Career centre

Opposition parties question Vaz's role in passport row

The British Government is under mounting pressure to provide a full account of Labour's involvement with the Hinduja family in the wake of Peter Mandelson's resignation.

Opposition parties are focusing on the role played by Minister for Europe Keith Vaz. Tory leader William Hague felt Labour should not hide behind Sir Anthony Hammond's review of the way Srichanda Hinduja's passport application was handled.

Norman Baker is the Liberal Democrat MP whose inquiries initiated the sequence of events which led to Mr Mandelson's resignation.

He said: "I don't think it's over yet. There are a whole load of unanswered questions. We need to know exactly who lobbied whom and when, and for what purpose."

Another written Parliamentary answer to Mr Baker, from Home Secretary Jack Straw, confirmed that Srichand's ultimately successful passport application was filed on October 20, 1998, just days after the brothers' £1m donation to the Millennium Dome.

The principal focus of the opposition parties' interest was whether any other ministers were involved in the Hinduja case, and in particular whether Mr Vaz wrote to Mr Blair and Mr Mandelson about the case in 1997.

Home Office minister Barbara Roche has confirmed Mr Vaz asked when decisions could be expected both in the case of Srichanda's application and that of his brother Gopichand.

Mr Vaz, interviewed on talkSPORT, was asked whether the Mandelson affair would have repercussions for him.

Mr Vaz said: "There is going to be an inquiry into the way in which this matter was handled and, you know, let us wait to see the outcome. I think that is the best way to deal with it. "

Sir Anthony has already begun work on his inquiry. His findings will be published in weeks rather than months.