Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex i15

Transcription of an interview by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards with Ms Maria Fernandes and Mr Mohammed Pathan held on 4 July 2001

MS FILKIN: I do apologise for having to again take your time on a matter which I know is not to do with you. I apologise for that. I am not wishing to interfere in your affairs in any way that I do not have to, and I have not wished to do that throughout.

MS FERNANDES: Thank you.

MS FILKIN: Having said that, I have a duty to the House of Commons which is to make sure that I am giving a full and accurate picture in relation to the complaints that I have had and I have to verify information to them. Obviously there are some things where I can only do that by asking other people and that is always embarrassing for the Member of Parliament. I do not do it if I do not have to, but that is the reason for seeing you. Having said that, I do not in any way, of course, wish to make any implication that you or your company, or Mr Pathan, have in any way been involved in anything that is improper. Nothing that I say should be taken to imply that in any way. All I am doing is looking at the Member of Parliament and trying to check what I have been told by complainants and to check what I am told by the Member of Parliament, and that is all I am doing. I shall not be disclosing anything that goes on in this meeting until I make a report to the Standards and Privileges Committee. The Committee is not set up at the moment and the new Committee is not even created, so it is unlikely that I shall be making any report until the early autumn. Unless they suddenly set themselves up, that is the likelihood. It is likely to be that period of time before I report. Of course, nothing will go out of this office about what you say to me until the Committee receives it. There are two areas that I have to check, and I do know, because I was there and because I have read your transcript again, and indeed all of the correspondence, on some of these things you will already have told us the answer, so please bear with me. It is not that I do not know what you said before, it is just that I want a complete record in one place so that I can provide it to the Committee. I hope that is not too wearing. I will try to get through my questions as quickly as possible. Before we start, is there anything that you need to ask me?

MS FERNANDES: It is something I need to tell you rather than ask you actually.


MS FERNANDES: I am taking proceedings against the Mail on Sunday.


MS FERNANDES: And one of the issues obviously is the issue of Mapesbury. I do not know if you have read the article in the Mail on Sunday of three or four weeks ago?

MS FILKIN: I do not think I have, no, but I will check it. We get an horrendous amount of stuff here, so we try not to take too much notice of it. I will look at it.

MS FERNANDES: They are the subject of proceedings.


MS FERNANDES: Therefore I need to be very careful because I do not want to do anything that will affect those proceedings.

MS FILKIN: Of course not and, of course, I will respect that because I would not wish to jeopardise any proceedings anybody is taking, so do be assured of that from my point of view. Right, anything else? Mr Pathan, is there anything you want to ask me before we start?

MR PATHAN: No. I have come to help Mrs Fernandes and to help you, if there is anything that I can help with. I understand that this is a sort of casual-type meeting.

MS FILKIN: It is not casual, it is formal.

MR PATHAN: Is it? Right.

MS FILKIN: You have to know that I need the information because I have got a job to do for the Committee.

MR PATHAN: Sure. I have come here on my own to see you.

MS FILKIN: Of course, at my request only.

MR PATHAN: Of course, yes, and see if I can help in any way.

MS FILKIN: I am grateful for that. You are quite right in saying it is absolutely voluntary, your coming in and agreeing to my request. I am grateful to you for coming and spending your time, particularly on this hot day. As I said, I will try to get through my questions as fast as I can. Obviously there are some things that I am aware of both from the public records and from what you have said before and some of those things will be repetitive for you. You appeared before the Committee on 13 February. You have had the transcript of your oral evidence from that day.


MS FILKIN: Is there anything now which on reflection you want to add or subtract from that account, just to make sure that I have got a full picture? Afterwards when you read it, because sometimes those situations are a bit daunting and people afterwards think "oh, my goodness, I could have said x, y and z".

MS FERNANDES: The only comment I would make is in relation to the fact that it was suggested that I managed the company. I own and I am a director of the company but I did not have day-to-day management of it. That is the only thing. I think that was put to me by a Member.

MS FILKIN: Yes, it was. You made it clear during that evidence session. And am I right that you would confirm, that no money as far as you know went out of Mapesbury Communications to support Mr Vaz in his role as an MP?

MS FERNANDES: That is right, yes. Of course, you have had independent evidence from two accountants stating that.

MS FILKIN: Yes, of course. This is really about me trying to make sure that I am fully informed because the Committee, of course, ask me all sorts of questions that I am not anticipating when they meet. This is to make sure that I am absolutely clear about things. It is clear from your evidence that there was at some point a decision to change the focus of Mapesbury Communications. You said that at that time you could have bought another off-the-shelf company but you decided not to do so. What date was that that you, if you like, took on the company so that you could process your own activities through it?

MS FERNANDES: To be quite honest, Mrs Filkin, I could not tell you. There was a point at which there was the issue of these calendars. There was a period, I think, when it was not doing anything. The first project that I came across was a book. I wanted to write it, I wanted to publish it.


MS FERNANDES: And I wanted it to be something that I did.

MS FILKIN: What was the date of publication of that book?

MS FERNANDES: September 1995. Could you help?

MR PATHAN: About ----

MS FERNANDES: September 1995. I know I was writing the book at around the time that my son was born, March/April. About that time I completed it and then there was a period when my child was born and then I, sort of, got it published.

MS FILKIN: And then the transactions about the book went through the company?


MS FILKIN: Yes. Why did you make that decision to use that off-the-shelf company that Mr Vaz had told my predecessor that he had set up to process his earnings outside Parliament? Why did you decide to use it rather than to buy another off-the-shelf company?

MS FERNANDES: There was a company there.


MS FERNANDES: To be quite honest, I did not know what Mr Vaz had

discussed ----

MS FILKIN: No, no, of course not, there was no need to.

MS FERNANDES: ---- with the previous Commissioner. There was a company there, I bought it. There was a little bit of activity and then it was lying dormant. Not dormant but it was there.

MS FILKIN: So it was there.

MS FERNANDES: I wanted to publish a book. I had just started in practice on my own account and I wanted to, I suppose, in a sense, give myself the opportunity to raise my profile. It was just the means was there and I just used it.

MS FILKIN: Right. It was not to benefit in any way from the existing connections that the company had at that time?

MS FERNANDES: What do you mean?

MS FILKIN: I just wondered if it had contacts and had previous work ----

MS FERNANDES: Whether the company had contacts?

MS FILKIN: Yes, and I wondered whether you thought the company has already got contacts with the printers and so on and so forth. It was not in any way in relation to that?

MS FERNANDES: No. The primary aim of me writing and publishing the book was to help me, in a sense, with my new practice, to have a book published.

MS FILKIN: So that people would know what you did, yes.

MS FERNANDES: Partly that but also, I suppose, I just wanted something that I had done myself.

MS FILKIN: Absolutely.

MS FERNANDES: Not just the writing of the book, I was involved in the areas of how to get it published.

MS FILKIN: I see. Looking at the Companies House accounts and looking at the turnover that is in those accounts, in 1997, unlike other years, the turnover was zero. What happened that year?

MS FERNANDES: There must have been no activity, that is the only ---- It started off with a bit of activity. The only thing I can think is 1997 was the year my second child was born. I had wanted to do other things but as it happened maybe it did not ---- To be quite honest, I could not put my hand on my heart and say there is a certain reason for that.

MS FILKIN: Fine, thanks. The accounts, of course, the public accounts, give the figures for the turnover each year. Can you remember what the profit or loss in each year was?

MS FERNANDES: Not really, no.

MS FILKIN: Did you take a profit out of it?

MS FERNANDES: It made a profit but the company retained all the profits.


MS FERNANDES: So it was sort of carried over. It was rolled over from year to year, so it was retained. Whatever retained profit there was in each year was just kept in for the following year.

