Standards committee to criticise Vaz

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Indy Politics

Keith Vaz, the former Foreign Office minister, is facing a reprimand from the powerful Standards and Privileges Committee for failing to cooperate fully with an official inquiry into his business dealings.

In a report due out shortly, the committee of MPs is expected to criticise him for failing to give Elizabeth Filkin, the outgoing Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, free and immediate access to information relating to her investigation.

The committee has studied a report by Mrs Filkin in which she says Mr Vaz "colluded" to prevent her obtaining information about his dealings with the Hinduja brothers, the Indian industrialists. The Standards and Privileges Committee is expected to formally record its unease at Mr Vaz's unhelpful behaviour.

Although the MP is expected to be cleared by Mrs Filkin of failing to register payments from the Hindujas, a suggestion the former minister did not fully cooperate will provide further embarrassment.

This will be the second time Mr Vaz has been criticised for failing to give his total cooperation to a sleaze inquiry.

MPs on the committee issued a sharp rebuke to Mr Vaz in a previous report for obstructing Mrs Filkin's investigations and failing to fully answer questions.

A second reprimand for Mr Vaz for failing to cooperate with the House of Commons authorities will also embarrass Tony Blair who has stood by the former minister.

The report is likely to be last major work by Mrs Filkin who has accused MPs of undermining her.

Mr Vaz, the MP for Leicester East, is accused of colluding with his wife, Maria Fernandes, to conceal payments made to her law firm by the Hinduja brothers.

Mrs Filkin report says: "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."

Mr Vaz was unavailable for comment yesterday.

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