Filkin fires parting shot at Vaz for 'collusion over Hinduja payments'

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The former Foreign Office minister Keith Vaz, is facing fresh criticism over his business dealings from Elizabeth Filkin, the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. He is accused of colluding with his wife, Maria Fernandes, to hide payments made to her law firm by the Hinduja brothers.

Ms Filkin, in one of her final reports before she leaves in February, says payments totalling more than £3,000 were made to Ms Fernandes's legal practice on the "same or related" immigration cases as those pursued by Mr Vaz before he became a minister.

The Leicester East MP was not obliged to register the money and made "no direct personal benefit" from them, Ms Filkin stressed. But she says he should have been open about the payments.

Her report is said to have concluded: "It is clear to me that there has been deliberate collusion, over many months, between Mr Vaz and his wife to conceal this fact and to prevent me from obtaining accurate information about his possible financial relationship with the Hinduja family."

Ms Filkin is understood to have upheld two other complaints against Mr Vaz, one relating to donations from a company owned by the Labour peer Lord Paul, and the other over his failure to register several months' employment with the Leicester Law Centre after he became an MP in 1987.

The former minister could find himself under renewed pressure if her report is endorsed by the Commons' Standards and Privileges Select Committee. In a previous investigation into his affairs, Ms Filkin upheld one complaint but dropped others after he refused to co-operate with her inquiry.

Mr Vaz refused to comment on Ms Filkin's latest findings. He described them as a draft memorandum, not a final report. He was dogged earlier this year by allegations linking him to the billionaire Hindujas and left the Government after the June general election.

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