Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report



  111. Mr Greer's company, although only three years old, boasted a lengthy and growing list of prestigious clients and seemed ideally placed to offer Mr Al Fayed what he most lacked. Above all, this was a team of Members, preferably sympathetically inclined towards Mr Al Fayed in his feud with Mr Rowland and Lonrho over the ownership of Harrods, who would be willing to champion his cause in the House and within the relevant government departments, principally the Department of Trade and Industry. What Mr Al Fayed said he wanted from this dedicated lobbying service was "processions in Parliament."

  112. At an introductory meeting with Mohamed and Ali Al Fayed, Mr Greer referred to the access to key decision makers he enjoyed, through a network of personal friendships, business acquaintances and, most importantly, inside knowledge of the Conservative Party. According to the Al Fayeds, Mr Greer claimed an ability to hire Members like taxis (Mr Greer denies this). Certainly, during the gathering of material for a Central Television programme in 1994 (which was not broadcast), Mr Greer, who was being covertly filmed in conversation with actors posing as potential clients, stated: "We would never go out and say we can arrange to have a question tabled, but actually we can." (He later added that it was up to Members to decide individually whether to take such action.)

  113. The arrangement agreed between the Al Fayeds and Mr Greer was for a renewable one year contract, starting on 1 November 1985, for IGA to act as "political advisers" to the Al Fayed Investment Trust, which was then the holding company owning Harrods. The fee, of £25,000 plus VAT, was to be invoiced monthly to Mr Royston Webb, the in-house legal adviser to Harrods.

  114. Mr Greer immediately set about making contact with Ministers, backbench Members and the lawyers who had been most closely involved in the dispute between the Al Fayeds and Lonrho. Because of its importance in placing the present allegations in context, this lobbying operation, and the parts played in it by the individual Members, is described in some detail in the following paragraphs. In doing so, I have drawn on the documents, including Mr Greer's papers, which were assembled for the libel action.

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Prepared 8 July 1997