Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex i14

Transcription of an interview by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards with Mr Gopichand Hinduja and Mr Srichand Hinduja held on 2 July 2001

(Accompanied by Ms Michelle Duncan, solicitor, Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft)

MS FILKIN: A note is being taken so that I have it accurate and so that I do not in any way mishear or misunderstand what you want to say.

MR GP HINDUJA: Can we get a copy of this recording?

MS FILKIN: Yes, you will get a copy of the transcript.

MR GP HINDUJA: Not the recording.

MS FILKIN: You can have a copy of the recording if you would like it. It is a copy of the transcript. When I say that, is it possible to provide a copy of the tape?


MS FILKIN: Indeed, yes. We will provide you with a copy of the transcript so that you can write on it and change it before I use it, if it turns out that you have second thoughts, or you go back to the office and look something up and find that something is different. What I want is your considered answers to those questions. I will try not and take up too much of your time. Perhaps you would start off by giving me a bit of background. How long have you known Mr Vaz and how did you first meet him?

MR GP HINDUJA: I think we have known him for several years. As far as my recollection goes, we first met him at an Indian High Commissioner's reception.

MS FILKIN: About how long ago was that?

MR GP HINDUJA: About six or seven years.

MS FILKIN: Since that date, how would you describe your relationship with him?

MR GP HINDUJA: Our relationship has been quite friendly. He is a pleasant personality, has been very helpful to the community, especially in Asian affairs. He has taken a lot of interest to see how he can help the problems of the ethnic minority community. That is our feeling and perception. Maybe he has a different objective.

MS FILKIN: Yes, of course, but that was your understanding. So would you describe him as a colleague or a friend, how would you describe him?

MR SP HINDUJA: Neither a colleague or a friend. A candidate, a candidate representing the Asian community as a Member of Parliament.

MS FILKIN: Yes. Mr Vaz, as you may well have seen from the newspapers, has described himself as being in some sense a spokesman for the Asian community, particularly the Asian business community. Is that how you would see Mr Vaz?

MR SP HINDUJA: No, as far as we are concerned, whenever we find any problems of the Asian communities approaching us and they would like to know, they would like to find out, if necessary, naturally the Asians who are representing them as Members of Parliament, whether Lords or MPs, that is how we look at it.

MS FILKIN: I see. You had last year some interest in various passport applications that you or your family had made, and I must stress that your passport applications are not the subject of any complaint against Mr Vaz that I am looking into—they were the subject of Sir Anthony Hammond's inquiry—but I need to put to you one or two questions in relation to passports, again to understand Mr Vaz's role in the passport arrangements and indeed to understand his motivation in intervening. So if you could take me through, if you would, the times that Mr Vaz has offered help to you, or your family or your employees with passport applications and how that came about?

MR GP HINDUJA: Firstly, he has never offered anything voluntarily. It has so happened that whenever the community has found problems in getting visas in Bombay from the Consul General, from the Delhi High Commission, or at this end, the matter was brought to his attention and he used to verify and let us know what the problems were.

MS FILKIN: I see. How often did he do that?

MR SP HINDUJA: As I remember, whenever it came, it was not anything special.

MR GP HINDUJA: Especially for the Hindujas.

MS FILKIN: No, I understand that, but how often did you know about his doing that?

MR SP HINDUJA: You see, people, whenever they approached us first, we would know only about our things, whether they were concerning us or concerning the Asian, or Indian or minority communities. They looked at us to see if we could assist them, the Asian community.

MR GP HINDUJA: Even Mauritians, Sri Lankans, Bangladeshis.

MS FILKIN: You would refer them to him and he would try to find out what had gone wrong or what was holding things up?

MR GP HINDUJA: Yes, exactly.

MR SP HINDUJA: This is how things went.

 MS FILKIN: That is very understandable as a Member of Parliament. Turning, if I may, to your own passports and your own family passports or your employees' passports, can you take me through the first time you approached him on your own behalf?

MR SP HINDUJA: Again, we have not approached him, as my brother mentioned. Casually maybe, suppose we met somewhere at a social function or happened to discuss about the problems of Asians or Indians, and then casually we would like to enquire about what happens or what are the rules, regulations.

MS FILKIN: Yes, but did you ever ask him to make an enquiry because there was a hold-up on one of your passports or your relatives' passports?

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not think we specifically asked him to.

MS FILKIN: Or did you tell him about the problems?

MR GP HINDUJA: We told him the problem that since 1990 our application was there, and a number of days. Because we are worldwide travellers and London has been our base, so I think the Home Office always used to say that you have to comply with the minimum number of days' stay here.

MS FILKIN: Yes, absolutely.

MR GP HINDUJA: Then only is it possible.

MS FILKIN: Yes, of course. So when did you first tell him that since 1990 you had been having problems with your passport?

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not have an exact date, it could be ­­­--

MS FILKIN: Give me an idea?

MR GP HINDUJA: Could be five, six years.

MR SP HINDUJA: From time to time, because the application was made in 1990 and I think you got the passport in 19-- -----.

MR GP HINDUJA: ----- in 1996 or 1997.

MR SP HINDUJA: No, 1998, I think.

MR GP HINDUJA: No, 1997.

MR SP HINDUJA: And I think I got it in 19 -- -----

MR GP HINDUJA: ----- 1999.


MR GP HINDUJA: We do not have exact dates.

MS FILKIN: No, no, it is just to give me an idea.

MR SP HINDUJA: So from time to time until we got whoever we met, you see—a Member of Parliament or anyone, not especially Keith Vaz—we enquired from many of them, just to know -----

MS FILKIN: --- what was happening?

MR SP HINDUJA: Not only what is happening; that if these days which are not met, is there any provision that one could get the passport.

MS FILKIN: I see, yes.

MR SP HINDUJA: So it was more to enquire what are the procedures, the systems. I do not remember asking anybody—I mean, specifically—to go and get this expedited.

MR GP HINDUJA: Or favour us by giving us it.

MR SP HINDUJA: Or favour us.

MS FILKIN: Did you ever write any letters to anybody to ask them to make enquiries to find out what had happened and whether or not this matter could be dealt with?

