Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Seventh Report

Annex JJ

Transcript of interview with Mr Geoffrey Robinson MP and Mr Bernard O'Sullivan

held on 31 March 2001

(Corrected by Geoffrey Robinson and Elizabeth Filkin)

MS FILKIN: Thank you very much indeed for coming to see me this morning, Mr Robinson. I am very grateful to you and your solicitor for the information you have already given me.

Reflecting back on this lengthy trauma you have had in relation to this issue, and in the light of the DTI inquiry and the Tom Bower book, which you have presumably had a chance to have a look at now, is there anything which you now know or recall which would alter what you said to Standards and Privileges Committee in 1998 about the alleged payment of £200,000 from a Maxwell company to you? Let us leave aside, because I think it is a red herring for my purposes, whether this is a payment to you for services or a payment to you as chairman, but is there anything else?

MR ROBINSON: No, nothing changed whatsoever.

MS FILKIN: In your letter to my predecessor of 18th June 1998 you said "Mr Stoney has at my request and at considerable personal inconvenience checked both the nominal ledger and the cash books of the company for that year to make sure that no payments were made." Did you at that time check the Pergamon cashbook?

MR ROBINSON: All I know is what I wrote in that letter. That is what Michael told me, and I chose Michael because I did not at the time know that he had been - whatever the word is - disbarred. I did not know that. I probably would not ... I know that Sir Gordon told me that did not sit very well with the Committee at that time. He obviously knew I did not know. I had not been interviewed by the Maxwell thing at all, as you know, the thing that is just reported today, the big inquiry. So I only know what he told me, and that is what he told me.

MS FILKIN: Fine. Do you know whether he checked the computer records?

MR ROBINSON: I do not know. I think that is what he told me he had done.

MS FILKIN: In your letter to Sir Gordon of 9th July 1998 you did offer to pay for scrutiny of the Pergamon accounts and records, but because you wanted this matter clear, that even if the Committee did not do that, you would consider doing that. Did you have that done?


MS FILKIN: Can we get on to trying to get me clear about the detail. Perhaps you would take me through in detail about what you know about what happened to this Pergamon cheque for £200,000.

MR ROBINSON: I wish I knew what happened to it; that would solve the whole problem.

MS FILKIN: Yes. What bits of it do you know?

MR ROBINSON: We saw the invoice. This all came out when Hugh Aldous started the DTI inquiry. Bernard, you will be able to say better. After all, we recall that it was paid. Why do you not say about the technical stuff; it is not my field.

MR O'SULLIVAN: We saw the invoice that was submitted.

MS FILKIN: Orchards' invoice?

MR O'SULLIVAN: Yes, the invoice to pay TransTec Technology.

MS FILKIN: There are two letters referred to in here, from NatWest but not included in the file, which might assist, one of the 31st March 1999 and the reply in a letter from a lady from Robson Rhodes to you, her letter dated 27th July 1999.

MR O'SULLIVAN: Her letter?

MS FILKIN: ----- refers to a letter, and that letter is not in here

MR O'SULLIVAN: ---- have lost and we will be sending you another one.


MS FILKIN: Thank you. The other one is the reply from NatWest to you of 24th August. I know Birmingham. I am a sort of Birmingham pseudo daughter, so I know where Colmore Row is, but where is the Birmingham City office of NatWest?

MR ROBINSON: I have no idea.

MR O'SULLIVAN: I think they are one and the same thing.

MS FILKIN: That is what I think, but you are confirming that that is correct?

MR O'SULLIVAN: I think they are.

MS FILKIN: Right. Thank you very much. As far as you know from your own situation, and indeed the companies that you were involved in, which companies, and indeed yourself, had accounts at that NatWest branch?

MR ROBINSON: You see, I was not deeply involved in the finance function in those days. I do not know. I think at the various stages we bought Sarclad. We bought Sarclad and transferred part of it to Colmore Row, as I remember it, and we left part of it up in Sheffield where they were doing the export credit stuff, if you like, the arrangements for doing that. But we were at Colmore Row, and Sarclad was the only other company we had.

