Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report



  697. There remain a number of other allegations against Mr Hamilton and Sir Michael Grylls which do not conveniently fall within any of the other categories of complaints which have been examined. These are:

    -    that both Mr Hamilton and Sir Michael accepted payment in addition to their Parliamentary salary to represent the interests of their constituents;

    -    that Mr Hamilton asked questions on behalf of Mobil Oil in return for payment;

    -    that Sir Michael solicited business for Ian Greer Associates in the hope of receiving an introduction fee.

Mr Hamilton

National Nuclear Corporation

  698. The allegation that Mr Hamilton accepted additional payment for representing his constituents was as follows:

    -    Mr Hamilton received a commission payment from Mr Greer for introducing NNC to Ian Greer Associates;

    -    Mr Hamilton was employed for one year as a consultant to NNC at a salary of £7,500;


    -    it was already Mr Hamilton's duty as the relevant constituency Member to represent the interests of NNC and its employees and it was therefore improper for him to accept additional payment for carrying out that duty.

  699. Mr Hamilton's response to this allegation was that:

    -    any suggestion that the £7,500 consultancy fee from NNC had purchased Mr Hamilton's support in Parliament was false since he had, ever since his election in 1983, spoken and acted in favour of nuclear power and had continued to do so long after the consultancy with NNC came to an end;

    -    the payment reflected the additional time and effort Mr Hamilton put in on behalf of NNC as part of the consultancy.

  700. It was put to Mr Hamilton[326] that accepting a consultancy from NNC created a potential conflict of interest for him in seeking to represent both the company and others of his constituents with whom he was not in a financial relationship. Mr Hamilton replied: "One would have to have made up one's mind at that point as to whether the conflict of interest was sufficiently great to require one to break the relationship".

  701. Mr Hamilton was also challenged on his statement that the consultancy fee was justified by the extra work involved in representing NNC's interests. He accepted that if, for example, an individual constituent came to him with a particularly complicated social security problem which entailed a great deal of time and paperwork, no question of charging for his services would arise. He again explained that it was NNC which had approached him and the company had clearly thought it appropriate to recompense him "for my pains". He did not think it was "necessarily improper" to devote part of his time to such employment.[327]

  702. Mr Hamilton acknowledged, in reply to a question from Counsel to the inquiry, that it was likely that he would not have informed NNC at the time he was offered a consultancy that he had received, or was expecting to receive, a commission payment from Mr Greer which was directly related to NNC. Explaining this, Mr Hamilton said that he "would not have connected the two".[328]

Mobil Oil

  703. The allegation against Mr Hamilton relating to Mobil Oil was set out in the book Sleaze. It is that Mr Hamilton, either during or shortly after a one year consultancy with Mobil (worth, according to The Guardian, £10,000), tabled Parliamentary Questions in return for payment.

  704. Mr Hamilton stated that he had been appointed in 1989 as a consultant on taxation matters to Mobil Oil and that this interest had been registered (a fact confirmed by the Register for 1990).[329] Mr Hamilton added: "I asked no Parliamentary Questions on behalf of the company; nor was I ever asked to do so".

  705. The analysis of Mr Hamilton's Parliamentary activity between late 1989 and 1991 does not indicate that he tabled any questions, or tabled or signed any Early Day Motions, or made any interventions in the House that could be construed as directly relevant to the interests of Mobil Oil.

  706. The Guardian questioned the reason given by Mr Hamilton for his employment by Mobil, arguing that Mr Hamilton was not at that stage an active tax lawyer. The book Sleaze also, however, quotes Mobil as saying that one of their subsidiary companies was involved in a dispute with the Inland Revenue over US/United Kingdom taxation, a subject on which they regarded Mr Hamilton as an expert. The Guardian pointed to the significance, in their view, of the fact that at about the same time as Mobil concluded a consultancy agreement with Mr Hamilton, they had engaged IGA as a Parliamentary lobbyist.

Plateau Mining

  707. One other matter relating to Mr Hamilton was raised in the book Sleaze in a way which implied misconduct on his part. This concerned Mr Hamilton's relationship with Plateau Mining, a mineral exploration company. In the book, The Guardian claimed that shortly after Mr Hamilton took up a non-executive directorship with Plateau Mining, and following a director's report in which his contribution to the company was praised, the company was floated on the stock market. Eighteen months later the share price fell from 90p to 13p, producing a significant loss for investors. Moreover, according to The Guardian, although Mr Hamilton resigned from the company on being appointed a Whip in July 1990, he appeared to have continued to draw a salary until September 1990.

