Select Committee on Standards and Privileges First Report


Schedule to Neil Hamilton's Statement dated 10 February 1997

1. The two written Parliamentary questions were tabled on or about 7 November 1985.

  1.1 In February 1984 Sir Peter Hordern, Parliamentary Consultant to The House of Fraser, invited all the Officers for the Conservative back bench Trade and Industry Committee to lunch with Professor Roland Smith and his fellow directors of The House of Fraser. At that time I was an officer of the back bench Trade and Industry Committee, and I accepted the invitation.

  1.2 Although Peter Hordern discussed the takeover battle with me from time to time, I believe that my first connection with the Al-Fayeds was a telephone call I received on or about 29 October from Ian Greer. He told me that he had been retained by HoF to handle the Parliamentary side of their defence against the Lonrho attack, and asked me whether I would be prepared to support the Al-Fayeds against Lonrho. I agreed to do so.

  1.3 On or about 7 November 1985, I tabled two written Parliamentary Questions relating to the suspected use by Tiny Roland of The Observer to promote Lonrho's interests, contrary to the undertakings given to him by the DTI in order to permit the takeover.

  1.4 The suggestion that I was paid for tabling these WPQs is a fabrication. Nor is it a credible suggestion: it is a routine matter for a Member of Parliament to table WPQs following requests from members of his constituency or other persons whose interests he is prepared to support in the context of his political beliefs and aspirations. No evidence has been adduced to justify the allegation that I was paid for tabling these WPQs.

2. Member of a Group

  Sub-paragraph 4 of the particulars of The Guardian's Defence alleges that I was a member of a group of four Members of Parliament; the allegations made against me by The Guardian and Mr Al-Fayed in the context of the current enquiry refer to a group of five Members of Parliament; the additional Member is Sir Andrew Bowden.

  2.1 Sir Michael Grylls, Tim Smith and myself were all Officers of the Conservative Back-bench Trade and Industry Committee; this reflected my interest in economic affairs; I have been associated with the Institute of Economic Affairs since 1970 and, as is well known, was strong in my support for Margaret Thatcher's economic policies. Sir Peter Hordern was Consultant to The House of Fraser prior to its acquisition by Al-Fayed.

  2.2 It is a commonplace of political life that members with similar views co-operate and espouse the same or similar causes; we met from time to time to discuss the dispute between The House of Fraser and Lonhro, reflecting our individual views, and there are no grounds for inferring improper motive or conduct from my association with them.

  2.3 It has been suggested that activities of the Members of the Back-bench Trade and Industry Committee were in some way co-ordinated by Ian Greer in an improper manner or for an improper motive. Some of the WPQ and EDMs tabled by me and others were prepared, by way of an initial draft, by Ian Greer, or indeed The House of Fraser; this is perfectly normal practice, as outlined in the witness statement signed by Ian Greer on 27 June 1995. It is not unusual for Parliamentary lobbyists to prepare such drafts as part of representations made to Members of Parliament in the hope that the concerns of those companies or charities which they represent can be adequately considered and addressed by those responsible for making policy decisions. Royston Webb, for example, routinely provided Dale Campbell-Savours MP with draft WPQs and EDMs.

  2.4 In the UK there are about 50 professional consultants who operate lobbying departments (in the US there are 6,500 and approximately 100 operate in Brussels); lobbyists are routinely employed by most of the larger corporations and trade unions and charities in the United Kingdom whose job it is, inter alia, to ensure that legislators are properly informed when it comes to making decisions and drafting legislation. Lobbying organisations can and are properly regarded as a legitimate and valuable vehicle for conveying information to the legislative body. Both The Guardian and Channel 4 retained IGA, for example; and Lovell White Durrant, formerly The Guardian's solicitors, provide parliamentary lobbying services.

  2.5 I am not embarrassed by the disclosure that I was consulted by either Mr Fayed or Ian Greer for the purpose of tabling WPQs or EDMs. Had I, however, received a fee specifically for doing so, it would have constituted a corrupt practice. I never received any payment from Al-Fayed, The House of Fraser or any person connected with them.