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not recollect if at all we wrote a letter. Mostly it used to be in casual discussions and some of them took interest to say, "We will come back" and some of them did not even bother to respond.

MS FILKIN: All right. Did Mr Vaz ever come back to you and say, "I've taken up that issue and I'm making enquiries"? Did you ever get from him information that he was trying to be helpful to you about that matter?

MR SP HINDUJA: No, that I could tell you, that some of the Members of Parliament have been courteous to us. This is what we keep on praising about the British people here, the systems and procedures. We think that public servant means that they have to assist -----

MS FILKIN: Yes, of course.

MR SP HINDUJA: ­­ the community or people who are living in Britain.

MS FILKIN: Yes, of course.

MR SP HINDUJA: We thought that was our right. We are paying income tax here. That is all.

MS FILKIN: Of course. I do not want in any way to suggest that there is anything improper about that.

MR SP HINDUJA: No, of course.

MS FILKIN: All I am trying to get is the picture of Mr Vaz's help to you on that.

MR SP HINDUJA: He did not respond, I think.

MR GP HINDUJA: He did respond.

MS FILKIN: He did?

MR SP HINDUJA: Do you recollect?

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not recollect. Once he told us that "You will have to comply with the minimum number of days, and unless that is done it is not possible. That is law. Only the Home Secretary has the discretion. Otherwise", he says, "there is no way." So he used to tell us "Why don't you people plan in such a manner that so many number of days you are here?"

MS FILKIN: So that you are here, yes. Did he offer to speak to the Home Secretary for you?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, he has never.

MR SP HINDUJA: We did not know with whom he spoke or whatever.

MS FILKIN: I see. So he did not ever tell that you he had approached the Home Office on this?


MR SP HINDUJA: Not as far as we remember. It is now, what ----- This whole affair was going on for over ten years.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I understand that. So as far as you know, he did not come to you and say, "Could I have some more information, because I'm trying to be helpful, but I need a bit more information?"

MR GP HINDUJA: No. On the contrary, when he referred to us he gave the information of the other side, that why the visa was not being granted.

MS FILKIN: This was a naturalisation application?


MR GP HINDUJA: I think it is quite well dealt with in -----

MR SP HINDUJA: Sir Anthony Hammond's report.

MR GP HINDUJA: ----- Hammond's report.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I have read that, of course. During that time, did Mr Vaz ever in any way indicate to you that he expected to receive any help from you in return for helping you with those naturalisation matters?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, never.


MS FILKIN: I understand that you are saying he did not solicit any payment or benefit from you, but did you, in fact, because you were very grateful for what he had done, give him some help as an MP?

MR SP HINDUJA: But what did he do?

MR GP HINDUJA: He did not do anything. I do not understand.

MR SP HINDUJA: I do not think he did anything for us getting this passport.

MS FILKIN: Then let us make it slightly wider. You were aware, because you have described it to me, that he was being very helpful to the community.

MR SP HINDUJA: Helpful with whatever problems they had. So we just used to pass on that this is the problem and try and see what he could do.

MS FILKIN: Did you ever, because you thought that was a very valuable service—which obviously, from what you have said, it was—did you ever think "Well, perhaps he needs some help, and perhaps we ought to provide him with some assistance so that he can do that work"?

MR GP HINDUJA: Mrs Filkin, let us be very clear and candid upon one issue. We have never paid Mr Vaz for anything, nor has he solicited anything or asked from us. I also know that the other community members may have sponsored calendars or sponsored something like this. We never did that, because my brother is a very strong man on these issues.

MR SP HINDUJA: In those circumstances we had planned one day to come and meet you.

MS FILKIN: How nice.

MR SP HINDUJA: We are meeting in other circumstances.

MS FILKIN: I am delighted, good.

MR SP HINDUJA: You are looking into it, and I said, "What a surprise, now we are meeting in this circumstance."

MS FILKIN: We can obviously meet on the general issues whenever you wish.

  (After short break)

MS FILKIN: I have heard that Mr Vaz has not asked for payment or help from you, and you have not made any to him. Has Mr Vaz ever performed any other services on your behalf, or on behalf of your business or on behalf of your foundation, for example, by arranging meetings, sponsoring functions or introducing you to other Members of Parliament or ministers?

MR GP HINDUJA: So far as business is concerned, he has never, nor have we approached him, nor has he helped us. So far as social things are concerned, he could have helped to see how the ethnic community cause can be taken forward. So far as the foundation is concerned, I think that matter has been dealt with by Mr Broad.

MS FILKIN: I would be very pleased if you would give me the answer, since you are the people who are responsible for the foundation and Mr Broad is your employee.

MR SP HINDUJA: I think that has been replied to in writing by the Hinduja Foundation.

MS FILKIN: Yes, it has.

MR SP HINDUJA: About £1200.

MS FILKIN: And you are happy about that?


MS FILKIN: Fine. In July 1997 Mr Vaz wrote to Mr Mandelson expressing his disappointment that there were no Asian projects in the Millennium Dome. In his report Sir Philip Hammond said that Mr Vaz did this at your request. Is that right?

MR GP HINDUJA: Do you remember?

MR SP HINDUJA: He did that at our request? This project was already—what was it?

MR GP HINDUJA: It started with the Concordia.

MR SP HINDUJA: No, it started not as the Dome but as the National NMEC?


MR SP HINDUJA: The NMEC who were given the project points. My project was already submitted to them, and we were long-listed.

MR GP HINDUJA: In Peterborough, is that correct?

MR SP HINDUJA: Peterborough was the area which we selected. I had brought all the Asian communities, and they had long-listed us. This project was for £2 million. They had still £5 million to be met. The project was to do with multi-cultural understanding, how to deal with the barriers of the two things. Then when the Labour Government came into power they took away from us this personal obligation(?), as I remember. Then this project was one of the projects which became the victim of being deleted. Then I learned of the Millennium Dome. 14 zones, 13 zones were commissioned. One was not commissioned, that was called the spirit zone. That is how I wrote to Jenny Page, who was the CEO of NMEC. I knew her, I wrote to her. I said, "You know the whole venture, and you were very much wanting this to go ahead, but unfortunately it hasn't. How about taking this into the Dome?" She said, "It's a very good idea, but already the designers have gone ahead, there is nothing much changed in this." I said, "At least a window, because unless you have this multi­cultural concept, the spirit zone will have no meaning." My dilemma was already on. Maybe possibly I might have brought to the attention of Keith Vaz that this is what I am persuading with Jenny Page, to see if some kind of assistance can be given. Possibly it may be that I might have mentioned it to him.

