Examination of witness (Question 80-99)|
TUESDAY 1 MAY 2001
80. With you providing, at least in the exchange
of letters, services as executive chairman?
(Mr Robinson) I cannot hear what you are saying.
81. With you, as shown by the exchange of letters,
expected to be executive chairman of Lock?
(Mr Robinson) Yes, that would have been assumed. Whether
it was implemented, I do not know, but I do notIn no way
do I want to say that I was not effectively in charge of Lock.
I was. I remember speaking to Kevin Maxwell and saying, "God,
you've landed me with something up here in L.S. Lowry country,
all the little red rows of houses", I remember it significantly.
Sami gave his description, and he was my managing director at
this time. We went up at 5 o'clock in the morning up there. Of
course I did the work, of course it was for Lock and of course
we were looking for the management contract to be paid for, there
is no question about that. What you are trying to do, which is
impossible, in my opinion, is to take all of that activity we
did there and say, "Geoffrey lied, because he was paid as
non-executive director of Hollis." It is just not right.
82. Just a simple question, if I may. Do you
accept that there was an agreement and an invoice for remuneration
due for the work with Lock as a subsidiary of Hollis?
(Mr Robinson) With Lock, yes, absolutely. That Lock
was a subsidiary of Hollis is not in dispute. What is in dispute
is whether I did anything for Hollis as a company, as a non-executive
chairman, and the answer to that is no, of course I did it for
Lock. That is what the argument was about.
83. In that case, can I ask you to re-read aloud
the words on the invoice that you issued on 24th October? What
is the fee for?
(Mr Robinson) I will read it out loud for you, certainly,
and you are entitled to ask that: "Fee for Management Service
provided to Hollis Industries plc as agreed". But (a), you
know, it is not my work. You have to say what were the services?
Let us go into it. What was the service? I think that is a fair
question, is it not? What was the service to Hollis? Let us go
into it. What document do you have? Is there anywhere in existence
a document that says "Geoffrey's service is giving advice
to Bob Maxwell about how he should handle Hollis Industries because
of the problems they had"? Is there anything other than what
you have there, which shows that that is technically correct?
But the substance of that, showing what the services were for
and how they are provided, is completely separate from, and unreconcilable
with, any idea that I was seeking remuneration as deputy chairman,
non-executive chairman, of Hollis. There is no link. You are trying
to make one. I know you are trying, you are trying very hard,
but there is not one.
84. I am not trying to do that in any way.
(Mr Robinson) You are, because it is one of the findings
of the Commissioner which I think is wrong. That one seems to
me to be dead wrong. We can argue about the others, and perhaps
we should get onto those soon.
85. Can I turn to 1998 where, on 30th June,
your answer to a question from the Chairman of this Committee
was the word "No." The question was, "Did you expect
to receive any benefit of any kind in respect of your chairmanship
of the company?"
(Mr Robinson) My chairmanship, absolutely none. Can
you not see that it has got nothing to do with my chairmanship,
it has got everything to do with working with Lock. I cannot understand
why this is so difficult. Of course none for my chairmanship.
You might just as well have asked me to do it. I have always done
things if people have asked me to do them, if I think they are
good things. Of course none. That is precisely the point I made
to the Commissioner: as chairman, none, of course none.
86. Did it occur to you to mention that you
had put in an invoice for £200,000 to Hollis Industries?
(Mr Robinson) Did it occur to me what?
87. In answering the Chairman's letter, or in
evidence to this Committee, or in exchanges with the then Commissioner,
did it occur to you to mention that you had put in an invoice
in 1990 for £200,000 as a fee for management service provided,
as you put it, to Hollis Industries as agreed?
(Mr Robinson) Are you referring there to my reply
to Sir Gordon Downey? Is that the period?
88. To the Chairman of this Committee.
(Mr Robinson) What is the date of this? I was wondering
about the date precisely.
89. The date I gave before. In answer to the
Chairman, your letter was dated 30th June.
(Mr Robinson) 1998?
90. Your appearance before the Committee
(Mr Robinson) 1998?
91.and your exchanges with the Commissioner
are a matter of record.
(Mr Robinson) No, I had forgotten entirely about the
whole matter of the contract, and, as I have said before and it
bears repeating, so had Sami as managing director at the time.
It happened, and I will tell you exactly how it happened when
we had to go over this because of the DTI inquiry. I phoned up
Sami in Mr Roberts QC's office. I did this with the total openness
that I have adopted throughout this. I put up my notebook, I said,
"Hang on, there is talk of £200,000 here." So I
phoned up Sami, my managing director, who is a an excellent man,
who also did not immediately recollect this, as I did not at the
time. He said this was about a management contract for £200,000.
He said we did not have one. Then he started to recollect, and
then he said, "Well, we did all that work for Lock,"
he said, "but we never got paid." That was his recollection
of it, my having prompted him; whereas I had nobody to prompt
me. I had completely forgotten it, completely forgotten it.
92. One last question, if I may. If someone
were to take me on as a director and to use my company to provide
services to their business, and they said they will pay me a certain
sum a year, but by the way they are not going to pay me for five
years, they will pay me in arrears, do you think that I ought
to declare that during those five years, or do you think I should
wait until I had actually seen the money?
(Mr Robinson) I did think about that, but the arrangement
I had with Mr Maxwelland this was right from the very beginning
93. Could you answer my question first and then
say other things?
(Mr Robinson) No, I think the answer is certainly
no with Mr Maxwell.
94. You would not have declared it as money
(Mr Robinson) Not with Mr Maxwell, for obvious reasons.
95. Leaving aside Mr Maxwell
(Mr Robinson) I was dealing only with Mr Maxwell.
96. Leaving the question of Mr Maxwell aside,
if I were to be taken on to do a job, and the pay was going to
come in arrearssay, a year in arrearsdo you think
I have taken on a remunerated directorship or employment during
the time I am doing the work, or only when the money gets paid?
(Mr Robinson) There was no agreement for remuneration,
so your assumption is wrong. There was none. I have made that
clear several times. There was none. The approach was, let us
see how it goes; if it goes well, we will work it out. That may
not be the way everybody operates in life. I have done many things
unlike many others. The answer to your question is, if you are
dealing withNormally speaking, one would try to get an
agreed pattern of remuneration in advance. I was not interested
in that. I was trying to do good by the two companies which I
took on, which were Central and Sheerwood. Time passes very quickly,
and there was no discussion between me and him on remuneration
for that untiland this is quite importantthe very
end when TransTec could not get anything out of the management
contract. I said, "Okay, well, at least the"
It would have been both to me anyway; as I said, one down one
to go. So the answer to that is that unless you have got a clearly
agreed contract in advance which says what you are going to be
paid, you should not count on being paid, and in the case of Mr
Maxwell, which was my case, certainly not. Both of those things
applied in this instance.
97. So if we just go back to Annex O, you are
saying the £200,000 First of all, you say this invoice
is one you raised after the discussion with Kevin Maxwell to obtain
(Mr Robinson) Yes.
98. Then you say that although you wrote the
words, or typed the words, or had typed, "Fee for Management
Service provided to Hollis Industries plc as agreed", you
are saying there was not an agreement?
(Mr Robinson) No.
99. You are saying it was not for Hollis Industries?
(Mr Robinson) There was an agreement between us, subject
to the overriding approval of Mr Maxwell, of course there was,
but it was always subject to his overriding approval. That is
not brought out, and that is where it came unstuck.