3. I tabled the following Parliamentary Questions on the following dates for written answer.

  (i)   On or about 24 February 1987, I pressed the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to respond to letters from Al-Fayed and one of his professional advisers.

  (ii)   On 27 May 1988, I tabled two written questions to the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster querying the costs and delay of the Department of Trade and Industry enquiry.

  (iii)   At the beginning of April 1989, I tabled four Parliamentary Questions relating to Lonrho and its associates. See document no. 365 in the Jury Bundle.

  The two written questions tabled in May 1988 were drafted by me. The first draft of each of the remainder of the questions referred to above was prepared by Al-Fayed's legal advisers, Mr Michael Palmer and/or Mr Royston Webb, and Mr Greer and/or the IGA advised further on the wording, subject to my approval.

  There is nothing unusual or inherently improper in an individual drafting Parliamentary Questions for the approval of a Member of Parliament or agreeing the wording of a question with a Member of Parliament. Journalists sometimes do this in pursuit of a story. David Hencke prompted the Labour Party to raise on the Floor of the House on the night of 19 October 1994 the allegations which were to appear in his article in the following morning's issue of The Guardian.

4. I tabled the following Early Day Motions on the following dates:

  (i)   On 10 March 1987, I tabled an EDM deploring Parliamentary attacks on Al-Fayed and congratulating the Government for allowing Al-Fayed's company to acquire Harrods.

  (ii)   On 14 July 1988, I tabled an EDM condemning the "barrage of libellous and vicious propaganda" issued by Mr Rowland with reference to The House of Fraser and requesting the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to call upon the Inspectors to complete their Inquiry without delay of another Member's EDM. See document 336 in the Jury Bundle.

  (iii)   On 18 April 1989, I signed, with others, an EDM calling upon Mr Rowland to divest himself of his interest in The Observer. See document No. 367 in the Jury Bundle.

  (iv)   On 3 May 1989, I tabled an EDM calling for an investigation into Lonhro's operations in the light of its close links with Colonel Gadafi. See document No. 372 in the Jury Bundle.

  (v)   In May and June 1989, I signed, with others, four EDMs condemning Mr Rowland's interference with The Observer newspaper and criticising Mr Rowland in various respects. See document 373 in the Jury Bundle.

  I played no part in drafting or tabling the EDMs dated 18 April or any of those tabled during the months of May or June. I was merely an additional signatory.

  I repeat once again that there was and is nothing wrong or improper in tabling such motions in The House of Commons concerning matters which accorded with my political beliefs and which were, in my opinion, appropriate matters to draw to the attention of the House.

5. The £18,000

  5.1 The use to which the £18,000 paid by Al-Fayed to Ian Greer was put is well documented: it was used to cover General Election expenses for the election held in June 1987.

  5.2 £29,250 was distributed between various constituencies, mostly to contribute towards the fighting funds for the election. Attached to this schedule, marked A, is an extract from the IGA papers, which sets out in detail how the money was accounted for. It will be noted that the Members of Parliament and unsuccessful candidates listed are drawn from all parties, and that my name was not among them.

  5.3 I am informed, by Andrew Smith, who was employed by IGA, latterly as Managing Director of the company, that the manuscript notes at the foot of the page represent contributions to items of office equipment such as a new photocopier (for Andrew Bowden's constituency), the cost of providing security for Lynda Chalker's Constituency Offices, the election booklet published by IGA and a contribution towards the Liberal campaign in the Cheltenham Constituency.

  5.4 I understand that copies of all cheques and bank statements continue to be available at IGA's then bankers, Hill Samuel.

  5.5 So far as I am aware The Guardian have never supplied any documentary evidence for their statement that "IGA paid over part of the [£18,000] to me" (sub-paragraph 7 of The Guardian's Particulars of Justification). The allegation is fabricated, as is confirmed by Ian Greer (see page 13 of the witness statement he signed on 27June 1995).

  5.6 The fact that this allegation is proved wholly false substantially reduces the credibility of the other allegations set out in your letter of 7 January.

