Unsurprisingly, Ms. Hudson informed me that she would not start an inquiry into Mr. Vaz's perceived undeclared interests.
Ms. Hudson labelled her letter "Private and Confidential" and I respect that. so far as it's possible, in my reply to her.
To cut to the chase I think the period which is relevant for declaration of interests includes Keith Vaz's employment by Richmond Council and Islington Council in the 1980s and his 1991 attempt to change the Law to suppress allegations of child abuse.
Here is my letter of today's date to Kathryn Hudson.
It's a bit turgid. But hopefully she will agree that in the exceptional circumstances of the UK Child Abuse Inquiry Mr. Vaz's interests in the 1980s and in 1991 should have been declared.
12th November 2014
To:Kathryn HudsonParliamentary Commissioner for StandardsDear Ms. Hudson,
Your Ref: PCS 277Undeclared Interests by Keith Vaz MP
Thank you for your letter of 10th November 2014 regarding Mr. Vaz.
I note that you consider that an inquiry into Mr. Vaz’s conduct is not required.
I write to ask you to consider whether on any or all of the following grounds you misdirected yourself and as a result arrived at an incorrect decision.
- You are incorrect in saying that there is “not sufficient evidence” to justify an inquiry. It seems to me that the issues at hand relate to how the Rules should be interpreted, not an insufficiency of evidence
- With respect to the time of Mr. Vaz’s employment you applied the wrong test, in that you failed adequately to consider the meaning of the word “normally” and its application to the exceptional circumstances of the UK Child Abuse Inquiry.
- With respect to the time period to which the test applies you applied the wrong test in that you considered the time period to apply to the date of the Select Committee hearing rather than the date of the issues being considered by the Select Committee.“Not sufficient evidence”
You informed me that your view was that there was not sufficient evidence.
Given that contention I ask you to tell me what further evidence you wish to see.
Wrong test – exceptional circumstances
I refer you to the third paragraph of your letter where it is stated that “normally” a period of 12 months is relevant. The presence of the word “normally” indicates that circumstances may, exceptionally, exist where the 12 month convention is not the applicable one.
I ask you to consider the wholly exceptional circumstances of the child abuse inquiry and the period which it covers.
It seems to me that the citcumstances which apply are exceptional rendering the 12 month convention visibly inappropriate.
I ask you to give careful consideration to the exceptional circumstances of the Child Abuse Inquiry and to consider whether interests in the 1980s and 1990s should be declared.
Wrong test – period of the subject of inquiry
In deciding the period to which the 12 month convention applies, you implicitly applied it to the date on which the Select Committee sat.
In many cases it is, of course, immaterial whether the relevant date is the date on which the committee sat or the period of the subject matter to which the Select Committee directed its attention.
The UK Child Abuse Inquiry is to consider matters dating back to 1970 or thereby.
Mr. Vaz’s periods of employment, respectively with Richmond Council and Islington Council, are within the period which the Child Abuse Inquiry will consider.
Similar considerations apply to Mr. Vaz’s attempt in 1991 to change the Law to suppress child abuse allegations made in open court.
Therefore, I put it to you that Mr. Vaz’s interests are contemporary to the matters at hand.
Those interests should, therefore, have been declared.
This letter is a public document.
I will place a copy on my UK Child Abuse Inquiry blog: http://ukchildabuseinquiry.blogspot.co.uk/
To the extent possible I have in this letter tried to minimise references to the content of your letter of 10th November which you designated as Private and Confidential.
Action requested of you
I ask that you carefully review your refusal to hold an inquiry into Mr. Vaz’s perceived undeclared interests, not least considering
- what additional evidence you wish to see (if it exists),
- whether in the exceptional circumstances of the Child Abuse Inquiry natural justice requires that you waive the 12 month limit and
- whether you applied the wrong test with respect to the time period to which the obligation of declaration applies i.e. the time to which the obligation to declare applies should be the time period which the Child Abuse Inquiry will cover i.e. 1970 to date.I look forward to your reply.
(Dr) Andrew Watt