MS FILKIN: I see. So you did not take a fee out of it?

MS FERNANDES: I did not take a salary.


MS FERNANDES: I did not declare any dividends. It was there to ----

MR PATHAN: Sorry. At the time Mr Mahmoud was dealing with it and he wanted to make sure ---- To make a profit, make the company successful, it was best if we retained it and took it over to the next year. It looks like a profit but it was moving on every year.

MS FILKIN: So you were re-investing the profit?

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes. That is why there were amounts there that were big and sometimes were low. That was how it was because Mr Mahmoud wanted it, that we should all leave it in there and just only take expenses out that we have to take out.

MS FILKIN: I see. But the company was employing staff, was it?

MS FERNANDES: Yes, it was.

MR PATHAN: I was one of the employees, yes.

MS FILKIN: Yes. I have got ---- No, we will wait until we get to that question because I was going to ask if you could just clarify for me who was employed at which time and then I could understand that. I understand you have taken the decision to wind up the company.


MS FILKIN: Why did you do that and when was the company wound up? Has it been wound up yet?

MS FERNANDES: It has not been completed.


MS FERNANDES: The winding up has not been completed but it is very close to being completed.

MS FILKIN: Do you know when you expect to wind it up?

MS FERNANDES: Within the next month or six weeks. The final stages of the closing accounts are currently being prepared and when that has been done then it will go through a formal process, I believe, of winding up. So it is very soon.

MS FILKIN: Do you want to say anything to me about why you have taken that decision?

MS FERNANDES: The first thing is the company, to be quite honest, was not trading as such for a while.


MS FERNANDES: I was involved ---- I was more interested in my practice, to be quite honest. I did not know what was going on. Mr Mahmoud, in the middle ---- He died last year.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I know.

MS FERNANDES: There were changes happening. With this current publicity I did not feel that it could get itself back on its feet and it was best to dissolve it. And I am fed up with it, frankly speaking. It has taken up a huge amount of my time which is disproportionate to what it is, which is a small company.

MS FILKIN: Yes, of course. Take me through, if you would, where the actual work done by the company was carried out. I have got various registered addresses from the public records and I have got various other correspondence and so forth with different addresses. Could you tell me where the company operated from over the years that it was in existence?

MR PATHAN: We had the registered office at Savant House and then Mr Mahmoud used to deal with everything we used to do from his house.

MS FILKIN: And that was where?

MR PATHAN: That is in, what is it called? Harrow.

MS FERNANDES: It will probably come under Pinner. Pinner? It is probably the area of Pinner.

MS FILKIN: I just need to be clear. I do not particularly want to know the number or anything. What I am trying to be clear is at which points it was where.

MR PATHAN: I do not have dates or anything like that.

MS FILKIN: What I have got is the following and tell me if this is right. On 2 November 1994 it was set up and it was said to be operating from Teignmouth Road in NW2.

MS FERNANDES: That was the registered address.

MS FILKIN: Did it operate from there or was that just a postal address?

MS FERNANDES: Apart from the time I worked on my book when I operated from that address ----

MS FILKIN: Oh, you did. That was where you lived, was it?

MS FERNANDES: That was where I lived.

MS FILKIN: I see. So at that time when it was first set up when you first had it it was said to be operating from your home?

MRS FERNANDES: Yes. That was its registered address. In the early days, yes, that was its address. It changed its address following that.

MS FILKIN: Then there is a PO box and then I understand it moved to Scraptoft Lane in Leicester, Mrs Vaz senior's home, is that right?

MR PATHAN: Because she was the secretary, yes, that is right.

MS FILKIN: Yes, so that was the registered address whereas the Register of Members was held at your North London home, * * *.


MS FILKIN: * * *.


MS FILKIN: Was where the Register of Members was held.

MS FERNANDES: Right. Yes, I suppose because I am the director that would be right.

MS FILKIN: That is right. But then in January 2001, but not until then, I get the address of Savant House in Camden High Street.

MR PATHAN: Right, yes.

MS FILKIN: What I am doing is really asking you are those dates right? Was it operating from those different places?

MR PATHAN: I do not know about the dates but the major work, the day-to-day work, was done at Savant House and at Mr Mahmoud's House.

MS FILKIN: From when until when?

MR PATHAN: Oh, I do not know the dates. The day-to-day work, companies can be registered at different addresses.

MS FILKIN: Of course.

MR PATHAN: And you have day-to-day work at different addresses.

MS FILKIN: It is the day-to-day work obviously that I am interested in.

MR PATHAN: So it was done at Savant House from, I do not know, I cannot remember, two or three years. Then we used to do work from Mr Mahmoud's house because he preferred it to be done from there.

MS FILKIN: But from about 1997 or so, is that right?

MR PATHAN: I cannot remember.

MS FILKIN: Okay. In any event I am not giving you information which is inaccurate?

MR PATHAN: We cannot say it is accurate or ----

MS FILKIN: I just got it from the public records and I just wanted to check it because these can be wrong.

MR PATHAN: That is right, I know.

MS FILKIN: As I understand it, also for a while the company was based at your * * * home, or it did work from your home?



MS FERNANDES: No, absolutely not, because I was not involved in the day-to-day running of it. It might have been registered or, I do not know.

MS FILKIN: The Register of Members was there but no work was done for the company?

MS FERNANDES: No work was done, absolutely not.

MS FILKIN: So when Mr Vaz described the times he went into your office I suppose I had got a picture in my head, oh that is quite understandable, it was in their home and Mr Vaz would have popped in and out. Which office would he have gone into then?

MS FERNANDES: I work from home in my firm.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I understand that.

MS FERNANDES: My solicitor's practice.

MS FILKIN: I understand that, I mean Mapesbury. This is talking about Mapesbury.

MS FERNANDES: I do not know what he said but it did not operate from * * *.

MS FILKIN: Did he ever go into either of those offices, either the one you have talked about at Savant House ----

MR PATHAN: No, never.

MS FILKIN: Or Mr Mahmoud's office?

MR PATHAN: No, he never went to our offices.

MS FILKIN: So you say he did not go to the Mapesbury offices?

MR PATHAN: What do you mean? You said Mapesbury's office was * * * first.

MS FILKIN: No. I said because I knew, or I believed, that for some of the time the Mapesbury work went from * * *, the question was asked of Mr Vaz "how often did you ever go into the office of Mapesbury?" and he answered that question, I put two and two together and am checking with you, and I think I have got it wrong, I thought that he must he have gone into the office in your home ----


MS FILKIN: But as it was not there ----

MS FERNANDES: It did not operate from there.

MS FILKIN: No, then I am asking another question which is if he did not go into the Mapesbury office in your home, which office did he go into that was Mapesbury's and when was that?

MS FERNANDES: You will have to talk to him.

MS FILKIN: You cannot remember him going into the office?

MR PATHAN: No, I cannot, but I was not there every day so I cannot say that he has been or he has not been. He has not been when I was there.

MS FILKIN: I see, fine.

MR PATHAN: We were getting confused because you were saying the office at * * *, which we have never had, no.

MS FILKIN: I understand. I have got that bit clear. Why was a box number added to the address in 1996?

MS FERNANDES: I do not know. Can you answer that?

MR PATHAN: In 1996? I cannot remember but I think it may have been just a PO box number Mr Mahmoud added because he was well into these things, yes. Mr Mahmoud, bless his soul, he was a very good networker and everything and he knew what he was doing. I do not know why but he must have added a box number.

MS FILKIN: But what was the company doing that might require a box number? What I have got so far is it was publishing your books.

MR PATHAN: It was publishing books. It was a PR company organising events or something like that.

MS FILKIN: I see, it was an events operation.

MS FERNANDES: It was operating out of people's back rooms basically.