MS FILKIN: Spell that name for me.

MR ROBINSON: S-a-r-c-l-a-d.

MS FILKIN: So in your personal accounts there were three of those, is that right?


MR ROBINSON: I will have to check it out.

MS FILKIN: That is what it looks like on here. Then there was a Sarclad account, yes?

MR ROBINSON: And then there is TransTec itself.

MS FILKIN: Please would you let me know details of all the accounts that were Mr Robinson's, or connected with Mr Robinson in any way through any of the companies at that time.


MS FILKIN: Up until the end of 1990.

MR ROBINSON: You remember about them being destroyed up to the end of March 1991?

MS FILKIN: Oh yes, yes, but what I need are the details of all the accounts. If I could have the account numbers of those accounts as well. We can see from here that you pursued this line of enquiry yourself with NatWest. I can see that from your letters to Robson Rhodes that you obviously made enquiries to NatWest for this, so presumably you have got those details in other correspondence from NatWest which sets out the details so that I can see that.

MR O'SULLIVAN: I am sure this was to both people at the same time, till August and -----

MS FILKIN: I am sure, but I have not got it, and I do need accurate details of all the accounts connected in any way with Mr Robinson in 1990 at the Colmore Row branch of NatWest. If you would not mind giving me a bit of background about Roll Centre.

MR ROBINSON: What would you like to know?

MS FILKIN: It was a freestanding company?

MR ROBINSON: Yes, I owned it.

MS FILKIN: You owned it.

MR ROBINSON: It was freestanding. We did not bring it in the merger because it was not into profit yet, and there were problems of valuation. We did it for two reasons: one, we thought it would be a good financial investment I did it; and secondly, it was a good showcase for our new product in America which we were keen to get into, which was the EDT machine. I think in the end it was brought into the group later, but at the time it was not.

MS FILKIN: In 1990?


MS FILKIN: It was a freestanding company?

MR ROBINSON: Yes, freestanding, owned by me, and left out for those reasons and invested in for those reasons - different reasons.

MS FILKIN: TransTec had lent it some money, it seems, at that period of time, is that correct?

MR ROBINSON: Can you remember that?

MR O'SULLIVAN: I think money was lent by TransTec.


MR ROBINSON: We had an extended line of credit.


MR ROBINSON: We supplied kit there.

MS FILKIN: It looks to me - and I am only piecing this together -----

MR ROBINSON: Yes, sure.

MS FILKIN: ----- as if TransTec had made a loan to Roll Centre - I do not know when - but it looks to me as if it had a loan in 1990.

MR ROBINSON: That was the one, yes. I think that is correct, yes.

MS FILKIN: The question to you that I need answered is did Roll Centre repay part of that loan in December 1990?

MR ROBINSON: Can you answer that one, Bernard?

MR O'SULLIVAN: Erm ----- part of loan was credited as repaid in December 1990.

MS FILKIN: ----- Yes, thank you. What it looks like is that it repaid £200,000, in December 1990, and as far as you are saying to me, it was Roll Centre that repaid. If, when you begin that search, you decide it was not Roll Centre that paid that £200,000 first loan, my question would be who did?


MS FILKIN: May I have a copy of the Coopers report, the Long-Form report on TransTec, prior to the sale to Central & Sherwood. Could I have that and any other records which relate to that sale?

MR O'SULLIVAN: We may not have all of them but we do have some.

MS FILKIN: Yes, whatever you have got.

MR ROBINSON: The main thing is they could not presumably have looked at that, because they did not have the proper copy.

MS FILKIN: What, Coopers? Oh dear. Oh well, we all know the problem, do we not? We all lose documents!

MR ROBINSON: There you are.

