Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report



  Ian Bramwell Greer of 19 Catherine Place, London, SW1E 6DX will say:

1. I am 62 years of age, having been born in 1933. After leaving school at 17, I went on to further education at a business college before, in 1953, commencing work for Conservative Central Office as a Constituency Campaign Organiser. I later became the then youngest Conservative Party agent in the country.

  2. I have always, throughout my adult life, taken a great interest in politics, probably through the influence of my parents, who were both Salvation Army Officers and deeply committed Christians who devoted a great deal of their time to social work. I can recall at the age of about 12 or so delivering leaflets in support of the late Winston Churchill's election campaign. I recall that at the time I started work for Conservative Central Office I was paid £6.00 per week which, even those days, represented little more than a subsistence allowance. My work involved establishing the structure of Conservative Party organisations in the various constituencies where I was sent, raising funds and seeking to introduce new members to the Conservative Party. I thought a great deal about the possibility of standing for Parliament myself but, since I do not come from a wealthy background, and knowing how insecure an MP's position can be, after 13 years I decided to concentrate on developing my own professional career, outside the Conservative Party.

  3. My first thought was to seek employment with a public relations company, but my name was passed to the then Lord Butler, better known as RAB Butler, the former Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Education, and Sir Evelyn De Rothschild, a member of the famous banking family, who were involved in establishing the Mental Health Trust. I left the employment of the Conservative Party in 1966 to become National Director of the Trust, which was an organisation pledged to a campaign to raise money and to change the attitude of both the public and government towards the mentally ill. At the time, there remained a great deal of ignorance about mental illness not only amongst the public but also amongst politicians; the attitude still at that time was to lock the mentally ill away from other members of the community in huge, Victorian institutions. I recall our campaign slogan at the time was "Hurt Minds Can Be Healed" and I believe that a great deal of the work which I, and others connected with the Trust, carried out, helped to enlighten both the public and the legislators to have a greater understanding of the problems of mental illness. I held the position for two years, working as a lobbyist on behalf of the mentally ill, their families and dependents.

  4. My experience at the Mental Health Trust demonstrated to me the contribution an effective lobbying campaign can make. I was already aware, from my time at Conservative Central Office, where I had always taken a keen interest in American as well as British politics, of the far greater developed lobbying system which had grown up in the US and the more effective way in which campaigns were mounted, by both professional and non professional lobbyists in the US, in order to ensure that legislators had a better understanding of particular social or business concerns. I was also aware of the very wide feeling amongst industrialists that Members of Parliament and Government Ministers had no real understanding of their needs, and the widespread feeling of MPs and Government Ministers that industrialists did not understand the process of government. I accordingly decided, with a colleague, to start a political public relations company, Russell Greer Associates, which was set up in 1968. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that the concept was ahead of its time. I found it very frequently to be the case, when approaching potential clients, that the attitude tended to be that the directors of a company felt they would be able to follow what was going on in Parliament from reading the Financial Times or, quite frequently, I would be told that one of the directors had been close personal friends of an MP for many years and was quite sure that the MP would keep the company informed of anything it needed to know. Many of the people I met at this time seemed to have great confidence in the traditional "old boy" network and, although my intention had been for Russell Greer Associates to be involved mainly in political matters, it became largely a financial and general public relations company. The years from 1968 until 1982 were a time of great struggle for me financially, trying to develop the business.

  5. In 1982, John Russell and I parted company, and I, in effect, re-launched my business as Ian Greer Associates Limited (IGA), trying again to realise my initial ambition of establishing a political relations company. I found that the climate, by that time, had changed considerably since 1968, which I put down to the great political turmoil in the aftermath of the miners' strike and the continuing battles between the Government and the unions. I suddenly found that industrialists I met were starting to take politics much more seriously and the government had shown that it was more prepared to address the major problems and concerns of British Industry.

  The battles with the unions at the time, it seemed to me, created a need to bring industry closer to government. When I spoke with potential clients, at this time, I found a far greater interst in the services I would be able to offer as a political consultant and lobbyist. It was also at around this time that another lobbying company was set up, GJW, which was formed by three former advisers to the leaders of the Conservative, Liberal and Labour Party who had seen the same opportunities as I had.

  6. IGA was initially established with a staff of three and two existing clients. The company grew, developed and gained a reputation for professionalism over the next 13 years. IGA has acted as advisers to some of the best known national and international companies, charities, trade associations and professional bodies. We opened an office in Brussels and, at the time the article which is the subject of these proceedings was published in The Guardian, we employed a total staff of 45. Our clients have included British Airways, DHL, Coca Cola, the Royal Marsden Hospital and other commercial and charitable organisations; there have also been organisations which have approached us for whom we have declined to act, such as the former Apartheid Government of South Africa, and the Pro-Whaling and Pro-Fur Trapping campaigns where I felt strongly opposed to their aims. IGA has also provided its services free to charities such as Actionaid and to the UK/Brussels offices of the African National Congress, in the run-up to the first all-party, non-racial democratic elections in South Africa. Our success has been due to the commitment and hard work of a small, enthusiastic team which has been deliberately drawn from all three of the major political parties, from the Civil Service and from business. As a company we are committed to providing clients with a 24 hour service. Our reputation for professionalism and integrity in our dealings with Governments, MPs and Civil Servants and with our clients has been established and widely recognised for many years. It took one article in The Guardian newspaper on a day in October 1994 to destroy the reputation of my company which I had built up over many years, the allegation that I had arranged for payments to be made corruptly to MPs strikes at the very heart of my business; obviously, the nature of the allegation was such that existing clients and potential clients could not be seen to employ me in case it were suggested that they also, through me, might be making similar corrupt payments, in order to advance their own interests. The only thing which surprises me, and gives me some consolation, is that some of our clients, sure from their previous dealings with me and my company that the allegations are entirely false, have continued to employ my company notwithstanding the risk that they may be criticised in the press for doing so.

  7. Companies employ accountants to provide them with financial advice, lawyers to provide them with legal advice and public relations companies to advise them upon dealing with and presenting information to the media. Companies employ political consultants for two essential reasons:

  (a)   to provide them with up to date information as soon as it is available upon legislation, or proposals for legislation, or policy announcements which may affect their commercial interests;

  (b)   to assist the companies in making representations to Ministers, Opposition Spokesmen, Peers, MPs and Civil Servants in order to try to ensure that any concerns they have are considered and addressed by those responsible for making the policy decisions which may affect the company's interests.

  8. Lobbyists, whether employed professionally or not, are to be found representing the interests of all manners of commercial organisations, trade unions, charities and environmental groups. There are currently 6,500 professional lobbyists registered in Washington alone; in Europe, operating within Brussels, their are 93 professional lobbyists, some large companies and some "one man bands". In the UK there are 50 professional consultants, 20 large and 30 one man bands. In recent years there has been a trend for public relations companies, lawyers and accountancy firms to set up lobbying departments; some companies have particularly well developed lobbying divisions.