MS FILKIN: It was a box number to deal with that?

MS FERNANDES: It could have been. I cannot say why it was done.

MS FILKIN: How is Mapesbury Communications connected with Coleridge House?

MR PATHAN: Coleridge House?

MS FILKIN: It is not?


MS FILKIN: That does not mean anything to you?


MS FILKIN: Right. In the list of payments that you have provided in and out of Mapesbury, there is a mention of rent being paid to Acacia Holdings.


MS FILKIN: Who are they?

MR PATHAN: They own Savant House.

MS FILKIN: I see, right. So they are the property company that own that house?

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes.

MS FILKIN: And Mapesbury Communications pay them rent?


MS FILKIN: What sort of rent does Mapesbury have to pay them?

MR PATHAN: I do not know. Mr Mahmoud used to deal with the financial side so I would not know. I would not ask him "how much rent are you paying?"

MS FILKIN: But since he died, what has the rent been?

MR PATHAN: I do not know, I have not looked at anything.

MS FILKIN: But you could give that to me.

MR PATHAN: You want to know how much rent has been paid?

MS FILKIN: Yes, because I am trying to get a picture of what size of property this is and what this company is like.

MR PATHAN: Sure, yes.

MS FILKIN: Thanks very much. I hope that is all the bits on getting the property straight. Sorry about that. Now, I need, I am afraid, to turn to the work that you have done for the Hinduja brothers, or their Foundation, or their business. How did you and/or Mr Pathan first become aware of the Hinduja brothers and first be in contact with them for work?


MS FILKIN: Start off with how you got to know them.

MS FERNANDES: Can I say that I have no personal knowledge of that particular event. It was a surprise to me that that event had been carried out.

MS FILKIN: Which event are we talking about?

MS FERNANDES: Are you talking about the Hinduja ----

MR PATHAN: The Dada Vaswami, the priest one?


MS FERNANDES: That was something that was done by Mapesbury. I have no personal knowledge of that event.

MS FILKIN: Thank you for telling me that but if I could ask you when you first got to know the Hindujas.

MS FERNANDES: I have known them for a number of years.

MS FILKIN: How did you get to know them? Was it social?


MS FILKIN: Or was it professional?

MS FERNANDES: Social, I think. I have known them for a number of years.

MS FILKIN: Have you been involved at all with their Foundation?


MS FILKIN: You have had dealings with both of them, have you, you know both of them? It is not one or the other?

MS FERNANDES: I know both of them, yes, and I know their wives and various members of the family.

MS FILKIN: I see. Your legal practice is called Fernandes Vaz.

MS FERNANDES: I thought I was coming here to talk about Mapesbury primarily.

MS FILKIN: Yes, you are, but what I have to find out - and I do not want to find out about your legal practice. What I have to check is the information that I have been given about the relationships with the Hindujas is complete. You will know from the questions that the Committee has raised with Mr Vaz that what they asked him was they wanted to know all the contacts with both himself and his family, so I am afraid I do have to ask you the questions. If you decide that you do not want to answer them, that is your choice. I am not trying to poke into your private practice, I am only focusing on this narrow bit about relationships with the Hindujas. Your firm is called Fernandes Vaz. I know that you usually are know professionally as Ms Fernandes, so could you tell me why the name Vaz appears in the firm's title? Is that just a name or does that mean Mr Vaz does work for the company?

MS FERNANDES: No, it is just a name. As solicitors we are allowed to call ourselves anything.

MS FILKIN: Of course.

MS FERNANDES: And I choose to call myself Fernandes Vaz.

MS FILKIN: Because they are both your names.

MS FERNANDES: Yes, they are, and it made the firm look a little bigger than it was.

MS FILKIN: I do understand that you have carried out work through that practice for the Hinduja brothers.

MS FERNANDES: Who do you understand that from?

MS FILKIN: I am afraid I cannot tell you that at the moment but the source is good.


MS FILKIN: And perfectly respectable and solid and that is not know outside this office, but I do know that.

MS FERNANDES: Okay. Can I just say that in terms of my clients am bound by the duty of confidentiality and that duty is absolute unless the clients themselves want that information to be made available. That is why I am asking you the source of that.

MS FILKIN: I understand. Since I do have what I regard absolutely reliable information of that legal work carried out for the Hinduja company, would you mind confirming to me that no part of any payment for such work was transferred to the account of Mapesbury Communications?

MS FERNANDES: Can I say that, again, I am not willing to discuss my clients and you are drawing me into discussing my clients. My duty of confidentiality remains unless I am given permission to divulge any information.

MS FILKIN: Did Mr Vaz play any part in the legal work ----

MS FERNANDES: None at all.

MS FILKIN: ---- that Fernandes Vaz ----

MS FERNANDES: None at all.

MS FILKIN: ---- did for the Hinduja brothers? Then, accepting what you have to say about your duty of confidentiality, I would be very grateful if you would approach your clients and ask them if you are able to confirm to me the payments they made to you, to your legal practice.

MS FERNANDES: Could you write to me? That would be helpful.

MS FILKIN: Certainly, yes. Turning back to Mapesbury, and leaving your legal practice on one side, perhaps you would tell me what work Mapesbury Communications has carried out for the Hinduja brothers, or for the Hinduja Foundation, or business?

MS FERNANDES: None that I know of. Are you able to help?

MR PATHAN: None, no.

MS FILKIN: Other than the payment I have already disclosed.

MR PATHAN: That Dada Vaswami event?


MR PATHAN: This priest event.


MR PATHAN: They paid for the expenses or something of it, yes. That is the only one I know of.

MS FILKIN: That is the only one?

MR PATHAN: Yes, definitely.

MS FILKIN: Thank you. There have been allegations that Mr Vaz has received gifts from some of the Hinduja brothers and that those were given to you jointly with him. Have you ever received any gift from the Hinduja brothers?

MS FERNANDES: None that I recall. As a Member of Parliament Keith does from time to time go to events and he gets sweets and flowers and you know, but I cannot say there is any particular event that I can remember that sticks out in my mind about something that was received by him.

MS FILKIN: No. And, of course, there is nothing improper in that at all.

MS FERNANDES: They are not the type of people who send a lot of gifts and flowers. I cannot remember them sending me anything in particular.

MS FILKIN: You said that as a public relations company Mapesbury was involved in organising events. There are some events that I need to ask you about and as I go through them you may think of other events that it would be helpful for me to understand what they are, and I would be grateful to know that. As I said, what I am trying to do is get an absolutely accurate but fair, totally fair, picture of the events and the size of the company. The ones that I would like to start off with are as follows: Mapesbury Communications booked an event on 23 June 1999 for the Asian Business Network at the New Connaught Rooms. Did you book that event?

MR PATHAN: Sorry, say that again.

MS FILKIN: I believe that Mapesbury Communications booked an event at the New Connaught Rooms on 23 June 1999 for the Asian Business Network. I was asking whether you were involved in booking that event?

MR PATHAN: No, nothing I know about, no. The event, no.

MS FILKIN: Do you have a complete list of the events that the company has been involved in over the recent years?

MR PATHAN: No. I can remember the, what was it called, visa event that we had.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I am going to come on to that in a moment.

MR PATHAN: What was the other one called? We had the visa event, the work permit event.

MS FILKIN: Those are two events you can recall?


MS FILKIN: And the one that you have talked about, the religious event.

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes, the priest one.

MS FILKIN: Are you saying that as far as you know those were the only events?

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes.

MS FILKIN: So you do not recall any connection between Mapesbury Communications and the Asian Business Network?

MR PATHAN: Mr Mahmoud ---- I do not know about that. Mr Mahmoud might have, I do not know. I cannot answer that question.

MS FILKIN: And would you have a record of that somewhere?