6. Cash for Questions

  6.1 The allegation that I received payments in cash for Parliamentary services provided to Al-Fayed has varied as to the amount, the manner of payment and the purposes for which they were alleged to have been made.

  6.2 The first occasion on which these payments were drawn to my attention was in the form of a typed note handed to me by Sir Robin Butler in the late Summer of 1994. The allegation then was that I had received the sum of £50,000 via Ian Greer to ask 17 Parliamentary Questions on behalf of Mr Fayed (see the witness statement I signed on 27 June 1995, paragraph 88). This equates to £2,941.18 per question.

  6.3 On October 20 1994 The Guardian published an article stating that the monthly payments to IGA varied according to how many PQs had been tabled; this repeated, in principle, the allegation that the payments were, firstly, channelled through IGA, and secondly that their amount was geared to the number of questions asked.

  6.4 Later on the same day Royston Webb, legal director of the House of Fraser, denied any knowledge that money was paid by the House of Fraser in exchange for the tabling of PQs. He also stated that, to his knowledge, the agreed annual fee was paid monthly, and did not vary in amount apart from "the odd expenses here and there".

  6.5 On 6 December 1994 Fayed stated in his letter to Sir Geoffrey Johnson-Smith, that he personally paid me £28,000 in cash and gift vouchers. This was the first occasion upon which it was alleged that I was paid cash direct rather than via IGA or Greer.

  6.6 On 14 December 1994 it was alleged, in The Guardian's defence (paragraph 10), that I received a total of £28,000 (or thereabouts) in instalments of £2,500, or alternatively Harrods gift vouchers in £100.00 denominations. These were said to have been handed over to me personally either at Harrods or at Al-Fayed's Park Lane offices on various dates between 1987 and 1989. The Guardian's Defence also stated (paragraph 9) that Al-Fayed gave to Greer cheques totalling £18,000 for the specific purpose of making payments to myself and Smith for tabling PQs. There was no suggestion in the Defence that Greer was:

  (i)   Paid cash.

  (ii)   Received funds for his own benefit other than in the normal course of business.

  6.7 On June 23 1995 Al-Fayed signed a witness statement in which he stated that he had informed The Guardian in the Autumn of 1994, that he had paid me "£2,000 per question". On this basis, having tabled nine PQs/motions, I would have received £18,000. In the same witness statement he acknowledged that the figure he had given to The Guardian, which by inference purported to be accurate at the time, was in fact "a rough guess".

  6.8 In the same witness statement (paragraph 7) he refers to three cheques he gave to Ian Greer amounting in total to £31,333, "to enable [Greer] to pay [myself] and Tim Smith for Parliamentary work". Added to the amount of cash I was alleged to have received (Guardian's Defence paragraph 10), and deducting the £6,000 said to have been paid to Tim Smith the overall total amounts to £53,333.

  6.9 In paragraph 4 of his witness statement Al-Fayed states that the money he gave to me "did not correspond to a particular tariff for services". This directly contradicts his earlier statement (paragraph 6.7 above).

  6.10 In September 1996 documentary evidence was produced by Greer showing that the three cheques referred to in paragraph 6.8 above represented legitimate payments no part of which, moreover, were intended for or received by me.

  6.11 The Guardian responded to the disclosures in paragraph 6.10 above by alleging, for the first time that Greer/IGA received regular cash payments in a sealed envelope (paragraph 5B). It is not suggested that the cash was destined for me.

  6.12 Paragraph 4 of Al-Fayed's witness statement records that my meetings were with him alone and that "no one else would have seen the money being given to Mr Hamilton".

  6.13 A few days before the scheduled date for the trial, in September 1996, Al-Fayed's solicitor served a witness statement sworn by Alison Bozek in which she states that she inserted bundles of cash into envelopes, the back of which she signed. This contradicts Al-Fayed's witness statement.

  6.14 A further witness statement was served at the same time by a Mr Bromfield, employed by Al-Fayed as Security Officer. In paragraph 3 of the statement he states that he handed me envelopes on two separate occasions. This also conflicts with the statement that "no one else would have seen the money being given to Mr Hamilton".