  9. Until the publication of the article in The Guardian which is the subject of these proceedings, it had been my experience that, increasingly, the Government, MPs on both sides of the House of Commons and the Civil Service welcomed the kind of professional representation which my firm, and other professional lobbyists, provided. The advantages on both sides of good communications between those responsible for the implementation of legislation and those affected by it are perfectly clear, the role of the professional lobbyist is to ensure that the clients' concerns are communicated effectively and professionally to decision takers and those who advise them. The benefit to Government Ministers, MPs and Civil Servants is that they will know of any concerns of the particular clients which they can then consider, take into account, and then accept or reject when framing legislation or making other regulations. Not only Companies but professional bodies, such as the Law Society and the Bar Council, and associations such as the Newspapers Publishers' Association employ lobbyists.

  10. It is, of course, the case that any individual, any company or any other organisation has every right to lobby MPs themselves. The same can equally be said that every individual has a right to present his own case in court proceedings. Litigants, however, will choose to instruct, and pay for, lawyers to represent them in court proceedings because the lawyers will have the experience and training, up to date knowledge of the relevant law, will know all the relevant rules of practice and procedure, and thus be able to present the case to the court more effectively than the individual could on his own. It is for much the same reason that people employ political lobbyists and, just as both a Judge and a lawyer would be outraged at any suggestion that a case was advanced by the lawyer arranging for a Judge to receive "back-handers", so I am outraged by the suggestion that I should arrange or in anyway be involved in making payments to MPs to carry out work for me or for my clients, whether in putting down Parliamentary questions or voting in a particular way in the process of legislation. I have a good relationship with many Government Ministers, MPs, Peers and Civil Servants, I would never dare even to suggest to any of the people I know that there would be some financial reward for them if they were to carry out particular tasks for the benefit of any of my clients, I believe and I expect that any lobbyists who made such a suggestion would, at the very least, be rightly barred from the precincts of the Houses of Parliament. I have never sought to bribe MPs, or pay for them to ask questions and I do not believe any other professional lobbyist would do so.

  11. I was first introduced to Mohamed Al-Fayed and his brother, Ali-Fayed in October 1985 by Lord King, the Chairman of British Airways. As was well known at the time, Mohamed Al-Fayed was engaged in a major personal battle with Tiny Rowland, (the then Chairman of Lonrho) concerning the ownership of the House of Fraser which controlled Harrods. When I met them, it was in the aftermath of the release in 1984 of an interim report, criticising Mohamed Al-Fayed, prepared by DTI inspectors who were conducting an investigation of the House of Fraser under the Companies Act. I met Mohamed Al-Fayed and his brother at their apartment in Park Lane and they briefed me on their requirement for professional political advisers, to work alongside their lawyers, public relations consultants and other advisers. Their particular concern was that they were being regularly attacked by Tiny Rowland both through his newspaper, The Observer, and in Parliament through Edward Du Cann MP who was also a Director of Lonrho. I was told they were anxious to achieve a better understanding by Minister and MPs of their personal commitment to and investment in Britain and, to this end, they wanted to have the opportunity to brief Ministers, MPs and Peers who had a particular interest in the issues of trade, investment and industry. I was informed that one of their solicitors, Michael Palmer of Palmer Cowen, was in correspondence with Leon Brittan, then the Trade and Industry Secretary about their concerns. It was explained to me that the House of Fraser had retained Sir Peter Hordern MP as a consultant for a number of years, but they were now looking to employ my firm as political advisers to help them further in their attempts to counter the attacks made upon them by Tiny Rowland. It was agreed that my company would be retained at an annual fee of £25,000. At no time then, or later, did I ever remotely suggest that any part of our fees would be used to pay MPs nor did I ever say to Mohamed Al-Fayed, his brother or to anyone else, anything to the effect that it was necessary to rent MPs like a taxi, as was alleged in The Guardian.

12. As with any new client, it was necessary for my colleagues and I to be fully briefed. My staff and I were shown material relating to the purchase of the House of Fraser, and we had meetings with the company's in house lawyer, Royston Webb and with other House of Fraser advisers. All the professional advisers, such as the solicitors they used, Herbert Smith, and Kleinwort Benson, their bankers, were highly respected and I had no reason at the time to doubt the information I was given. The impression I had was that Tiny Rowland's campaign against Mohamed Al-Fayed was nothing more than a case of "sour grapes" in that, as I understood it, Lonrho had originally tried to acquire the House of Fraser, but the bid for the company had been referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission; my understanding was that Tiny Rowland had then sold to Mohamed Al-Fayed a substantial share holding in the House of Fraser and, thereafter, Mohamed Al-Fayed had successfully bid for and acquired control of the House of Fraser, without his bid being referred to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission. It was, I believe, common knowledge that Tiny Rowland had for many years aspired to take control of the House of Fraser and it was widely assumed that he bitterly resented Mohamed Al-Fayed for beating him to it.

  13. My brief from Mohamed Al-Fayed and the House of Fraser, which we agreed on 5 November 1985, was to monitor and keep them informed of any political developments which might affect their interests. I was also asked to provide them with my thoughts as to relevant Peers and MPs, in particular those who had an understanding of, or responsibility for financial investment or trade and industry matters who could be approached so that they would have a greater understanding of Mohamed Al-Fayed's side in the dispute with Tiny Rowland. The MPs whose names I suggested particularly included the officers of the Conservative Back-bench Trade and Industry and Finance Committees who, I knew were beginning to take an interest in both sides to the dispute and who, I felt, would be unlikely to be sympathetic towards Tiny Rowland, Lonrho and The Observer newspaper, particularly in the light of the criticisms of the activities of the Lonrho Group made by Edward Heath, when he was Prime Minister. More widely, I felt that there would be other Peers and MPs, both Conservative and Labour, who would be concerned that, contrary to the assurances given at the time Lonrho took over The Observer Newspaper, Tiny Rowland seemed to be using the newspaper in order to advance his own personal battles. One of the first tasks, accordingly, which IGA carried out was to write to a number of Peers and MPs who we felt would want to be briefed on the issue of the House of Fraser's and Mohamed Al-Fayed's position.