MR PATHAN: I do not know. Really I do not know.

MS FILKIN: Does that mean anything to you, Ms Fernandes?

MS FERNANDES: It does not.

MR PATHAN: It does not, no.

MS FILKIN: Take me through then, if you would, the Dada Vaswami event. What was the role of Mapesbury in relation to that event?

MR PATHAN: I was not involved in that.


MR PATHAN: I remember the event because it was a priest who came and did something, a lecture or something like that.


MR PATHAN: That is all I know. Mr Mahmoud used to deal with the paperwork and all that, so he would know.

MS FILKIN: So you do not know whose initiative that was set up on?

MR PATHAN: I do not know, no.

MS FILKIN: Who was promoting it, who wanted it to happen, etc?

MR PATHAN: No, I do not, no. I only know that the event took place and the Hinduja Foundation paid for the expenses. That is all I know about it.

MS FILKIN: And those were processed through Mapesbury.

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes.

MS FILKIN: So what did Mapesbury do for that event?

MR PATHAN: At the time Mr Mahmoud was heavily involved so I do not know what he did.

MS FILKIN: Would you know what he did, Ms Fernandes?

MS FERNANDES: What? In relation to the event?

MS FILKIN: Yes. There was a £1,200 bill. Do you know what the bill would have covered?

MS FERNANDES: No, not really. It would have been an event, I suppose, normal expenses of an event. But, to be quite honest, I do not know anything about the event, so I do not want to start saying something that ----

MS FILKIN: Did you go to the event?

MS FERNANDES: No, I did not.

MS FILKIN: Did you go to the event?

MR PATHAN: No. I have seen a copy of the invoice form and it says "administration", something like that, so I am sure he must have been sending out invites or something like that, administration, so that was why he listed it like that.

MS FILKIN: Am I right, therefore, from what you have said that you do not know whether the Hindujas approached Mapesbury or Mapesbury approached the Hindujas?

MR PATHAN: Yes, that is right.

MS FILKIN: Could you tell me, the invoice that was raised that you have just referred to, was that raised on a not for profit basis or was it raised on an ordinary commercial basis?

MR PATHAN: I do not know because I did not raise the invoice or anything, Mr Mahmoud used to do the financial things. I have looked at a copy of that invoice and it looks quite clearly that it was small expenses that were paid to cover for stamps and things like that. It was like a reimbursement rather than profit making. It looks very clear as a reimbursement to the company.

MS FILKIN: I see. Thank you. Now, I have had some difficulty with the date of that event and I wonder if you could help me with it. The invoice is dated 4 June.


MS FILKIN: Which I believe is before the event took place.

MR PATHAN: Really? Oh, right.

MS FILKIN: I wonder if you would help me, perhaps outside this meeting, by going back and checking the paperwork so that I get it clear whether the invoice was raised before the event, which it might have been if it was done on a not for profit basis because the company might have needed the money to actually do the work but, on the other hand, it is not usual commercial practice to raise the invoice before you have done it. I wonder if you could let me know.

MR PATHAN: What date the event was?

MS FILKIN: The date of the event.

MR PATHAN: The date of the event. I cannot remember. It is a long time ago, it is so long.

MS FILKIN: I thought you might have it in your paperwork.

MR PATHAN: No. This is where the problem is because Mr Mahmoud used to keep everything. He was a person where he wanted to hold on to everything, that is why Mr Mahmoud used to have it. I think it was a long time ago, was it not, about six years ago, something like that? I cannot remember the precise month or anything like that. I know it was a long time ago because I read about it, that a priest gave a lecture in the House of Commons or something.

MS FILKIN: That is right, yes.

MS FERNANDES: I am sure the House of Commons must hold some sort of a record.

MS FILKIN: Yes. What I have got is different pieces of information from different people and I want to get the facts, that is all. There is nothing sinister about it being different bits of information, it is to do with, as you say, being a long time ago and people forgetting and records not being very wonderful. There is no problem about it, I just do not want to give a date that is not right if I can possibly check it.


MS FILKIN: Do you know who was responsible for drawing up the guest list for that event?

MR PATHAN: No, I do not.

MS FILKIN: You do not know that either?

MS FERNANDES: I do not, no.

MS FILKIN: Let us go on to the other conferences that you were talking about. First of all, the Work Permit Conference. Can you tell me about that and where that was, who organised it, who paid for it, etc?

MR PATHAN: It was a conference where Mr Mahmoud used to send out to the delegates. My role was ---- In Mapesbury I was working with Mr Mahmoud, assisting him in every way, but I was more of a technical person where he used to send me out and say "go and get these copies done" or "go and put the stage up" or "go and put this out on the seats", so I did not have a heavy role. What Mr Mahmoud promised me and what he said was once he got everything in order he was going to set up a company, not a publishing company, we were going to do an internet company, and he was going to get me heavily involved in that, so I said "fine". That was why I was keen to work with Mr Mahmoud, because he did promise me.

MS FILKIN: It was a good opportunity.

MR PATHAN: Yes, it was a good opportunity. I was a young man and I wanted to help Mr Mahmoud and do something for myself. That was why he did that. I remember other conferences. He sent out letters to delegates and normal public people would come to it who were interested in work permits, something like software companies, hoteliers or business people who wanted work permits or something like that.

MS FILKIN: And where was that held, that Work Permit Conference?

MR PATHAN: It was in London, yes. It was in London. I cannot

remember ----

MS FERNANDES: There was one, I think it was the St James' Court Hotel, the London one.

MS FILKIN: That one was, the work permit one?


MS FILKIN: Fine. It was done on an ordinary commercial basis of sending out invitations and seeing who came?

MR PATHAN: To the normal public, yes, that is right.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I see. What about the event on visa policy?

MS FERNANDES: There was an event ---- That was the Birmingham one.

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes. Exactly the same thing, where you send out letters and normal people would reply because they have got an interest in visa policy or to do with that and they would fill out the delegate forms and then apply and come and attend the conferences.

MS FILKIN: Were either of those conferences held at Millbank Towers?



MS FILKIN: Was any conference that you can remember held there?

MS FERNANDES: Yes, there was one.

MS FILKIN: What was that?

MS FERNANDES: There was one on food policy which covered the issue of work permits but it also covered, because I chaired that meeting, health and safety and various issues.

MS FILKIN: And which of those that you have talked about, the Work Permit Conference at the St James' Hotel or the Birmingham conferences ---- Where was the Birmingham conference held?

MS FERNANDES: I cannot remember, to be quite honest, but it was held in the centre of Birmingham. I will try to rack my brains. We should be able to work out where that was.

MS FILKIN: If you can give me a list of those then I can at least set some of these to ground and not let people make more of them than they are. And the Millbank conference on, as you say, food policy.

MS FERNANDES: I chaired that. I could not give you any more information other than speakers probably.

MS FILKIN: If you could give the date and the speakers and the locale, and if you have got the guest list.

MS FERNANDES: If I have got that information.

MS FILKIN: If you have got the guest list that would help me get a feel for it. Which of those, if any, did Mr Vaz take part in?

MS FERNANDES: None of them.


MS FILKIN: None of them.

MS FERNANDES: The Work Permit Conferences we are talking about?


MS FERNANDES: None of them.

MS FILKIN: Nor the food policy?


MS FILKIN: Or the visa policy?


MS FILKIN: No. But he did take part in the Dada Vaswami event?

MS FERNANDES: I believe so. I did not go to it myself.

MS FILKIN: No, I understand that. If you can give me any information about those conferences I would be most grateful because then I will be absolutely accurate, particularly saying that Mr Vaz was not involved in them and was not involved in the guest list, etc., unless when he thinks about it he says "oh, yes, I did suggest some guests". There is no problem about that, but just so that we have dealt with it all. Were all those conferences that we have just talked about, other than the Dada Vaswami event, run on a commercial basis, an ordinary commercial basis?

