Lord Taylor of BlackburnSunday
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 1 of 31
LT: Hello Taylor.
JC: Hello is that Lord Taylor
LT: It is I.
JC: My name is David Thompson. I am from a company
called Michael Johnston Associates. We have not met but the reason
I am calling you is that I have a client who is looking for some
political consultancy work and I wondered whether I might come
and talk to you about it. It is a client in the retail sector.
Maybe I should explain who we are. We are a
communications and public affairs company. Mostly we deal with
Brussels. And we have been asked by this particular client to
find somebody who would help with work in parliament. My researcher
did some research and we were looking for somebody with good links
to government who has a good track record in working for enterprises
outside parliament. And she suggested your name, which is why
I am calling you now. I don't know whether this is the sort of
thing you would do, or whether we might be better off meeting
to talk it through if you are interested?
LT: Both, both. Let me tell you a little bit
about myself and then you know. Yes, I have got a lot of connections
with government because I am very fortunate in the sense that
I have been in the Lords for 30 years and my background was education.
Most of the British education system is based on what they call
the Taylor report and so on and I've done everything it's possible
for a layman to do in education. And even though physically I
think I am deteriorating, mentally I am probably more alert than
someone much much younger than myself. And during that time I
gained a lot of experience.
I decided a few years ago I was going to retire.
I have no need to do anything. I have got past the stage of seeking
monetary rewards or honours or positions or anything like that
some time ago, but it seems a pity, when I have gained so much
experience and knowledge, not to use it. And therefore I have
been working with quite a few, quite a number of companies over
the years, both nationally and internationally. I decided that
I was definitely going to retire last year and I wasn't going
to do anything, but unfortunately, I am the sort of bloke that
can't resist a challenge, and depending on what the position is
and what the people want, I will help them if I possibly can.
So I don't have to do anything. Can I put it that way to you.
So I am not seeking anything. I am giving what
I've got. And if it's somebody that I like and I like what they
have tried to do or tried to achieve, I will help them. That is
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 2 of 31
JC: I am assuming that it would be a paid role,
though. Or are you saying that you might do it for free?
LT: Oh, I might do. It depends on what it is.
If it's somebody just coming up the ladder and starting off, you
know and so on, I would help them free. It depends on who they
are. Does that help?
JC: Yes that helps. Maybe we should meet rather
than talk on the phone. Have a cup of tea to discuss it.
LT: I would be delighted to do that. What have
you got in mind?
Discuss arrangements for meeting the next day
and conversation ends
The transcript begins as they sit down in the
peer's guest room.
LT: There's more business done in here than
what's done in most government offices or most offices and so
JC: What sort of business is going on in here?
LT: Oh, there are all kinds of things going
on here. There are officials from various departments. I recognise
those people there but I don't know who these people are. This
is where, if I want to talk to a minister, this is the place to
talk to him. If I want to talk to a chairman of a company, this
is the way I would talk to him. Usually from here we would go
in next door and have lunch or dinner and so on.
JC: What is this place called?
LT: This is called the peer's guest room where
peers meet their guests before dinner. If ever my companies were
in trouble, with a chairman of a company so on, and they are not
sorting it out, if I invite him to come and have dinner with me,
nine times out of ten he will accept the invitation. This is a
place where you can't buy a meal. You can buy a lunch at the Dorchester
or the Ritz, but you can't here and it's good for
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 3 of 31
people to be seen here and to be working here.
So I will get them here and he will sort the thing out and pass
it on to whoever is dealing with it.
JC: So you will sort it out between you and
LT: And then it goes on from there, yes.
JC: Very handy. You already work for several
LT: It all depends on what you mean by work.
I have got past the stage of having to work. I only do what I
want to do. And if I like the people I will help them and if I
don't I won't help them. I'm completely independent.. my most
important thing is time because it is limited to me. So I only
spend my time on doing things that give me satisfaction. So that
is the way that I work and operate. Anyway, you tell me.
JC: Yes, I'll tell you what we are about. I
work for a company called MJA. We have been established for a
long time in Brussels doing public affairs work in Brussels. Now
we have opened an office in London and we have joint Chinese Taiwanese
clients. We know them because we did work for them in Brussels
and they are setting up a chain of retail outlets, probably next
year under the brand name Emerald. These are clothes retail outlets.
