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Tuesday, 6 February, 2001, 21:47 GMT
Viewpoint: Vaz coverage is racist

The official inquiry will be over in 'weeks'
Baroness Uddin of Bethnal Green is a Labour peer and one of 11 peers to sign the letter to two national newspapers condemning the press coverage of Keith Vaz.

By Baroness Uddin

Keith Vaz is feeling very distressed by some of the undertones and innuendoes he feels are being implied in the newspaper coverage of him.

We hope and believe Keith Vaz will stand up to scrutiny

Baroness Uddin
I think those concerns are reflected generally in the Asian community. People are concerned that the coverage has gone too far and has gone on for too long.

In our letter, we urged the British press to await the outcome of the inquiries before passing judgement and condemning Keith Vaz.

I believe that many of these newspaper reports are damaging Asian businessmen and the Asian community in general.

We should await the outcome of the official inquiries before making further assumptions.

Race relations

Race relations in this country are on a good footing at the moment - notwithstanding recent coverage of asylum seekers over he last few days.

I believe it is important that we send out a message to the Asian community that we need more representatives in public life and in parliament.

They must also be aware however that as public servants we are in the eyes of the press and will face scrutiny at all times.

I think some of the recent press coverage will do little to help this cause.

I believe that the reason Keith Vaz is under such scrutiny is because he is a member of the Labour government.

As with any member of parliament there needs to be clear lines between what is appropriate, good conduct and what is not.

I am sure that Sir Anthony Hammond's inquiry into the passport affair will show that Keith Vaz has done everything that is expected of him in public office.

The letter that was written by Lord Patel and sent to two national newspapers was written in a way that was designed to attract media attention.

Strong language

The reason the language in the letter is so strong is because the newspapers rarely give any credence to what the Asian community is saying.

To that extent I can understand why he would have used such strong language.

In essence, we are saying just what Tony Blair is saying and what Robin Cook is saying.

We hope and believe Keith Vaz will stand up to scrutiny and we urge the papers and everyone else to stop passing judgement before the inquiry has been completed.

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See also:

06 Feb 01 | UK Politics
Asians rally to embattled Vaz
06 Feb 01 | Talking Politics
Viewpoint: Vaz as political target
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