MS FERNANDES: I could not answer that, to be quite honest. I chaired them more than was involved in the day-to-day collection of fees or whatever. I was a speaker at them and I did chair one of them, I was a speaker.

MS FILKIN: You were the sole shareholder of Mapesbury, presumably ----

MS FERNANDES: But I do not run the company.

MS FILKIN: No, no, no.

MS FERNANDES: I own the company and I am a director but, to be quite honest, that was my involvement in the company. I did not deal with the day-to-day work.

MS FILKIN: So they would not be consulting you about any conference where they were not going to try to make a profit?

MS FERNANDES: On the work permit side, it would be something that I would have thought about and it would have been something that I probably raised.


MS FERNANDES: And then it was assessed probably and they worked out whether it would make a profit or not.

MS FILKIN: And would run it on a commercial basis obviously.

MR PATHAN: Yes. This goes back to Mr Mahmoud because he used to do the paperwork. He used to make sure that everything was in order and all that. I am sure whatever he used to do, he knew what he was doing. He wanted to make sure this company was successful, it was a small company, and that was why he was putting back the money.

MS FILKIN: There is no problem with it, I just want the facts. I do not think there is any issue about it.

MR PATHAN: The thing is the papers have made it sound like it was such a big company, a massive company, and the thing is it was such a small company, it is amazing.

MS FILKIN: I am trying to make sure that is all grounded properly. I think I know the answer to this but let me ask you to make sure. What part, if any, did the firm of Fernandes Vaz play in any of these events that we have just talked about?

MS FERNANDES: The firm play?


MS FERNANDES: We are back to my firm, are we?


MS FERNANDES: None, I practise in the area of immigration and there are Work Permit Conferences held but that is the extent of the involvement.

MS FILKIN: You kindly provided the Committee with a list of payments that you tried to ascertain, even though the records were not very good that you were working from, payments into and out of the company. What I need to understand, if I may, as I said in my letter to you, is the size of those payments so I get some sense of the size of the company. You very properly said you cannot guarantee that is comprehensive, but what I need to be able to say is "well, it is pretty comprehensive because if you look at the turnover and what they actually got it does cover" or "no, it is not comprehensive at all because that only covers a very small amount and presumably the other payments were very small". I have got to get some picture of what was happening in this company and that is why I ask the question. You drew this list up?


MS FILKIN: Did you draw this list up?

MR PATHAN: I remember drawing this list up. I came back from Pakistan, I was on holiday, and Maria said that the Chairman wanted this long list. I remember sitting down and we were racking our brains. The thing is, Mr Mahmoud had the files and he used to do paperwork and everything like that. These would be the contacts or clients of that. We sat down and said "let us put this down, let us put this down", so we could get this in time to the Chairman.

MS FILKIN: That was without the benefit of invoices, it was just out of your head?

MR PATHAN: That is right. Of course, yes.

MS FILKIN: You obviously had enough information in your head to provide it. Would you be able to give at least round figures against the payments?

MR PATHAN: I would not because Mr Mahmoud would deal with the finances.

MS FILKIN: So how did you make a decision that those were over £1,000 each?

MR PATHAN: I made the decision but I think these would be the companies that were involved somehow, we have done an event and that is why we have done something for them or we have published something for them. That was why I came to the decision to put these names down.

MS FILKIN: Have you found that there is actually no other information which you can provide to settle that now?

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes.

MS FILKIN: It does not exist. You were talking about Mr Mahmoud's garage that you were going to look at and so forth. It is not there is what you are telling me, is it, there is no other information?

MS FERNANDES: Well, I have asked his widow. Mr Mahmoud was involved in a number of activities and she has got a number of papers. I have had a look, I cannot see anything that relates to Mapesbury there. I have asked her to have another look for the paperwork but, to be quite honest, to date I have not got it. Of course, if any of it becomes available I would like you to have it.

MS FILKIN: I am sure you would, I would like to settle it. Absolutely, that is what I am trying to do. I do not want these things to run.

MR PATHAN: What did you want? What did you want from the client list? What are you trying to obtain, any particular name? When we sat down with the Chairman I remember when he went through it he was looking and we asked him this question and he was saying "yes, that is right" and he said he was looking at the time for Mr Zaiwalla.

MS FILKIN: Yes, he was.

MR PATHAN: And he saw it clearly and said "yes, there is nothing wrong", it was listed and everything, so he said "yes, that is fine". Are you looking for something else?

MS FILKIN: I am first of all looking for what you have already told me, any connection with the Hindujas. You have told me that event was connected with them and they have paid that.

MR PATHAN: With the Foundation, yes.

MS FILKIN: With their Foundation. I obviously then need to ask you the general question whether the Hindujas made any other payments in any form to Mapesbury.

MR PATHAN: I do not think they would, I am quite clear on that. Everyone knows they are rich people but they are very tight people, I have heard. I do not know what they would do. I do not think there was any other event they were connected to or any other money or anything they have done with us.

MS FILKIN: What I need to say is if any other information other than this, even if not precise, becomes available so that I can understand the public information on the finances of the company, and that is all I have had obviously, that would be very helpful.


MS FILKIN: If your accountants hold anything at all then I can, I hope, try to deal with some of these concerns that are about and I am sure are very wearing for you. I want to be able to try just to set the record straight and I hope that will be the end of it. Anything else that has come to your attention to do with Mr Zaiwalla, you have already answered that question, and the Hindujas and the Hinduja Foundation, you have already answered that question. The other general question, and why this was looked at in any event, is whether there were any payments from this that in any way related to Mr Vaz, and you have already answered me that question so I do not need to ask.

MS FERNANDES: Actually you have had independent evidence of what I am saying. Two accountants have said that.

MS FILKIN: I take that. Yes, I take that. Are you able to say what the totals of those payments come to, about?

MR PATHAN: What the total of payments ----

MS FILKIN: What you have done is you have given me a list of payments, you say you cannot be precise about what each one consisted of but you have tried to rack your brain and list them.


MS FILKIN: Are you able to say in round figures what you think the total of payments in from those come to and over what period those cover and if you are able to give me the total of those, so I know what I am dealing with? If what I am dealing with is payments out over seven years I am dealing with something quite different from payments out in one year. What I am trying to do is to get this picture as tight as I can.


MS FERNANDES: Mrs Filkin, can I ask you why you want that information?

MS FILKIN: I want it because the allegations that have come in, as you know, concern whether or not Mr Vaz received benefits which he has not registered, and I am trying to settle that.

MS FERNANDES: That is right, but we are reaching a point of stalemate really because we have got two accountants saying that whatever has gone into that company Mr Vaz has not received a benefit from. Just going into the affairs of the company like this must have a purpose beyond that. I think you are reasonably satisfied, I would have thought, that two accountants have certified that he has received no personal benefit.

MS FILKIN: I am satisfied that there was no direct payment out of the company to Mr Vaz from what they have said, I am satisfied about that. What I have to be satisfied about is if there is any other benefit and that is my problem.

MS FERNANDES: Such as? Maybe we can get to the heart of your concerns.

MR PATHAN: Yes. If you expressly tell us what it is so we understand.