Now they have a number of issues. We are talking about probably
30 outlets around the country, and broadly there are two things
that they are looking for. One is any help they can get in streamlining
the planning process which is obviously a difficulty for them
and they are also looking to change the climate of debate on how
you incentivise businesses. In this current climate, a lot of
retail outlets are going to go bust. It's a tough time and they
are hoping they are going to be able to influence the debate on
incentives such as tax breaks and so on, new businesses coming
in to take up those retail sites. Is this the sort of work you
LT: It is, it is. But it depends. Go a littler
further down the line. Tell me, what do they want the retail outlets
JC: Oh, to sell clothes. It's a joint venture
between a very well established Hong Kong manufacturer and retailer,
and they are called Wong Hing, it's a family name, and our client
is a man called Lou Li Jaing, an importer exporter. I suppose
you would call him a dollar billionaire really.
LT: Where's he based, in Hong Kong?
JC: Yes. They are scoping at the moment for
the right site. Some are big out of town sites, which obviously
would involve issues you would know better about than I in terms
LT: I do know what you are talking about yes.
JC: And at certain times there are all sorts
of things, I don't know. I would imagine if we were to have a
financial relationship with you there are all sorts of things.
I don't know. Tell me if this is actually how it works. (25m 45sec).
We would be looking for you to speak in the chamber on our behalf,
ask parliamentary questions, perhaps
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 4 of 31
amend certain bits of legislation and if possible,
we might like to meet ministers. I don't know if any of that is
possible. What I have given you is a broad idea.
LT: Yes. I've got an idea. Tell me, how did
you get my name?
JC: Because my researcher did some work on.
Would you like some milk? Our Chinese clients in Hong Kong are
very close to the politicians and what they are looking for is
someone with status and experience and a track record of having
dealt with commerce. So I got a researcher to do some research
and she came up with your name. I'm not sure what precise criteria
LT: At the same time, there was a big change
here and everybody could see that the Conservative government
was going out, Labour was coming into power. Tony Blair asked
me, because I had chaired so many national committees and I was
very familiar with the civil servants of the day. Most of them
worked with me. This was a new concept in Labour. Very different
from the Callaghan concept of Labour. So he asked me if I would
do a couple of weekends with the people that he was going to appoint
as his ministers and secretaries of state and tell them what their
role would be and what their duties were and what the difference
was between being a minister and a civil servant. I did that and
then I was invited by the secretary of the cabinet to do a similar
exercise with the civil servants,(36 mins) because most of these
senior civil servants I have known since they were juniors in
the various departments and I could talk to them in the same way.
So when Labour came into power I was used by them for settling
disputes and all kind of things within government. This gave me
an entry into all the government departments and so I used it.
Now you said to me afterwards, asking questions
in the chamber and. Never in your life would I do that. You don't
do things like that if you want results.
JC: Sorry I am naive on this.
LT: Yes, you are very naive on that. The best
way. You see because of my position and because I am accepted,
because even though I am a Labour peer I am accepted by all the
parties because of the work that I have done over the years with
all the parties. I worked with the Conservative for 18 years,
as much as I have worked with the Labour party. It doesn't matter
because I am a UK man rather than a party politician. So this
is the way that I work.
(37m) Now, if I want to get a point over to
a minister or a civil servant or someone like this, this is the
place where I would do itover this table. I can speak better
and they will speak more freer over a cup of coffee or a pint
rather than a boardroom table or a ministerial desk where everything
is being written down and so on. Asking questions in the chamber
and getting the written answer is not what you want. You want
to make your point known to them and you would make your point
known to them in this particular way rather than what you would
(38m) And again being in the particular position
I am in, it is easy for me to pick up the telephone and say to
Peter Mandelson. `Peter I want to come and talk to you next week
about a, b and c'. `All right, I'll do it'. Or in Science and
Technology, Drayson has just taken over. I'm having a meeting
with him about a particular concern in gas storage next week.
Now these are the sort of things that I do. So I do it in a very
quiet way and so on, and without any publicity because you don't
get what you want by,
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 5 of 31
you only use the chamber if you are (something
like: fighting the cause of society). But not on a commercial
deal would you do that. You would quietly and gently. And again
I have a reputation within government and within all parties of
being a discreet and honest operator, because I believe in telling
the truth. And in telling the truth you are far better in doing
it the way I do it, in talking straight to someone, then what
you can in putting questions down and things like that. You've
got to be very very careful because civil servants are very good
in giving you civil servants language and it doesn't mean anything
at all really. So in doing it in the way that I am doing it with
you now is the best way. So that's the way I operate.
JC: So the way you operate is through informal
LT: Yes, the way we are meeting this morning.
And again because I have got a reputation that I have got, I would
not use it. My credibility means a great deal to me because at
my age I am not going to lose my credibility for a few pounds.
That doesn't mean anything to me. So I will not anything that
is dodgy or crosses that line. I'm privy to all kinds of information.
That doesn't mean that if your client is doing
something that I don't think stands any chance of doing, I will
tell you. I will tell you in a round about way...