  14. From the time I first met Mohamed Al-Fayed, and throughout the time IGA acted for him, I found him personally a very charming and engaging character. I found myself sympathetic towards him for what I believed were the spiteful and malicious attacks against him by Tiny Rowland. On the other hand, he was also highly temperamental, given to passionate outbursts of anger and frustration, when he would complain about how the attacks upon him by Tiny Rowland were continuing, about the length of time it was taking the Government to clear him and about IGA's lack of progress. I particularly recall Mohamed Al-Fayed on more than one occasion making the ridiculous demand that I should arrange for "processions in Parliament", presumably with MPs marching in some kind of support of solidarity for him. When he spoke to me in these states of agitation, I found the only thing I could do, because it was so difficult to get through to him, was to listen politely to what he said, to try to explain to him that was not the way things worked and that he needed to be patient in getting across to the Government and to MPs the merits of his case. I found that when Mohamed Al-Fayed behaved this way it was very helpful to talk to his long-standing in house legal adviser, Royston Webb, who was always in my experience, very loyal to Mohamed Al-Fayed, but always anxious to restrain him from saying and doing things which would be unhelpful to his cause. Royston Webb's reaction to this kind of situation was to tell me not to take any notice of what Mohamed Al-Fayed said he was in a such a state, that the mood would soon pass and that he would forget all about it. I found Royston Webb very competent and professional in my dealings with him and I was always struck by his loyalty to Mohamed Al-Fayed in the sense that, even when he was telling me to take no notice of the instructions Mohamed Al-Fayed gave me, Royston Webb was always clearly trying to see and work towards Mohamed Al-Fayed's best interests.

  15. It is suggested by The Guardian, in its defence, that IGA co-ordinated a kind of "gang of four" MPs to conduct a Parliamentary lobbying operation for Mohamed Al-Fayed and the House of Fraser. Sir Peter Hordern was retained as a consultant by the House of Fraser and he was obviously an MP with whom I kept in contact throughout the time IGA acted for Mohamed Al-Fayed. Michael Grylls, Neil Hamilton, and Tim Smith were all officers of the Conservative Back-bench Trade and Industry Committee. I have known Sir Michael Grylls MP since 1959, when I was the Conservative Party agent in Dartford and he was a personal assistant to the then Conservative candidate, Peter, now Lord Walker and, as Chairman of the Conservative Back-bench Trade and Industry Committee he was someone I thought from the outset would be likely to take a particular interest. I have known Neil Hamilton MP for many years, first meeting him before he became a Member of Parliament and while he was pupil at the Bar, when I was introduced to him by his wife, Christine, who has worked for many years as a secretary in the House of Commons; because of my personal friendship with Mr Hamilton and because of his interest in Trade and Industry matters, he was obviously one of the first MPs I would approach. Tim Smith MP is not someone I knew particularly well before, or got to know particularly well during the time IGA acted for Mohamed Al-Fayed, I cannot now recall whether it was I who introduced him to Mohamed Al-Fayed, or whether someone else may have done so. I reject entirely the suggestion that I in some way "co-ordinated" these four MPs, if the word is intended to suggest that I in some way corrupted them. My function was to help Mohamed Al-Fayed and the House of Fraser present their case to MPs and, as always, it is entirely a matter for the individual MP to decide for himself whether he is sympathetic and whether he wishes to pursue the case further, if he can.

  16. It was alleged in the article published in The Guardian that IGA paid the MPs, Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith £2,000 a time to ask Parliamentary Questions on behalf of Mohamed Al-Fayed and the House of Fraser. This allegation is entirely false as, from the wording of its Defence, The Guardian now appears to accept, although it has never published any apology to me for making the allegation in the first place, although it has never published any apology to me for making the allegation in the first place, nor has it published any correction to inform its readers. The Guardian, and other newspapers and broadcasters with whom, it is quite clear, Mohamed Al-Fayed has been in touch, will have given the public a completely misleading idea of the purpose and nature of Parliamentary Questions. All MPs, and MPs alone, have the right to put oral or written questions to Government Ministers on issues of national or constituency concern; very often the questions are not merely a request for information, but designed to make a particular political point. There are, in any one year, approximately 45,000 questions tabled to Ministers and they cover every aspect of national life. If a company, a charity, a trade union or a constituent makes representations to an MP, if the MP is interested and regards the matter of national or local concern, he and he alone can put down a Parliamentary Question. Another means by which MPs may draw the attention of the House of Commons to a particular issue is by tabling an Early Day Motion, the extent of the interest in which may be ascertained from the number of signatures put to it; which can vary from a single signature to perhaps dozens. Early Day Motions are rarely debated, but can be of significance in ascertaining the mood of the House of Commons on a specific issue. My staff and I, in common I have no doubt with other lobbyists, have on many occasions drafted questions and sometimes Early Day Motions at the request of MPs from all the main parties; the decision as to whether a Question, oral or written, or an Early day Motion is tabled, remains a decision entirely for the MP alone. I have never paid, offered to pay or heard any MP suggest that he should be paid for putting down a question or an Early Day Motion, and I do not believe that any professional lobbyist would do so.

  17. The work which IGA agreed to do for Mohamed Al-Fayed and the House of Fraser is clearly explained in a letter I wrote, marked "Strictly Private and Confidential" to Mohamed Al-Fayed dated 23 January 1986, which I wrote in a state of some embarrassment, after he had complained that one of the MPs to whom I had suggested that he should write, Roger Gale MP, had written back, pointing out that the letter sent to him had been inappropriately worded, and Mohamed Al-Fayed had taken offence with Mr Gale's letter. If, as according The Guardian Mohamed Al-Fayed alleges, I had told him that he had to rent an MP like a taxi, he would have found the wording of my letter to him extremely surprising because, in the letter, I make it quite clear that the work IGA would be carrying out was designed to give MPs a much better understanding of Mohamed Al-Fayed's position and the reasons why he felt aggrieved with Tiny Rowland. If, as The Guardian would have its readers believe, what was required of IGA was to bribe MPs, the letter would make no sense whatsoever. IGA's papers on the House of Fraser file have been made available to The Guardian in the course of these proceedings and they show very clearly the work carried out on their behalf and the approaches we made not only to Conservative but also to Labour MPs and, indeed, Peers from all parties. The work, as I saw it, was not essentially a "party political" matter, although, as I anticipated from the outset, the Conservative MPs we approached, generally, were not at all favourably inclined towards Tiny Rowland and Lonrho and were therefore inclined to be sympathetic towards Mohamed Al-Fayed. Mohamed Al-Fayed was, however, very keen, particularly in early 1989 to find a "champion" of his cause on the Labour benches; Mohamed Al-Fayed appeared at that time, to be becoming increasingly concerned that the DTI investigation into the House of Fraser had not gone as he had wanted; for along time, Mohamed Al-Fayed had shown a great deal of animosity towards the then Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, Michael Howard, who he always blamed for being the architect of the DTI investigation into the House of Fraser and he seemed to believe that Michael Howard was part of some Jewish conspiracy against him. Clearly the Conservative MPs who had been sympathetic to Mohamed Al-Fayed would not be likely to criticise Michael Howard publicly and therefore I agreed to make approaches to find out whether there would be anyone in the Labour ranks who might be prepared to take the matter up. I spoke with the late Allan Roberts MP (the then Labour Party Frontbench Spokesman on the Environment) about Mohamed Al-Fayed's concerns; it was he who told me that he had subsequently spoken with Neil Kinnock, the then leader of the Labour Party; who had taken the view that it was not a matter for a frontbench spokesman, but had suggested that Alan Roberts raise it with the assiduous back-bencher, Dale Campbell-Savours, who, from then on, put down a large number of Parliamentary questions and Early Day Motions supportive of Mohamed Al-Fayed or critical of Tiny Rowland and Lonrho, even though he had previously put down questions which were supportive of Tiny Rowland and Lonrho and critical of Mohamed Al-Fayed. Thereafter, Royston Webb of the House of Fraser worked directly with Dale Campbell-Savours, and drafted for him dozens of Early Day Motions and Parliamentary Questions, keeping me informed of their dealings. I should make it clear that I do not suggest and I did not believe at the time or believe now that Dale Campbell-Savours was paid by Mohamed Al-Fayed to put down Questions or Early Day motions.

