Examination of witness (Question 40-59)|
TUESDAY 1 MAY 2001
40. I am just asking you to say what this exchange
of letters was about which was about the services provided to
Hollis, a subsidiary of Lock, which included your service as executive
chairman of Lock.
(Mr Robinson) I make one qualification. I am not sure
that I was ever nominated to the position of executive chairman.
41. I have not asked the question.
(Mr Robinson) I am allowed to make the point.
42. The question I am trying to ask you, to
which I would like the answer yes, no or you do not know, but
I think from these documents the answer is yes, is this exchange
included your services as executive chairman of Lock which is
a wholly owned subsidiary of Hollis?
(Mr Robinson) Yes, although I do not know that I was
actually appointed to be executive chairman.
43. Then if we can move on from Annex G through
Annex H1, H2, I, J, K and certainly L, I think we are still dealing
with this management contract where there would be an obligation
to pay your company for services as a director within the Hollis
(Mr Robinson) Where would you say that was evident?
I was never a director of Lock. That was a proposal I was making
earlier but it obviously was never proceeded upon.
44. It was obviously never proceeded upon?
(Mr Robinson) Could you go back to your question and
then I will come back to the
45. My question was this exchange was about
the provision of services, including your service as executive
chairman of Lock, the wholly owned subsidiary of Hollis.
(Mr Robinson) I do not think I ever became a director
of Lock, this was what I was trying to say earlier.
46. Was the exchange about the provision of
your services as executive chairman of Lock, a subsidiary of Hollis?
(Mr Robinson) It could not have been if I was not
a director. There is a listing of all my directorships with the
Committee somewhere. I think the idea was I was building up our
caseIf I could be clear about the point you are driving
at, Mr Bottomley, I would be happy to answer it. Is your point
that this proves that I was wrong in saying that I never sought
remuneration in my capacity as non-executive chairman of Hollis?
Is that the point you are driving at? It is a simple question.
47. Although the roles appear to have been reversed.
(Mr Robinson) I am so sorry, my hearing.
48. The obligation on each of us is to register
a remunerated directorship.
(Mr Robinson) Yes.
49. My preliminary question was whether this
exchange of letters, which I have mentioned, is about payment
for services to a wholly owned subsidiary of Hollis, which included
your services as the executive chairman of Lock?
(Mr Robinson) Even though I may never have become
executive. I am so sorry to make the point but it seems evident
to meWhat we were trying to show was that I would be committed
to this and do it, that was the sense. There was no remote idea
in my mindThere was no money involved, it was going to
be paid to TransTec, and nor was there any certainty of it being
paid because it was subject to the approval of Robert Maxwell
and in the end was not paid, just as the other I did not declare
or pay in until I received it and it was Central and Sheerwood.
What I am trying to get at is I do not think what you are driving
at is sustained by what you are relying on by way of information
because I never asked for money in my capacity as a non executive
chairman of Hollis, never, ever, it never entered my mind. What
we have here is a management contract where I am director, perhaps
not even that, where I am running a subsidiary of that company
with a management contract, the intention of which is that TransTec
personnel should be involved and TransTec should be paid. We will
come to the subsequent question on that later, no doubt.
50. May I intervene just briefly. Does this
exchange of correspondence which Mr Bottomley has been asking
you about refer then to the management service, an invoice of
which we have at Annex O?
(Mr Robinson) Yes, that is the Orchards' one. It says
"payment to be made to Trans Tec" and then we have Mrs
Caddock's comment on it.
Mr Levitt: Perhaps we will come back
to that later.
51. First of all, did you issue this invoice
dated 24 October 1990? (Mr Robinson) Yes.
52. Do you agree that it says "Fee for
Management Service provided for Hollis Industries plc as agreed"?
(Mr Robinson) Yes, but all preceding information makes
it quite clearI wish I knew what point you were after but,
never mind, you will not tell me. It is quite clear that it is
work done for Lock, it is nothing to do with Hollis itself, Hollis
was a holding company which Maxwell owned.
53. Is there access to the agreement that this
(Mr Robinson) I think the documents you have, with
one exception which we thought was misleading but the Commissioner
had left it out, gives you everything about it.
54. Those are the documents I was asking you
about just now? They are different documents?
(Mr Robinson) I think you have everything except one
which it might be useful if you have from me now, which is tab
A, where it is made quite clear that none of this is anything
to do with Hollis, it is all to do withand all the detail
of what we were doing was forLock, a subsidiary company.
I am trying to make a distinctionand it seems so clear
to me, and if it is not to Members, I wish they would tell mebetween
a role I had as non-executive chairman of Hollis on the one hand
and us running, trying to get this damned company into good shape,
and TransTec being paid for it on the other hand. No remuneration
was ever envisaged for what I had been doing as non-executive
chairman of Hollis. I cannot see the point. Never in my right
mind, when I was chasing this, did I think that, and never ever
did it occur to me that I was chasing payment for my services
as non-executive chairman to Hollis, never ever, nothing at all.
55. Can I ask you if this invoice, Annex O,
is a real invoice? Was it supposed to be paid?
(Mr Robinson) Let us put it this way, I think what
happened was, I saw Kevin the night before and he said, "Look,
Geoffrey, if we want to get this thing through, I have to have
an invoice." I go home that night, I am working from homeit
is all in my diaryand I dash off an invoice. As it so happened,
Sami looks after these things in the company, and I am not somebody
who knows how to draft an invoice. I drew up an invoice as best
I could and made no provision for VAT or anything of that kind.
What it was meant mainly to do was to push along the question
of getting paid.
56. So you wanted to get paid?
(Mr Robinson) Yes.
57. You wanted TransTec to be paid
(Mr Robinson) Yes.
58.for the services that had been provided
to Hollis or to Lock?
(Mr Robinson) Not to Hollis, to Lock.
59. Lock is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hollis?
(Mr Robinson) That is what you were pursuing. You
are asking me. What is in the back of my mind all the time is
that I think the charge is that I sought payment for my role as
non-executive chairman of Hollis, which I did not. At the time,
when that was brought up by Sir Gordon, of course, I had forgotten
entirely about this management contract. What is quite clear in
my mind is I never sought payment for being non-executive chairman
of Hollis, never, not at all, never ever.
Mr Campbell-Savours: Chairman, can you
perhaps point out to Mr Robinson that we are not talking about
Hollis, that the questions that Mr Bottomley is asking are about
Chairman: There is a division in the
House. We shall resume in ten minutes.
The Committee suspended from 4.48 pm until
4.58 pm for a division in the House