Monday, 3 November 2014
Keith Vaz must make a public statement on his past if he is to continue as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee
In it I ask him to, at a minimum, make a public statement about his past employment and actions which seem to me to be directly relevant to the matters to be considered by the UK Child Abuse Inquiry.
Mr. Vaz has rightly demanded demanded transparency from Fiona Woolf.
I believe it is right that Mr. Vaz too should be totally transparent about his own past associations. For Mr. Vaz to refuse to be transparent would be hypocritical in the extreme, as I say in the letter.
I am in discussion with the office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards with respect to Mr. Vaz’s conduct.
My opinion is that Mr. Vaz broke Parliamentary rules when he didn’t declare his past personal associations relevant to child abuse and to the child abuse inquiry.
A decision on that is, formally, for the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.
However, there is also the matter of public confidence in Mr. Vaz. Why, given that he is a solicitor, did he not declare these associations when the Home Affairs Select Committee took evidence from Mark Sedwill, Theresa May and Fiona Woolf?
I watched each of those three evidence sessions live and I have no recollection of Mr. Vaz declaring these associations as interests.
To the best of my understanding these remain undeclared interests.
Mr. Vaz needs to explain his silence on these matters, in my opinion.
Here is the text of the letter of 1st November to Mr. Vaz.
1st November 2014ToKeith Vaz MP, Home Affairs Select CommitteeDear Mr. Vaz,
Undeclared personal interests regarding child abuseRequest for public statement
It seems to me that you have undeclared interests which have the potential materially to undermine any credibility you might otherwise have to chair confirmation hearings with respect to the UK Child Abuse Inquiry.
I write to ask that you make a public statement about these undeclared personal interests.
I further ask that you consider your position as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, at a minimum recusing yourself from playing any part in the proposed confirmation hearings for a replacement for Lady Butler-Sloss and Mrs. Woolf.
The three issues of concern
There are three personal interests which relate to you which, it seems to me, could impact on any credibility you might otherwise have:
- Your past employment as a solicitor with Richmond Council
- Your past employment as a senior solicitor with Islington Council
- Your attempt in 1991 to change the Law with respect to allegations of child abuse made in open courtPast employment with Richmond Council
I understand that in the early 1980s you were employed as a solicitor by Richmond Council.
You are likely aware that it is alleged that a Richmond Council children’s home supplied boys to the Elm Guest House.
I ask that you make a full public statement as to whether, while employed by Richmond Council, you had any knowledge of child abuse allegations or took any action on behalf of Richmond Council which might have had the effect of suppressing public awareness of child abuse allegations.
Past employment with Islington Council
I understand that in the mid 1980s you were employed as a senior solicitor with Islington Council.
You are likely aware that there are allegations of cover-up by Islington Council, or comparable failures by Islington Council, with respect to widespread child abuse.
I ask that you make a full public statement as to whether, while employed by Islington Council, you had any knowledge of child abuse allegations or took any action on behalf of Islington Council which might have had the effect of suppressing public awareness of child abuse allegations.
Attempt to change the Law following Greville Janner allegations
In 1991 allegations were made in open court that the then MP Greville Janner had acted improperly with children.
In the House of Commons you subsequently sought to change the Law to suppress public awareness of any such allegations of child abuse by important people made in open court.
The full text in Hansard is online here:
The predictable effect of your attempt to change the Law is, in my estimation, to suppress child abuse allegations.
It seems to me that your attempt to change the Law in 1991 is a matter you should declare as a personal interest and that you should also make a public statement regarding that matter.
I suggest that the statement should cover what steps you took to establish whether or not there was any basis for the allegations about Mr. Janner. You will, I imagine, be aware that the Police have continued to investigate the matter in 2013 and 2014.
How was it possible for you to know that those future accused were “innocent”? It seems to me that you had no rational basis for such a conclusion.
The change in the Law that you sought to make would predicably protect the guilty, in my estimation.
How could you fairly refer to those making future allegations of child abuse by important persons as “unscrupulous people”?
It seems to me that you were prejudging the character of any victims of child abuse who might have the courage to express their traumas in the already intimidating atmosphere of a Court of Law.
Did you contact or influence Police re Janner allegations?
In addition to the three undeclared personal interests I wish to ask you about your contact with the Police in relation to the allegations of child abuse made agaisnt Mr. Janner.
Chief Constable Mick Creedon has indicated that the Greville Janner investigation was closed down by more senior officers.
Your praise for Greville Janner was unstinting in the “Contempt of Court” debate in the House of Commons.
Was your support for Mr. Janner limited to your words in the House of Commons?
Did you at any time contact the Police regarding the allegations relating to Mr. Janner?
Did you at any time act in a way which might give rise to concern that you sought to influence the Police investigation of the allegations relating to Mr. Janner?
You are reported as having contacted Leicestershire Police in 2001 re the matter relating to Eileen Egginton.
Did you contact the Police in 1991 regarding the child abuse allegations relating to Mr. Janner?
Your awareness of the three issues
It seems to me that you have deliberately remained silent on the three issues.
In July 2014 I made contact with you via Twitter asking that you address the three issues relating to your past employment and conduct.
Any or all of those issues could directly bear on the credibility of the needed independence in your role as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee.
At the same time I placed on my Focussing on Uncomfortable Quality Questions blog, http://fuqq.eu, a blog post entitled FUQQ.EU: Keith Vaz MP Why did Keith Vaz try to change the Law to conceal allegations of child abuse?
I can identify no step you took to declare these personal interests following my contacting you.
The only action I can identify is the following. According to Twitter, you have blocked my ability to retweet your tweets. I understand that to do so takes conscious action on your part.
The need for full declaration of interests
It seems to me that the prospect of confirmation hearings with respect to a replacement for Fiona Woolf makes it absolutely essential that the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee is beyond reproach.
Accordingly, I ask you as a matter of urgency to make a public statement regarding the three issues I raise with you as well as the question about whether you contacted the Police in 1991.
I have listened live to the sessions that the Home Affairs Select Committee has had with Mark Sedwill, Theresa May and Fiona Woolf.
To the best of my recollection you did you not declare the perceived personal interests.In the requested public statement I ask you to explain why you did not declare these interests.
It seems to me that in a context where you have grilled Fiona Woolf in detail about her actions your silence on these undeclared personal interests is hypocritical in the extreme.
It seems to me that you have three undeclared personal interests relating to the matters that a credible child abuse inquiry might consider:
- Your employment as a solicitor by Richmond Council
- Your employment as a senior solicitor by Islington Council
- Your attempt to change the Law to suppress child abuse allegationsI ask that you make a public statement about these undeclared personal interests without further delay.
I also ask that you carefully consider whether you can credibly chair the Home Affairs Select Committee in relation inter alia any confirmation hearing for the Chair of the UK Child Abuse Inquiry.
This letter is a public document.
I will publish a copy of it on my UK Child Abuse Inquiry blog:
When I send the letter I will ask the Clerk to the Home Affairs Select Committee to ensure that this letter is distributed to each member of the Home Affairs Select Committee since the matters I raise have the potential to impact the credibility of the whole Committee regarding any confirmation hearings.
I am also copying the letter to Chief Constable Simon Cole of Leicestershire Police since, unlike me, he is in a position independently to check any answer that you may give to the fourth issue I raise with you.
I anticipate raising these matters in a submission to the UK Child Abuse Inquiry. Chief Constable Cole may wish to send any relevant information to the Inquiry.
I am also copying this letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for information and assessment.
I have no objection to your replying privately to me but I’m of the firm opinon that you must make a public statement on these undeclared interests.
(Dr) Andrew Watt