MR GP HINDUJA: Might be Keith Vaz. You must have done it so many times to make sure they agreed.[173]

MR SP HINDUJA: And brought it to the attention of practically all the people in the country.

MS FILKIN: According to Sir Philip Hammond's report, Mr Vaz did write that letter at your request. That is what Mr Vaz I believe told Sir Philip Hammond. So why did you choose him as the way of making representations to Mr Mandelson?

MR GP HINDUJA: Is he the only one who has written?

MS FILKIN: I cannot answer that question, I can only tell what you is on the public record.

MR GP HINDUJA: We would not have told him to write to Mandelson.

MS FILKIN: You would not?

MR GP HINDUJA: We would have only have brought the problem to him to see if any assistance could be given.


MR GP HINDUJA: When he wrote what he did it would be between him and the party only.

MS FILKIN: I am sure I know what the answer is to this, but you will understand why I have to ask it. He did make those representations, he believes, following your request, and obviously that was successful, or your representations to a wide range of people were successful in some way.

MR GP HINDUJA: No, I do not believe that at all. It was not successful.

MR SP HINDUJA: It was not successful.

MR GP HINDUJA: There was no one wanting to touch that zone. It was only this man (indicating Mr SP Hinduja), and even his colleagues in the office they were all against it, because everyone wanted to sponsor a commercial zone, whether it was British Aerospace, or Boots or this or that. He felt that in his lifetime the objective of what he had achieved -----

MR SP HINDUJA: This is the best platform to achieve it.

MR GP HINDUJA: He found that so many million would come and he would be able to convey the message, but unfortunately that dream did not work because once he announced it ­­­-

MR SP HINDUJA: No, no, it was not being taken up. It was not being taken up until the last minute, where I volunteered to underwrite, with one condition, that they provided 50 per cent by the Government and 50 per cent I had to pay. I underwrote first they said six million, then they said four million, and when I underwrote, on the contrary, I got the maximum criticism. What was the criticism? "Oh, the Hinduja brothers are overtaking the Christians. The Hinduja brothers are converting the Christians".

MR GP HINDUJA: Converting the Christians. All these things the media came up with. Anyway, it is over.

MR SP HINDUJA: Again, after doing this also, what was to be done or achieved, I feel unhappy about this.

MR GP HINDUJA: It was not well represented.

MS FILKIN: So you had to put in £4 million?

MR SP HINDUJA: I had underwritten. Then, when this criticism came, when they asked me, "Why are you underwriting, why are you not sponsoring?", I said, "I am not sponsoring, I am underwriting because I want all of the communities to participate. I don't want to put in all this money. If I put it in it will be seen as the Hindujas' show". So the minute I announced it that is how the Christians came, the Archbishop of Canterbury, others, everybody then became part of that.

MR GP HINDUJA: We wanted representation of all the religions.

MR SP HINDUJA: That is how £1 million was left, balance, which -----

MS FILKIN: ----- you paid?

MR SP HINDUJA: I had to pay. I had no other choice. Why I say I was unhappy was because what really was to be done, what was my dream, did not happen.

MR GP HINDUJA: Not only that, even at the end of the day we wanted that to be shifted to some other place.

MR SP HINDUJA: Other place, to continue.

MR GP HINDUJA: This was not given.

MR SP HINDUJA: The biggest problem of the world today is understanding, that is where we have many of the problems.

MS FILKIN: Of course. Absolutely. So at the end of that, at least some arrangement occurred whereby you could help get that spirit zone into existence, and in the end you ended up having to put in £1 million, because that is what the project was short overall, is that right?

MR GP HINDUJA: Yes, but he could not do anything on this. It was because nobody was willing to contribute to the faith zone, he got caught up there. You can call that bad luck or something.

MR SP HINDUJA: I was prepared for it, but if one thinks that this was because of X, or Y or Z, no, it was all my efforts, it was all my concept, it was all because I took the risk of underwriting the 4 million or 6 million, and therefore it happened. It did not happen by way of any favour to the Hindujas.

MR GP HINDUJA: From anybody.

MR SP HINDUJA: Or even after we did it, we did not get any sort of favours -----

MS FILKIN: Credit?

MR SP HINDUJA: ----- any favours from anybody.

MR GP HINDUJA: On the contrary, we were not even allowed to go into it.

MR SP HINDUJA: That came in the newspapers, and I had no other choice, if you look at the article on 2nd January, where I have shown the maximum grievance, which was in the headline. I would request you to kindly read that article.

MS FILKIN: I will. If you have a copy of it, I will be grateful to see it.

MR GP HINDUJA: I will send it to you.

MR SP HINDUJA: You will see how all of this has been twisted into something as if we have taken any favour. Though my lawyers may tell me not to say all this, but at the end of the day this is the reality, I feel really very bad.

MS FILKIN: I am very interested, of course, to hear that, and I can understand how distressing that must have been.

MR SP HINDUJA: I worked on this project for over four years, I put my heart and soul into it.

MS FILKIN: It must have been very frustrating.

MR GP HINDUJA: In life failures do come.

MS FILKIN: It must have been very frustrating and, as you say, it is a pity that it has not been able to go on. What I have to look at is the part, if any, that Mr Vaz played in that, and what he said to the Hammond Inquiry was that he had written to Mr Mandelson to promote that.

MR SP HINDUJA: He might have done his own duty.


MR GP HINDUJA: But in our opinion, he was not successful.

MS FILKIN: So you said.

MR SP HINDUJA: Only to enlighten you, regarding this, we also established a centre in Cambridge University

MS FILKIN: Yes, I was aware of that.

MR SP HINDUJA: We have also established in Colombia. It was not that that had anything to do with the Dome, it was much prior to the Dome, so it is ----

MR GP HINDUJA: It is the continuity of the concept.

