Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex ii5A

Information provided by Mrs Rita Gresty, prepared by Ms Eileen Eggington QPM, 15 February 2001

Information provided by: Rita Gloria Gresty

Mapesbury Public Relations & Asian Business Network (ABN)

Mapesbury PR was in existence in August 1998. Maria Fernandes, wife of Keith Vaz, owned it but she had no staff. Rita was aware that Hanif Pathan, Indian, aged about 32 years, was a director and he seemed to be the only person actively involved in the PR side of the business. Rita did not handle any accounts or correspondence but believes that Maria employed a Chinese accountant. She read in the newspapers about three weeks ago that Mr Pathan had resigned as Director.

In about October 1998 Rita took minutes of a meeting held under the auspics of Mapesbury PR at Coleridge House, 415 Coleridge Gardens, NW6. Maria Fernandes and Hanif Pathan ran the meeting, which was about a forthcoming trip by MPs, including Keith Vaz, to Belgium. The MPs wished to try to stop illegal importation to cheap alcohol and cigarettes because it was affecting the businesses of Asian newsagents. Rita does not know if the trip took place.

A man called David Golding used a rented office at Coleridge House as an accommodation address. He picked up post from there. Rita saw post addressed to him. She has not met him but has spoken to him on the telephone. He has a distinguished English accent. NB: Enquiries show that this address is associated with the Asian Business Network (ABN). Both David Golding and Hanif Pathan are contacts for ABN. Keith Vaz has declared his interest as Honorary President of ABN.

Rita was under the impression that David Golding was a civil servant, probably working in the Immigration Department. Keith Vaz used to come into the office daily when Maria's office was in their * * * home. She overheard conversations, which led her to believe that 'David' could expedite visa applications. About the beginning of 1999, she specifically remembers hearing Keith Vaz talking on the telephone about, what appeared to be a visa problem. Keith Vaz said, "phone David and he'll sort it out quickly".

In November 1998 Hanif Pathan, under the auspices of Mapesbury PR, organised a "Work Permits for Chefs Seminar" at Millbank Tower. Maria Fernandes hosted the event and the guest speaker was Barbara Roche. Rita had to compile the guest list. Keith Vaz sat down with her in the * * * office, going through the Egon Ronay Restaurant Guide. He picked out all the Indian and Nepalese restaurants and Rita sent out the invitations.

Rita helped out at the Seminar. She saw that literature advertising Fernandes Vaz immigration and visa services was prominently displayed. Maria Fernandes gained a lot of new business from that seminar. The Department of Education took part in the seminar. They too brought literature but it was not prominently displayed.

Prepared by Eileen M Eggington, 15 February 2001

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Prepared 8 February 2002