Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report


  36. In an attempt to cut through the initial lack of precision in The Guardian allegations, Counsel to the inquiry wrote to The Guardian's solicitors on 28 January 1997 setting out what we understood their allegations to be.[14] Since this formulation was not contested at the time, the allegations were put in this form to the Members concerned.

  37. Counsel's letter did not include allegations against Mr Brown since these had not yet been formulated in detail. They were, however, set out in my letter to Mr Brown of 30 January.[15]

  38. The allegations referred to in the previous two paragraphs have been amended somewhat in the light of subsequent evidence from The Guardian and others; and the Members concerned have been given the opportunity to respond to this later evidence during the course of the inquiry.

  39. There were four main categories of allegation:

      (i)  that cash payments were made to Members for Parliamentary services provided on behalf of Mr Al Fayed or House of Fraser; and that these cash payments came either direct, or via Mr Greer, from Mr Al Fayed;

      (ii)  that financial interests were persistently not registered in the Register of Members' Interests; and that, in some cases, fees were disguised as one-off commissions for the introduction of business to Ian Greer Associates Ltd[16] in order to make them less obviously registrable;

      (iii)  that financial interests were not declared in relevant proceedings of the House and in representations made to Ministers or contacts with civil servants; also that they were not always declared for tax purposes;

      (iv)  that other actions were incompatible with the standards expected of Members - for example, taking commissions to introduce constituents to lobbyists or ongoing fees to represent constituents' interests; and soliciting business on behalf of lobbyists in the hope of receiving introduction fees.

  40. The Members against whom these allegations were made fell into three groups:

    -    a "lobbying group", said to be engaged in concerted lobbying on behalf of Mr Al Fayed, and largely organized by Mr Greer;

    -    other Members associated with Mr Greer (but not with Mr Al Fayed) against whom more than one allegation had been made;

    -    a larger group, against whom no specific complaint had been made, but who were criticised in the press for failing to register contributions to election expenses from Mr Greer.


  41. It has been claimed that this "group" consisted of Mr Smith, Mr Hamilton, Sir Michael Grylls, Sir Andrew Bowden, and Sir Peter Hordern. Throughout the period covered by the allegations (with one brief exception in the case of Mr Hamilton ), the first three Members named were officers of the Conservative Party backbench Trade and Industry Committee.

  42. In summary, the main allegations against these Members were:

a) Mr Smith, Mr Hamilton, Sir Andrew Bowden, Sir Michael Grylls, Sir Peter Hordern

b) Mr Smith

    -    failure to register such payments;

    -    failure to declare interests in correspondence and other dealings with Ministers and officials.

c) Mr Hamilton

    -    receipt of benefits in kind from Mr Al Fayed and Mr Greer;

    -    failure to register a variety of benefits, including cash payments, commission payments, fees, hospitality and other benefits in kind;

    -    disguising fees as commission payments in order to avoid registration;

    -    failure to acknowledge a financial relationship with Mr Greer when questioned;

    -    failure to declare interests in correspondence and other dealings with Ministers and officials;

    -    failure to account fully for potential tax liabilities;

    -    accepting commissions for introducing constituents to lobbyists and fees for representing constituents.

d) Sir Andrew Bowden

    -    demanding a large annual fee to promote Mr Al Fayed's interests;

    -    failure to register an election donation from Mr Greer;

    -    failure to declare interests in correspondence and other dealings with Ministers and officials.

e) Sir Michael Grylls

    -    failure to register commissions;

    -    disguising fees as commissions in order to avoid registration;

    -    failure to declare interests in correspondence and other dealings with Ministers and officials;

    -    accepting commission payments for introducing constituents to lobbyists;

    -    soliciting business for Mr Greer in the expectation of receiving commission.

f) Sir Peter Hordern

    -    failure to disclose knowledge of interests of other Members in dealings with Ministers and officials;

    -    failure to register hospitality from Mr Al Fayed;


  43. The Members concerned in this category are Mr Michael Brown, Mr Gerry Malone and Lady Olga Maitland. In summary, the allegations against these Members were:

a) Mr Brown

    -    disguising fees as commission payments in order to avoid registration;

    -    failure to declare interests in correspondence and other dealings with Ministers and officials.

b) Mr Malone

    -    failure to register election donations from Mr Greer.

c) Lady Olga Maitland


  44. The Members concerned in this category are: Mr Robert Atkins, Mr Alan Beith, Mr Vivian Bendall, Mr John Bowis, Sir Graham Bright, Mr Nirj Deva, Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody, Sir Anthony Durant, Mr Doug Hoyle, Mr Norman Lamont, Mr David Mellor, Mr Michael Portillo, Mr David Shaw, Mr Chris Smith, Sir Malcolm Thornton, Sir Gerard Vaughan and Sir John Wheeler.

  45. This is part of a longer list of recipients of election campaign donations from Mr Greer, some of whom are no longer Members[18] and are therefore beyond the scope of this inquiry. The complaint against them was:

    -    failure to register election campaign donations from Mr Greer.

Allegations falling outside the Terms of Reference of the Inquiry

  46. Some allegations contained in the book Sleaze and pursued by The Guardian in submissions to the inquiry related to the conduct of Members, particularly Mr Hamilton, in their capacity as Ministers.

  47. One of these allegations in particular[19] was that in 1993 Mr Hamilton, as Corporate Affairs Minister, showed favouritism towards Mr Greer because of their previous business relationship at a time when IGA was lobbying the DTI on behalf of a group of accountancy firms known as the `Big Eight'. The allegation was strongly denied by both Mr Hamilton and Mr Greer.

  48. The alleged misconduct by Mr Hamilton concerns the propriety of his Ministerial dealings with Mr Greer and the Big Eight. This allegation, and the others of a similar nature contained in Sleaze or The Guardian's submissions to the inquiry, are therefore outside my terms of reference.

14  See Appendix 26. Back

15  See Appendix 60. Back

16  Referred to in this report as IGA. Back

17  See para 234. Back

18  ie. during the 1992-97 Parliament. Back

19  Sleaze, p 146. Back

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Prepared 8 July 1997