MS FILKIN: I try not to, but there we are, we all do it, we all manage it sometimes. You refer in your file to a set of documents which I have no idea whether they will turn out to be useful to me, but just for the sake of completeness I had better ask for them so that I can have a look at them; but they are referred to in there, and so I had better. The extract from TransTec's nominal ledger referred to in your letter of 23rd June 1990 presumably that is where I would find it referred to. And there is a letter from Mr Robinson to TransTec of 11th February 1991 guaranteeing TransTec's loan to Roll Centre. So that it appears that whatever got paid off in December 1990, and wherever, it did not get paid off but Mr Robinson guaranteed it.

MR ROBINSON: That is right, and I am guaranteeing that.

MS FILKIN: Later on in this process of selling TransTec, you guarantee the outstanding loan to Roll Centre?

MR ROBINSON: I think it was really what you would call the loan was extended credit really, was it not? I do not know, I cannot remember.


MR ROBINSON: I think it was only money outstanding in relation to kit they had supplied.

MR O'SULLIVAN: To buy the machines.

MR ROBINSON: That is what I was querying before about the loan. There was a balance.

MS FILKIN: Whatever it was, I can only see it on the figures, I cannot see it ----- I do not know what it was, because it does not say. There is also a schedule that I would like, which is about the Roll Centre loan, which was provided to Titmus Stainer & Webb. I get this off the fax from them - it is in here - dated 3rd April 1991.

MR O'SULLIVAN: I am not sure that we have that.

MS FILKIN: Somebody provided it.

MR O'SULLIVAN: I must say, I could be wrong. I could be wrong.

MS FILKIN: Yes. If you would let me have whatever you have got. Somebody provided it, and presumably it must have been a company of Mr Robinson's?

MR ROBINSON: ----- a company, Roger could provide that, a few lists of outstanding kit, I should think.

MS FILKIN: Yes, but if you could get me whatever you have got.


MS FILKIN: And if you could ask Titmus Sainer & Webb (now Dechert) if they have kept a copy of the thing.

MR ROBINSON: We have none.

MR O'SULLIVAN: We will have done all that.

MS FILKIN: That is all done?

MR O'SULLIVAN: Yes, we will have done all that. I can give you what we have got, I am dredging from memory, but -----

MS FILKIN: I see. So it is you. I did not realise it was all separate. Let us drop that. The last thing that I found on here - note 10.10 - is a letter from Ward & Rider dated 3rd April 1991. You refer to that in your letter of 19th November 1990. Did you ever receive a letter of 25th June 1999? It has got one of the documents which are referred to in it but it has not got documents 2, 3 and 4.


MS FILKIN: So the letter refers to this set of documents but it only has 2, 3 and 4. That is interesting. I am grateful for that and hopefully they will be able to do the same.

MR O'SULLIVAN: I think I will have to go and search for those but I am sure I can ---- they will not be on the correspondence file but I am sure I can find them somewhere else.

MS FILKIN: Okay. Thank you for the letters you gave me about your meetings with Mr Aldous. Do you have a record of those two meetings?

MR O'SULLIVAN: I am embarrassed now, it was Geoffrey who ----

MS FILKIN: Ah! I see. I know you said you had not got a record ---

MR O'SULLIVAN: No. If we had, I would have given it to you. I do not think I did; I did not. It is not on the file.

MS FILKIN: Mr Aldous did not provide you with a note afterwards?

MR ROBINSON: We saw nothing.

MS FILKIN: Okay. Thanks very much. Going back to this elusive £200,000, I can see from what you have provided previously to my predecessor and indeed you have said you provided these services and you were pursuing this cash.

MR ROBINSON: TransTec was providing them.

MS FILKIN: Yes, and you were trying to get the money.

MR ROBINSON: Absolutely.

MS FILKIN: And you pursued that and you submitted the invoice.


MS FILKIN: Presumably you assumed it was going to be paid ---

MR ROBINSON: At the beginning we did, but as it went on and on we grew more doubtful.

MS FILKIN: Why did you not chase up whether it had been paid?

