she wanted to
"draw a line under all this." This will not happen if
the memorandum is submitted without my considered response and
the additional information.
Even before I saw the draft memorandum I knew from
my experience that 5 working days would be insufficient and asked
Mrs Filkin to extend the time but she has done so from only Midnight
to 8 am on the morning of Monday 8 December 2001.
It is very important to me that I should clear up
these matters finally. The current spate of media comments concerning
the reasons why Mrs Filkin is not reapplying for the Commissioner's
post has also brought out more information which needs to be answered.
Yesterday I spoke to the Clerk of the Committee.
I asked if the time from draft to memorandum to Committee was
set down anywhere and he said if the Member and the Commissioner
could not agree on the time then it was a matter for the Committee.
I would be grateful therefore if you could place
my letter before the next meeting of the Committee. I would be
happy to explain my position in person if you so wish.
For my part I shall go as planned to see Mrs Filkin
at 8 am on Monday 10th December 2001.
PS: In your last letter to me you said that Mrs Filkin
said that I had asked her to "blank out" certain things
from letters. This is not correct. The blanked out bits relate
to Mr XY who has a complaint against Mrs Filkin not me. Mrs Filkin
has given me the background to this as has her solicitor.
7 December 2001