Remember when I spoke to you yesterday, I told
you that I am not seeking work. It was my intention of finishing,
to cease work. It was because you just whetted my appetite a little
bit to see what it is all about.
JC: The fact is that what we are talking about
is you helping us out with any problems that might come up in
the process of setting up this retail chain in the UK. There are
certain things that have already been identified. For instance
the Business Rates Supplement Bill which is going to be quite
onerous on retailers as it will allow an extra 2% on corporation
tax. I don't know how you feel about that, but my own employers
feel that the legislation could be amended so that a business,
for instance, when it was setting up would be able to appeal to
a local authority for an exemption.
LT: Well these are things where I can come in
quite well. I don't know if you know a company called Experian
in this country.
LT: Experian are the company. They have a terrific
amount of intelligence and information. They are the people who
advise banks on your credit worthiness and so on. They will blacklist
you or tell you how good they are. Also they do a lot with government
on ID cards and so on, because they've got all sorts of information.
For example I've been working with them on a statute that's coming
out, or was coming out because I've got it delayed now, whereby
it was going to be difficult for them to get certain information
and so on. So I've got that amended and you do it quietly behind
the scenes you see.
JC: How did you manage to do that? Do you actually
put in an amendment yourself?
LT: No, no, no, no, no. You don't do things
like that. That's stupid. What you do is you talk to the parliamentary
team who drafts the statute as it goes through and you point out
to them the difficulty the retailer would be having on this, and
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 6 of 31
are working and so on. You get them to amend
that way. You're too late when you put amendments down in... because
they don't want loss of face. But if you can get it done when
it's in the draft form it's far better because you know what the
principals are of the bill as its going through and you know what
they are introducing ... what you do is you meet the minister,
you meet the various people, and its not always ministers or secretary
of state or even permanent secretaries that do this. It's some
little chappie half way down. It's about identifying the decision
makers. It's about identifying the people that make the recommendations.
JC: How do you do it in the case of that Experian
one that you mentioned?
LT: With the Experian one, I know the department.
I know how it works. Because I chair various cabinet meetings
as well and I know how the cabinet works. I know the decision
makers. I know the teams in various departments. And I will identify
them. For example, if you want to build a power station in the
UK, you want a section 36 notice to do it. You will make the necessary
application and it will go through. But long before that there's
a little chappie called Gerry Mohammed, who works in Victoria
Street, who does all the recommendations to ministers and civil
servants. He is only a very low graded man but he knows more about
energy than anybody else. And what you would do if somebody came
along to me and said I want to build a power station at Chester,
what's my chances of getting a section 36 notice? Gerry would
tell me what the chances were. If Gerry said you don't stand a
cat in hell's chance, I would say to you, forget about it mate,
no matter how you try and how eloquent you are in the debate,
you never get it because
JC: Can you not persuade Gerry?
LT: Now that is different. Then if you are in.
If you point out the logic of doing it that way.
JC: Have you ever done that with him?
LT: Oh I've done a number of things with him
JC: And it works does it?
LT: Oh yes. Let me make it clear it's not a
question of you interviewing me; it's up to me whether I will
join you. You need me more than I. I don't need you, with respect.
Please remember that. That is the way that it goes. I am interested.
What I would like to do is talk more to you in the New Year. This
is only an introduction meeting today. We'll talk more in the
New Year. You see, you are coming to me with some fixed views
that are entirely wrong.
JC: I am quite naive.
LT: I'm sorry, you are ignorant of how the system
works and how you've got to work and how you have to know people
and how it all knits together. But please I'm not being rude to
you. I am being absolutely straight and honest with you.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 7 of 31
JC: Obviously, from our point of view, this
would be something we would remunerate you for. And I don't think
money is an object. But I would ask you to do would be to give
us some idea of what a fee structure would be.
LT: This is absolutely difficult. This is very
difficult for me because some companies that I work will pay me
£100,000 a year.
LT: Oh yes. That's cheap for what I do for them.
And other companies will pay me £25,000. It all depends on
what you are trying to do and how much time I think I am going
to spend on it.
JC: Those fees are not impossible. They are
LT: Yes but these are the sort of fees I get.
I am being absolutely honest with you. I am not exaggerating.
It's whether I want to do it or not. You've got to whet my appetite,
to get me on board.
JC: What more do you want from me?
LT: I want more detail. What I would like on
sheet from you of where you feel you would need help. That's what
JC: So you can see?
LT: Whether I can give you that help or whether
I am just wasting my time. As I started off by telling you. The
most important thing to me is my time.
... and let me have some more details about
you. How legitimate you are and so on.
JC: So just so I have some idea. I was quite
interested in what you said about the amendment with Experian.