MR SP HINDUJA: No, no, it is the concern. I mean, as a business ----- Unfortunately, we are looked at as business people. If some bishop or some pope had done this, everybody would have admired it, but unfortunately I am not a pope.

MS FILKIN: Thank you for telling me all that. Other than the conversation that you had that led to Mr Vaz writing that letter, did you go back to him at any time and say, "Can you give us some more help?" or "Why hasn't it worked?"?

MR GP HINDUJA: Well, he was not successful. What help could he give further?

MS FILKIN: Did you ever raise that with him? Did you ever say to him, "What went wrong?"?

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not think so.

MR SP HINDUJA: We never show any grievance to anyone if the other person is doing it, because it is not my personal work, it is the work of the people. I should only show grievance when I am expecting something for myself, you see, so why should I feel unhappy about it?

MS FILKIN: I see. I now, if I may, would like to turn to this public relations company that is called Mapesbury Communications Ltd. Could you tell me what you know about that company?

MR GP HINDUJA: We first came to know about it when you raised the question. We did not know about this company at all.

MS FILKIN: So before I raised it with you you did not know that Mr Vaz was in any way connected with that company?


MS FILKIN: Just so that I have got a proper background and so I understand the replies that I had from the foundation, perhaps you could just give me some sort of picture of the objectives of your foundation?

MR SP HINDUJA: The objectives of the foundation?

MS FILKIN: Yes. What is your foundation for?

MR SP HINDUJA: The foundation has been there, it was established by my father in 1944.


MR SP HINDUJA: His objective was health and education, to establish national health and education in society, the first one, to establish a hospital.

MR GP HINDUJA: A charitable one, totally.

MR SP HINDUJA: A charitable hospital.

MS FILKIN: In India?


MR SP HINDUJA: And a school, a college, women's welfare.

MR GP HINDUJA: Orphanage, old man's house, widow's house.

MR SP HINDUJA: Old man's house. These were the kind of things which he believed that he is earning to keep. That was from his childhood. We have inherited that and we continued to do this and participate in these kinds of activities. Now, fortunately, we would like to also inform you that we are celebrating the century of the founder 100 years. We are putting a world knowledge centre in India, which will deal only with all this health and education for the people who cannot afford to go abroad. All those facilities we are trying to make available to people not only in India but all over the world.

MS FILKIN: The office of the foundation is in London, is it?

MR SP HINDUJA: One is in London, one is in Geneva, one is in New York, one is in Bombay.

MR GP HINDUJA: One is in Delhi, one in is Madras and one is in Iran. We also support mosques. We also support Bahaists, whoever comes, whether it is a church or anything.

MR SP HINDUJA: Anything to do with a human being on health and education. We try to do our best to see how we can help.

MS FILKIN: So it is a very extensive foundation with very extensive resources?


MS FILKIN: Worldwide. Thank you.

MR SP HINDUJA: If have you any personal interest in that—nothing to do with this—I will be very happy to send you the material.

MS FILKIN: Thank you, I would be very grateful to have it. As to your relationship with it, are you directors of it, or on the board—personally, I mean?

MR GP HINDUJA: We are trustees.

MS FILKIN: You are trustees. Perhaps you could tell me how you became involved in the arrangements for the lecture given by Dada Vaswani in the House of Commons in 1995?

MR GP HINDUJA: We were approached by the Sindhi community here to sponsor it. We asked them what would be the expenses, and they said around £1,000 to £1,200. We said, "Fine, we will do it".

MS FILKIN: Yes. Who approached you?

MR GP HINDUJA: From the Sindhi community. The general secretary.

MS FILKIN: Can you recall his name?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, but I am sure we can find out.

MR SP HINDUJA: Dada Vaswani has a centre. A few of them had approached us that he would be here on such and such a date.

MR GP HINDUJA: He is a great saint with a lot of teachings worldwide. He gives big talks in the United Nations.

MR SP HINDUJA: He has his own big centre.

MS FILKIN: Yes, absolutely.

MR GP HINDUJA: He is a well respected person.

MS FILKIN: So you said you would provide the funds for that meeting?


MS FILKIN: Through the foundation?

MR GP HINDUJA: Of course. Whatever charities we do, it goes through the foundation.

MS FILKIN: Yes. So how did Mr Vaz then become involved in it?

MR GP HINDUJA: Again, it is an Asian community affair, so automatically he gets involved. At any Asian event you will find Keith Vaz.

MR SP HINDUJA: Keith Vaz and others also, other Lords and others.

MR GP HINDUJA: Asian MPs and peers, you will normally find them involved.

MS FILKIN: But his involvement ----- Did you know that he was involved in, for example, booking the rooms in the House of Commons? Did you know that he was involved at that point?

MR SP HINDUJA: I will explain to you. We introduced to these centre people and then they co-ordinated.

MS FILKIN: I see, you introduced them to him?


MS FILKIN: Yes, I see.

MR GP HINDUJA: Wait a minute, you did not introduce Keith Vaz to him. I think our foundation director was looking after it.

MR SP HINDUJA: Yes, that is what I meant.

MS FILKIN: It was your foundation director who introduced them to Keith Vaz. The foundation director made that connection?


MR GP HINDUJA: That is correct.

MS FILKIN: Would you say that Mr Vaz's involvement in arranging that, in booking the rooms—which is a perfectly proper thing for an MP to do, there is nothing improper about it—would you say that in any way that was seen or could be seen as him promoting himself in his role as a Member of Parliament?

MR GP HINDUJA: I never thought that.

MR SP HINDUJA: I never thought that.

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not know why he did it, but he was always helpful to such causes. I did not know what was the motive or objective behind him?

MS FILKIN: No, of course, but that was not how you saw it. Turning to the funds which we have just talked about, the foundation was invoiced by Mapesbury Communications Ltd. Did you know that Mr Vaz had any connection at all with that company?

MR GP HINDUJA: No. I think I replied to you earlier that we first came to know -----

MS FILKIN: I know you did not to begin with, but when you got the invoice, by the time you got the invoice, did you know that Mr Vaz was in any way connected with the company?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, not at all, because these small amounts, they do not even come to us, they are directed to the foundation and they clear it up.