  18. Whilst it was alleged in the article in The Guardian that Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith had been paid, through IGA, to ask Parliamentary Questions at £2,000 per time, it is now claimed by The Guardian in its Defence served in the libel proceedings, very differently, that Neil Hamilton was paid, over two and a half years, a total of £28,000 from Mohamed Al-Fayed personally at "face to face" meetings and that Mr Smith received from Mohamed Al-Fayed personally over approximately the same period, cash amounting to about £6,000, and I am alleged to have known of this. Mr Hamilton, I am aware, denies the allegation categorically; he has denied it in these proceedings and he has denied it in the House of Commons. The allegations made by The Guardian make no logical sense to me at all; Tim Smith asked more questions in the House of Commons than Mr Hamilton did, and Mr Campbell-Savours asked more questions and set down more Early Day Motions than either of them did yet, according to The Guardian, Mr Hamilton was paid £28,000, Tim Smith £6,000 and Dale Campbell-Savours, I presume, noting at all. The first time I even heard of an allegation of an MP being paid to ask Parliamentary Questions was when this was raised with me at a meeting I had with the Defendant journalist, David Hencke, and a colleague of his from The Guardian, John Mullin, at a meeting at my offices on 23 July 1993, of which a transcript is available. It was made quite clear to me when the matter was raised, that the allegation had nothing whatsoever to do with Ian Greer Associates or Ian Greer but that it had to do with the House of Fraser. I was told an allegation had been made about the House of Fraser that, in return for Parliamentary Questions being asked by a friendly MP, "a brown envelope stuffed with fivers would be passed to the MP." In that connection, Tim Smith's name was mentioned "because he put down 17 questions". I made it quite clear to Mr Hencke and his colleague that I had absolutely no knowledge of anyone paying an MP to ask a Question and said that I would be amazed if any Member of Parliament would allow themselves to enter into such an arrangement. I regarded the very idea as so wild and ridiculous, and it did not feature at all in the article Mr Hencke and Mr Mullin subsequently wrote and published in The Guardian on 5 October 1993, that I thought no more about it and did not discuss it with Tim Smith who I did not know very well. My assumption was that it was a preposterous allegation which had been made by Tiny Rowland or someone from Lonrho in the midst of the war of words they had with Mohamed Al-Fayed over the House of Fraser. I did ring Royston Webb of the House of Fraser to report to him the allegation which Mr Hencke had made; nothing Royston Webb said led me to believe there was any truth in it. It did not occur to me for one moment at the time, that the allegation might have originated from Mohamed Al-Fayed himself. I do recall that at one point whilst I was acting for the House of Fraser, Mohamed Al-Fayed raised with me the possibility of the House of Fraser employing Tim Smith as a consultant in addition or, perhaps, in place of Sir Peter Hordern MP; I cannot recall whether I said that I would speak with Tim Smith or whether I suggested that Mohamed Al-Fayed should raise it with Tim Smith himself, but I certainly do not recall anything coming of it. None of the MPs with whom I was in contact whilst I was acting for the House of Fraser ever mentioned to me receiving any money from the House of Fraser.

  19. It is claimed in the Defence that IGA and I knew that Mr Hamilton had stayed at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and run up a bill of over £2,000 at Mohammed Al-Fayed's expense and that I knew that Mr Hamilton had deliberately omitted to register this benefit. I knew, after his return, that Neil and Christine Hamilton had stayed at the Ritz Hotel when on holiday in France in 1987; as I recall neither Neil Hamilton nor Christine made any secret of the fact that they had stayed at the hotel and I can remember hearing them talk very openly about it in the House of Commons. Neither I nor any of my staff, as far as I am aware, checked the register of Members Interests to see whether the visit had been entered. As far as I am concerned, it is not my part to tell any Member of Parliament what he should or should not register, it is a matter entirely for the MPs themselves to decide. Mohammed Al-Fayed had, prior to Mr Hamilton's stay at the Ritz, through me, invited Sir Peter Hordern, Neil Hamilton, Sir Michael Grylls, Sir William Clarke and other Conservative members of the Back-bench Trade and Industry and Finance Committees by letters dated 3 April 1987. Mohammed Al-Fayed had purchased the late Duchess of Windsor's home in Paris, which, apparently, had been renovated and he appeared to be very proud to show it off. At the time, I believe that invitations were issued to a number of journalists, well-known industrialists and Members of both Houses of Parliament to stay at the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It was originally proposed that the MPs would stay for the weekend of 25-26 April 1987 but, on 9 April 1987 the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry announced that he was setting up an inquiry into the House of Fraser and I wrote to the MPs concerned suggesting that the visit should be postponed.

