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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2644

Keith Vaz, British Labor MP with a past, playing footsy with the Tamil Tigers

London, 27 June, ( After a meeting held at Dr. Nicholas Pillai the Tamils opposed to the Tamil Tigers in Britain agreed to meet Keith Vaz, the controversial MP of the Labor Party who is now heading the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils in Britain.

The Tamils who participated in this meeting are:

Dr. Nicholas Pillai ( TULF) Raghavan alias Rajeskumar, Nirmala Rajeskumar, Suppaiah Krishnapillai alias N.S.Krishnar, Nesan Shankar Raji (EROS), S.Theepan (ENDLF) , R.Jayadevan A.K.Vivekanandan (TDC) V.Sivalingham T.Rangan, Keeran and P. Rajanayagam (SDF.

The meeting with Keith Vaz MP was scheduled earlier to be held today at 3 PM in a room in the British Parliament. But according to the latest information the meeting has been delayed and time changed as Keith Vaz MP has to attend a funeral. Therefore they have relocated the meeting to Portcullis House instead of a room in British Parliament to accommodate all and meeting will start at 5.30pm.

The finalized brief agenda for the today's meeting is given below:

1. Introduction

2. Role of APPG.

3. British High Commissioner’s recent speech on Sri Lanka.

4. Future engagement with the APPG and the way forward.

5. Any other matters.

The All Party Parliamentary Group for the Tamils was set up in the beginning of May 2007, mainly with the backing of the agents of the Tamil Tigers in Britain, according to political sources.

Keith Vaz MP of the Labor Party and Simon Hughes MP of the Liberal Democrats were elected Chairman and Vice-Chairman respectively of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils (APPG T).

The agenda of the All-Party Group was to:

• Arrange a summit in London between representatives of the Sri Lankan Government, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the Norwegian Government

• Invite the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Donald C McKinnon, to meet with the group to discuss the situation in Sri Lanka

• Invite the Leader of LTTE`s Political Wing S.P. Tamilselvan to visit Britain and address parliamentarians and

• Visit Sri Lanka, particular the worst affected areas of the conflict.

Keith Vaz is a Labor MP for Leicester East, consisting of a sizable amount of Indian population, with a sprinkling of voters of Sri Lankan origin. A diplomat in London when asked about Keith Vaz’s interest in Sri Lankan affairs said that it has to be some vested interest and nothing else. His parliamentary career has been dogged by official inquiries and media exposures of his questionable role in several deals.

“In February 2000 the Parliamentary standards watchdog Elizabeth Filkin was requested to investigate allegations of undisclosed payments to Vaz from businessmen in his constituency. The following year, 2001, members of the opposition began to question what role Vaz may have played in helping the billionaire Indian Hinduja brothers - linked with a corruption probe in India - to secure UK passports.

“In March 2001, the Filkin report cleared Vaz of nine of the 18 allegations of various financial wrongdoings, but Elizabeth Filkin accused Mr Vaz of blocking her investigation into eight of the allegations. He was also censured for one allegation - that he failed to register two payments worth £450 in total from Sarosh Zaiwalla, a solicitor whom he recommended for an honour several years later.

“Mrs Filkin announced in the same month a new inquiry which would focus on whether or not a company connected to Vaz received a donation from a charitable foundation run by the Hinduja brothers. The results of the inquiry were published in 2002 and it was concluded that Vaz had "committed serious breaches of the Code of Conduct and contempt of the House" and it was recommended that he be suspended from the House of Commons for one month.

“Keith Vaz was also a director of the company General Mediterranean Holdings' owned by the Anglo-Iraqi billionaire Nadhmi Auchi, who had in the past hired British politicians Lord David Steel and Lord Norman Lamont as directors. Vaz resigned his post as director when he became Minister for Europe, but it was later discovered that he had remained in contact with Auchi and had made enquiries on his behalf over a French extradition warrant, Auchi even calling Vaz at home to ask the minister for advice.

“Since 2003 he has been a Member of the Constitutional Affairs Select Committee. Once suggested as a possible candidate for a future leader of the Labor Party, it is unclear whether he will ever return to a frontbench role.

Recently Sri Lanka High Commissioner in London invited Keith Vaz for a lunch in a private restaurant.

Keith Vaz came to the lunch hosted by the High Commissioner along with Senthilkumar of British Tamil Forum, another name for LTTE in the UK.

Senthilkumar during the lunch was very critical of the Sri Lanka Government.

Senthilkumar is a hard core member of the LTTE. He was introduced as Mr. Kumar and as his advisor quite late into the lunch. His political identity was not revealed to the High Commissioner. Keith Vaz either avoided or else failed to introduce Senthilkumar initially, a diplomat told "Asian Tribune."

Keith Vaz in his capacity as Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tamils had met Dr. John Reid, Secretary for Home Affairs. Asian Tribune learnt that he took along with him LTTE stalwarts in Britain N.Seevaratnam, his son Nirmalan Seevaratnam and Senthilkumar for this meeting.

Political observers note that Keith Vaz has been lobbying on behalf of the banned Tamil Tigers. It is the practice of the Tamil Tigers to infiltrate left-wing political centres in Western democracies – particularly offices of parliamentarians from Toronto to Sydney – and manipulate the system to gain political mileage.

In the meantime, Keith Vaz’s Parliamentary office turned down a request from the Asian Tribune for interview saying that he has a very busy schedule and will not be in a position to allocate time and date for interview.

- Asian Tribune -

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