  6.15 Iris Bond records, in paragraph 4 of her witness statement, that "Fayed would in my presence place two bundles of £2,500 notes in £50.00 denominations in a plain envelope which he would then instruct me to deliver to Mr Greer". It is not clear why it was necessary for Al-Fayed to maintain secrecy with regard to the payments allegedly made to me, but not with regard to the payments allegedly made to Mr Greer.

  6.16 In paragraph 4 of Bromfield's statement it is recorded that Mr Greer also collected envelopes from the front desk; the inference is that the envelopes contained cash. This allegation had not been made before; it appears neither in Al-Fayed's witness statement nor in The Guardian's defence.

  6.17 It is not clear how a business-man of the seniority of Al-Fayed makes a routine practice of parting with substantial sums in cash without maintaining any record of how much was paid and to whom.

  6.18 It is equally unclear how a business-man of the apparent perspicacity of Al-Fayed can routinely part with large sums of money without specifying, either on paper or verbally, what he expected to receive in return.

  6.19 It is not clear whether these alleged cash payments were drawn from his own personal bank account or whether they represented monies belonging to the House of Fraser; if the latter, no evidence has been submitted as to how the withdrawals of cash were described in the company accounts, or whether the monies allegedly paid to me and others were deducted from the company's profits for the purpose of assessing tax.

  6.20 On pages 21-24 of my draft submissions I have set out the chronology of the alleged payments and the relationship between them and my Parliamentary activities. The schedule demonstrates that large amounts of money were allegedly paid for doing nothing, and bursts of activity on my part went completely unrewarded.

  6.21 It is evident from the documents produced on discovery, and from Fayed's telephone message records, that Ian Greer was meticulous in reporting back to Al-Fayed on all Parliamentary activities undertaken which affected the interests of the House of Fraser. There is, however, no record of the payments alleged to have been made either to Greer or to me in exchange for these activities (other than those made by cheque to IGA in the proper course of business). This inconsistency requires explanation.

  6.22 Al-Fayed maintains that I was given Harrods' gift vouchers in units of £100.00; his aide records, in the News of the World on 23 October 1994, that I was given £1,000 vouchers. Likewise, whereas Fayed has consistently maintained that I was given gift vouchers to the value of £8,000, his aide referred to their total value as "around £15,000".

  6.23 Since Harrods gift vouchers constitute a contingent liability of the issuing company, for which provision would have to be made in its accounts, it is difficult to believe that Harrods accounting systems would fail to record both the issue of gift vouchers and their receipt at the till in exchange for goods. No evidence has been given as to the manner in which Harrods accounted, at that time, for the distribution and use of gift vouchers.

  6.24 It was alleged that I received payments in either cash or Harrods gift vouchers on 20 February 1989. Timothy O'Sullivan, who was with me throughout the meeting, records in paragraph 5 of the witness statement he signed on 26 June 1995 that: "Neil was not at any time alone with Mr Al-Fayed. Mr Al-Fayed did not at any time during the visit give Neil any money, whether in the form of cash, cheques or otherwise. Nor did Mr Al-Fayed give Neil any vouchers".

  The inconsistency of the gift voucher allegations is explored further in chapter 2 of my submissions, commencing on page 9.

  6.25 Copies of Al-Fayed's bank statements showing the cash withdrawals over the relevant period have not been produced.

  6.26 The inconsistency of the cash allegations is explored further in Chapter 2 of my submissions.

  6.27 The issue at the heart of these allegations is the credibility of Al-Fayed and his three witnesses. Reference is made in this context to the Christoph Bettermann case, the DTI Inspector's report of 1990, Professor Barry Rider's evidence, and the documentary evidence volunteered by Mr Tiny Rowland of Al-Fayed's abortive attempts to persuade him to sign a false affidavit. (See appendices 1-4 of my draft submissions.) Further evidence will be forthcoming of other victims of Al-Fayed's vengeful fabrications.

