Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Minutes of Evidence

Examination of witness (Question 220-239)



  220. So in the complaints that have been made against you, Geoffrey, about the destination of this £200,000 that was on your invoice, you have stated that the money did not go to any of the companies connected with you, as I stated, whether it was Roll Centre, Sarclad, this is always the merged companies?
  (Mr Robinson) Or any other companies.

  221. These are the ones we particularly talked about in relation to this. Would you also give the Committee your assurance that no amount of £200,000 went to any trust linked with you?
  (Mr Robinson) Absolutely no trusts. They were set up afterwards.

  222. All of them were set up afterwards?
  (Mr Robinson) They were all set up afterwards.

  223. None of them were set up prior to this?
  (Mr Robinson) No, none at all. I wonder if, at that point, I might ask the Commissioner, on the question of trusts, did you seek to talk to the Inland Revenue at all in the whole of your part of the investigation? This is just the trusts coming up there. No, absolutely, there were no trusts, and I do not think, in fairness, even the Commissioner suggests that they could have been paid into any trusts. There were none, absolutely none, there were not any.

  Shona McIsaac: That will do for now, thank you.

Mr Levitt

  224. Can I refer you to Annex Q which is your tab 5, page 28. It is the October management accounts of Hollis Industries. You have referred to this earlier. Is this note produced on a monthly basis?
  (Mr Robinson) I do not know how often they did them. Presumably they did them— I would not know. You see, although I was deputy chairman, it was all run in-house at Maxwell, he owned it 100 per cent, it was one of his companies. I would never have seen this, as I did not see the accounts. All I was doing was trying to make a go of Lock.

  225. The reason I asked is because it suggests at the bottom in the table that if it was produced on a monthly basis, this management fee would have shown up over several months; it was not just the October one it would have shown up in, it would have shown up in November and December as well, but you would not have seen those?
  (Mr Robinson) I imagine we could check that for you, but I am sure the case is it would have turned up, because it ends up in the statutory accounts for the year—quite erroneously, as you know, because it was never paid in in October.

  226. One can see that an error might be missed if it only occurred once, but if the error is being published on a monthly basis it is more surprising that it was not picked up. Are you surprised to see no mention of Lock on that page?
  (Mr Robinson) Here?

  227. Note 7 does not refer to Lock in any way, does it?
  (Mr Robinson) No, none of the companies are mentioned there. Also PSS, which was a company that came into the group—I did not have to do anything with it, it had a management team and was very well run—that is not mentioned either.

  228. But when note 7 talks about a management fee, you have told us that that was the management fee for which you invoiced, either on behalf of yourself or on behalf of TransTec, but which was never paid, but which referred solely to Lock and not to Hollis?
  (Mr Robinson) For my work.

  229. For your work for Lock?
  (Mr Robinson) Absolutely.

  230. Would Lock have produced its own accounts?
  (Mr Robinson) We had our own accounts, yes. I am pretty sure I can say that no payment in respect of that would appear—I can try and get them for you, if you like—in the Lock accounts.

  231. Does Lock have its own set of directors?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes. I am not sure—but I can come back on that—that I was formally a director, I just do not remember, I am sorry.

  232. Whether you were or not, there would have been other directors?
  (Mr Robinson) Oh yes, because it was a trading company.

  233. They would have been separate from the Hollis directors?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes, nothing to do with Hollis. I do not know who was on the board of Hollis. It is totally separate, it is nothing to do with Hollis.

  234. Apart from being wholly owned?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

Mr Bottomley

  235. Going back to the answer you gave to the Chairman in June 1998, when the Chairman asked whether you expected to receive any benefit of any kind in respect of your chairmanship of the company—that is, the chairmanship of Hollis which owns Lock—I remind myself, and tell me whether I am wrong, that one of the reasons you say you may not have been interested in pursuing the £200,000 that was owed to your business TransTec was that there were some capital arrangements going on which brought great benefit to you?
  (Mr Robinson) Well, the merger.

  236. The merger, and that was of greater benefit than the £200,000?
  (Mr Robinson) Oh yes. I think that is made clear in the Commissioner's report.

  237. If that benefit had not been there, the £200,000 would have been more important?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes. I think if the merger had not gone through, we would have pursued it, yes, I am sure of that.

  238. So leaving aside whether or not the £200,000 was paid in December, as the Pergamon AGB accounts say, and the charge made across to the Hollis accounts, leaving that on one side, if the £200,000 had not been paid, and you chose deliberately not to pursue it, it was because there was a greater benefit in the merger?
  (Mr Robinson) Yes.

  239. So there is not an issue in front of us as to whether there is a benefit or not; the question is whether that becomes registrable?
  (Mr Robinson) I do not know. You know, whether the issue is registration there or not, I am taking very seriously everything that Alan has said and you are saying now, but I do not think that is the big issue really for the Committee. The issue for the Committee—I am sorry for that, but this is, if I may say so, from my point of view. What seems to be the big issue for me is whether I was paid and I am lying about it.

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