MS FILKIN: So would it be likely that the foundation knew that Mr Vaz was connected with the company?

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not think so. Was really Mr Vaz the owner of that?

MS FILKIN: No, I do not think he was the owner, it was whether he had any connection with it; that was my question. Did you regard that payment or would you regard that payment as a reasonable charge for whatever was done by Mapesbury Communications?

MR GP HINDUJA: It was very competitive to serve refreshments.

MR SP HINDUJA: The foundation has given you the details, I think?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, her question is, what would we feel, are we thinking that this amount was -----

MR SP HINDUJA: That again, I think, would be the job of the Hinduja Foundation director to check.

MS FILKIN: That it was a reasonable amount of money?

MR SP HINDUJA: Yes, because this has to meet those requirements.

MS FILKIN: Did you have any knowledge about it?

MR GP HINDUJA: By the way, we wanted to make sure that the Charity Commissioner had cleared it and it had been cleared by the Charity Commissioner.

MR SP HINDUJA: That was in 1995.

MS FILKIN: There is nothing, of course, improper about a company charging a charity a sum of money for a service that it delivers, but in terms of your own recollection or what you now know about that fee, did you assume that that was a commercial rate or did you assume that it was that company acting on a not­for­profit basis when they made that charge for that lecture?

MR GP HINDUJA: In my opinion, I would see it on a non­profit basis, because had it been on a profit basis one would not have encouraged that. I am sure the director would have followed this.

MR SP HINDUJA: But whether on a profit basis or non-profit basis, I do not think we will be the correct people to answer that, you see.

MS FILKIN: No, of course. I just wondered if you had any idea.

MR SP HINDUJA: I can only give you the actual fact that the invoices that the Hinduja Foundation receives, the invoice from some others, is the job of the accountant, the job that the director of the foundation has to check, and that does not come to us, therefore I do not think we can comment.

MS FILKIN: I see. What did Mapesbury Communications do in setting up that event?

MR GP HINDUJA: We would not know.

MS FILKIN: What did they do for their £1200.

MR GP HINDUJA: We would not know.

MS FILKIN: But you went to the event?

MR GP HINDUJA: I think that you were there?

MR SP HINDUJA: I think so. I think so, but I cannot -----

MS FILKIN: Can you recall? Did you get food and drink?

MR SP HINDUJA: You see, with me I do not eat, I do not drink, I do not eat anywhere in a restaurant or in anybody's house, so the question of my tasting anything does not arise. The maximum is water.

MS FILKIN: No, I know. Did you notice what was being done? Did you have any conception what was being done?

MR GP HINDUJA: I was there for a little while and I think they had arranged food for the reception, tea and snacks and that sort of thing.

MS FILKIN: Yes. Did you ever have any involvement in the drawing up of the guest list for that event?

MR GP HINDUJA: I would not recollect, but if it was sponsored by the foundation, I am sure the foundation must have assisted.

MR SP HINDUJA: Assisted with that centre.

MS FILKIN: And suggested some people who might like to come?

MR GP HINDUJA: I am sure.

MR SP HINDUJA: And maybe together assisted in this case.

MS FILKIN: I see. Have you ever had any conversation with Mr Vaz about Mapesbury Communications Limited?


MS FILKIN: Never at the time or never since?

MR SP HINDUJA: Since? You mean since you have been enquiring about what is going on?

MR GP HINDUJA: I asked Broad what is Mapesbury, how did this name come up and what it is.

MS FILKIN: Did you ever discuss it with Mr Vaz?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, we have not discussed it at all.

MS FILKIN: So he never talked to you about his public relations company in any form?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, never.


MS FILKIN: I wonder if you could clarify for me some small matter, which is the date of the lecture. Mr Vaz has said that it took place on 6th July, but the invoice is dated 4th June. Can you tell me?

MR SP HINDUJA: What is this?

MS FILKIN: When this event took place, this event in the House of Commons. Could you tell me when it took place.

MR GP HINDUJA: We would not recollect five years back, but I think Mr Broad would be the right person to answer you.

MR SP HINDUJA: Did you ask Broad?

MS FILKIN: I did not ask him the dates.

MR GP HINDUJA: We can find out for you and provide it. That is not a problem. You want to know the date of the event?

MS FILKIN: I want to know the date of the event, because I can see from the invoice that the invoice was dated 4th June.

MR SP HINDUJA: And the event was -----?

MS FILKIN: I do not know. Mr Vaz thinks it was 6th July, and I am trying to get that clear. It may be that the invoice was raised before the event because the company needed the money to buy the food and so forth.

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not know.

MS FILKIN: It might be anything. I do not know what the explanation is for that, it is just slightly odd, so I just thought I ought to ask.

MR GP HINDUJA: We will find out.

MS FILKIN: It made me wonder whether there were in fact two events? I just wondered whether there were two events.

MR GP HINDUJA: In fact I am sure, because I went through the papers of Broad.

MS FILKIN: Mr Broad's letter says that the lecture took place on 8th June.


MS FILKIN: Mr Broad says that.

MR SP HINDUJA: Broad says 8th June, Keith Vaz says July.


MR GP HINDUJA: Whatever Broad says, that is correct.

MS FILKIN: Perhaps you would like to check it with him and let me know, so that we are absolutely sure.

MR GP HINDUJA: We can verify it.

MS FILKIN: One of the complaints that I have received alleges that Mr Vaz enjoyed the use of some of your offices at the foundation. Mr Broad has told me that apart from the use of a researcher and a telephone, Mr Vaz had no other facilities provided within your office. I have had an allegation from somebody who I believe probably worked in the foundation that indeed Mr Vaz had the use of an office. Mr Broad has confirmed that he had the facility of a researcher and the use of a telephone, but that is all. Could you, for the record, confirm whether you in your business or, indeed, in that foundation provided Mr Vaz with any office facilities at all?

MR GP HINDUJA: No office facilities. I would not even say that he had a researcher facility ever made to him.

MS FILKIN: So what did he have?

MS DUNCAN: Did Mr Broad's letter mention a researcher?

MS FILKIN: I would have to go back and check that.

MR GP HINDUJA: No, but the fact is fact, he did not have any, so even if Broad said it, he has not.