  20. It is claimed in the Defence in these proceedings that on 18 May 1987, Mohamed Al-Fayed gave to me cheques totalling £18,000 for the purpose of putting IGA in funds to make payments to Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith for work they were said to have carried out on behalf of Mohamed Al-Fayed, in tabling Parliamentary Questions and Motions. It is alleged that IGA paid over some or all of this money to Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith. The allegation is utterly false. A general election was announced on 11 May 1987, and Parliament was dissolved on 18 May 1987. I have, and IGA has, regularly raised and donated funds to the Conservative Party over many years. From my own experience at Conservative Central Office and, at that time, working with local Constituency Associations, I have known how urgently funds may be needed locally to mount an effective campaign. For this reason, at the time of general elections, I have myself sent money and raised money specifically targeted to help out Conservative Candidates in marginal constituencies. I explained in May 1987 to Mohamed Al-Fayed what I did, after he had told me that he had made a large donation to the Conservative Party himself, and he agreed to send me, for this purpose, the sum of £12,000. Later the same week, I spoke to Mohamed's brother, Ali to see whether I could raise further money and was subsequently sent a cheque by Mohamed Al-Fayed for another £6,000. The funds I raised came from more than one source; the funds I received from Mohammed Al-Fayed were sent as donations to the Constituency fighting funds of Conservative candidates. Since the funds were raised from more than one source, none of the associations were told from whom I had raised the money. In a letter I wrote to Ali Al-Fayed dated 28 May 1987, I stated that I would let him know, after the election was over, who was assisted; I have no recollection or record of ever having done so, but Mohammed Al-Fayed and his brother Ali Fayed knew exactly what the money was for when they donated it. It is also clear from my letter of 9 October 1987 to Ali Fayed, in which I invited him to consider taking advertising space at the 38th Winter Ball in aid of the Conservative Party marginal seats both that I was helping to raise money for the Conservative Party in this way and that it was my understanding that he and Mohamed Al-Fayed were interested in supporting this cause. The money I raised from Mohammed Al-Fayed in 1987 was certainly not paid as some kind of reward of inducement to Neil Hamilton or to Tim Smith, neither of whom were in marginal constituencies and neither of whose associations therefore benefited in any way from the donations which were made.

  21. It is alleged in the Defence that on 1 February 1990, IGA rendered to the House of Fraser a special invoice over and above a monthly retainer fee of £500 for £13,333 plus VAT; this is alleged to have been specifically to cover payments to Members of Parliament including Neil Hamilton and Tim Smith. The position as far as IGA's fees was concerned was that on 31 October 1985 the contract commenced at an annual agreed fee of £25,000, plus expenses, with all invoices being sent to Royston Webb or J Molloy at the House of Fraser for their attention; on 28 November 1989, because of the Government's delay in publishing the full report of the DTI investigation into the House of Fraser, I agreed at a meeting with Royston Webb that, from 1 December 1989, IGA's fees would drop to £6,000 per annum, to be invoiced at a monthly rate of £500. We further agreed that if and when the DTI report was published, the fee would be increased to reflect the additional work which we anticipated would be necessary, as by that time it was becoming clear that the report would be very damaging to Mohamed Al-Fayed and that much additional work would be needed on the part of IGA to try to defend Mohamed Al-Fayed's position as best we could. When, two months later, it became clear that the DTI would be publishing its report imminently, I agreed with Royston Webb a project fee of £13,333 plus VAT which would cover a three month period from 1 February to 30 April 1990. I subsequently sent him an invoice for this sum in the usual way. The invoice was accounted for in IGA's books in exactly the same way as all the other invoices and no part of the funds received was passed to Neil Hamilton, Tim Smith or to any other MP.

  22. It is stated in the Defence in these proceedings that I have admitted, as is the fact, in a letter dated 9 May 1990 which I sent to the Clerk to a Select Committee of the House of Commons that IGA had, on six occasions between 1985 and 1990 made payments to individual Members of Parliament. As The Guardian knows, because I made the position entirely clear when giving evidence before the Select Committee, IGA, unlike some other professional lobbying companies, has never retained as consultants or as directors any Member of Parliament. It is, however, usual business practice for lobbyists, in common with many other businesses such as public relations companies, accountants and solicitors to pay commissions for new business introductions. It is not, for example, infrequently the case that a public relations or another lobbying company may find itself unable to work for a particular client because of an actual or potential conflict of interests and will refer the client to another firm which will agree to pay commission, often agreed at 5-10 per cent of the first year's fees, if the client decides to instruct the company to which he has been referred. Mohamed Al-Fayed and the House of Fraser were introduced to IGA by Lord King of British Airways, not by any MP, and no introduction fee was paid to either Lord King or to any MP. It is the case that IGA has, on two occasions, paid commission to Neil Hamilton for introducing new clients to my company in this way. As far as I am able to recall, Neil Hamilton, in late 1986 first introduced a client to me and, either before the client decided to engage the services of my company or shortly thereafter, I explained to Mr Hamilton that it was my firm's usual practice to pay a commission in such circumstances and it was agreed that IGA would do so in his case. As far as I am concerned, the introduction of a new client is a benefit to my company and the payment of a commission has the effect of removing any sense of indebtedness or obligation on my part towards the person responsible for making the introduction. Such a payment, which is usual business practice, does not give rise to any continuing obligation on the part of the person who has introduced the business.

  23. It is also stated in the Defence that I admitted in 1994 to a reporter from Central Television's Cook Report that IGA could arrange to have Parliamentary questions tabled on behalf of a client. Several articles have been published in The Guardian under Mr Hencke's byline referring to this statement, but I at no time saw the transcript upon which these articles had been based until it was produced by the Defendants in the course of these proceedings. In 1994 my company had been approached by an organisation giving its name as "Ecocon Ventures" who said they were acting as agents for Russian investors who were considering the possibility of investing £40 million, and possibly £80 million in this country and that they were particularly interested in the possibility of investing in industries which were in the process of being privatised. Ecocon Ventures was, in fact, a bogus "sting" operation set up by the Cook Report, who had engaged David Hencke, although I did not know it at the time, as an adviser; and had been provided with the use of an apartment in Park Lane owned by Mohamed Al-Fayed, although I did not know that at the time either. The object of the "sting" was, quite clearly, to trap my colleagues and me into some indiscretion which could be used to suggest that we conducted our work in an improper, illegal or corrupt manner. The nature of the Cook Report is well known, its aim is to expose crooks and villians. I do not suppose for one moment that the programme makers would have been interested in broadcasting a positive piece about IGA and had my colleagues and I been tricked into saying anything which was improper, I have no doubt at all that the material would have been broadcast. It was in this context, when dealing with an organisation prepared to invest £40 million and, possibly £80 million, I was asked whether it would be possible to place a question in Parliament as part of the process of gathering information. It is always entirely a matter for an MP to decide whether he wishes to table a question and that is why I said at the time that I could never go out and say that we could get questions tabled, because it is the MP who must decide; it is however the case that I was quite sure and remain quite sure that if an individual or group of individuals is considering investing £40 million or more in this country, I would be able to find MPs, particularly those interested in trade, investment and the privatisation process, who would be prepared to ask legitimate and proper questions, if it would help the investor to make the decision to invest his money in this country. On seeing the transcript of my remarks for the first time during the course of these proceedings, I am shocked and appalled at the way in which Mr Hencke, in his articles in The Guardian, has extracted what I said from its proper context. It is clear from the transcript that, having made the remark which I did, I then started to go on to explain that it would very much depend upon what the question the investors wanted asked was, what the object of the question was, upon the timing and upon finding the right Member of Parliament who would be interested in taking the matter up, before the journalist from the Cook Report changed the subject so that I did not have an opportunity to give a full explanation. It is quite clear from the transcript, which Mr Hencke has obviously had for some time, that in his articles Mr Hencke has, by taking my words out of context, distorted their true sense.

