Letter to Andrew F Bennett MP, Chairman
of the Committee from the Chairman of ENTRUST
I write further to my letter to you of 19 March
2001 in reply to the letter dated 12 March 2001 from the Clerk
of the Environment Sub-committee to Dr Richard Sills, Chief Executive
It is a measure of the seriousness with which
ENTRUST regards this matter that we have taken further legal advice.
In the light of that advice, ENTRUST wishes to respond further
to the Environment Committee.
ENTRUST recognises that the letter dated 27
February 2001 from Dr Sills to Dr Aickin should not have been
written in the terms that it was. It accepts that the letter constitutes
a contempt of the rights and privileges of the House of Commons
and its committees, although, at the time that the letter was
written, it was not appreciated that this was the case, ENTRUST
unreservedly apologises for that contempt.
Without in any way seeking to detract from the
seriousness of the contempt, for which ENTRUST corporately accepts
responsibility, I should explain the background to the offending
letter of 27 February 2001. In September 2000, ENTRUST first invited
Dr Aickin to join its Improvement Panel. The matter was progressed
and, in our evidence to your Committee, we reported this invitation.
Subsequently, on 23 November 2000, via an e-mail of a draft letter
to The Guardian newspaper, Dr Aickin informed ENTRUST,
that he did not intend to take up the appointment for the time
being. A further e-mail of 1 January 2001 indicated that he might
have changed his mind, but he took no other steps.
At a Board meeting of ENTRUST on 14 February
2001, for reasons unconnected with Dr Aickin's correspondence
with the Environment Sub-Committee (namely, concern that the budget
for the previous financial year of the ebco of which Dr Aickin
was Chairman was overspent, and that Dr Aickin was not in fact
acting as a member of the Improvement Panel), the Board resolved
to invite Dr Aickin to withdraw from the Improvement Panel (in
which he was not participating).
Unfortunately, the resolution of the Board was
not reflected in the letter dated 27 February 2001 from Dr Sills
to Dr Aickin. Instead, reference was made to a number of matters
including, entirely inappropriately, as ENTRUST now recognises,
a reference to Dr Aickin's "correspondence with the Select
Committee". That letter was sent in draft form to ENTRUST's
solicitors for review before being sent to Dr Aickin, with a copy
to your Clerk, Mr Huw Yardley
As I explain above, ENTRUST accepts corporate
responsibility for that letter and does not seek to hide behind
any breakdown in internal communication. It proffers a full and
unreserved apology to you and to the members of the Environment
Committee for the contempt involved in sending that letter to
I add my own personal apology to you and to
the Committee. I understand that Dr Sills will be writing separately
to you with his own apology.
ENTRUST undertakes not to take, or to consider
taking, any action against Dr Aickin in consequence of the evidence
that he gave to the Environment Sub-Committee. The offending letter
of 27 February 2001 to Dr Aickin is withdrawn. On a positive note,
ENTRUST and Dr Aickin have had an amicable meeting to discuss
how we can work together for the benefit of the Credit Scheme.
As you have been informed, a joint statement in terms proposed
by Dr Aickin has been agreed as follows:
"We are pleased to state that Dr Aickin
and the ENTRUST Chairman and Chief Executive are in discussions
to explore how Dr Aickin's contribution can be utilised to enhance
the Credit Scheme.
We are all agreed that Dr Aickin's contribution
is not best made through the Improvement Panel.
We are also committed to exploring how Dr Aickin's
expertise and knowledge can best contribute to ENTRUST's desire
to improve its performance in regulating the innovative and successful
scheme so that it can provide more effective support for Sustainable
Waste Management, environmental projects and community schemes".
I request that you and your Committee accept
the full and frank apology that we have offered. Dr Sills and
I will attend before your Committee at 10.30 am tomorrow to apologise
in person for what has occurred.
The Earl of Cranbrook DSc DL
27 March 2001