MS FILKIN: He may have meant that there were people in the foundation who provided his research for him. All I am trying to do is establish what the facts are.

MR GP HINDUJA: No, the fact is that he neither had any facilities nor an office—not even a desk.

MR SP HINDUJA: Nor even a telephone, only when he visited.

MR GP HINDUJA: Any telephone call, any incoming telephone call for him, the operator would have connected.

MR SP HINDUJA: Connected, or he might have spoken from there, but I would not say that facilities were given to him.

MS FILKIN: So as far as are you aware, he did not have any researcher facilities either?


MS FILKIN: By the sound of it, from what you are saying—though let me check—Mr Vaz, as far as you know, did not receive any help in his capacity as a Member of Parliament from the foundation?

MR SP HINDUJA: What sort of help?

MS FILKIN: Any help—secretarial help, help with telephones, help with anything.


MS FILKIN: Mr Vaz visited the foundation quite frequently—Mr Broad puts it "to discuss matters" and that he was involved in drafting speeches. For who were those speeches drafted?

MR SP HINDUJA: I would only say that it was not -----

MR GP HINDUJA: Why do we not hear the question once again, so that we are specific and candid as to what we respond.

MS FILKIN: Yes. First of all, I am trying to find out the purpose of Mr Vaz's fairly frequent visits to the foundation to discuss matters, so I am trying to find out what he had come for, to discuss.

MR GP HINDUJA: What do you mean by "frequent"?

MS FILKIN: How often did he come?

MR GP HINDUJA: Firstly, he never came frequently. Normally frequently, we would say, every now and then.

MS FILKIN: Every now and then. What does that mean? Give me an idea what that means.

MR GP HINDUJA: Whenever there were any community events, that was the time, either we used to speak on the phone or we used to meet. Otherwise Mr Vaz had no other business to do with us.

MS FILKIN: So how frequently was it that you had contact with him?

MR SP HINDUJA: Whenever there were events?

MS FILKIN: Give me an idea. Was that four times a year or 60 times a year?

MR SP HINDUJA: It was not any set rule for every year.

MS FILKIN: No, of course not.

MR SP HINDUJA: You see, we could give you examples for last year or this last couple of years, you had three or four. We had this Balaji temple, we had this 3rd November event.

MR GP HINDUJA: We had a reception for the Lord Chancellor. We had this Concordia project—whenever there were events or any queries from the Asian community.

MS FILKIN: He would come to the foundation to discuss them?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, not necessarily to the foundation.

MS FILKIN: Sometimes you would do it by phone?

MR GP HINDUJA: We would speak on the phone also, yes.

MS FILKIN: But he would come to the foundation sometimes?

MR GP HINDUJA: Yes, of course.

MS FILKIN: Take me through this drafting of speeches. Whom was he drafting speeches for?

MR SP HINDUJA: I would not say there was drafting. I would not say drafting of speeches.

MR GP HINDUJA: She is referring to what David Broad has written.

MR SP HINDUJA: You see, as and when this event was there, the problems of the people were there. I would

always take views and suggestions from people who would know the Asian community.

MR GP HINDUJA: Different community members.

MR SP HINDUJA: That is how I would like to see how best I can put it across in my speech.

MS FILKIN: He would make suggestions about that?

MR SP HINDUJA: He may be one of the persons whom I would consult.

MS FILKIN: I have a few more questions.

MR GP HINDUJA: By 11.30 we can be off?

MS FILKIN: I hope so, yes.

MR GP HINDUJA: Take for an example Scotland Yard, it had problems with the Asian community understanding and what was happening in the Asian areas. The CSP, the Jewish community, has this society together, they have made a good thing, they work and they liaise directly with Scotland Yard, they liaise with different people. They wanted us, as the leaders of the community, to join hands with them so that it becomes more easy. We had invited the Police Commissioner, and we wanted different views, so naturally we would speak with all our MPs, including Keith Vaz, about -----

MS FILKIN: Advice?

MR GP HINDUJA: What they think, yes, because we did not want to put anything to the Police Commissioner which was not proper.

MS FILKIN: Absolutely, and I fully understand the wisdom of doing it.

MR GP HINDUJA: For example, he says these things cannot be removed, there is a proportion of the Asian community and the Asian community does not want to join the police force, so I said it has to be attractive for them to come in.

MS FILKIN: Right. Perhaps I can ask if, when you get back to your business, you could ask Mr Broad to let me know precisely whether any research facilities were provided at all?

MR GP HINDUJA: No, we did not.

MR SP HINDUJA: We can tell you clearly, if there was one, I would know.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I see. I have had other allegations concerning that gifts were given to Mr and Mrs Vaz that related to the help that they gave on various fronts. Could you take me through now the nature of your relationships and dealings with Miss Maria Fernandes?

MR GP HINDUJA: Firstly, no gifts or any services were given. We have not known Maria Fernandes—"us" being myself—that well. The head of our legal department. Professor Marchant is the one who had known her as an expert on immigration.


MR GP HINDUJA: And we must have met her at social events. Whenever we invited Mr and Mrs Vaz, she used to be with Mr Vaz.

MS FILKIN: So you say that your head of legal affairs would have had professional contact with her. Did you ever, or did he ever, provide gifts to her for payment for work which she did on legal matters?

MR GP HINDUJA: Firstly, he would not have given gifts, because he is not authorised to do it. Secondly, in his days no services of Maria Fernandes were given to any of the group members.

MS FILKIN: I understand that at one time you had, a member of your household, a servant called, I think, M. Does that name mean anything to you?

MR GP HINDUJA: I will make your life easy.

MS FILKIN: Thank you.

MR GP HINDUJA: [174]The total operations done, the transactions done by Maria Fernandes were four.

MS FILKIN: Thank you.

MR GP HINDUJA: You had referred in your letter so I thought it was our duty to see what it was. There was one for the extension of a nanny, where I think she was paid £228. The other one was for software.

MS FILKIN: That is somebody in your firm.

MR GP HINDUJA: Yes. There was an invoice for £1,400 as well.


MR GP HINDUJA: The third one again a domestic servant, where she got £600 odd. Again, the fourth one, also, was -- £282, £648 and £743.

