Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Seventh Report

Annex NN

Note of interview with Mrs Shirley Caddock by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards

held on 27 March 2001

I explained to Mrs Caddock that I was investigating complaints that the Standards and Privileges Committee and my predecessor had been misled during an earlier inquiry into payments to Mr Geoffrey Robinson M.P. I said that I was trying to establish the facts and to hear directly from her, her recollection of some events. I provided Mrs Caddock with a copy of the leaflet "How to make a complaint against a Member of Parliament" so that she had information about the complaints procedure. I told Mrs Caddock that I would make a note of her answers and send them to her in draft so that she could correct them. I asked Mrs Caddock the following questions and record her replies:

1.    What were your responsibilities as Mr Stoney's secretary, particularly regarding financial matters?

A:   Mr Stoney was group finance director for Hollis PLC. Hollis PLC was the group which included Hollis Industries and Hollis Financial Services. Mr Stoney produced the management accounts for the whole group and I typed letters, memo's, reports for Mr Stoney and dealt with his personal matters as required. There was a team of accountants responsible for drawing up the management accounts and the finances.

2.    How well did you know Mr Robinson?

A:   I knew him fairly well. I saw him quite often. We were on Christian name terms. Mr Robinson had been with the company for a couple of years at that time. I saw him perhaps once a month.

3.    How often did you speak to Mr Robinson on the telephone?

A:   Not every day. We would have irregular telephone contact. But I knew his voice well and I would recognise him when he would say "It's Geoffrey".

4.    What is your recollection of the telephone call alleged to have been made to you by Mr Robinson around December 1990 concerning a payment of £200,000 for management services for Hollis Industries?

A:   I do recall the telephone call, but not word for word as it was a long time ago.

—   Were you aware that the cheque for £200,000 was originally to have been made payable to Transtec?

A:   I couldn't say whether I was aware that the payment was originally to be made to Transtec.

—   What did Mr Robinson say as his reason for wanting the cheque to be payable to another company?

A:   I am afraid I can't remember word for word but he did ask for the cheque to be made payable to him. Looking at what I wrote, it must have been to him personally. If he had asked for it to be made payable to a company, that's what I would have written.

5.    Can you confirm that the note in the bottom left-hand corner of the invoice from Mr Robinson, dated 24 October 1990, is in your handwriting?

A:   Yes.

6.    How soon after the telephone call from Mr Robinson did you make that handwritten note?

A:   Immediately afterwards.

7.    Can you explain precisely what the note meant and what action was intended to follow?

A:   The note was a note to Michael (Stoney) for accounts to pay the invoice.

—   Did you understand that the reason for this request was that the company for whom it was to be paid, was not registered for VAT?

A:   I was told this by Mr Robinson.

—   What did you assume was the company in question?

A:   I assumed that Orchards, at the top of the invoice, was the company.

8.    If Mr Robinson had nominated a company other than Transtec as payee, why would you have used the word "personally", with no reference to the company?

A:   Because he asked that the payment should be made to him personally and not to any company.

9.    Do you know what steps were taken to put Mr Robinson's request into effect?

A:   No, I can't say. I followed the usual practice and gave it to Michael Stoney and I assumed he followed the usual practice which was to give it to Kevin (Maxwell) to authorise it.

10.  Did you discuss the arrangements for making the payment, including the new payee account, with anyone else?

A:   No.

11.  Were you aware of an account called "Orchards" and, if so, what its relationship was with Mr Robinson?

A:   No, but I probably assumed it was one of Mr Robinson's companies because he had a number. But I just did what I was told.

12.  Have you spoken to anyone about this matter within the last few years (including Mr Robinson himself, the journalist Tom Bower, or the DTI inspector, Mr Aldous?)

A:   I spoke to Mr Robinson once when it was first raised before.

—   What did he ask you?

A:   He asked whether I remembered the invoice and whether I remembered it should go to a different company. I told him I couldn't recollect whether it should go to a different company, but I remembered the invoice.

I also spoke to Mr Bower about two months ago. He asked me whether I remembered the invoice or that the cheque should be changed to be paid to some other body. I told him that I only remembered the one instruction to pay it personally to Mr Robinson I did not remember hearing of any other change.

I also saw someone from the SFO after Mr Maxwell died, but I can't remember who it was.

13.  On the basis of what you knew in 1990, as well as the information which has become public since then, is it your belief that Mr Robinson benefited personally from the £200,000 payment, either directly or through a company other than Transtec which he controlled?

A:   I can't really say. I only know that he told me it should be paid to him personally and that's what I wrote on the invoice. It could have been changed afterwards without my knowing. I can't say as things changed so quickly at that time.

27 March 2001

previous page contents next page

House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries index

© Parliamentary copyright 2001
Prepared 4 May 2001