The Committee on Standards and Privileges has
agreed to the following Report:
COMPLAINT AGAINST MR GEOFFREY ROBINSON:
1. On 3 May 2001 our predecessors reported in the
following terms on a complaint against Mr Geoffrey Robinson:
"1. We have considered
a memorandum from the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
relating to the complaint from Mr David Heathcoat-Amory, Member
for Wells, against Mr Geoffrey Robinson, Member for Coventry North
West. The Commissioner's memorandum and written evidence submitted
by Mr Robinson are appended to this Report. We have taken oral
evidence from Mr Robinson, the minutes of which are published
with this Report.
2. The Commissioner has upheld complaints that
(i) Mr Robinson or his
beneficial interests had received a payment of £200,000 in
respect of management services provided to A M Lock ("Lock"),
a subsidiary of Hollis Industries plc ("Hollis"), which
was registrable and which he had not registered;
(ii) in failing to provide full answers to our
questions in 1998, Mr Robinson had misled us about the payment
of £200,000 shown in the published accounts of Hollis by
withholding information which might have led us to reach a different
(iii) Mr Robinson had additionally misled the
Committee by denying that he had agreed or solicited the £200,000
Mr Robinson strenuously denies all three complaints.
3. Mr Robinson and his solicitor have co-operated
fully in allowing these matters to be considered without delay.
4. During 1990, notably between April and June, Mr
Robinson negotiated an agreement with the Maxwell interests, who
owned Hollis, for the provision by his company, Transfer Technology
Ltd ("TransTec"), of management services to Lock in
return for a payment to TransTec. The agreement included the provision
of his own services as executive chairman of Lock. Mr Robinson
was also non-executive chairman of Hollis. He told us he was unremunerated
in that capacity. His company (TransTec) was to be remunerated
for work, including work done by him, carried out for a subsidiary
of Hollis. In October 1990 Mr Robinson sent an invoice to Hollis
requesting payment of a "Fee for management service provided
to Hollis Industries plc as agreed" in the sum of £200,000,
and asked for the cheque to be made payable to TransTec.
5. Members are required to register any employment
"in which the Member has any pecuniary interest." The
submission of the invoice demonstrates that payment was expected,
and that this was therefore remunerated employment, irrespective
of whether or when the payment was in fact received. Because the
company was owned by Mr Robinson and his own services were an
integral part of the agreement for services for which the remuneration
was sought, the fact that the payment was to be made to his company,
TransTec, for services provided by that company does not alter
our view of this case. Whether the payment was intended to be
made to Mr Robinson or TransTec is immaterial. The October 1990
invoice confirmed the agreement. Both demonstrate the registrable
interest. We find that Mr Robinson had a registrable interest
which he failed to register.
6. When questions were put to him in 1998 about whether
he had received or had expected to receive any benefit in respect
of his chairmanship of Hollis, Mr Robinson did not make available
the documents relevant to the Lock agreement and the invoice he
sent to Hollis, nor did he volunteer information about the negotiations
or the transaction. In his evidence to us Mr Robinson repeatedly
stressed that the arrangement in respect of Lock (Hollis's subsidiary)
was completely separate from his non-executive role as chairman
of Hollis; but he also said at one point that Hollis and Lock
were "one and the same thing". He said he had forgotten
about the arrangement in 1998. He had put considerable effort
into negotiating it and had made several attempts to secure the
agreed payment for it. He should have provided that information.
We agree with the Commissioner's findings set out in paragraphs
2(ii) and (iii) above that he failed to provide the then Commissioner
and the Committee with full and accurate responses to their questions.
7. A subsequent and subsidiary point is that Mr Robinson
has adamantly denied that he received the money and has told us
of his determination to prove his case. Mr Robinson has told us
that he will seek the agreement of the administrators of Pergamon
AGB plc to his carrying out a thorough search of that company's
records in the hope of finding the cheque which is at the centre
of the allegations against him and thereby establishing to whom
it was made payable and who received it. We do not propose to
make a recommendation to the House for three months, which we
regard as a reasonable opportunity for that question to be resolved."
2. That period of three months has now expired. Mr
Robinson informed us that the firm of accountants instructed to
act for him did not find the returned cheque referred to paragraph
7 of the last Committee's Report or the corresponding cheque stub.
A letter from Mr Robinson to the Chairman is appended to this
3. It now falls to us to complete the work of the
last Committee and make a recommendation to the House.
4. We do not assume that payment was made to, or
benefited, Mr Robinson or one of his companies.
5. The last Committee found that Mr Robinson had
failed to provide the Commissioner and the Committee with full
and accurate responses to their questions. We regard that as a
serious breach of the rules of the House. In our view Mr Robinson's
conduct falls below the standard the House is entitled to expect
of its members.
6. We recommend that Mr Robinson be suspended from
the service of the House for three weeks.
2 Seventh Report, Session 2000-01, Complaints against
Mr Geoffrey Robinson (HC 465 (2000-01)). Back