  24. I first became aware of Mr Hencke's interest in myself and my company in the summer of 1993. I had received several reports that Mr Hencke was making inquiries about IGA and I agreed to meet with him, with a colleague, Angie Bray, and a non executive director of IGA, Andrew Stone, who is also a solicitor. The meeting took place on 23 July 1993. I explained to Mr Hencke and his colleague who also attended the meeting, John Mullin, that it had been reported to me by several clients and by present and former members of my staff that he had been making inquiries and had said in the course of some of those inquiries that he was working on a "scandal" that would prove shocking to IGA. I told him that I regarded his behaviour, in this respect as quite intolerable. Neither Mr Hencke nor Mr Mullin denied what I said, but merely sought to reassure me that they were not there to do a "great hatchet job" but to do a piece on lobbying and that the purpose of the meeting with me was for them "to learn a bit of lobbying." Consequently I was prepared to assist them. With the benefit of hindsight, reading the transcript of the meeting following the publication of the article in The Guardian of 20 October 1994, it is quite clear that all the allegations which they published in 1994 were known to Mr Hencke at The Guardian in 1993. Mr Hencke made reference to Neil Hamilton's stay at the Ritz Hotel and, indeed, in the article subsequently published on 5 October 1993 under his byline, he made reference to this fact. He also, at the meeting, put to me the allegation, which he made perfectly clear had nothing to do with IGA or myself, but had something to do with the House of Fraser, that "a brown envelope stuffed with fivers" would be passed to an MP in return for asking a Parliamentary Question; as I made clear at the time and have made clear ever since, I had never heard of such a suggestion, which I regarded as preposterous. I had no idea at the time that Mohamed Al-Fayed had been in touch with The Guardian and it was my assumption that this was simply a wild rumour which I suspected may have emanated from the war of words between Mohamed Al-Fayed and Tiny Rowland, where each appeared to be accusing the other of dirty tricks and bribery and corruption. Although the meeting took place in July, the article which resulted was not published until 5 October 1993, conspicuously timed to coincide with the political party conference season. I was annoyed and upset by the article, particularly the obvious and plainly gratuitous references to my personal circumstances which, to me, bore all the hallmarks of the kind of prejudice which I would not expect from The Guardian newspaper. I was, however, pleased to see that, despite all the rumours I had heard of Mr Hencke's line of questioning when speaking to IGA's clients and staff, there was no allegation of any misconduct on my part and I thought at the time that Mr Hencke must have been satisfied, from my meeting with him, that, as is the case, the allegations he was investigating concerning IGA and myself were totally unfounded. There were some people who saw the article of 5 October and regarded it as a very positive piece of publicity for IGA, although I did not myself see it that way; with the benefit of hindsight, it is now apparent to me that the purpose of the article was to give my firm and me (of whom few of The Guardian readers, would ever have previously heard) some prominence, to set us up in order to knock us down.

25. From October 1993, Mr Hencke appears to have been embarked upon a personal campaign to destroy my company and me. He was engaged as an adviser for the Cook Report which set up the covert operation in order to try to trap my colleagues and I. Despite the efforts of the Cook Report to lure my colleagues and me into some indiscretion, the transcripts show quite clearly that my colleagues and I dealt in a perfectly open and straight forward manner with the Cook Report journalists, under the impression that we were dealing with a legitimate and bona fide potential client wishing to introduce £40 million or more into the country. After the Cook Report had decided, I have no doubt because of the fact that there was nothing improper in our conduct, not to broadcast the programme, Mr Hencke and The Guardian chose to publish several articles suggesting that we were guilty of misconduct and that we had used our influence in some way to prevent the programme every being shown; I have no such influence over Central Television or any other broadcaster. In an article published in The Guardian on 12 May 1994, it was specifically alleged that IGA had obtained details of a "confidential report on the privatisation of the Insolvency Service", an allegation which was entirely untrue; the details we had, and supplied to journalists from the Cook Report under the impression that they were a bona fide potential client, was from a document which was publicly available to those who knew where to look for it. It was also alleged in the article that I had admitted breaking Parliamentary rules in getting questions tabled for clients which is a distortion of the effect of what I had said, as would have been clear to Mr Hencke from the transcript. It was also suggested that IGA had made a "pitch" for the business "in full knowledge of the company's questionable background." In fact, the Cook Report journalists had been at pains to assure us that there was nothing improper about the Russian "principals" they claimed to represent, or about the source of their principals' funds and, for our part, as is clear from the transcript, we stressed to them that in dealings with Ministers and MPs they would have to be open about such matters and prepared to answer the questions which would inevitably be asked, when I met with the Cook Report journalists, as is clear from the transcript, when the spoke very vaguely and in slightly suspicious terms about their "principals" and the extent to which they had been "used to political power" and had "amassed various artifacts", I immediately explained "we are an honest company" and went on to say that we must act in an honest and straight forward way, as I tried to get across, politely to a potential client, that if (and I had no reason to accuse them of dishonesty) there was anything dodgy about their "principals" or their proposals to invest in this country, they had come to the wrong company for advice. Neither Mr Hencke nor anyone else from The Guardian checked the facts with me or any of my colleagues prior to the publication of the article of 12 May 1994.

  26. Not surprisingly, given the nature of the article of 12 May 1994, it led to concern in Parliament, particularly amongst MPs who were not familiar with the way in which IGA conducts its business in a professional, open and straight forward manner. Having sparked the initial controversy with the article of 12 May, David Hencke and The Guardian were able to keep the story running throughout May, June and July. Although the staff at IGA and I myself found the exposure we were given by David Hencke and The Guardian extremely irritating, we found that both MPs and our clients tended to take the view that it appeared to be some kind of personal witch-hunt on the part of David Hencke and The Guardian who, for whatever reason had some axe to grind with IGA. IGA was able to demonstrate that the most serious allegation which Mr Hencke and The Guardian had made, that we had improperly obtained confidential information not available to MPs, was entirely false and it was my experience that most MPs thoroughly disapproved of the covert attempts on the part of the Cook Report to entrap IGA. There were also MPs who recognised, as I do, that if there had been anything genuinely newsworthy or scandalous in IGA's conduct when dealing with the Cook Report "sting", the programme would undoubtedly have been broadcast. Whilst annoying and upsetting, the articles in The Guardian during the summer of 1994 represented a nuisance and did adversely affect the morale of the staff at IGA, but did not appear to have a significantly detrimental effect upon our business.

