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Tuesday, 19 February, 2002, 22:45 GMT
Video shows Vaz visa joke
Keith Vaz, former Europe Minister
The video shows Vaz with the Hindujas and Mittal
A video has emerged that brings together the key sleaze allegations facing Tony Blair's government in one camera shot.

Former Europe Minister Keith Vaz, currently suspended from the Commons, is shown rubbing shoulders with Labour donor and steel tycoon Lakshmi Mittal, as well as the Hinduja brothers.

I do also happen to be minister for visas, not that I'm counting using this against you...

Keith Vaz's joke
And at a reception for a Bollywood film producer Subhash Ghai, Mr Vaz is shown joking openly about how he is minister for visas and is ready to help Mr Ghai.

The video, obtained by Channel 4 News, shows Mr Vaz's links with some of the figures whose Labour links have caused trouble for the government.

Favours joke

Taken in July 2000, when Mr Vaz was still at the Foreign Office, the tape shows a controversial combination of Asian businessmen.

There was nothing wrong in the minister meeting the men, but the pictures sum up what critics see as Labour's unhealthily close ties with business.

Standing alongside Mr Ghai, the Foreign Office minister jokes: "If you want to do any filming in the House of Commons, let me know.

"Or even if you want to come to the Foreign Office, we'd be very pleased to meet you there.

"Because I do also happen to be minister for visas, not that I'm counting using this against you, but if there's even the tiniest thing you'd like me to do, make a cup of tea whatever, just let me know."

Mr Vaz was cleared of any wrongdoing in the Hinduja passport affair, which caused the second resignation of Peter Mandelson.

Commons suspension

That row centred around the naturalisation applications of Srichand and Gopichand Hinduja - who both gave money to the Millennium Dome.

But this month MPs suspended the former minister from the Commons for a month.

That was after he was found to have given misleading information about his financial links with the Hinduja brothers and accused of blocking the standards commissioner's investigation.

The row over Tony Blair's help to Mr Mittal's company's in buying a Romanian steelworks continues, with Mr Blair accused of "naivety" by a UK steel chief.

News of the video came as Peter Mandelson ruled out returning to office, even if asked to by Tony Blair.

The Hammond report into the Hinduja passport affair has been reopened because Mr Mandelson has produced what he says is new evidence.

See also:

19 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Mandelson rules out comeback
19 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Steel boss blasts 'naive' Blair
13 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Vaz apologises to MPs
08 Feb 02 | UK Politics
Profile: Keith Vaz
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