MR ROBINSON: Not until the very end. What happened is that we produced the invoice, Kevin seemed to think he had got his father's green light and the next thing I phoned him in the evening, went home and did it from home and it came out as Orchards - I do not know why. I am quite clear saying pay TransTec - no problem about that.

MS FILKIN: Yes, yes.

MR ROBINSON: Then he went to see his father, but in his own account, his father turned him down, he did not exactly tell me that, and I at that point got quite worried because the money was not coming forward. I had various notes - I am happy for you to see my note book saying "One down, one to go" really. He told me he had got it through his father, and I put that down. The other one was some payment for three and a half years' work at Central and Sheerwood for which I claimed nothing, neither salary nor expenses. What I did then was put in for Central and Sheerwood, I spoke to Robert Maxwell directly personally on the phone - only about that, not mentioning the other management contract payment.

MS FILKIN: That was the £150,000.

MR ROBINSON: £150,000. All letters were like that. At that point - that was already December, so we were into the New Year - the deal for the merger of the companies was pretty much (I think I mentioned this in one of my letters to you) firm by then, we could see it was coming. I think our reasoning would have been, "Look, we are going to get the benefits of what we have done in the merged company, Lock was coming in, we are not going to get it, there's no point in pursuing it" and we just left it from that point onwards.

MS FILKIN: When you say you were going to get the benefits from that merger - could you explain?

MR ROBINSON: What we had done was spent a lot of money. In two respects, money and my own time to some extent. The big expenditure was on engineering services and sales services to Lock and that improved the company enormously from when it started back in April 1990 to when the merger took place in the following year - almost a year exactly - May 1991. Since it was coming across, there was no increase in the value of the company, it was still only at asset value, and we thought at that price it was a good buy because the work we had done in it had put a lot of value in the company which would have been in excess of net asset value. So I imagine we thought we were getting it at a reasonable price (break in tape) once it became part of the new group. Does that make sense? I am happy to re-explain it.

MS FILKIN: It makes sense up to a point. I can see you decided you had in a sense cut your losses and were going to get some benefit whatever.

MR ROBINSON: Yes, that is exactly it. It is a better way of putting it. When I spoke to my managing director, Dr Ahmed, you will notice I had forgotten about the management contract. We did not get paid for it, that is one of the reasons you would forget it, I suppose. When I was Paymaster I did not even think of it, and then at the first meeting with Bernard I came to my note book and came across it and then it all jogged my memory. I phoned up my managing director, Dr Ahmed, who is ten years younger than me, an excellent memory, Sami Ahmed, and he said, "What management thing, we never had one?", and it did not come back to him. Then he said, "Oh yes, I forget what it was, we did all that engineering and didn't get paid" and that was the way it was left. Sometimes you do not get paid and you have to make it up in some other way.

MS FILKIN: Yes. But obviously what happened inside Pergamon is that a cheque was paid.

MR ROBINSON: Yes, I would like to know where it was paid.

MS FILKIN: So a cheque went somewhere.

MR ROBINSON: But if they were going to pay us - and we could come to the heart of the matter really in the way you would like to and say ---

MS FILKIN: Yes, I would.

MR ROBINSON: There's no way that cheque would be paid in the normal fashion to TransTec and would have the sort of documentation which accompanies a cheque. It was not an official payment in another way. It was not an official payment to me, because you would have had the same sort of arrangements which you had very properly with the Pergamon payment to me for the Central and Sheerwood work.

MS FILKIN: C&S, yes.

MR ROBINSON: So the only one thing anybody can think about is that - and I know this from Bower - the date was wrong in his account. You picked up on that, did you not?

MS FILKIN: Yes, yes.

MR ROBINSON: I went there and did a secret deal with Bob and pocketed the cheque, paid it in secretly at --- what branch is it of the NatWest? - paid it in. I have never been there in my life, never in my life. It is just a farcical, ludicrous scenario, but that is when I had to face and answer because that is the only ----- well, there are two alternatives really: Bob paying it to himself somewhere or to somebody else somewhere and me collecting a cheque illicitly from Bob and paying it in.