  27. The only warning I had from The Guardian that it proposed to run a full front page spread story alleging that IGA and I had been paid by Mohamed Al-Fayed to pay MPs to put down Parliamentary Questions, was a fax dated 19 October, (timed received at my office at 16:16 hours) that day. All the fax said was that Mr Hencke was "working on" the story of my association with Mohamed Al-Fayed in the Harrods campaign against Lonrho. There was nothing in the fax to indicate the nature of the allegations which, by that time, The Guardian must already have decided to publish, nor was there any suggestion that an urgent response was required from me. Previously, when I had met Mr Hencke in July 1993, he had not published the article which resulted until three months later. Mr Hencke's fax to me said that he had "many of the documents involved" in the campaign, it is clear that he cannot have had any to support the allegation which appeared in The Guardian the following day that IGA had paid MPs to table questions on behalf of Mohamed Al-Fayed and that IGA's monthly invoices would vary between £8,000 and £10,000 per month according to the number of questions, because not only did it never happen, but The Guardian do not seek to justify that allegation. I arranged for a fax to be sent back to David Hencke that evening stating that we would wish to consider responding to any questions which he might wish to fax to us and invited him to contact us "during normal office hours." We heard nothing from him.

  28. In the light of my previous dealings with Mr Hencke, and the nature of the articles he had written in proceeding months, it is the case that I would have been most reluctant to speak with him personally, but had I been aware of the allegations I would have wished to ensure that the newspaper heard what I would have had to say about the allegations and, in particular, the extent to which they could rely upon the word of Mohamed Al-Fayed. IGA's contract with the House of Fraser had ended on 31 August 1994. On 22 September 1994, my office had received a telephone call from Mohamed Al-Fayed's office inviting me to meet him for tea later that day; I had not seen Mohamed Al-Fayed for some time, but I had heard that it had been announced earlier in that day that he had lost his appeal to the European Court, where he was applying to set aside the highly critical DTI report into the circumstances surrounding his acquisition of the House of Fraser. I met Mohamed Al-Fayed that day and saw him in the company of his assistant, Mark Griffths. Mohamed Al-Fayed started the conversation by criticising Neil Hamilton who, at the time, was the Minister for Corporate Affairs. He said that he had thought that he was a friend and someone who, given the opportunity, would help him. He complained that Mr Hamilton, on being appointed to his ministerial position, had ignored him and not even replied to a letter of congratulation Mohamed Al-Fayed had sent him on his appointment to the DTI. I defended Mr Hamilton, saying that I was sure that he was genuinely sympathetic towards Mohamed Al-Fayed's problems, but I pointed out to Mohamed Al-Fayed that it would have been wrong for Mr Hamilton to respond to the letter since, as Mohamed Al-Fayed was well aware, there was litigation between the House of Fraser and the DTI. I told him that it was my understanding that, because of the support he had previously shown Mohamed Al-Fayed, Mr Hamilton had himself decided that, even though there was no legal impediment, it would be better for another Minister within the DTI to handle any matters which concerned the House of Fraser. Mohamed Al-Fayed ignored what I said and, in one of his emotional outbursts, launched into a string of allegations against the Government, in particular Lady Thatcher and Michael Howard, the Home Secretary. He claimed that there was no Prime Minister from Edward Heath to the present day that had been free from bribery and corruption and repeated at length allegations which I had heard him make before concerning Michael Howard. Mohamed Al-Fayed concluded the meeting by telling me that he had already seen Field Marshal Lord Bramall who he reminded me was a close personal friend of both Her Majesty the Queen and himself and that he had informed Lord Bramall that he would be seeing Brian Hitchen, the editor of the Sunday Express, to ask him to act as an emissary to the Prime Minister to inform him that unless the DTI report into the House of Fraser was rescinded, he would expose the corruption of Ministers and destabilise the Government. He said to me that if the Government fell, he would not care as he would sell the House of Fraser and live in France, where he was appreciated and where he could gain citizenship overnight. Throughout this tirade not once did he allege that he had made any payments to Neil Hamilton, Tim Smith or anyone else, nor did he make any accusations against IGA or myself. He asked me to give some thought as to whom I could talk on his behalf, stressing to me that he wanted to ensure that his message was known and understood and that he would have no hesitation in revealing all the information he possessed, unless the findings of the DTI report were withdrawn. I had the opportunity to say very little during the meeting, which lasted about 50 minutes, and told him that I would consider what he had said and would speak to one or two friends at the forthcoming party conferences.

  29. As in the past when Mohamed Al-Fayed had ranted in this way, I made an appointment to see Royston Webb, his in house legal adviser, who I saw on Friday, 7 October at his Office at South Street. Royston Webb, as always, received me very courteously and I spent about 30 minutes with him. I told him of the meeting I had had with Mohamed Al-Fayed and the threats and allegations which had been made by him. Royston Webb expressed frustration that Mohamed Al-Fayed was, as he put it, "once again raking over the past" and explained that Mohamed Al-Fayed had been very depressed by the European Court's decision and, as we both knew, he tended to be very emotional at times. I asked Royston Webb what he felt I should do and he suggested that I should put the meeting out of mind and that he would once again urge Mohamed Al-Fayed to forget about the DTI report and to "get on with his life." I asked Royston Webb what evidence Mohamed Al-Fayed had of corruption within the Government and he said that he had "none that I have ever seen". Royston Webb told me that he was unaware of any meeting Mohamed Al-Fayed might have planned with Brian Hitchen, but explained that he had been away in Dubai where he had been representing Mohamed Al-Fayed in any important court action for several weeks and had therefore been out of touch. He told me that one of the possibilities of the proceedings in Dubai was that Mohamed Al-Fayed's passport for the United Arab Emirates might be withdrawn, which he said would be very embarrassing for Mohamed Al-Fayed in that he would be left only with an Egyptian passport which would mean that he would not be able to travel to his villa in Switzerland without obtaining a visa. I recall that Royston Webb told me that his colleague, Michael Cole, who dealt with the House of Fraser media relations had been concerned that he had not been at the meeting I had attended with Mohamed Al-Fayed the previous month and said that, as far as Michael Cole was concerned, Mohamed Al-Fayed's "constant story telling was fast becoming a resignation issue." As an example of Mohamed Al-Fayed's unreliability, Royston Webb, whilst we were discussing reports in the press that Tiny Rowland and Mohamed Al-Fayed had finally come to terms with each other, told me of one incident when Mohamed Al-Fayed had, over lunch with Tiny Rowland, informed him that one of Mr Rowland's most trusted employees has secretly visited Mohamed Al-Fayed in the midst of the battle between them and provided him with information about Mr Rowland's activities; according to Mr Webb, Mr Rowland had been shocked by this revelation and said "I would have trusted that employee with my life;" after the lunch, Royston Webb observed to Mohamed Al-Fayed that he had kept the story of the employee's visit very quiet and asked him why he had not been informed; Mohamed Al-Fayed laughed and said to Royston Webb "I didn't tell you because it never happened." My meeting with Royston Webb concluded on friendly terms; he told me not to worry about Mohamed Al-Fayed, that he had been very depressed and that was the reason why he was behaving so badly. He told me that Mohamed Al-Fayed has also let him down badly in that he was due to give evidence in court in Dubai facing serious charges of alleged corruption and bribery but, at the last minute, Mohamed Al-Fayed had decided not to do so. Royston Webb told me that, in spite of Mohamed Al-Fayed's failure to appear as a witness, he felt the case was going quite well and, ironically, said to me "think how compromised my position would be if, in Dubai, I was representing him to be honest and straight forward, and in London he was demonstrating the opposite".