MS FILKIN: Is it possible for me to have a copy of that?

MR GP HINDUJA: No problem, I will give you a copy of it, yes.

MS FILKIN: Turning to the computer software person, I have been informed, and I would like to check with you whether there is any truth in this, that the computer technician himself refused to pay Miss Fernandes a fee of £2,400, her usual fee for arranging such matters, and that she had to seek the assistance of one or other of you to ensure that that cheque was paid; is that accurate?

MR GP HINDUJA: This is totally absurd because he had not to pay the money, the company had to pay the money. So, I think that is the media.

MS FILKIN: I am more than happy to have that put right. Going back to my questions, the person who I have had referred to me as M, is that one of those people on there?

MR GP HINDUJA: Again, that is the wrong information.

MS FILKIN: We talked about a lady servant, was that the nanny?

MR GP HINDUJA: Yes, she is a maid to my wife.

MS FILKIN: A maid, yes.

MS FILKIN: Did Miss Fernandes assist Mrs SH with her passport?

MR GP HINDUJA: Totally wrong.

MS FILKIN: No, so that did not happen.

MR GP HINDUJA: It did not.

MS FILKIN: Going back to this person called M, do you have a member of your staff with that name?

MR GP HINDUJA: Yes, he is there.

MS FILKIN: Is it correct that he has regularly visited the home of Mr and Mrs Vaz?

MR GP HINDUJA: I think that is totally wrong.

MS FILKIN: Has he ever been there?

MR GP HINDUJA: I can check it. At home you mean?

MS FILKIN: Their home in north London. The allegation that I had was that he did visit there fairly frequently to deliver flowers and food.

MR GP HINDUJA: Firstly, let me tell you, he is a director of the company. He would never go with flowers and food to Maria. This is a newspaper gimmick.

MS FILKIN: Did the company or the foundation, again I stress there would be nothing improper about this, I do not want to imply there is anything improper, did the company provide Mr and Mrs Vaz with flowers and food from time to time?

MR GP HINDUJA: So far as we are concerned no food has ever been supplied.

MS FILKIN: What about flowers?

MR GP HINDUJA: So far as the flowers are concerned we do not recollect, maybe at the wedding time in 1993, so I do not want to say yes or no.

MS FILKIN: That was not a regular event.

MR GP HINDUJA: No, not at all. We may be famous for giving Diwali sweets, our new year sweets. But not flowers; that is more a western culture.

MS FILKIN: Yes, absolutely. How often did you or your business interests or the foundation invite Mr and, as you said from time to time, Mrs Vaz to attend functions or receive hospitality?

MR GP HINDUJA: Firstly, I do not recollect we have ever invited them as the two of them and us.


MR GP HINDUJA: When there have been social events along with other MPs they have been there.

MS FILKIN: As far as you know that is the only hospitality.


MR GP HINDUJA: Many a times these are contributed by the community.

MS FILKIN: Yes. We have talked about flowers and we have talked about food. I obviously need to ask you a general question for the record.

MR GP HINDUJA: Chocolates!

MS FILKIN: No. Just a general question, have you provided any other benefits of any kind to Mr and/or Mrs Vaz, other than the sums of money that you have talked about that you paid Mrs Vaz for professional services?

MR GP HINDUJA: SP and GP has not paid. For the services rendered to our legal department those have been paid.

MS FILKIN: Of course, I understand. That, I am sure you are pleased to hear, is all of the questions I have for you. I ought to ask you a final question, which is, is there anything else that you think it would be helpful for me to know so that I have a full picture of Mr Vaz's contacts and interchange with you or, indeed, with the company Mapesbury Communications or Miss Fernandes' contact with you? Is there anything else?

MR GP HINDUJA: I can assure you to the best of our knowledge, recollection and what we found from our companies there was nothing else. Even this, we would not have gone into the legal department, we would not have because we use at least 13 or 14 law firms here.[175]

MS FILKIN: I am sure.


MS FILKIN: Thank you. I see. Before we finish is there anything I can tell you about this process?

MR SP HINDUJA: We would be very happy to know what the process is.

MS FILKIN: The process is, as I say, I am investigating these complaints. Mr Vaz, as you know, has been unwell, you will know that from the newspapers. When he is better he will himself be replying to all my questions but in the meantime my job is to contact all of the people who have in any way been named in any of these allegations to ask them for their account of matters. That is what I have done this morning. When I have done all of the that and when I have heard from Mr Vaz in detail I then have to write a report, putting all that together for the Standards and Privileges Committee, and I present that to them. It is unlikely that that will happen now until October, simply because Parliament is going home for the summer on 20th July and they have not as yet, since the new government was elected, appointed those committees. Practically that is likely to mean that I will not be able to present any report to the Committee until October. When it goes to the Committee the Committee's job is to scrutinise what I have done and to make sure that they are happy with that. If they choose they might ask people to come before them. They only tend to do that if they feel it would assist them in hearing directly from the people concerned. Often, usually, their usual practice is to ask the Member of Parliament to appear before them, but they do not always ask other people to appear, but they can do that. That is one of the things they can do. That is a situation which, what I have done to make a request to you, and I am grateful to you for complying with it, they, of course, have powers to call people. The House of Commons have those powers. If that should come to pass you would be told about it and informed about it and the clerk to the Committee would invite you to come and see them. I cannot say whether or not the Committee would choose to do that because that is always entirely their own decision. When all of that has happened the Committee then publishes its report on the complaints that have been made against the Member of Parliament. That report has their view about the complaints and whether they should be upheld or not. Behind that report and published at the same time is my report on the investigations that I made, and that is all published. The Committee's final job, having come to the conclusion about whether the Member of Parliament has broken any of Parliament's rules or has not, if the Member of Parliament has broken any of Parliament's rules then it is that Committee that makes a recommendation to the House of Commons for any penalty. It is the House of Commons that decides on penalties. The report is debated and everybody in the House of Commons can say what they like about the report and the House of Commons decides whether or not the recommendation from the Committee should be carried out. Those recommendations, most usually if there is penalty, are that the Member should apologise to the House of Commons. That is the most usual thing that happens. Occasionally the Committee says that the member should be suspended. Last year they recommended the suspension of one member, Mrs Teresa Gorman, for a month and she was therefore suspended from the House of Commons for a month.