MS FILKIN: Well somebody paid in a cheque.

MR ROBINSON: I didn't. I never received the cheque and I did not do any of that. The answer - what I said to Hugh Aldous - I had him in my flat for this purpose. I told him, "Look, you must think this. Why would he do this?" He said, "He owed you one." I said, "Okay, but why would he have to pay it in that way? There was a legitimate invoice against which he could have paid and everybody would have been very happy." He said, "Then you would have paid less tax." I said, "You don't know Mr Maxwell very well, he is not the sort of chap who gives you a deal like that ---", not that I had many dealings with him, but this is how one knows these things, I had none with him in fact. He would want some quid pro quo. He would want some reduction in the amount he was paying, if he was going to do that, which he didn't. Why would he do it? There is just no reason for doing it and then paying me £150,000 the next week officially and properly. In my mind none of it stacks up. I did not have it. There could be another line of argument, MS FILKIN, which says, "If it is paid into TransTec, there is no problem, it is not declarable, your directorship, but it was nothing to do with your directorship of TransTec, you have no problem." That was suggested to me by my own lawyers, all I have to say is, "It was paid to TransTec" and that is the end of that, but I cannot say that because it was not true. It was not paid to me either. You have four people who knew about it, five including myself: Sami Ahmed, the managing director of TransTec; Roger Davis, finance director, saying, "No cheque from Maxwell came in"; then you have Kevin and Michael Stoney both saying, "No, Geoffrey was not paid. No company of his."

* * *

MS FILKIN: No, I understand.

MR ROBINSON: That is the heart of the matter. Did I go and elicit this cheque and pay it in somewhere without Brenda Price knowing? I don't even keep my own accounts. It is all down there. I never see them. If you ask me where my accounts are held now, I don't know. I do not have a cheque book, I don't do cheques, that is done by Brenda. I trust her, that is the way I work. Without her knowing, without Roger knowing, without Sami knowing, without anybody knowing - it is a Lee Harvey Oswald theory, isn't it?

MS FILKIN: Yes! So where did the £200,000 which did go into TransTec about that time come from?

MR ROBINSON: I cannot tell you that, I do not know.

MS FILKIN: So how can those other people say that a cheque did not come from Maxwell when that they cannot say ----

MR ROBINSON: They wouldn't know. They say it did not go through them, therefore I think they both in their minds leave open the idea I separately went to Maxwell and did the deal. They know, on the assumption they recollect - well, Roger would know where the money ---- it is £200,000. Let's take them one by one. Sami would know he had been paid for the management contract, he would be delighted, we would be rejoicing in TransTec if we had got this money, it is a small company, £200,000 is a lot of money. Roger would know because he would check where the money had come from.

MS FILKIN: So he can tell us?

MR ROBINSON: Roger cannot remember where the money came from and I do not know. I can only think of three sources really ---

MS FILKIN: But how can they then say that it didn't come from a Maxwell company?

MR ROBINSON: They are saying to the best of their recollection it did not. I can tell you this, if that money had come from Maxwell for the management contract, we would all have known and all have celebrated.

MS FILKIN: I take that. I hear what you say, that it did not come for those services.

MR ROBINSON: Or from Maxwell. They would all know. It was a Pergamon cheque. When it comes in, you know presumably where it has been paid in from.

MS FILKIN: I do not see how the two things can be true. You can say, "I do not know where the cheque came from. I cannot remember." But that does not allow you to say, "It did not come from a Maxwell company." You cannot say the two things.

MR ROBINSON: It could have been an inter-company transfer, it does not have to be a cheque.

MS FILKIN: No, of course not.

MR ROBINSON: But Roger cannot remember where the £200,000 came from. It is only in the nominal ledger, he is quite clear the accounts for 200,000 new money coming in.

MS FILKIN: Absolutely.