  30. It is clear from my experience of dealing with Mohammed Al-Fayed that anyone who knows him understands that when he is in a state of agitation, annoyed with someone or about something, he is capable of launching into a tirade of wild, unsubstantiated allegations, which harm himself as much as anyone else he chooses to attack. David Hencke, Peter Preston and anyone else from The Guardian who made inquiries of those who knew Mohamed Al-Fayed would have known that when, for whatever reason, he vents his anger and frustration, one cannot rely upon what he says. Had I had an opportunity to speak with David Hencke or Peter Preston prior to the publication of the article of 20 October, I would have tried to get this point across and would have tried to persuade them, at the very least, to speak with Royston Webb, Mohamed Al-Fayed's loyal adviser, to see what he had to say. After the publication of the article, I myself spoke with Royston Webb and, upon the advice of my solicitors, to whom I had explained my earlier conversations I tape-recorded the conversations. From the transcript of this conversation it is clear that Royston Webb would have told them that the allegation concerning IGA's fees were untrue and it is also clear that no one from The Guardian had spoken to him.

  31. The effect of the publication of the article of 20 October was devasting upon both my company and myself. Although in the evening of 19 October I had heard from Neil Hamilton that he had been warned that The Guardian had a major story concerning him and IGA, it was not until late in the evening that I heard that the article had been raised in the House of Commons and was able to get a photocopy of it. By that time, I had already been in consultation with my fellow directors and IGA's solicitors to alert them to what was happening. As soon as we had heard the detail of what was said in the article, we instructed Peter Carter-Ruck and Partners to issue a Writ for libel at the first opportunity the following morning. When I first saw the article I simply could not believe that such allegations could ever have been published. It struck me that the allegations were so preposterous that I did not think anyone could possibly take them seriously. My immediate thought was that Mohamed Al-Fayed had finally gone completely barmy and that he was running out of control without taking any advice from people like Royston Webb. I could not understand how any newspaper could have run such an article based, as it clearly was, upon the word of a man like Mohamed Al-Fayed, without making any of the most elementary inquiries or putting the allegations to me to allow me an opportunity to respond. I was, I suppose, at that time in something of a state of shock, refusing to believe what had happened. Having instructed solicitors to deal with the case, my next thought was to try to contact Royston Webb and Michael Cole at the House of Fraser, thinking that they might be able to speak to Mohamed Al-Fayed to tell him that he would have to withdraw the allegations because they were so obviously untrue. Michael Cole, however, refused to take my call and I had to leave a message with his secretary urging her to ask Mr Cole to speak to me as a matter of urgency; he did not return my call and I began to become more and more concerned that Mohamed Al-Fayed, having made the allegations in the first place would not be prepared to admit that they were false because of the climb down and the loss of face this would involve for him.

  32. When I need to stay in London, I make use of a flat above IGA's offices. I could see from very early in the morning of 20 October that journalists and television cameras were gathering outside the offices, and the telephones were ringing with journalists trying to speak to me and to staff about the story. Clients too were telephoning to try to find out what was happening and what action IGA was taking if, as the clients were informed, the allegations against the company were entirely false. The nature of the allegations were such that, unlike David Hencke's previous articles in The Guardian, the impact across the media was enormous; the allegation was of corruption, pure and simple, and therefore of a completely different nature from anything which had gone before. What I found particularly distressing was the effect the publicity generated by the article in The Guardian had upon my parents who are both aged 90 and who were deeply upset, and upon the loyal members of the staff at IGA who, understandably, were very worried about the future and how, if at all, they would be able to reassure our clients. Members of the staff were clearly concerned about their jobs because it was obvious to all of us that there would be many clients who would choose to go elsewhere rather than run the risk of being tainted by association with IGA. For the best part of a month following publication, journalists continued to plague my staff, friends, neighbours and myself. Present and former members of my staff reported to me approaches which had been made to them with offers of financial inducements to supply information about me, my personal life and my business. We also noticed a BT marked van which was parked outside the offices which, when we checked the registration number with the police, we found had been sold by BT some weeks before and had been clearly put there to carry out a surveillance operation on IGA's offices. I found that approaches had been made to credit card companies and banks trying to get personal information about my financial affairs. I felt that my whole business and personal life was being put under a microscope, all because of The Guardian article, with journalists and others trying to find some kind of dirt to use on me. While all this was going on, I was still desperately trying to reassure clients, staff, friends and family not to worry, that the allegations were false and that The Guardian would eventually recognise this when it looked at the evidence. In this, I over estimated the honesty of the newspaper, in that it became clear when the Defence was served that, rather than justify or defend what they had published, they simple came up with new and different allegations, resting entirely on the word of Mohamed Al-Fayed who The Guardian themselves, in 1990, had condemned as an outright liar and an anti semite.

  33. The damage to my reputation and to that of IGA as a result of The Guardian article is incalculable. Within days of the publication of the article in the Guardian, two important clients of IGA, British Steel Tinplate and Price Waterhouse, who had instructed IGA on behalf of the "big eight" firms of Chartered Accountants, decided not to continue to use IGA, British Steel Tinplate, who were paying a monthly fee of £5,166.66 decided not to renew its contract and Price Waterhouse gave us notice of its intention to withdraw the account from us which had been worth £10,000 per month. What, however, personally caused me the greatest distress was that Actionaid, a charity for whom IGA acted without any charge other than for expenses informed us that, in the light of the article, they could no longer use IGA, I have for many years worked for Crisis at Christmas and other charitable organisations for the homeless. I have organised and worked with other staff members a midnight soup run on the embankment. I have also helped to raise money for AIDS and other charitable organisations. Through Actionaid I have personally "adopted" six children whose education I help sponsor. I was devastated to find that there was a charity whose objects I supported who, because of the allegations in The Guardian, would not even accept charity from me and my company.

  34. The contents of this statement are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.

Ian Bramwell Greer

27 June 1995

62   Prepared for the libel action, Greer and Hamilton v The Guardian. Back

previous page contents next page
House of Commons home page Parliament home page House of Lords home page search page enquiries

© Parliamentary copyright 1997
Prepared 8 July 1997