Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360-379)|
MOTTRAM KCB AND
MONDAY 4 MARCH 2002
360. Your legal advisers were advising you on
(Mr Hall) Yes.
361. The ones which no longer exist?
(Mr Hall) Yes.
362. They were in effect your tame legal advisers.
(Mr Hall) No, I think that again is an appalling comment
to make with respect to some very, very good, qualified lawyers.
They are not my tame lawyers, they are the advisers to the Corporation.
363. And you felt they had done a very good
(Mr Hall) I believe our lawyers did a very, very good
job for the Corporation.
364. Thank you very much. Sir Richard, you have
an awful job again, have you not! It is going back over a long
period of time when you were not responsible and for a lot of
the problems you cannot even put your hands on the paperwork,
can you, because a lot of the decisions were not made at meetings
or not recorded. You know, as I think most of us around this table
know, when governments want something done they do and can exert
a lot of influence and pressure to make sure departments conform
with what is an outcome.
(Sir Richard Mottram) We have our departmental papers,
we have all of the audit material because that is the paperwork
which was used to draw up this Report.
365. So you have your departmental papers?
(Sir Richard Mottram) Yes.
366. A bit different from you, Mr Hall, is it
not, because you shredded yours. One of the things I find amazing,
as someone who has acquired property in the past for a local authority,
I made sure, in fact better than sure, that more than one valuation
was done and it was all documented. I will tell you why it was
documented, because now, a few years later, if that deal is uncovered
and someone wants to take a front at that deal, I may have to
face an inquiry myself, but I have made sure those papers are
there to ensure I did everything in accordance with the rules.
I have proof my dealings were legal and, hopefully, above suspicion.
You did not, did you, Mr Hall?
(Mr Hall) It would appear there are documents which
should be available which are not available.
367. Did the police hold an inquiry into this
Corporation at any stage?
(Mr Hall) I think the police looked at a complaint
made by a Member of Parliament but otherwise I am not aware of
the police being involved in the Corporation at all.
368. So there has been no police inquiry into
this Corporation at all?
(Mr Hall) No.
369. If there was an inquiry held, you would
have extreme difficulty proving the decision you made on that
day was in strict accordance with the regulations laid down and
the notes on valuations provided to the Corporation to uphold
your story, would you not?
(Mr Hall) Insofar as those cases refer to the files,
I am not saying there would be a difficulty in responding to them
ultimately if one had all one's advisers around, but the situation
appears to be that the National Audit Office did not find all
the files it wished to find. All I can do is repeat the organisation
and set-up of the disposal of files in the Corporation.
370. You would have difficulty in proving these
deals were open, honest and above-board, would you not?
(Mr Hall) I am totally satisfied they are open and
above-board and that appropriate valuation certificates for those
deals took place.
371. They are not in existence though.
(Mr Hall) It would appear not.
372. In public life the one thing we are terrified
of, above all things, is not the fact we are innocent, in that
respect, we have to prove we are innocent. The media, if they
are on your back, can certainly infer things, and if you are unable
to prove it you are left in that limbo. Your legal advisers on
this one, I would really seriously suggest, were not up to the
job you were paying them for, if they are the people that went
through the files and said you should shred them.
(Mr Hall) As I say, I can only repeat that in relation
to the disposal of documents by the Corporation there was, if
you like, an audit procedure, a basic audit was provided by the
internal audit service of the Corporation about the methodology
we were going to use in relation to our files. Following on from
that they were split between the legal files and the general files.
There was an audit of the legal files and equally there was, in
effect, the audit of the general files.
373. With hindsight, you now see some of the
shredding was inappropriate, to say the least?
(Mr Hall) I am not suggesting it was inappropriate.
The Report is clearly indicating, it is identifying there are
files that are not there.
374. Mr Mottram, your guidelines, as we now
find, are left in tatters and you carried on supporting this Corporation
for reasons best known to yourself, your Department and I believe
with the best question in the world I do not think I am going
to get out of you because of the names on this list of your predecessors.
Do you think the reason the Corporation was not better controlled
is because your Department lacked the power, the will or the ability?
(Sir Richard Mottram) We were trying to improve the
way in which it governed itself. We certainly had the power, we
had the abilitywhat was the third one?
375. The will, the power or the ability?
(Sir Richard Mottram) We had the power but it was
rather a nuclear option. We had the ability and we chose to do
it in a non-nuclear way. We did not have the will to throw the
baby out of the bath water, by which I mean we decided it was
better to soldier on with the existing management, the existing
Chairman, the existing Board than to go for some other option.
376. The question jumps up, why?
(Sir Richard Mottram) The answer is because it was
felt that the key outcome, and this was particularly as you were
approaching 1996 onwards, was effectively to wind down the assets
and liabilities of this organisation. The Department took an active
role in doing that. As I said earlier, even taking an active role
in it we did not succeed because of some pretty amazing behaviour
at the very end.
377. I noticed at times during the questioning
when one of you is answering the other looked a bit askanced and
did not believe the answers that were being given. If you two
got together before the start of the meeting and decided on the
approach it would have been much, much better. Thank you, Chairman.
Chairman: Your last questioner, you will be
relieved to hear.
378. I wonder if I can start off by making a
point about the record of the Development Corporation. As I understand
it, £470 million was spent, partly grant, partly from land
sales, yet you got private sector leveraged investment of 1.1
or 1.2 billion. It strikes me, Sir Richard, that is not all that
good and other organisations had they been give this amount money
to spend in that area obviously would have got results as well.
While clearly this amount of investment has regenerated the area
anybody else would have done if not as well just about as well.
Does that seem fair?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I just do not know.
379. That covers it. They did not discover the
ultimate secret of anything, anybody spending that amount of money
would achieve some good. They are not absolute wonder boys, are
they? Does that seem fair?
(Sir Richard Mottram) I think this was a very difficult
area to regenerate.