Letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner
from Mr Tom Bower
Thank you for your letter of 22 March 2001 concerning
Geoffrey Robinson and the new facts revealed in my book, 'The
The book's relevant revelation is that Geoffrey Robinson
lied to the Select Committee on Standards and Procedures concerning
the payment of £200,000 by Hollis. He had told the committee
that he had neither solicited nor received £200,000 for his
chairmanship of Hollis.
In their 18th Report published on 14 July 1998, the
committee concluded that there was no evidence that Robinson had
either requested nor received £200,000 for what he called
an unremunerated position as chairman of Hollis.
Through a source, I received a copy of an invoice
for £200,000 which Robinson presented to Michael Stoney,
Hollis's finance director, for his work at Hollis. The invoice,
dated 24 October 1990, was typed on 'Orchard's' notepaper, the
address of his home in Surrey. This invoice was not available
to the Select Committee in1998.
Other research mentioned in the book, explained below,
proves that the records of Arthur Andersen [Hollis's administrator]
confirm that the £200,000 was paid into an account nominated
at Robinson's request.
Over breakfast, on Thursday, 7 December 2000 at the
Grosvenor House, I presented the summary of the evidence to Robinson
and asked whether he submitted an invoice for £200,000 on
'Orchard's' stationary for his work at Hollis.
'Yes,' Robinson replied 'For my work at Lock.'
'So you did request compensation (for your work at
'Yes,' he replied acknowledging he presented the
'Orchards' invoice to Michael Stoney. 'I was soliciting payment
but I don't know why it was on "Orchard's" paper,' he
said. 'I did ask for payment for my work at Lock. There was an
exchange of letters.' He denied that there had been deliberate
deception. 'It's a mistake,' he said.
'And you know that there is proof that the cheque
'Yes,' he admitted. 'But no one knows into which
account it was paid.' He asked me, 'Do you know the account?'
Robinson's admission that he had requested and received
£200,000 from Hollis contradicts the evidence he presented
to the Select Committee.
It is relevant that on page 239 of his memoirs, 'Unconventional
Minister' concerning the £200,000 payment from Hollis, he
'I neither requested nor received any compensation
as non-executive chairman, nor was any payment made to me, despite
an erroneous entry in the 1988/89 account showing the chairman,
myself, receiving £200,000a mystery (to myself).'
Within those thirty-three words rest the proof of
his dishonesty. The £200,000 payment was entered in the accounts
of 1990, not 1988/89. In 1990, he was an executive chairman. He
had been the non-executive chairman in 1988/89 when he was not
entitled to any income. By juxtaposing the unrelated events, he
sought to confuse the reader about his non-receipt of the £200,000.
I challenged him about the passage. He replied that it was 'a
The following, I believe, is the sequence of events
as described in my book, pp 84/5.
Although the invoice dated 24 October 1990 was on
'Orchard's' notepaper, Geoffrey Robinson requested that the cheque
should be made payable to TransTec. Robinson told me that incongruity
was the fault of a secretary who used the 'wrong notepaper' but
since he personally presented the invoice to Stoney, he had ample
opportunity to obtain a properly headed invoice.
The following day, Michael Stoney scribbled 'Approved'
on Robinson's invoice. No cheque was issued and Robinson complained.
'I want £200,000,' Robinson said alternately to Kevin and
his father. Finally Robert Maxwell accepted that Robinson's demand
could not be resisted.
On 16 November 1990, Stoney sent an internal memorandum
stating that a £200,000 payment to Robinson for 'management
fees' should be included in Hollis's 1990 accounts. [Com rep St&P
Ten days later, on 26 November 1990, Stoney sent
another memorandum to Kevin. This memorandum was not available
to the Select Committee in 1998.
Stoney's memorandum reads: 'I understand from Geoffrey
Robinson that at a recent meeting with him you agreed that Hollis
Industries would pay Geoffrey a fee for management services of
£200k. I enclose herewith a copy of his invoice and would
be grateful if you could approve this. Geoffrey has chased me
a couple of time on this matter.'