  708. Mr Hamilton explained that he had taken up the appointment with Plateau Mining in January 1990 and the interest had been registered (a fact confirmed by the 1991 Register). His salary had been paid quarterly in arrears. Although he had left the company in July 1990, the company had decided to pay him, as a valediction, a further quarter's salary.

  709. It was also alleged in the book Sleaze that Mr Hamilton, after becoming a Minister, attended an annual general meeting of Plateau Mining. Mr Hamilton did not deny this but said that his principal motivation had been the prospect of "a good lunch".[330] He denied any impropriety on his part.

  710. In so far as it relates to Mr Hamilton's conduct as a Minister, this allegation is beyond the scope of my inquiry. Nor was it claimed by The Guardian that Mr Hamilton should have registered the hospitality received from Plateau Mining.

Sir Michael Grylls

Charles Church

  711. As with Mr Hamilton, Sir Michael Grylls faced an accusation in the book Sleaze that he took money, over and above his Parliamentary salary, for services to a constituent which it was already his duty to perform as the relevant constituency Member.

  712. The specific allegation was that Sir Michael accepted a commission payment from Mr Greer for introducing as a client a property company, Charles Church, whose headquarters were in Sir Michael's constituency.

  713. Sir Michael's explanation[331] was that although he and Lady Grylls had known Mr Church and his wife socially, Mr Church was not a constituent of his. It was true, however, that Mr Church's company had its main office in Camberley, in Sir Michael's constituency. Mr Church had been aware that Sir Michael was working with Mr Greer through the Unitary Tax Campaign and had asked if he could recommend IGA as a suitable public relations company to assist in his campaign for a change in planning legislation.

Rank Xerox

  714. The final outstanding allegation against Sir Michael Grylls is that, according to the book Sleaze, he sought to promote the appointment of IGA as a lobbyist by Rank Xerox, knowing that he would thereby receive a commission payment from Mr Greer.

  715. According to The Guardian, in the early 1980s Rank Xerox was looking for political support in its pursuit of an anti-dumping case against Japan and made contact with Sir Michael in his capacity as Chairman of the Conservative Party backbench Trade and Industry Committee. At that time Rank Xerox were employing the public relations firm Shandwick, and in particular Mr Keith Lockwood, to advise them on tactics.

  716. Mr Lockwood was quoted in Sleaze as stating that he had organised a meeting between a Rank Xerox executive and Sir Michael at the House of Commons. The following day, Mr Lockwood had visited the company and had overheard a telephone conversation between Sir Michael and the Rank Xerox executive in which Sir Michael had said that he would be willing to help with the campaign, but only if the company engaged a good lobbying company. Whereupon, Mr Lockwood claimed, Sir Michael offered Mr Greer's name and telephone number. On being told that Rank Xerox already retained the services of Shandwick, Sir Michael replied that, in that case, there was "little he could do to help".

  717. Mr Lockwood expressed particular surprise that Sir Michael should have recommended IGA to Rank Xerox since "at that time, Mr Greer did not have an operation in Brussels and this was above all a European issue".

  718. In a statement,[332] Mr Lockwood confirmed that the account given in Sleaze was correct as far as he could recall it. He could not, however, remember the name of the Rank Xerox executive who had been present at the meeting with Sir Michael and whom Sir Michael had telephoned the next day.

  719. Sir Michael, in his oral evidence,[333] expressed the belief that The Guardian's allegation was based on a misunderstanding of his role. To the best of his recollection, he had suggested that IGA might be able to help Rank Xerox but once it was clear that they already employed a public relations firm "there did not seem to be much more to be done". Whether that constituted commission-seeking was "a matter of opinion". But he denied that he had made any further assistance on his part to Rank Xerox dependent on their appointing IGA.

325  Q 2228. Back

326  Q 2229. Back

327  Q 2230. Back

328  Q 2225. Back

329  The interest was first notified to the Registrar in November 1989. Back

330  Source: Note by the Government Chief Whip, dated 24 October 1994 (not appended). Back

331  See Appendix 49. Back

332  See Appendix 96. Back

333  Q 2408-2420. Back

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Prepared 8 July 1997