MS FILKIN: Of course. The allegation concerning the Dada Vaswami event, made not of course by me, made by other people, was that this was, in fact, an event to promote Mr Vaz as an MP and that he booked the rooms and your company was involved in setting it up and in processing the money which came from the Hindujas to fund it. The allegation is that was about promoting Mr Vaz as an MP. I have no reason to believe it was. I have reason to believe it was an ordinary event that Mr Vaz was being helpful to and he was booking a room in the House of Commons so it could run for the community. What I have to be able to say to (a) protect Mr Vaz as best as I am able in these situations, but (b) to protect my duty to the House of Commons and the Committee, is "no, I have not overlooked anything else which might have been like that". That is why I am trying to ask the questions, so that I can say "this is a little company, it had these certain amounts of money. They have gone to some trouble to supply me with the list of payments", but at the moment I would have to say, if asked, "I cannot be 100 per cent sure there were not other payments in or out because they cannot be sure".

MS FERNANDES: I think what you have moved from is a direct benefit to promotion. So if a company promotes a particular person by inviting them to speak at an event that amounts to a benefit to that Member, does it?

MS FILKIN: It could do, and then you would have to look at whether it did.

MS FERNANDES: I think 650 MPs are going to be in an awful lot of trouble if that is how it is interpreted.

MS FILKIN: I am not interpreting it in any way, all I am trying to do is to get at the facts. I am telling you what people have alleged when I say that. I am not making an assumption that any benefit was received, and I have not made that assumption and I am not doing so. What I want to be able to

do ----

MS FERNANDES: Was that the intention of the rules, promotion of a Member? Members of Parliament are notorious for promoting their own interests. It is difficult.

MS FILKIN: Of course. That is why all I am trying to do is to get at the facts.

MS FERNANDES: This company has been dragged in for a number of months and it is just this sort of thing, what are we getting at? If he borrowed a Mapesbury car is that a benefit to him? Where are we saying that he received a benefit?

MS FILKIN: If the company ----

MS FERNANDES: I was confused about it when I gave my evidence to the Committee because I do not think the Members of the Committee quite knew what they were getting at.

MS FILKIN: I hope that this will not sound in any way trying to make excuses but when one is making any investigation of any kind one does not know anything. One has allegations, one goes into them always, one should always go into them, with a totally open mind. Many allegations about many people are pure malice and another set of allegations are made in the spirit of the public interest but when you actually get at the facts the person has put two and two together and made five. So there is a set of allegations, and I deal with those all the time, which never get any further than my grounding the facts and finding that the allegation is not upheld. So that is my job and it is the Committee's job. Why people ask questions which might to the person being asked the question seem vague or not precise is because the person doing the investigation does not know.

MS FERNANDES: But there are fairly clear rules about what "benefit" means. Nobody has yet ----

MS FILKIN: To go back to your question, what the rules say is that if a Member receives a gift of £125 or hospitality of about more than £250 from anybody, that is regarded as a benefit. Then, of course, there is the issue about how do you define those things, of course that is right, but I think we have got really quite a lot of experience of doing that. So we are looking for real benefits, not just promoting the person and making them more famous, we are looking at real benefits. To answer your question, if Mapesbury had provided a car for a period of time to any Member of Parliament, yes, that would be a benefit. That was why I had to ask this car that Mapesbury owns, does Mr Vaz use it, because if he did that would be a benefit that he ought to register. There is nothing wrong with him getting it, and he may have just forgotten to register it, but he would be required to register it. That is why I have to ask these questions, which I know sound absolutely infuriating, but there we are. Let us go back to this list. If there is any other information that becomes available, or you can find, that relates to the clients ----

MR PATHAN: We want to be helpful.

MS FILKIN: I am sure. I have no doubt about that.

MR PATHAN: That is why we have come here.

MS FILKIN: That is why I have to bore you with these questions, because I want it settled. If you can give me any help, even if you are putting question marks by it, "£1,000 about" or whatever, by this list, to give me any more help on dates, amounts, that would be very useful. If you cannot I will leave it as it is and assume you cannot.


MS FERNANDES: Mrs Filkin, just to come back again to that point. The purpose of the amounts, how will that take anything forward?

MS FILKIN: At least it will allow me, I hope - we both have best endeavour to not achieve it. What I hoped it might do, as I was explaining earlier, I know what the turnover was of the company in those particular years, you have said to me "some of those were these sums of money and some", we will come on to that in a minute, "must have been payments to staff". That may take up almost the money that is in that turnover, that may account for why the money is demonstrated in the accounts in the way it is, it may cover it all, it may not. That does not say anything one way or the other but if it covers near enough all the money it allows me to say to the Committee "I think we have got as full information on this company as it is reasonable to expect to get". But if we cannot, we cannot.

MS FERNANDES: The list is not, I would have thought, comprehensive.

MS FILKIN: No, you have said that. That was why I felt I should ask these questions.

MR PATHAN: Coming back to this point, what Mr Mahmoud was always saying was "let us put it back in there". He had this, that was how he worked.

MS FILKIN: When you have thought about the conversation you may want to write me a note which says "I gave you the list, the other payments were small other than each year there was this amount in staff payments and the amount that was left over was always taken forward and reinvested the next year", whatever the situation is. It is not my affair what ----

MS FERNANDES: The accounts should actually show that.

MS FILKIN: They do not.

MS FERNANDES: Do they not?

MS FILKIN: Not the published accounts.

MS FERNANDES: They should. I thought they did.

MS FILKIN: Not in as much detail as that. The company purchased a

car ----

MS FERNANDES: Before we move on can I just take a note. Can I borrow your notebook? You said you would like information about?

MS FILKIN: Anything else that makes this list clearer, that specifies amounts, that specifies dates, that tries to give me a fuller picture of what is in the published accounts, that is what I am after.


MS FILKIN: We have talked about the payments that were connected with the Hinduja Foundation, and you have confirmed it was the only one. We have talked about cars, I know the company purchased cars. Can you tell me which dates the company purchased cars on and who they purchased them for but, specifically for me to be absolutely clear about your earlier answer, that none of these cars were purchased for Mr Vaz and Mr Vaz did not use them other than perhaps being given a lift in one by somebody else whose car it was. That is my understanding of this, is that correct?

MS FERNANDES: That is correct.

MS FILKIN: That is absolutely correct. Am I right in thinking that the cars were bought for Mrs Vaz senior?


MS FILKIN: Only for Mrs Vaz senior?

MR PATHAN: I have seen Mr Mahmoud use it once.

MS FILKIN: I did not mean use it. He did not have another car bought for him?


MS FILKIN: It was just the car for Mrs Vaz.

MR PATHAN: I thought you said ----

MS FILKIN: I was just trying to understand who they were bought for. The company is described as "publishing and PR". Can I be clear about that. Has it published other things apart from your book?

MR PATHAN: That Root thing we did.


MR PATHAN: Something that was called Root. I cannot remember the name, something like that. Maria's book was the main thing.

MS FILKIN: That was about visas, was it? That was immigration and visas?



MS FILKIN: Right. What printers did you use for getting that book published?

MS FERNANDES: I could not tell you.


MS FERNANDES: I used Hansard Publications, which is a company. I think they might have used their own printers because they had the company. That is something I could maybe find out quite easily.

MS FILKIN: Thank you. Perhaps you will give me the date of it as well so I have got that tidied up. That was the guide, as I understand it, that was dedicated to Mr Vaz. Am I right in thinking that there were no other Mapesbury publications which carried Mr Vaz's name? Was that the only one that carried his name?

MS FERNANDES: So far as I know.

MS FILKIN: There were no other publications that you can recall that carried his name?


MS FILKIN: Right. This list here does not record any payments to Wildberry, the printers Wildberry. They were the printers who, if you recall, printed Mr Vaz's calendars.

MS FERNANDES: Which calendars?

MS FILKIN: Certainly some of the calendars.

MS FERNANDES: There are two types.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I know, but some of them were printed by Wildberry and they have got that written on them, so they were. You did not include this in this list. Perhaps you could explain to me why Wildberry was not included in this list as some body whom the company made payments to?

