Examination of Witnesses (Questions 320-324)|
10 MARCH 2009
Q320 Chairman: Can I ask another
general question. Leaving all the technicalities of the agreement
aside, and you have had time to reflect, do you think the purpose
and the tenor of your conversation with MJA could be regarded
Lord Snape: I was trying to be friendly
to attractive young people who I thought were just starting up
in business. Again, my Lord Chairman, I would just ask you to
judge me on what I have done, not what the Sunday Times
implies that I would have done. The fact is I have never done
anything improper. In six years in the Army, as a company chairman,
as a railway guard, as a Member of Parliament in the other House,
or a member of your Lordship's House, I have never, ever been
accused of any impropriety. I never will again, in fact, because
I shall give all this lot up as soon as my contracts expire because
I am not ever going through this again. I have never done anything
to breach This is possibly the only country in the world
that an ex-railway guard can end up in the House of Lords. It
is something that the Sunday Times and some of the other
press do not much like. Having attacked everybody in this country
from the Royal Family down, we are the next target. I respectfully
ask the Committee to bear in mind that this was a bona fide conversation
only from one person's point of view, and that was mine. They
were determined to include as many Members of your Lordship's
House in this scam as they possibly could. I cast no reflections
on anybody you have interviewed or have yet to interview, but
they could not have written that story on the basis of the interview
they did with me because that story indicated that I was corrupt
and willing to take money to table an amendment. That is not true
and I bitterly resent the imputation behind it, which is why I
have already been involved elsewhere in trying to disprove that.
Q321 Lord Dholakia: I have no difficulty
in accepting what you just said, but can I ask you in terms of
the Code and the standards that have been laid down in that particular
document, do you think that your conversation in any particular
way could have been construed as being disreputable to this particular
House of Lords?
Lord Snape: I sincerely hope not. Again,
my Lord, I ask you to reflect this was an hour long casual conversation,
and of course there was some business, some various other parts.
I was trying to put them at ease. Remember, I have not actually
been accused of doing anything, the accusation is that I might
have done something. I just ask you and your colleagues to reflect
I might also have done something else. On reflection, I might
have looked and thought that I was breaching 4(c) if I had gone
ahead in the way that the inference can be drawn from the transcript.
On the other hand, I hope the Committee will concede that there
are some contradictions in the Code where it says on the one hand
in paragraph 4 and then on the other in paragraph 18. I am not
seeking to hide behind those contradictions, indeed had the Registrar
said, "Don't touch this with a bargepole", I would not
have done so. Even if he had said, "You can go ahead",
I might well have reflected with the benefit of hindsight that
I should not go ahead, as I did not go ahead with those earlier
amendments to which I have already referred. This is a judgment,
my Lord Chairman, that you and your colleagues have to make. I
hope I will be judged fairly on what I have said today and on
my own record because I would never do anything to bring this
House into disrepute, although I appreciate from what his Lordship
just said that there are certain inferences that could fairly
be drawn from that conversation. I would not have gone through
with them without the advice of the Registrar and even then I
might well have looked again at the Code. This was a casual conversation.
I do not complain about entrapment, that is the way the press
behave these days and we all accept that, but what I do complain
about is deliberate distortion. I finish on this, my Lord Chairman,
because I do not want to make speeches to your Committee. Even
when I rang Mr Gillard and gave him a statement, which he reproduces,
even then he took out two words and used them falsely in the first
report in the Sunday Times. When I said words to the effect
that I was interested in a blanket amendment and I promised the
fake PR company, he took those two words out, "interested"
and "promised" and put them deliberately in a different
place and in a completely different context. That is how determined
the Sunday Times were to get as many Members of this House
smeared with this particular brush. They would never have dared
print that story on the basis of the interview they had with me.13
13 Comment by the witness: my statement dated
23 January 2009 read out to Mr Gillard stated "I said that
under the rules of the House I was unable to initiate any legislation
on behalf of an individual or company. However, I did state that
such an exemption, perhaps time limited for all new start up businesses
may be beneficial given the current economic circumstances and
undertook to investigate further". The Sunday Times
transcript records the latter sentence as "that such an exemption
perhaps time limited for all new start up businesses may be beneficial
in the current economic circumstances and undertook to investigate
such a possibility further". However the Sunday Times
article of 25 January 2009 states "However, he said he did
think the reporters' proposed exemption might be `beneficial'
and undertook to `investigate' further".
Q322 Chairman: Any other questions?
If not, can I say thank you very much indeed for your time. I
am sorry it has been rather difficult with your eyes. We will
be sending you a transcript which you can correct but not change.
Again, many thanks.
Lord Snape: Thank you.
Lord Dholakia: You did mention about one of
the discrepancies which may have an impact in terms of the transcript
from the Sunday Times. Would it be helpful
Baroness Manningham-Buller: We noticed that
one going through.
Q323 Lord Dholakia: Yes, we did.
Would it be helpful for you to supply us with any relevant discrepancies
you think are there?
Lord Snape: I have done that, my Lord.
Q324 Chairman: They are all in those
Lord Snape: They are in some of the letters
that I have sent to the Lord Chairman.
Lord Dholakia: Now I remember, yes.
Chairman: Thank you very much indeed.