Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
from Mr Geoffrey Robinson MP
You have sent me a copy of Mr Heathcoat-Amory's letter
of 19 March 2001 so that I may comment on the points made in it.
The complaint that Mr Heathcoat-Amory has made is that I failed
to declare a payment of £200,000 remuneration received as
chairman of Hollis Industries plc ("Hollis"). This is
the same complaint as dealt with by the Committee on Standards
& Privileges in 1998 and also by the inquiry conducted under
Section 447 of the Companies Act 1985 by the Department of Trade
It is because this issue has been covered so exhaustively,
particularly by the DTI inquiry, that I am able to respond to
Let me say once again that I have never sought nor
received any payment for my position as chairman of Hollis. This
is the complaint made against me and I am absolutely categoric
on my position.
You will have seen the invoice reproduced in the
Daily Mail on 19 March 2001. Let me explain the background to
During the period April to June 1990 a contract for
management services, notably engineering and sales, was negotiated
between Lock International, a subsiduary of Hollis, and Transfer
Technology Limited, a private company at that time almost exclusively
owned by me. This contract had nothing to do with my role as Chairman
of Hollis. As part of the contract I was to provide management
services. This was expressly done through Transfer Technology
Limited and, in any event, was not declarable since no payment
Correspondence surrounding the negotiation of this
contract is attached for your convenience. You will note that
the agreement was subject to the ultimate approval of Robert Maxwell
(Michael Stoney's letter of 30 April 1990"subject
to Group Chairman's final approval").
As the year progressed a great deal of work was done
by Transfer Technology Limited's engineers and sales people in
execution of the contract and I began to solicit payment from
the Maxwell side from September/October onwards via Michael Stoney
and Kevin Maxwell. As you will have seen from Mr Heathcoat-Amory's
letter and the Daily Mail article, an invoice for the work was
raised on 24 October 1990. My diary records the previous evening
I had met Kevin Maxwell and that day I was working from home.
It is likely that I will have dictated the details for the invoice
to Margaret Simms from home, and this has caused the invoice to
be raised on my home notepaper. Please note, however, that I quite
explicitly stated that the money was to be paid to Transfer Technology
Limited. Mrs Simms does not remember typing the invoice.
The next document reproduced by Mr Bower and the
Daily Mail, dated 26 November 1990, makes it quite clear that
the money had not been paid. The manuscript note on this document
I believe to be that of Kevin Maxwell. In full it reads "bring
forward [to] Robert Maxwell for approval". You will remember
that it was made clear in April 1990 the contract was subject
to his ultimate approval.
The next step was for Kevin Maxwell to present the
invoice to his father. In his letter to my lawyer, dated 22 February
1999 (see attached) Kevin Maxwell is categoric that his father
refused to sanction the payment, despite having previously verbally
agreed to it.
Every person alive who I think would have knowledge
of this has independently said that the money was not received.
Mr Michael Stoney, the Finance Director of PAGB, signed an affidavit
to this effect, which is attached. The other parties who would
have known if the money had been paid to Transfer Technology Limited
are Dr M S Ahmed and Mr Roger Davis the then Managing Director
and Financial Director respectively of Transfer Technology Limited.
Both have signed affidavits to the effect that the money was not
paid to Transfer Technology Limited. (In the time available we
have not located a copy of Dr Ahmed's affidavit. It will follow.
That of Mr Davis is attached).
This leaves open the possibility that the money was
paid to my personal account without any of the above people knowing.
Ms Brenda Price, who handles all my financial matters, has retrieved
all the relevant records. We have my personal bank statements
for the period and, should you wish, you are welcome to study
these, although naturally I would prefer my personal financial
details to remain private.
In the course of the DTI inquiry I obtained my wife
and children's consent to reveal details of any accounts they
may have had. No trace of any undisclosed account was found. Bank
statements for 1990 had, unfortunately, been destroyed by National
Westminster as part of its standard data destruction programme,
but the nearest account records, those of 1991, for myself, my
family and related company records were all fully disclosed.
Returning to the story in the Daily Mail. The details
of cheque number 1751 paid out by PAGB for £200,000 in December
1990 are correct. What neither I, nor the DTI inspector, could
find out was to whom it was paid, despite twelve months of hard
Let me again be categoric. I did not receive the
money directly or indirectly. No one wishes more than I to know
what happened to the cheque.
By way of further background, I should explain that
by December 1990 a proposal had been tabled whereby the business
of Lock, Transfer Technology Limited and others would come together
under one group. By the end of 1990 it was clear that the enlarged
group, which included Lock, would benefit from the work done at
that company and on this basis it was acceptable that the fee
for the management contract was not going to be received.
Please let me know how you would like to take this
23 March 2001