Labour MP Keith Vaz has denied any conflict of interest after it was claimed he helped former Indian Premier League (IPL) Commissioner Lalit Modi with an immigration matter.
Mr Vaz has been reported to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after reportedly helping Mr Modi obtain emergency travel documents to visit India to see his cancer-stricken wife.
Mr Vaz was at the time chairperson of the powerful Home Affairs Select Committee which oversees affairs at the Home Office.
The MP for Leicester East, a prominent Indian community champion, is said to have written to Director General of Immigration Sarah Rapson in June last year in support of Mr Modi’s application for the travel documents.
Mr Modi had moved to London in 2010 after the IPL became embroiled in a match-fixing scandal. His Indian passport was later revoked.
Mr Vaz reportedly failed to disclose his support of Mr Modi’s application when Ms Rapson appeared before the Home Affairs Select Committee on an unrelated matter in July.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has written to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner, asking Mr Vaz be investigated for what he alleges is a breach of the MP’s code of conduct.
Mr Vaz however, insisted last night that there was no conflict of interest between his intervention, which he did not declare publicly, and his chairmanship of the committee as he had “no personal interest in this case and received no benefit from it”.
Mr Modi was granted an emergency travel certificate in August after a legal battle with the Home Office.
Mr Vaz said he “encouraged” people to bring to his and the committee’s attention examples of problems with the immigration system.
In a statement, said: “In this case it was the fact that his wife had cancer and he had been waiting four years for a travel document and this is a problem that we have pursued for some time, why is it that people wait four years for a travel document?”
He added: “In the past year, over 270 people living outside my constituency have contacted me in my then capacity as chair of the home affairs select committee.
“A huge volume of cases have reached my office as a result of Committee Work, and there is a duty to deal with these cases in a courteous and helpful manner.
“If I am contacted by an individual from outside my constituency I immediately inform the constituency MP. I may, depending on the urgency of a case or whether it is in the public interest to do so, also write to the head of the service.’
Mr Vaz previously faced an investigation after it was claimed he was paid by the billionaire Hinduja brothers to expedite their British passport applications but was cleared of the allegations.