MR ROBINSON: He is clear about that in his statement to Hugh Aldous. I am not quite sure where the problem is. Let's go through it again, very calmly if we could. If the money had come from Maxwell, Pergamon or Maxwell, the same thing, we would have known and would have remembered. What Roger cannot remember, and I cannot remember, is where the £200,000 came from. We are all quite clear, we have no recollection - and I know in my case absolutely - I was not the transit conduit for that money. Absolutely. Roger is very clear in his own mind nothing came from Maxwell, as is Sami. It is a problem.

MS FILKIN: Well, what you have said to me - forgive me ----

MR ROBINSON: No, no, no.

MS FILKIN: What you have said to me is, "There is a little company which would have been delighted if it got a £200,000 cheque because ...." ----

MR ROBINSON: From ----

MS FILKIN: Well, that it would have been delighted if it got £200,000. That is a lot of money to this little company.

MR ROBINSON: I did say it in the context of from Maxwell in particular.

MS FILKIN: I understand that, but it seems to me you have to assume it holds good, that £200,000 is a large sum of money, it is a large sum of money for this company. We are planning to search for a £200,000 sum of money, which is a large sum of money in that context. Most people are saying, "We are sure it did not come from Maxwell or a Maxwell company but we cannot remember who it came from."


MS FILKIN: All I am saying is, I do not know how you can say those two things in that situation. And I do not know how you can say it if you think it is a large sum of money.

MR ROBINSON: We had bigger sums of money. Let's take them one by one. We had bigger. We had a payment for £1,000,000, our biggest order, and a cheque for a million or something like that, but £200,000 was a lot of money and coming from Maxwell. What they are saying is, they would have remembered it had it come from Maxwell. There is something different about getting a management fee from Maxwell from getting payment from a Korean steel company for an EDT machine. We would remember that too, they opened champagne in the bank, it would be that sort of occasion. There was no such occasion for a Maxwell cheque but there were --- the previous year my brother had put £200,000 in, Madame Bourgeois had put in 100,000, I think, so money in that sense was coming in and they would have been more normal. They would have been things since I was funding the company they would have expected and not taken to be out of the ordinary, whereas the Maxwell thing would have been somewhat out of the ordinary and therefore, I think, in their minds and to my mind certainly, recollectable. You see, MS FILKIN, what I have to answer, and all I really have to answer here in these circumstances - you can have your suspicions, like anybody has ---

MS FILKIN: No, no, I do not have any suspicions!

MR ROBINSON: One has, of course you have ---

MS FILKIN: I am just told to get at the truth.

MR ROBINSON: --- and Hugh Aldous. But I do not think it was anything to do with Roger or new money or anything like that. The question I have to answer is a very simple one, did I directly or indirectly receive that from Maxwell. That is the only question I have to answer.

MS FILKIN: Absolutely.

MR ROBINSON: Until somebody - I would love to get my hands on that cheque. You could do as much forensic work - I do not mean you personally - you could spend a year on it, I cannot tell you how many tens and tens and tens and tens of thousands of pounds of Bernard's excellent time and all the rest of it I spent. We tried everything. We needed the cash book of TransTec or the cheque, and we could not find either and I bust a gut to find both.

MS FILKIN: Could I then, just to try and satisfy myself on this, and thank you for that explanation, that is helpful, perhaps I could ask if I could then see the TransTec accounts for the previous year, so I can get a picture of the quantum of monies going into the company and out.

MR O'SULLIVAN: The long-form report will give you that sort of information.

MS FILKIN: I am sure I am going to be asked it when I get this before the Committee. Obviously that is what I am trying to do, make sure ---

MR ROBINSON: When I looked at it, during that year, there are various times when you started to doubt yourself ---

MS FILKIN: I am sure there was.