In haste, Kevin scribbled on the memorandum, 'B/F
RM for approval'. Translated, it was an instruction to Stoney
to, 'Bring forward to Robert Maxwell for approval'. At 5 pm on
13 December 1990, Geoffrey Robinson entered Robert Maxwell's office.
He demanded payment of £200,000 for his work at Hollis. Robert
Soon after, Stoney and Robinson met at the Charterhouse
bank. Stoney noted Robinson's banking details for the cheque.
Robinson no longer wanted the cheque payable to TransTec but to
another payee. Subsequently, Robinson telephoned Shirley Caddock,
Stoney's secretary, and asked that the cheque should be made payable
to a company which he named. In need hand-writing, Caddock wrote
on Robinson's invoice that the cheque was to be paid to Robinson
'personally' without VAT since he was not registered.
On 21 December 1990, a cheque drawn on Pergamon AGB
for £200,000, was cashed. Stoney wrote 'Paid' on Robinson's
invoice and noted that the money, while paid by 'PAGB' should
be 'recharged to H. Industries', namely Hollis. In PAGB's cash
book, the payment was entered under the name, 'Orchards'. The
£200,000 fee to Robinson was entered in Hollis's final accounts,
completed by the auditors, which Robinson eventually signed.
The following is from my book page 218ff:
In November 1999, Hugh Aldous of Robson Rhodes, appointed
by the DTI to investigate Hollis, invited Michael Stoney for an
interview. Aldous told Stoney that during his intensive search
through Arthur Andersen's warehouse in June 1999, he had found
Robinson's original 'Orchards' invoice which Robinson had presented
to Stoney in October 1990. On the invoice, Stoney saw his scribbled
'Paid'. Aldous stated that NatWest had destroyed the records and
he had been uncertain whether the payment had been made until
he had found Pergamon AGB's computer cash book. The cash book
showed that during Arthur Andersen's reconstruction of Maxwell's
labyrithine transactions, the payment on cheque number 1751 had
been credited to 'Orchards6933' rather than to Robinson.
Subsequently no one at Arthur Andersen associated Robinson with
'Orchards' and Arthur Andersen's code number, 99-7976. 'The cash
book,' Aldous told Stoney, 'shows a £200,000 payment to G
Robinson'. Aldous added, 'Even if we can't find Pergamon AGB's
bank statements, the cash book is conclusive.' The £200,000
had been paid. The mystery was the identity of the account into
which the cheque was paid.
Without the records, there was evidence that a £200,000
cheque for Robinson's benefit had been cashed but the final destination
might be unknown. At that stage in their conversation, Aldous
delivered his final bombshell. He revealed to Stoney that despite
Shirley Caddock, his secretary, having written on the 'Orchard's'
invoice that the money was to be paid 'personally' to Robinson,
the £200,000 cheque had been made payable to a company. Bewildered
by the succession of revelations, Stoney did not recognise or
remember the company's name which Aldous mentioned.
On his return home, Stoney telephoned Bernard O'Sullivan,
Robinson's solicitor. 'I've just been told that Geoffrey was paid
the £200,000,' said Stoney.
'Oh, didn't we tell you?' replied the lawyer.
Later that day Robinson telephoned Stoney. 'I'm sorry,
we should have told you,' said Robinson. 'It seems that the papers
were discovered but I knew absolutely nothing about it.' And Robinson
added prophetically, 'But there's no evidence of the account into
which the money was paid.'
I have good reason to believe that the invoice and
evidence of the payment is described in Aldous's report submitted
to the DTI.
In reply to your questions, the 'Orchard's' payment
is different to £150,000 from C&S on the evidence of
Stoney, Caddock, Aldous and Robinson himself.
Concerning the breakfast conversation at the Grosvenor
Hotel, Mr Robinson had not denied the accuracy of my account since
I hope this is helpful.
26 March 2001