Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex i28

Letter to Ms Maria Fernandes from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

I am sorry to have to write to you again but since I have had no reply to my letter of 1 October I am writing to you to request your outstanding replies. As I explained in that letter I need to inform the Standards and Privileges Committee on 23 October of my progress with this inquiry. Some of the matters on which I need your assistance are outstanding from my letter to you of 14 May and our meeting on 4 July so I do need to stress the urgency of this matter.

As a reminder I set out the matters on which I still need your response:

    1.  From our meeting on 4 July 2001

      You felt that, as you were bound by your duty of confidentiality to your clients, you could not confirm or correct the information I put to you about work you had undertaken in your legal practice for the Hinduja brothers, their family or others related to the Hinduja foundation or business. I asked you to seek the permission of any relevant clients to allow you to answer my question. You asked me to write to you with this request and I did so on 10 July 2001 when I said: "So that I have a complete picture of all your transactions with the Hinduja brothers, the Hinduja businesses and Foundation I would be grateful if you would approach any client who is connected in any way with the Hinduja brothers, businesses or Foundation to seek their agreement to disclose to me a list of the activities carried out for them with dates and the payment received for each piece of work."

      On 6 August you wrote to me to say you were taking advice on my request concerning the clients of your law firm and would respond as soon as you had done this. You have not done so.

      In that letter I also itemised the information which you had offered to try to obtain for me as follows some of which Mr Pathan has provided (see paragraph 3) —

      "  Mapesbury Communications

      1.  The dates which relate to the history of the company and show the activities it was engaged in throughout its life.

      2.  A list of all the events which Mapesbury Communications organised with dates.

      3.  Details of the work which the company carried out for the Asian Business Network and the events organised for the Network.

      4.  The payments made by the company to Wildberry printers with dates.

      5.  The dates during which Mr Pathan was a director of Mapesbury Communications.

      6.  The amounts paid in salaries and fees to directors and employees for each year.

      7.  The rent paid each year to Acacia Holdings in respect of Savant House or any other property occupied at any time by Mapesbury Communications.

      In addition, the answers to the questions set out in my letter of 14 May 2001 which are outstanding are as follows:

      8.  The period covered by the list which you provided to The Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee with your letter of 10th May headed "List of clients, events and payments in and out in the knowledge of the directors of the company".

      9.  As you have confirmed that the list "should not be considered conclusive", would you kindly inform me of the total amount in round numbers covered by the entries on the list, with dates, and the total income received by the company in each of the years covered by the list?"

      On 4 September you returned the transcript of our meeting and informed me in your letter that your brother in law had not been a director of Wildberry.

    2.  Additional questions in letter of 10 September 2001

      On 10 September 2001 I wrote to you to ask you the following further questions:

      In response to the point you had made about proceedings you were taking I said;

      "As I said when we met I do not wish to jeopardise the proceedings you are undertaking in any way. As I do not know anything of those proceedings other than hearing from you that they are in progress I would be grateful if you would let me know which matters covered in the transcript might be subject to those proceedings. Please would inform me when the proceedings are complete."

      You have provided no response on this matter.

      I went on to ask you at 3. to explain the discrepancy between the information I had received about representations made by you on behalf of Mrs Matin and the information you gave me on 4 July. You have provided no response on this mater.

      I also asked you to expand and clarify your answers about the winding up of Mapesbury as I understood that a stay had been put on the process. You have provided no response on this matter.

      I also invited you to correct the information you had provided on these two matters on 4 July if you felt that was necessary.

    3.  Provision of information by Mr Pathan

      Mr Pathan, on your behalf, has provided some information on the outstanding matters concerning Mapesbury in his letters of 30 August, 14 September, 27 September and 5 October 2001 but some answers remain outstanding or are incomplete:

      He said in his letter of 30 August that he was a director of Mapesbury from 1 April 1999-31 January 2001 which answered question 5 from my letter of 10 July.

      I wrote again to Mr Pathan on 13 September setting out the questions which remained unanswered. Mr Pathan provided the rent figure for the premises in Camden in his letter of 14 September.

      I wrote again to Mr Pathan on 25 September spelling out again the information which remained outstanding.

      Mr Pathan replied on 27 September saying he was preparing the estimate of the total amount and the period covered by the list provided to the Chairman of the Standards and Privileges Committee on 10 May. I wrote to Mr Pathan on 8 October to try to conclude these matters.

      On 10 October I received a letter from Mr Pathan dated 4 October 2001 in which he repeated earlier replies.

    4.  Answers which remain outstanding

      As of today the following answers remain outstanding or incomplete. From my letter of 10 July the request concerning your clients' permission to disclose information to me and questions 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9 and those from my letter of 10 September, which I have set out above for convenience.

I would be grateful if you would let me have your response on all these matters as soon as possible as I find it difficult to understand why a period of three months is insufficient to obtain any of this information or the necessary authorisation from your clients. In any event please would you let me have your reply by Friday 19 October at the latest so that I may report accurately to the Standards and Privileges Committee.

I would of course be happy to discuss these matters on the telephone if you would prefer that.

11 October 2001

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