MR ROBINSON: "Did I have that money?" "Did I have a brainstorm?" "Could this have happened?" But when you have Sami saying, "No, we didn't have it, it would have been a big thing for us to get a cheque out of Maxwell", and then Roger, then Stoney and then Kevin - and Kevin's accounts in my book have a ring of truth about them, I think - saying that is what happened. There is a tempting scenario of saying, "Well, they went into TransTec, there was a big fuss, I forgot about it" or something like this ---

MS FILKIN: Of course!

MR ROBINSON: --- and my Downey story was still ---

MS FILKIN: Absolutely.

MR ROBINSON: I just cannot accept it.

MS FILKIN: No. That is fair enough.

MR ROBINSON: I really do not have to answer where this new money came from in TransTec. I do not have to answer that. I only have to answer that to utterly satisfy your mind, but I cannot. The most important thing is that we cannot find the cheque. If only we could do that, it would answer everybody's questions.

MS FILKIN: Of course.

MR ROBINSON: Some of the cheques we found, you know.


MR O'SULLIVAN: We could only find irrelevant ones.

MS FILKIN: And the people inside the company who were there day by day, the managing director and other people, the finance person, they have tried to recall what that £200,000 was and where it came from. You have asked them that question, presumably. I understand you have asked them the question and they say, "No, we would have known if it came from Maxwell ....", so I understand you have asked that question. Have they also been asked the direct question, "Can they recall where that came from?"

MR ROBINSON: Bernard I am sure asked Roger Davis.

MS FILKIN: What did they say?

MR O'SULLIVAN: Initially Roger Davis thought it had been an inter-company transfer (inaudible) cash register, I do not think it was.

MR ROBINSON: Did we find the Sarclad cash book?


MR ROBINSON: I really turned the place inside-out to find the TransTec cash book. I spent ----


MR ROBINSON: --- and paid for Roger, two whole days.

MR O'SULLIVAN: We found the nominal ledger.

MS FILKIN: Yes. So you've at least got that.

MR O'SULLIVAN: Well, no, it was the piece of information which you're enquiring about (break in tape) it was the piece of information which we provided which we not only provided but went and found and searched and spent a lot of time finding and made available, which are not the actions of anyone who —

MS FILKIN: No, no. I fully understand what you are trying to do, just like I am, is get to the end of this story for your satisfaction and to deal with it.

MR ROBINSON: It is in the Mount of Olives. * * * Somebody had that cheque somewhere but not me.

MS FILKIN: I am nearly through, you will be pleased to hear.

MR ROBINSON: Really, if I gave the impression in any way ---

MS FILKIN: No, you have been absolutely fine.

MR ROBINSON: I really do not in any way resent the questions you are asking. You have to ask them. All I have to do is tell you the truth.

MS FILKIN: Yes, of course. Absolutely. My last question which I believe I know the answer to but I think it is proper that I ask: were you aware of anybody else, for instance, Mr Robert Maxwell or Mr Kevin Maxwell, or anybody else who was involved in that proposed restructuring which was under consideration. In relation to Hollis and TransTec do you know of anybody else who might have put £200,000 into TransTec to write off some of the Roll Centre loan and to thereby make the books of TransTec look better?

MR ROBINSON: The £200,000 could have come from a number of sources. It could have been my brother - he doesn't recall it. It could have been Madame Bourgeois who helped me in a number of respects. It could have been an inter-company transfer, which initially was the most likely thing Roger would do. But I do not know where that money came from and I do not know why Roger made that entry which he did. Roger cannot recall that.

MS FILKIN: But I am right, am I - and this is all supposition - that the fact that someone paid off part of that loan or, as you said, that might have been a payment which was outstanding ---

MR ROBINSON: Yes, that is the other.

MS FILKIN: Whatever. --- paid off some of it at that point, would have enhanced what TransTec looked like for that sale. That is right, is it not?

MR ROBINSON: Yes, but I mean, I think that is fair comment and if it prevents a big problem of the so-called prospectus ----

MS FILKIN: Of course, that is not bias there!


