File note by the Parliamentary Commissioner
On receipt of the Chairman's letter and having received
the fax copy of my letter, Mr Vaz asked to see me at 6:00 p.m.
Mr Vaz was friendly and helpful throughout the meeting. He said
on several occasions that he was very keen to co-operate and to
co-operate fully. He said he was sorry that there had been so
many difficulties. I suggested we drew a line under the previous
inquiry and started off by putting that behind us. I assured Mr
Vaz that my only concern was to get correct and accurate facts
* * *
Mr Vaz assured me that he had not been running the
story about Michael Honey to the newspapers. I said I fully accepted
that as he and I both knew what we had said to each other about
his time in Richmond.
He said his wife has been particularly incensed by
the suggestion that Mr Zaiwalla might have made payments to Mapesbury
Communications, * * * and he certainly had not made any payments.
Mr Vaz said he did not intend to have any further contact with
Mr Zaiwalla in the future because of everything which had happened.
Mr Vaz told me of his mother's illness and how upset
she had been in seeing these matters running on television.
Mr Vaz had provided some of his answers to the questions
in his letter to the Chairman and undertook to go away and search
for all the other items and let me have them. He asked whether
he could provide all the answers direct to me and I drew his attention
to the letter which the Chairman had sent to him, suggesting that
that was what he should do.
He said that he was trying to track down the volunteer
who had run the event in question and then he would be able to
answer the questions more precisely. He said it was some six years
ago and he had been involved in various other spiritual events
with Swami Vaswami, over the years, but he thought that he co-sponsored
this event with Nirj Deva. Mr Vaz said that, when he tracked down
this volunteer, he would be able to provide me with precise information.
He said he was working with his wife to look at the
details of this event and he hoped that she would help him to
find this information but he did not want anybody to think that
he was the person running the company. I said I was clear that
it was her company and I was glad that she was helping him find
this information. He asked me whether there was any other information
I required and I said that I had only put to him the allegation
which was supported with evidence and that was what I had tried
to do throughout. However, I said that, as he was aware, various
other allegations concerning the Hindujas payments to him had
been circulating and I did know of some of them. I therefore said
that he should bear that in mind while the records of the company
were being scrutinised and try to draw a line under this enquiry
by providing me with full information of any payment to him or
to his wife's company which was in any way connected with the
Hinduja family or the Hinduja Foundation, otherwise I was fearful
that these allegations might surface again. He said he accepted
this and said he would do his best and that he would try to provide
as complete answers as he could.
He said that one of the problems was that the information
might not be there because of the age, etc. I said I fully understood
that and that, if that turned out to be the case, he should say
so. He said he did not wish to ask his mother for any information,
who had been secretary of this company for a period of time, because
of her illness.
I asked him whether the records which has been referred
to as being in the garage of the person who died, Mr Mahmoud,
had come to light. He said those were not available and that none
had been found.
Mr Vaz informed me that the payment which related
to the reception was to cover a range of costs which had been
paid by Mapesbury Communications for food and refreshments. I
explained that it was important that those items were itemised
to show that what had been covered, was only cost and that there
had been no payment to the company other than that. Mr Vaz said
he understood the issue.
We also talked about trying to get some clarity about
whether or not Mr Vaz has received any benefit whatsoever from
Mapesbury Communications. Mr Vaz said that he has received no
benefit whatsoever and no payment from Mapesbury. I drew his attention
to the fact that, sometimes, assets of the company are used to
benefit other people, for example cars, telephones, heating, lighting
if a home is used as an office. I suggested he think about that
carefully and if that was the case, that he put that in the letter
of reply to me.
I stressed that he should make his letter as full
and as detailed as he possibly could and if he could do that,
I would not need to come back to him and I would be able to process
the matter quickly. I said that, if was able to get satisfactory
information on all these matters, I would of course report it
to the Committee at the earliest possible time, which would be
Tuesday of next week.
Mr Vaz concluded by stressing his intention to be
fully co-operative and provide me with full information and I
thanked him for this.
Mr Vaz then said that it was quite difficult to be
clear about what benefits should be registered. He had taken advice
from the Registrar of Members' Interests and he wanted to check
it with me. He checked with me what hospitality was registerable.
He then asked me whether, if he had received a loan from his mother
to pay his solicitor's bills which had been considerable, whether
he should register that. I said that, if it was a concessionary
loan and it was given to him entirely as mother-to-son it would
not be registerable, but if it related in any way to his activities
as a Member of Parliament, that my advice would be to register
it. I said that I believed that a concessionary loan to cover
the costs of his solicitors during this enquiry would certainly
be wise for him to register.
Mr Vaz said that he thought that we should run seminars
for "old" Members as well as for "new" Members
because the rules were very complicated.
* * *