Select Committee on Standards and Privileges Fifth Report

Annex vii20

Transcription of an interview by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards with Mr Tom Sackville held on 24 October 2001

MS FILKIN: Thank you for coming to see me. When did you work for Mr Auchi?

MR SACKVILLE: I worked part time at Auchi's companies from September '97 until September '98, I should think.

MS FILKIN: '97 to '98, for some of the Auchi companies?

MR SACKVILLE: Yes, I should say employed by a German bank that he owned, but he did not own it because the German authorities refused to allow the shares to be transferred into his name, but it was in trusteeship. I was a director of this bank in Germany which they paid for, and I was being paid by General Mediterranean UK and also by General Mediterranean Luxembourg.

MS FILKIN: Yes, those are the two companies, of course, which I have got annual reports about.

MR SACKVILLE: But I was not a director of either of them. I was a director of the bank in Germany which was called Bankhaus Nord in Kiel.

MS FILKIN: Could you spell that for me?

MR SACKVILLE: Bankhaus as in the German Bankhaus, -o-r-d. I am so sorry, Bank Compagnie, spelt in the French way; Bank Compagnie Nord - N-o-r-d - in Kiel. The only thing I can tell you that is sort of at all firm is that I was aware, from talk in the office, that money, during that period, was going in some form to Vaz, but probably to some newspaper which was being circulated around to ethnic communities, which I would have thought was a very good way of paying an MP without him being attacked. That is what the assumption was in the office.

MS FILKIN: When you say "that period", do you mean from September '97?

MR SACKVILLE: It was certainly during that period such payments were made.

MS FILKIN: You cannot remember when you first heard?

MR SACKVILLE: No, no, because, you see, it would all be talk and circulation around.

MS FILKIN: Yes, but at least between September '97 and September '98?


MS FILKIN: Some time during that period you were aware?

MR SACKVILLE: Yes, I was aware of the fact that he was supporting Vaz or some project of Vaz in some way. I do not remember all the figures, but a few thousand pounds, I think.

MS FILKIN: When you say "a few thousand pounds" -----

MR SACKVILLE: Well, between 2 and 5, I should think.


MR SACKVILLE: Mr Auchi, he liked to have all these people on his payroll.

MS FILKIN: Do you know anything about the offer of the directorship to Mr Vaz?

MR SACKVILLE: No, I do not know anything about a directorship at all, strangely enough. That is new to me. I wonder if it came a bit later.

MS FILKIN: That is in the public domain, it is in the -----

MR SACKVILLE: But post September '98?

MS FILKIN: Well it is difficult to see. It is certainly in the '98 Annual Report, but that may be a mistake.

MR SACKVILLE: No, but surely whatever that form is that is filed at Companies House, the appointment as director—did that not go in? It did. Right, you have got that, so you know what date they filed his directorship. You can be sure he was paid then, when he became a director—not very much, but he would have been paid—but the payment I am talking about, was for some front organisation, he may well have earned that, because it may have been that any sponsorship that came in went straight to him, it is possible.

MS FILKIN: Would you know of anyone else in the company at that time, or who worked in the company at that time and has now left, who could confirm that?

MR SACKVILLE: This is why I wanted to talk to you, because most of those people are very junior people who would have been terrified.

MS FILKIN: You do not know of anybody who has left who would feel more comfortable?

MR SACKVILLE: Gerry Malone would probably know. Did you talk to him?

MS FILKIN: No, not yet.

MR SACKVILLE: He is now chief of his pharmaceutical company. He might know something about that. I mean, your best bet would be just to summons Auchi to tell you. I do not know, perhaps you have done that, been there, because you have powers to summons these people?

MS FILKIN: Yes, the Committee does.

MR SACKVILLE: So your best bet would be to do just that. He will not thank you very much, but he is an British resident, possibly a British citizen.


MR SACKVILLE: Yes, so he would have to appear, and it is rather uncomfortable, but he would have then to produce papers, I would have thought, which showed what was happening in fact. That is what I wanted to tell you, that your only way into this is to ask Mr Auchi on the record, because everyone else will be too scared.

MS FILKIN: Yes, I understand.

MR SACKVILLE: But he is somebody who does always do things round the back. He has the kind of street-trader mentality, quite a nice family man, and will not hire a proper staff. That is the problem.

MS FILKIN: Do you know of any other benefits that he provided Mr Vaz, other than this money?

MR SACKVILLE: He would have invited him to various events, plenty of occasions, huge dinners at the Hilton. No, you see I do not have anything beyond that mention of some sort of a newspaper. But you will have to ask him, you will have to ask Auchi to disclose all of that. He will have to come and tell you. He is quite keen on being British, because of all his problems with the French, and he will want to keep in, want to be helpful. I should not think he had much time for Vaz, or for the other fellow, Galloway. You must be shocked by all these people, this crowd. Anyway, that is really all I can tell you, that that is what I was aware of, and I just do not think you will get anyone else saying much.

MS FILKIN: Yes, well if you do think of anybody who it might be sensible for me to have a conversation with, I would be grateful if you would let me know.

MR SACKVILLE: Yes. There is this one chap that would know a lot. He lived up in Barnet, that is all I remember.

MS FILKIN: You would not have access to his name and address?

MR SACKVILLE: Well I can sort of poke around and find out who he was.

MS FILKIN: If you could, I would be very grateful.

MR SACKVILLE: If I find something, I shall tell you. I do think he might feel like saying something on the record or off—because you do both, do you not?

MS FILKIN: Yes. I cannot use it if people say it is off the record, and therefore it is not necessarily of any use to me, but it is helpful to me to have a picture.

MR SACKVILLE: Yes. So you really are interested in monies paid as directorships or fees for a certain period?

MS FILKIN: Yes, it is about what responsibility Mr Vaz has to Parliament. It is not a criticism actually of Mr Auchi—what Mr Auchi does with his money is his affair, it is nothing to do with me—but it is about whether Mr Vaz fulfilled the obligation that he has got to Parliament. If he was receiving money for any purpose, to run a newspaper or whatever—not necessarily saying there is anything wrong with running a newspaper—he should have put it in the Register of Members' Interests.

MR SACKVILLE: That newspaper, that would have been a sort of semi ----- I tell you what it has to be. It was advertisements, that is right. General Mediterranean, or one of the companies, possibly Tucan Investments which you may have come across also, used to take ads.

MS FILKIN: And this was not to support Mr Vaz's calendar?

MR SACKVILLE: You see, I do not know what the publication was.

MS FILKIN: Yes. Well there is a calendar that did have advertisements. Obviously some payments were paying for those advertisements.

MR SACKVILLE: Yes, it is quite possible, quite possible.

MS FILKIN: But you do not know?

MR SACKVILLE: They were more like, if I remember, a newsletter or a newspaper than a calendar, a single sheet.

MS FILKIN: Yes. Okay.

MR SACKVILLE: Okay, well I will try and think of this person.

MS FILKIN: If you would. I am very grateful to you for coming, it is very good of you.

MR SACKVILLE: I am intrigued to meet you, because I greatly admire your efforts to tie these people down, of whatever party.

MS FILKIN: Thank you.

Signed as correct by Mr Tom Sackville on 23 November 2001

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