Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witness (Question 40-59)



  40. I am just asking you to say what this exchange of letters was about which was about the services provided to Hollis, a subsidiary of Lock, which included your service as executive chairman of Lock.
  (Mr Robinson) I make one qualification. I am not sure that I was ever nominated to the position of executive chairman.

  41. I have not asked the question.
  (Mr Robinson) I am allowed to make the point.

  42. The question I am trying to ask you, to which I would like the answer yes, no or you do not know, but I think from these documents the answer is yes, is this exchange included your services as executive chairman of Lock which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Hollis?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes, although I do not know that I was actually appointed to be executive chairman.

  43. Then if we can move on from Annex G through Annex H1, H2, I, J, K and certainly L, I think we are still dealing with this management contract where there would be an obligation to pay your company for services as a director within the Hollis Group?
  (Mr Robinson) Where would you say that was evident? I was never a director of Lock. That was a proposal I was making earlier but it obviously was never proceeded upon.

  44. It was obviously never proceeded upon?
  (Mr Robinson) Could you go back to your question and then I will come back to the—

  45. My question was this exchange was about the provision of services, including your service as executive chairman of Lock, the wholly owned subsidiary of Hollis.
  (Mr Robinson) I do not think I ever became a director of Lock, this was what I was trying to say earlier.

  46. Was the exchange about the provision of your services as executive chairman of Lock, a subsidiary of Hollis?
  (Mr Robinson) It could not have been if I was not a director. There is a listing of all my directorships with the Committee somewhere. I think the idea was I was building up our case—If I could be clear about the point you are driving at, Mr Bottomley, I would be happy to answer it. Is your point that this proves that I was wrong in saying that I never sought remuneration in my capacity as non-executive chairman of Hollis? Is that the point you are driving at? It is a simple question.

  47. Although the roles appear to have been reversed.
  (Mr Robinson) I am so sorry, my hearing.

  48. The obligation on each of us is to register a remunerated directorship.
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

  49. My preliminary question was whether this exchange of letters, which I have mentioned, is about payment for services to a wholly owned subsidiary of Hollis, which included your services as the executive chairman of Lock?
  (Mr Robinson) Even though I may never have become executive. I am so sorry to make the point but it seems evident to me—What we were trying to show was that I would be committed to this and do it, that was the sense. There was no remote idea in my mind—There was no money involved, it was going to be paid to TransTec, and nor was there any certainty of it being paid because it was subject to the approval of Robert Maxwell and in the end was not paid, just as the other I did not declare or pay in until I received it and it was Central and Sheerwood. What I am trying to get at is I do not think what you are driving at is sustained by what you are relying on by way of information because I never asked for money in my capacity as a non executive chairman of Hollis, never, ever, it never entered my mind. What we have here is a management contract where I am director, perhaps not even that, where I am running a subsidiary of that company with a management contract, the intention of which is that TransTec personnel should be involved and TransTec should be paid. We will come to the subsequent question on that later, no doubt.

Mr Levitt

  50. May I intervene just briefly. Does this exchange of correspondence which Mr Bottomley has been asking you about refer then to the management service, an invoice of which we have at Annex O?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes, that is the Orchards' one. It says "payment to be made to Trans Tec" and then we have Mrs Caddock's comment on it.

  Mr Levitt: Perhaps we will come back to that later.

Mr Bottomley

  51. First of all, did you issue this invoice dated 24 October 1990? (Mr Robinson) Yes.

  52. Do you agree that it says "Fee for Management Service provided for Hollis Industries plc as agreed"?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes, but all preceding information makes it quite clear—I wish I knew what point you were after but, never mind, you will not tell me. It is quite clear that it is work done for Lock, it is nothing to do with Hollis itself, Hollis was a holding company which Maxwell owned.

  53. Is there access to the agreement that this refers to?
  (Mr Robinson) I think the documents you have, with one exception which we thought was misleading but the Commissioner had left it out, gives you everything about it.

  54. Those are the documents I was asking you about just now? They are different documents?
  (Mr Robinson) I think you have everything except one which it might be useful if you have from me now, which is tab A, where it is made quite clear that none of this is anything to do with Hollis, it is all to do with—and all the detail of what we were doing was for—Lock, a subsidiary company. I am trying to make a distinction—and it seems so clear to me, and if it is not to Members, I wish they would tell me—between a role I had as non-executive chairman of Hollis on the one hand and us running, trying to get this damned company into good shape, and TransTec being paid for it on the other hand. No remuneration was ever envisaged for what I had been doing as non-executive chairman of Hollis. I cannot see the point. Never in my right mind, when I was chasing this, did I think that, and never ever did it occur to me that I was chasing payment for my services as non-executive chairman to Hollis, never ever, nothing at all.

  55. Can I ask you if this invoice, Annex O, is a real invoice? Was it supposed to be paid?
  (Mr Robinson) Let us put it this way, I think what happened was, I saw Kevin the night before and he said, "Look, Geoffrey, if we want to get this thing through, I have to have an invoice." I go home that night, I am working from home—it is all in my diary—and I dash off an invoice. As it so happened, Sami looks after these things in the company, and I am not somebody who knows how to draft an invoice. I drew up an invoice as best I could and made no provision for VAT or anything of that kind. What it was meant mainly to do was to push along the question of getting paid.

  56. So you wanted to get paid?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

  57. You wanted TransTec to be paid—
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

  58.—for the services that had been provided to Hollis or to Lock?
  (Mr Robinson) Not to Hollis, to Lock.

  59. Lock is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hollis?
  (Mr Robinson) That is what you were pursuing. You are asking me. What is in the back of my mind all the time is that I think the charge is that I sought payment for my role as non-executive chairman of Hollis, which I did not. At the time, when that was brought up by Sir Gordon, of course, I had forgotten entirely about this management contract. What is quite clear in my mind is I never sought payment for being non-executive chairman of Hollis, never, not at all, never ever.

  Mr Campbell-Savours: Chairman, can you perhaps point out to Mr Robinson that we are not talking about Hollis, that the questions that Mr Bottomley is asking are about Lock?

  Chairman: There is a division in the House. We shall resume in ten minutes.

  The Committee suspended from 4.48 pm until 4.58 pm for a division in the House

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