File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
Mr Vaz asked to see me at 6 p.m and we discussed
his responses for approximately 1 ¼ hour.
Mr Vaz brought with him a letter which he had worked
on over the weekend and which did cover many of the items raised
in my letters and the Chairman's. In addition, Mr Vaz gave me
the following information:
He had not been able to track down the volunteer
who ran the Swami Vaswami event.
He was now clear that he was the co-sponsor of the
event as he had thought. He himself had received no payments in
any way connected to the Hindujas.
He had included in the letter the extract from the
list which Maria Fernandes had shown to the Chairman.
His evidence to Hammond was in the items attached
to the letter. He had not provided any other evidence other than
could be seen from the Hammond report itself.
Mr Pathan was a volunteer in his Leicester office
from 1989. He then became a paid assistant in his Leicester office
paid through the Office Costs Account. Mr Vaz agreed that I may
check this information with the Finance Office and he will provide
the details in his fuller letter to me. He will also inform me
when Mr Pathan took on Directorship of Mapesbury Communications.
Mr Pathan resigned as a Director in January 2001. He was never
paid for his work as a Director of Mapesbury Communications. Mr
Vaz says the two tasks did not overlap in any way. The work that
he did in the office was separate from any work that he did to
assist the Mapesbury Communications company. Mr Vaz told me that
Mr Pathan was a long-term family friend who had been both a volunteer
and then a paid worker and he had been helpful, taking on the
trouble of sorting out the Mapesbury Communications.
Sally Walker had indeed worked for him and was one
of the many interns which Keith Vaz had in his office. Keith Vaz
said he has had 65 interns working in his offices over the years.
He could not explain why letters continued to go out with Sally
Walker's name on them, but he did not think it was in any way
sinister. He said he would not have known that letters were going
out in that form. He said it was absolutely untrue that he gave
more time to Asian constituents than white constituents. He said
he allocated more time to constituents whose first language was
not English because he needed a translator as he spoke no Asian
I asked Mr Vaz if he would include in his letter
the explanation of the handwritten note on the invoice which related
to the reception which he told me he had written himself. He said
he had asked Keith Bennett, his assistant, for information on
what those administration costs covered. Those were suggestions
from Keith Bennett, but he could not be sure that that is what
they covered. I asked him what the column headed "Rates"
consisted of as it looked like an hourly rate. He said he did
not know. He thought that the administration cost item would relate
to the catering costs for the event.
When we had come to the end of looking at his letter
and my adding other items that I believed he ought to add, I explained
again that was I was trying to do was to get a full picture of
the events referred to and to give him as the Member the opportunity
of clearing out of the way any matters which were raised maliciously
or were untrue or where people had put two and two together and
made five. Mr Vaz said that he had always answered my questions
precisely. I said I was not arguing with that, but answering questions
precisely was not the same as giving a full picture.
I suggested to Mr Vaz that he should carefully reply
to all the points which Andrew Lansley had made. I particularly
drew his attention to the allegations that he had misled me and
the Committee and I said I felt he should deal with those. He
said he thought that the way in which Andrew Lansley's letters
were written, did not actually raise any complaints because it
said "Mr Vaz may" and "Mr Vaz may have". I
said that as far as I was concerned, the paragraphs made clear
Mr Lansley's contentions and I thought that Mr Vaz should take
the opportunity of replying to them. And I said that what I wanted
to make sure that he was absolutely clear what those complaints
were so that he could be under no illusion that he had dealt with
all the points when he had not. Mr Vaz said he accepted this.
Mr Vaz said he would go away and write a longer letter which did
cover these other points and would include in them the information
which he provided me in the meeting about the smaller points.
I also said to him that, as I had mentioned previously,
he ought to take the opportunity if the wished, to clear out of
the way the various rumours which were circulating in relation
to payments into Mapesbury Communications which related in some
way to the Hindujas. I said I had not got evidence of such payments
to put to him, but I thought that he ought to consider whether
he wanted to make a fuller statement in relation to transactions
between the Hindujas and Mapesbury Communications or indeed between
the Hindujas and Maria Fernandes. I ran through the list of rumours
which I knew about, none of which appeared to surprise Mr Vaz,
but I can not be sure that he had heard of them before. I said,
for example, there were claims that the Hindujas had paid Ms Fernandes
for help with immigration. I fully understood that that might
have been in her capacity as a lawyer, but I thought he ought
to be aware of that. I also told him that I had been told that
some payments might have been made to enable the nanny of the
Hindujas to be brought into this country and if that was the case,
he might wish to deal with that. I made it clear that I was not
in any way implying that any of those payments related to him
personally or that they were registerable, but I said that I felt,
since these matters was circulating, he might be best advised
to set the records straight on all of them.
I said there had been various allegations about other
events which Mapesbury Communications had organised for the Hindujas
and whether the Hindujas had paid some money to Mapesbury Communications.
[irrelevant personal information removed]
* * *
At the end of the meeting we agreed that Mr Vaz would
go away and write a fuller letter which he would let me have as
soon as possible. I undertook to deal with it as soon as I had