7. Further unspecified sums in cash

  7.1 I repeat the same comments in relation to this allegation as I have made in paragraph six, and I repeat the denial.

  7.2 No explanation is offered as to why Al-Fayed can remember the dates referred to in paragraph six above with such apparent precision, but fails to have even an approximate recollection of the dates upon which the payments referred to in paragraph seven were alleged to have been made.

  7.3 The same comment applies with regard to the amounts of cash alleged to have been paid.

  7.4 If I am to be charged with corruption, it is incumbent upon those making the allegations to provide more than the bald statement that I received "unspecified further sums in cash on unspecified dates".

  7.5 The comments contained in paragraph 6 above apply equally to the allegation that I received between £2,000 and £3,000 in cash prior to my departure for Paris ("the Paris cash").

  7.6 No date is given by Al-Fayed for the collection of the Paris cash; given that he is fully aware of the dates upon which I stayed at the Ritz, this admission is surprising.

  7.7 Mrs Hamilton and I drove to Paris direct from my constituency, staying the night with my parents in Portsmouth on the way. We did not drive through London.

  7.8 The journey to Paris took place in the middle of the summer recess. I left London at the beginning of the recess, and did not return there until after our return from Paris. There was no reason to do so.

8. Introductory Commissions

  8.1 I am informed that it is usual practice in the lobbying industry for introductory commissions to be paid to persons introducing new clients. IGA adheres to this practice, and in that context I was paid two commissions: £4,000 in respect of the National Nuclear Corporation ("NCC") and £6,000 on account of US Tobacco Inc ("UST"). The commission payment was calculated at the rate of 10 per cent for the fees paid to IGA by National Nuclear and 5 per cent with regard to US Tobacco. With regard to the former, part of the payment was paid in kind, by discharging the three accounts referred to in paragraph 1, 2 and 3 of paragraph 8 of your letter; the balance was paid by cheque on 13 July 1989. Payment of the £6,000 commission payment from UST was paid at the same time.

  8.2 The circumstances in which I introduced both companies to IGA are set out in my submission.

  8.3 I was not required or expected to undertake any services in exchange for this payment, nor did I; it was paid solely on account of the introduction. I did not think at the time that such payments could reasonably be thought to influence my conduct in the House, nor in fact did they do so.

  8.4 I was not aware that it was normal practice to pay fees for introducing clients at the time I introduced NNC to Greer.

  8.5 I served as a consultant to NNC for a period of one year from 1 November 1987; my interest was registered in the normal way.

9. US Tobacco

  9.1 I have referred in the foregoing paragraph to the introductory fee I received from IGA in relation to US Tobacco. The circumstances in which this came about are set out in my submission. I was not a consultant to the company. I did not table any PQ's relevant to the tobacco industry.

  9.2 The tabling of the EDM referred to in paragraph 9(iii) of my statement was a function of my long-standing conviction that those who wished to enjoy tobacco should have the right to do so. I have been a supporter on FOREST's mailing list since its inception in 1984.

  9.3 In October 1989, I visited the United States with the Treasury Select Committee. Our itinerary included two days in New York. On account of my connection with US Tobacco and my friendship with the Senior Vice-President of Marketing, I informed them in advance that I was intending to be in New York. The Vice-President wished to return hospitality I had given to him in London, and I was invited to extend my visit in New York to attend a dinner party. I was invited to stay in the rooms permanently retained by US Tobacco at Essex House for those two days. He suggested that, rather than switch accommodation, I should stay at Essex House for the time during which I was present in New York as part of the Treasury Select Committee, while they stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel, an hotel of comparable standard.

  9.3 I stayed for one night at St James' Court Hotel at Buckingham Gate, Westminster during the Summer recess in 1989. This was paid for by US Tobacco. I was invited to attend a dinner with them in London. My flat at the time was lent to American friends on holiday in London, and it was not possible to return to my home in the constituency following the dinner. Hence US Tobacco offered me a night's accommodation.

  9.4 Neither accommodation can reasonably be described as a "benefit", in that on both occasions the accommodation was a direct consequence of, and necessary for, the discussions between myself and US Tobacco. The function of the discussion was to obtain information so that I could exercise my judgment as a Member of Parliament and make informed decisions on a matter of political interest to me.