MS FILKIN: I am sure ---

MR ROBINSON: * * * That could be dealt with in two ways. The £200,000 could just be, I took out £200,000, I took out a million in cash when we did the deal, I could have taken out £800,000 or £1.2 million and paid it from there when we knew it was coming. I didn't have to repay the money unless the deal was done. There was not a problem in that sense if the £200,000 had to be found. Let's take £1.2 million out and then £6 million out, £6 million, something like that. So if I had had £200,000, yes. In effect I would take out a lump of 1.2 million cash, pay off the 200,000 with the 2 million I could have taken out in cash instead of just 1 million.


MR ROBINSON: There was not a problem. You know. Again, why do all this?


MR O'SULLIVAN: You ought to read the long-form report to put that into context.

MS FILKIN: Of course.

MR O'SULLIVAN: I am not sure if it is or is not a fair comment actually?

MS FILKIN: It may not be.

MR O'SULLIVAN: Read the report and then you can get a bit of ---

MS FILKIN: It was not meant to be a comment. It was meant to be a question.

MR ROBINSON: It was not a problem, it could have been paid out of the proceeds or a bridging loan, it is just something I can do, a sale, or anything like that.

MS FILKIN: All you can is to do what you have done, which is to give me the facts as far as you know them and to say what you don't know. I cannot ask you to do more than that because there is no more that anyone can do.

MR ROBINSON: No, except the two things which we have --- I spent the whole year trekking about and looking for those two documents ---

MS FILKIN: I am sure.

MR ROBINSON: --- and checking things. (break in tape)

MS FILKIN: The cash book?

MR ROBINSON: The cash book.

MR O'SULLIVAN: The cash book showed ---


MR ROBINSON: --- where it came from.


MR O'SULLIVAN: Where and when.

MS FILKIN: Have you any ideas about who removed that cash book?

MR ROBINSON: Well, no, I have not given ----

MS FILKIN: I am sure.

MR ROBINSON: I have honestly never looked at a cash book, I was very lucky, I went in at a very high level in business. I knew there was one, of course. No, I do not think it was ....

MR O'SULLIVAN: To give you a semi-answer: the company moved more than three times.

MR ROBINSON: Three times.

MR O'SULLIVAN: And we eventually found the nominal ledger (break in tape)

MS FILKIN: In that period of time.

MR O'SULLIVAN: Because it was ten years.

MR ROBINSON: Again it would not have been us. If we were into that sort of business, we would have removed the - what is it called?

MR O'SULLIVAN: The nominal ledger.

MR ROBINSON: --- the nominal ledger too.

MS FILKIN: No, no, I am not suggesting it was. It was me trying to get a picture.

MR ROBINSON: Roger was very disappointed because he thought he knew exactly where it was but it was not there. Then he went back, I sent him back he took a second holiday to find it.

MS FILKIN: I am most grateful to you. I am most grateful to you for taking time this morning. If you could send me the things we have mentioned today and I shall, as I have said, when this is typed up, let you have a copy to correct before I make use of it.

MR ROBINSON: Will you let me see what you intend to say to the Committee?

MS FILKIN: I am not allowed to tell you what conclusions I come to, but I will let you see all the rest of it.

MR ROBINSON: I think it is best if you send it straight to Bernard.


MR ROBINSON: Would that be all right?

MS FILKIN: Absolutely fine. As I say, at that point you are welcome - I would be grateful - if you would suggest corrections. If you want to say anything else about what slant I am putting on it or what it looks like - I am saying (inaudible) any of that, I hope you will not be but if you were - you are welcome to say it in a letter which I will put to the Committee.

MR ROBINSON: You have always been very fair... (break in tape) I do not know whether you have checked in the Bower book yet but the fact is the story he gives there, of me secretly collecting the cheque, was in fact the date of the payment - the official payment, properly done, - of the Central and Sheerwood money. He elicited the cheque but no one knows where it went, it did not come to me, it was paid out I think some days before the Bower date. That is how badly he researched the whole piece.

MS FILKIN: Thank you.

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