MR GP HINDUJA: Those are the sort of penalties. They can be stripped from the MP seat also?

MS FILKIN: They could be, but the House of Commons is always very, very loathe to do that ­ I am certainly not investigating allegations of that severity ­ because the House of Commons think that is the voters' decision. It is the voters who put the MP in and it is the voters who should have the chance to get rid of somebody. They will suspend people, but a months' suspension, which they gave to that other MP, was regarded as a very severe penalty.

MR GP HINDUJA: It is a slap.

MS FILKIN: It is very severe because the constituents are not represented during that month. The person is humiliated and gets a lot of bad publicity and they get no pay during that period of time, so it is like a fine, but, what the House of Commons worries about is that the public in that constituency are not represented during that time.

MR GP HINDUJA: They understand that next time you would want their votes.

MS FILKIN: Of course. That, I hope, tells you the situation. You are welcome to ring me at any time to find out what is happening and where it has got to.

MR GP HINDUJA: We are entitled to do that.

MS FILKIN: I will make sure you know where I have got to with my inquiry. Once it gets into the hands of Committee the clerk gives you such information.

MR SP HINDUJA: Until such time as the report is given to the Committee and published, between now and then this remains ---

MS FILKIN: It remains with me.

MR SP HINDUJA: It does not go anywhere.

MS FILKIN: It is my responsibility. I tell nothing to the Committee and I tell nothing to anybody else and in spite of what anybody may say I never tell the press anything.

MR GP HINDUJA: This is just a thought. You have understood our role, you have understood our relationship.

MS FILKIN: Yes, you have been very open with me, thank you.

MR GP HINDUJA: Is it possible that in this transcript we stick to questions and answers rather than the rest of the matters.

MS FILKIN: You can make that request to me.

MR GP HINDUJA: In any case it is going to be printed.

MS FILKIN: You can make that request to me and I will consider that request. You can also, even if I decide that I do need to give some of that background to the Committee, so that the Committee understands it, you can also make a request to the Committee that they do not publish some of it.

MR GP HINDUJA: Is it possible to do that?

MS FILKIN: You can make the request.


MS FILKIN: I have to tell you that they do remove some items if they think people are being malicious to somebody else or they undermine another person with no basis, but by and large they do not do it for the rest of the information.

MS DUNCAN: If we make the request to you.

MS FILKIN: I will make sure the Committee knows.

MS DUNCAN: It is the Committee that makes the decision, not you?

MS FILKIN: No, I have to make a decision as to what I recommend.

MR SP HINDUJA: She can decide what should be in the report to the Committee or not.

MS FILKIN: I make that decision.

MS DUNCAN: That is fine.

MS FILKIN: If I decide that if some of the things you requested should come out and I feel that I cannot comply with your request because I need to give the Committee that so that they understand it there is, if you like, another bite of the cherry because the Committee themselves can be asked to remove things prior to publication. What I do not want to do is to make you feel that either I or they will necessarily feel able to comply with it. What they have to remind themselves of, as I do, my job is to fully inform the Committee, and their job is to remember that the public interest is overriding, and they are always very careful about that.


MS DUNCAN: How long before we get the transcripts?

MS FILKIN: You will probably get them this week.

MR GP HINDUJA: And a copy of the tape?

MS FILKIN: If you would correct them and let me have them back. Can I have a copy of that note?

MR GP HINDUJA: I personally have no problem in handing this over, but we were also not given by the legal department because they said we were not supposed to disclose our relationship with the solicitor; is that such a law?

MS FILKIN: You can disclose exactly what you wish. It is your affair what you disclose, and I have asked you to disclose it.

MS DUNCAN: The concern here is ­­­

MR GP HINDUJA: They have given this to me for my personal information with "strictly private and confidential" and they said that we cannot reveal this to anybody against ---

MS DUNCAN: The company is concerned about waving privilege over the information because neither GP or SP have any actual connection with the company, it is not their company, they are not directors or shareholders.

MR GP HINDUJA: That is the problem, neither I am the director or a shareholder and it becomes, they say, unlawful on our part if we are disclosing this. We want it to be helpful to you. Why don't you jot it down.

MS FILKIN: What I could do is write to the company for it. The company would then either provide it to me at my request or they would have to provide it to the Committee if the Committee asked for it. We can go through that if we wish to.

MS DUNCAN: I think the best thing is that the company is probably happy to give limited waiver in relation to this information, not a full waiver. It is okay, GP.

MR GP HINDUJA: In any case we are here to help. All of the wrong perceptions in the media are wrong things which have come, at least you will be clear.

MS DUNCAN: I have another copy.

MS FILKIN: I am grateful to you. I am just doing my job.

MR GP HINDUJA: I do not think there is anything to hide. May we also request that anything you recommend to the Committee, if at all, as much as possible of this meeting we would like to leave it confidential --

MS FILKIN: I am afraid I cannot do that

MR GP HINDUJA:-- until the time.

MS FILKIN: Certainly, it is totally confidential. Nothing in our discussion today will be disclosed by this office to anybody other than to the Committee when the time comes. Absolutely. I am very grateful to you both. Thank you taking for taking the time. As I say, if there is anything that worries you or that you see or somebody says to you that in any way relates do ring up and find out and we will tell you.

MR GP HINDUJA: Nothing worries us.

MS FILKIN: You know what people are like, the media say things, other people say things. Please, if it is about this office or about my role get on the phone or get your office on the phone, I will give you the facts.

Corrected by Messrs GP and SP Hinduja, August 2001

173   Messrs GP & SP Hinduja subsequently provided the following information:

Mr Vaz's letter to Mr Mandelson concerned the Concordia project for which the Hinduja Foundation had sought funding from the New Millenium Commission ("NMEC"). After the NMEC turned down the request for funding Mr Vaz wrote to Mr Mandelson requesting that it be considered as part of the projects for the Dome (see paras 7.5 and 8.2 of the Hammond Report). Back

174   Messrs Hinduja request that this section be omitted for reasons of confidentiality. Back

175   Messrs Hinduja request that from this point the transcript should end since it is an explanation of the process.  Back

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