10. Meetings with Ministers regarding The House of Fraser

  10.1 I am not embarrassed to confirm that I met, and wrote to, Ministers to advance the cause of Mr Al-Fayed and/or the House of Fraser. This was a routine and legitimate activity engaged in by Members of Parliament in pursuit of their adopted political objectives.

  10.2 I did not disclose "the fact" that I was being paid by Mr Ian Greer and/or Mr Al-Fayed because, as outlined earlier in this schedule, I neither sought nor received any such payment. The two payments I received from Mr Greer had no connection with Al-Fayed.

11. The Ritz

  11.1 The hospitality which Mrs Hamilton and I accepted at the invitation of Al-Fayed at the Ritz Hotel in Paris has been well documented. I now recognise that it was a mistake to accept the invitation. Nonetheless, a number of misconceptions have arisen about it, which I clarify below:   11.2 The invitation to stay at the Ritz emanated from Al-Fayed through a letter written to me by Ian Greer on 3 April 1987. Al-Fayed's statement on Channel 4 on 16 January that I invited myself is a fabrication.

  11.3 The specified purpose of the invitation (which was extended to a number of others at the same time) was to see the Duchess of Windsor's villa in the Bois de Boulogne; as a member of the SPAB, the Victorian Society and other similar organisations I had a personal interest in seeing the villa.

  11.4 The invitation was postponed following the announcement of the appointment of inspectors to examine the House of Fraser takeover, but later renewed by Al-Fayed personally.

  11.5 At the time, my relationship with Al-Fayed was bordering on, if it had not reached, one of personal friendship, and it was apparent to me that the invitation was extended to us in that context.

  11.6 Mrs Hamilton and I did not ask for private rooms; we were taken to room 356 (an ordinary double room, as Fayed confirms in his witness statement, paragraph 10) with which we were more than content.

  11.7 I did not ask to stay at the Ritz a second time, on our way back to London: we were planning to, and did, take a return route which went nowhere near Paris.

  11.8 Bottles of wine were not itemised on the Ritz bill. I cannot now remember the cost of the bottles we consumed, but I do remember they were not excessive in the context of the Ritz wine list.

  11.9 It was not suggested by Al-Fayed, nor was it so regarded, that our stay at the Ritz was by way of exchange for services rendered. Insofar as I had rendered services to Al-Fayed and/or the House of Fraser, it was because my political views coincided with their interests in relation to the national issues. My actions were wholly consistent with my long-held and well documented views on these issues generally.

12. Estate in Scotland

  12.1 Mrs Hamilton and I spent two nights in a flat above some converted stables on Al-Fayed's estate in Scotland in 1989 in company with Sir Peter and Lady Hordern. We were on a touring holiday in Scotland. The invitation to stay there was offered by Al-Fayed in his capacity, as I thought, as a personal friend. The invitation was not extended, in return for services rendered, nor did I regard the invitation as such.

13. Harrods gifts

  13.1 I have nothing to add to the information contained in my letter of 17 January, save two points:   13.2 The value of the gifts received from Al-Fayed bore an approximate relationship to the value of gifts given by me to him in exchange.

  13.3 Al-Fayed is well known for distributing gifts of this kind to a substantial number of persons in a position of influence, including Mr Hencke (a teddy bear - see his witness statement).

14. Registration of Interests

  14.1 I did not declare the payments referred to in paragraphs 5, 6 and 7 because I did not receive them.

  14.2 I did not declare the accommodation referred to in paragraphs 9, 11 and 12 on the grounds that I did not believe that, under the rules prevailing at the time, they were registrable interests; and in relation to the accommodation in paragraphs 9 and 12 the value of the benefits received is, in my opinion, de minimis.

  14.3 I accept that, in the current climate, both my stay at the Ritz in Paris, and the receipts of commission payments should have been registered. Under the rules prevailing at the time the position was a great deal less clear, and I draw attention in particular to the statements made by the Members Interests Committee in the First Report, Session 1994-95 at paragraphs 13 and 17. My submissions on the registration issue will follow in due course.

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