MR PATHAN: I do not know. I do not know about Wildberry.

MS FILKIN: You do not know about that?


MS FILKIN: You said, Ms Fernandes, "I do not know who Wildberry are".

MS FERNANDES: I do not know who they are, to be quite honest.

MS FILKIN: I find that very odd and I wonder if you would explain that to me because the directors of Wildberry include your mother and brother-in-law.

MS FERNANDES: My mother?

MS FILKIN: Mother-in-law and brother-in-law.

MS FERNANDES: No, I do not know. I do not know anything about Wildberry, to be quite honest. It certainly was not my mother.

MS FILKIN: No, your mother-in-law and brother-in-law.


MS FILKIN: But you have never heard them talk about it?


MS FILKIN: You have never heard them mention it?

MS FERNANDES: No, never.

MS FILKIN: So can you tell me anything about the relationship between Mapesbury and Wildberry?


MS FILKIN: Looking at the records that exist on the printing firm Wildberry, it was set up at the end of 1993. I am sure you cannot answer this question from what you have just said but what I was going to ask you was was the firm set up to specifically receive the business involved in printing the Asian community calendar?

MS FERNANDES: I cannot answer that.

MS FILKIN: No. And you will not know when it was set up. It was wound up as a business in 1997. That does not jog your memory?


MS FILKIN: All right. Is there any way in which we can find out from your Mapesbury records what Wildberry has been paid over the years by the company?

MR PATHAN: I do not know. I have never dealt with Wildberry or anything, so I do not know anything about them.

MS FILKIN: I see. Do you think that there is anywhere else?

MS FERNANDES: As I said, I do not know anything about Wildberry.

MS FILKIN: Right. So you have not used it as a company for printing work other than the ones I have referred to, ie invitations for events or posters for events or any of the events that we have talked about, you did not use Wildberry to print those items?

MR PATHAN: I do not know, I do not think so. I could not say because Mr Mahmoud would deal with that. I do not think it was because I cannot remember Wildberry. I would remember Wildberry or something.

MS FILKIN: I am getting to the end, you will be pleased to hear. This is just me doing checking. You have been the sole shareholder of Mapesbury Communications throughout its life, that is correct, is it not?

MS FERNANDES: That is right.

MS FILKIN: Thank you. Mr Pathan, could I understand properly your connection with the company. You have been an employee and a director.

MR PATHAN: That is right.

MS FILKIN: Could you tell me over the time period you were an employee and the time period over which you were a director?

MR PATHAN: I think I was an employee sometime in 1998. 1998 sometime.

MS FILKIN: Just 1998?

MR PATHAN: No, it could be 1998/99, something like that. I remember I came and we had a dispute with Mr Mahmoud because I said to him "I want to be involved too" and then I went off. Then I came and I became a director.

MS FILKIN: When did you become a director?

MR PATHAN: I cannot remember. I am sure it is easily available, this information.

MS FILKIN: Thank you. If you can confirm to me those dates I would be grateful. You resigned early this year. What prompted you to resign as a director?

MR PATHAN: Well, Mr Mahmoud died. There was no future now for this company. What Mr Mahmoud promised me was we wanted to take this. I know it was in Maria's name, or Maria was a director or something, but Mr Mahmoud said "this is going to be our company, we are going to take it over" because I was a director and he was going to become the director or something, I do not know what you have to do. We wanted to change it into an internet company. That was what the whole idea was, that was what we were working to. Then he suddenly died and there was no future, there was nothing left to follow it.

MS FILKIN: That was what prompted you to resign at the point you did?

MR PATHAN: Yes, there was no other reason.

MS FILKIN: When did he die?

MR PATHAN: He died in late October, October/November sometime.

MS FILKIN: 2000?


MS FILKIN: Could you take me through the staff who were actually employed by Mapesbury Communications over what period. You have talked about yourself being employed in those two years, can you recall other staff who were employed? Was Mr Mahmoud employed?

MR PATHAN: I do not think so. He used to draw expenses, something like that. I do not think he was employed or anything.

MS FILKIN: Was anybody else employed as a member of staff?

MR PATHAN: Someone may have been, of course.

MS FILKIN: Pardon?

MR PATHAN: He must have employed someone to do some work, to do secretarial work or something.

MS FILKIN: Can you recall who those people were?

MR PATHAN: I wrote something down, Laura Coco as an employee.


MR PATHAN: That is the one I recall.

MS FILKIN: That is the only one you recall?



MR PATHAN: But, I mean, he may have taken on casual staff to do things.

MS FILKIN: Nobody else who was long-term?

MR PATHAN: I cannot remember, no.

MS FILKIN: When was Laura Coco an employee?

MR PATHAN: I do not know the precise dates, sorry. I do not know the precise dates or anything.


MR PATHAN: I was there in 1988 - sorry, not 1988, 1998. I think 1998 sometime, yes.

MS FILKIN: Did any of the staff from your law practice do work for Mapesbury?

MS FERNANDES: No. As I said, my firm was operating completely independently of Mapesbury.

MS FILKIN: Could you explain to me Mr David Goulding's relationship to Mapesbury?

MS FERNANDES: I do not know who David Goulding is.

MR PATHAN: No, I do not know who David Goulding is.

MS FILKIN: You have never had contact with a David Goulding?

MS FERNANDES: Not to my knowledge.


MS FILKIN: Have you?

MR PATHAN: I have not personally, no.

MS FILKIN: And the name does not mean anything to you?

MR PATHAN: I do not know. There may be someone but I have not had contact with Mr David Goulding. Who is Mr David Goulding?

MS FILKIN: He was somebody who appeared to be operating from Mapesbury at one period of time, but I am checking whether this is true. This is another person with whom my position is the same. Can I check whether you have ever employed somebody called Mary Matin?

MS FERNANDES: Are you straying on to ---- I think we are now talking about other areas, are we?

MS FILKIN: I am in some difficulty, I do not know whether we are, we may be. What I am trying to ascertain is who was employing different people for different activities and which of these ----

MS FERNANDES: How does that relate to Mapesbury?

MS FILKIN: Well, I do not know, that is why I am asking the question. Did you ever employ anybody called Mary Matin?


MS FILKIN: You have never employed anybody of that name?


MS FILKIN: Her name has been given variously to me as Mary Martin or Mary Ahmed. Have you employed anybody, Mary, with those surnames?


MS FILKIN: No. Does that person's name mean anything to you in any other capacity?


MS FILKIN: Oh, I see.

MS FERNANDES: I know Mary quite well.

MS FILKIN: I see. What capacity do you know her in?

MS FERNANDES: I know her as a friend.


MS FERNANDES: She is a very good friend.

MS FILKIN: But not as an employee in any form?

MS FERNANDES: No, she is not an employee.

MS FILKIN: No. Did you, through Mapesbury Communications or, indeed, through your practice, because then I will be able to clear it out of the way, help her with her immigration issues?


MS FILKIN: So you have never done work for her?


MS FILKIN: In any capacity. Thank you. Various people have mentioned "Mr Vaz's public relations company" and that is why I have been besetting you, I am sorry to say, with questions about your company, Mapesbury. It struck me that I had better ask is there another company, another public relations company, that Mr Vaz is involved in?

MR FERNANDES: No, not that I know of, but you will have to ask him.

MS FILKIN: Of course. I just thought "oh, dear, perhaps I have been focusing on the wrong company", so I thought it better to ask you that and, of course, I shall ask him that question. I am pleased to tell you that I am coming to my very last question, and I am sorry about this. Is there anything else that now you have heard my, and I do agree, sometimes general or vague questions to try to pinpoint something, get answers from you, has alerted you to anything else that you think you could tell me to make sure that I have got a full picture of the sorts of things that Mapesbury Communications was doing, any connections of any kind with Mr Vaz and any connections in whatsoever with the Hindujas?



MS FILKIN: Thank you. I am very grateful to you for being so patient with me, thank you.

MS FERNANDES: Now a full note has been taken ----

MS FILKIN: And you will get it immediately it comes out from the House of Commons ----

MS FERNANDES: Will I be able to get a copy of the questions you have asked?

MS FILKIN: They will all be in there.

MR FERNANDES: The questions will?

MS FILKIN: It will be complete. What I do with that is ----

MR PATHAN: Is this a tape recorder?

MS FILKIN: It is a House of Commons' shorthand taker.

MR PATHAN: Not a tape?

MS FILKIN: And a tape, yes.

MR PATHAN: We were taped, were we?

MS FILKIN: Yes, so that she gets it absolutely correct.

SHORTHAND WRITER: It is a back up for me.

MS FILKIN: It is a back up for the shorthand writer.

MS FERNANDES: Ah, right. You did not tell me at the start of the meeting about the tape.

MR PATHAN: We were not told that we were being taped.


MS FERNANDES: You did not tell me at the start of the meeting that you were actually taping. I think in your complaints procedure you actually say if you are taping people you offer them an opportunity to decide whether they are going to be taped or not.

MS FILKIN: That is for MPs, yes.

MR PATHAN: You do not tell us about taping?

MS FILKIN: I am sorry, why I said "here is my note taker" here and that this was all in front of you was because I wanted you to know that. That was why I said it, to avoid doubt.

MR PATHAN: All right.

MS FILKIN: She only takes the tape recording for her benefit, it is not for any other benefit.

MS FERNANDES: She is taking a shorthand note and I am sure that it is a very accurate record.

MS FILKIN: It is, they are wonderful, the House of Commons' shorthand takers, but they always take a tape as well because they want to be accurate. I hope I can reassure you in the following way: they are very quick and efficient and they tend to produce the transcript of this from their notes and if they are unclear, or if a person's word is unclear from their tape, within about three days, I do nothing with that other than send it to you.

MS FERNANDES: What, the note or the tape?

MS FILKIN: The note complete.

MS FERNANDES: What happens to the tape?

MS FILKIN: They destroy the tapes, they use them again. The tape is for their benefit.

MS FERNANDES: Right. Is that standard procedure?

MS FILKIN: Yes, in the House of Commons.

MS FERNANDES: Is that what you have been following throughout?

MS FILKIN: It is what I follow whenever I think the matter is complicated and I have got to ask people a lot of questions, because what I want to do is make an absolutely accurate record.

MS FERNANDES: I appreciate that.

MS FILKIN: Could I just finish?

MS FERNANDES: It is just that I must say I am a bit put out that you have taped the whole meeting and you did not give me that opportunity ----

MR PATHAN: We thought the note when you said ----

MS FERNANDES: ---- to tell me that that was being taped. I might not have objected. Frankly speaking, I would have had I known at the start that you were taping me because I understood this was an informal meeting, but then to get to the end of the meeting and to discover that I have been taped and it is for some other purposes, I do not think it is fair to me actually as a third party.

MS FILKIN: I do apologise. Do let me explain. Why I introduced the note taker, with her tape beside her and her microphone in front of you, was so that you knew that I was taking a full note of this meeting. The tape recording of this meeting is to assist the note taker only. You will get the full record of her note. She uses the tape to check that she has got you accurately on that record. I send that to you with a letter that says "please would you correct this" and that does mean if you get it and there is anything in it that you have afterwards found is wrong that you can correct it.

MS FERNANDES: It is very difficult to correct something that I have

not ---- This is on tape at the moment and I ----

MR PATHAN: I think when you introduced her you said "this is the note taker".

MS FILKIN: Absolutely.

MR PATHAN: So we thought "the note taker is there". I did see a microphone but because you said it was a note taker we thought "yes, it is a note taker".

MS FERNANDES: There is no need to correct what is a transcript of a tape. What you are saying basically ----

MS FILKIN: There is for me because all I am interested in is your considered answers to my questions. I am not interested in catching you out. I am not interested in using what you have said which you afterwards think "wait a minute, I wonder if that was quite right" and you go back to your books or look them up and find out that it was not. What I am interested in is having your considered answers to those questions, that is all. I do not want to give the wrong impression at all. That is why the note, the full note, is then sent to you for you to correct, and I do not use the note until it is corrected by you.


MS FILKIN: You are welcome, if you wish, to have the tape. You can have it if that is of any use to you.

MS FERNANDES: We would like a copy.

MS FILKIN: You can have the tape because we do not keep a copy of it. It is only for the shorthand taker to make sure it is accurate.

MR PATHAN: I am sorry we are concerned about it, it is just that when you introduced her you said "the note taker" and we said "the note taker, that is fine" because we took out our notebooks and we were making notes.

MS FILKIN: That is my mistake and I do apologise. I thought that because this machinery was on the table that was obvious. I do apologise, I should have been fuller about that from what you have said to me. I hope I have now reassured you as to the purpose to that and to say to you if you want the tape we can give it to you. It is only done to make sure that we have got a correct record of what you say. It is exactly the same process, it is exactly the same company that do it, as when you gave your evidence to the Committee. It is exactly the same, it is no different. It is the House of Commons' shorthand takers who take everything that goes through the House of Commons, it is no different from that. What I will do is I will send you a copy and please correct it in any way you think fit. If there is anything in it that afterwards you think "well, I would prefer that that was not used", please suggest that to me and if I do not need to use it to inform the Committee I will not use it. Indeed, I can always request the Committee to not use information and they do not use information publicly if they think that there is no good reason in the public interest to use it. What I have to warn you is that I cannot ever say what they will think is in the public interest. I have to give them a full, as best I can, account when I have made a decision as to what they need to know. You are welcome to make those suggestions to me if there is anything of that nature. I have to say that from your very open answers I have not been struck that there might be anything like that. You have not done what some people do, which is to tell me personal matters as an aside and, of course, I would then take those out because that would not be relevant. Obviously if anything strikes you like that please do suggest it because I am not wishing to do anything other than get a full and accurate picture. You ought to get that transcript by the middle of next week at the latest. I will send it if that is still correct, perhaps you can confirm for me, to your * * * address?

MS FERNANDES: Yes, please.

MS FILKIN: That is right. And where shall I send yours, Mr Pathan?

MR PATHAN: To Savant House, yes, please.

MS FILKIN: That is the Camden address.

MR PATHAN: That is right, yes.

MS FILKIN: Then, if you would not mind, if I could trouble you to, as quickly as you are able, correct it and send it back to me.


MS FILKIN: Write on it and send it back to me.

MR PATHAN: You must understand, I have to get out and earn some money and do another job and I am sure Maria has to run her own practice.

MS FILKIN: Absolutely.

MR PATHAN: That is why if there is a delay or something like that, it is because we have to come back to this and then get time out and report to you and tell you what is happening. That is why if there is a delay or if there is something we will get back to you but we have to get on with our daily lives too.

MS FILKIN: Of course, I fully understand that. You will know from when we started this discussion and I started by writing to you and asking you questions that what I was trying to do was to get the matter settled. I am still trying to get it settled. I do not want it to drag on, I am sure you do not want it to drag on and I am perfectly sure Mr Vaz does not want it to drag on, and I totally share that view. What I would like to do is to draw a line under all of this and this is why I want to be very careful that there are no loose ends that anybody can pick up. That is why I am trying to make sure that we have got an absolutely full picture and I do not get to that situation before I report to the Committee. So the sooner you are able to let me have any other bits of information that you think of, or corrections, I would be grateful. Okay?

MS FERNANDES: Thank you very much.

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2002
Prepared 8 February 2002