What specific information did they get excluded from the bill?
LT: What they wanted was the position about
directors, and directors addresses, and on top of that directors'
shareholdings in companies and so on.
JC: And they wanted to keep getting hold of
JC: And was the bill going to stop them getting
hold of that?
LT: That's right.
JC: It seems like quite a good thing anyway.
LT: That's right. But it was a way of getting
it so that it would protect the interest of the director and yet
give the information to the City for what the City wanted. And
what their clients wanted, which was the City in this case, was
Experian... It was
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 8 of 31
about getting the right sort of wording on the
statute to make it sound easier for everybody. Finance bills are
very very difficult. Where you have got the 2%. Not as easy.
... I have got many contacts within the Treasury,
with the Treasury team. And Yvette Cooper and people like that
have been great contacts to me. Don't forget, many of these ministers
have been juniors to me, have been students of mine. And therefore
I have been looked on as their mentor over the years, people like
Jack Straw and so on have all worked with me for many many years.
JC: So they will all pick up the phone to you
and come to meetings with you.
LT: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah.
JC: If my client wished to meet anyone, would
that be possible?
LT: It's possible in certain circumstances.
I would advise them as to whether he was a little bit dodgy or
not. But the answer in most cases is yes. Although it might not
be the secretary of state, it might be one of the ministers who
is dealing with it. I would say to you, who your client needs
to meet, it's a b and c, and what we will do is we will invite
them here for lunch. And you spice them up on this table about
what we can do over lunch.
JC: Yes, very useful. And presumably with senior
civil servants as well?
Conversation continues as Lord Taylor takes Calvert
to the peer's entrance where they part
In response to Lord Taylor's request for further
information, Calvert sent him the following email on Monday January
Dear Lord Taylor,
I thoroughly enjoyed our meeting at the House
of Lords before the Christmas recess and greatly appreciated your
advice. This email is in response to your request for a written
submission outlining the proposed consultancy agreement and giving
you a better idea of who we are. I have tried to keep it short
and to the point. I hope that we will be able to discuss this
further over lunch or dinner in the next few days if you have
any free dates in your diary.
Michael Johnson Associates
Who we are?
Michael Johnson Associates is the UK arm of
Michael Johnson Europe, a Brussels based public affairs consultancy
established in 1985. Founded by the American
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 9 of 31
entrepreneur Michael Johnson, the company is
now in the process of expanding worldwide with offices in Washington,
Hong Kong and London. Worldwide, the company now has more than
The London office was established in 2002, initially
to do corporate communications but has more recently moved into
public affairs keeping businesses informed and offering them the
chance to let their voice be heard in the legislative process.
Our clients receive a bespoke service according to their needs.
Each day, elected and regulatory officials make
decisions that could jeopardise a company's or industry's competitiveness
or complicate a non-profit foundation's mission. Our public affairs
professionals serve as trusted advisors to our clients, helping
them build reputations and influence in the world's power centres,
as well as navigate intensive, short-term policy battles. Our
global public affairs network has the people, relationships, and
expertise to help our clients achieve their public policy and
business objectives by shaping the decision-making process.
We work with our clients to identify the precise
targets on which to focus and then formulate a specifically tailored
plan to deliver measurable results. We understand what success
means to each of our clients for each project. Once we have identified
our objective we work on achieving results.
We believe that everything is achievable. The
key to our success is our people. Our team are dedicated, creative
thinkers who can make things happen in an often obstructive world.
We have a clear vision: To provide gold standard
performance as one seamless, global business with a single culture.
For more information go to our website www.mja.eu.com
Proposed consultancy agreement.
We are looking for an experienced and well-connected
member of the House of Lords to help with strategic advice and
advocacy on matters affecting our clients. In the first instance,
the client would be Emerald Group Incorporated, a new venture
backed by a Far East consortium which will be setting up 40 clothing
retail shops in the UK in the next 18 months.
The venturewhich intends to take on existing
mid-market clothes retailers such as Uniglo, Next and Gapwill
be one of the biggest retail start-ups for more than a decade.
It is a joint venture between the Taiwanese conglomerate Wong
Hingwho have more than 2,000 retail outlets in the Far
Eastand the Hong-Kong based Chinese billionaire financier
Lou Li Jiang. Our firm has a long established relationship with
Mr Jiang as we have acted for him on a number of European Union
Obviously, such a big project needs the best
support and advice, especially in the difficult economic circumstances
that we now face. We want to make sure that the government understands
and listens to the needs of business and does not unwittingly
do anything that would undermine Emerald's competitiveness.
This is obviously a point for further discussion
between us because you have a clear idea of how you work and what
you can reasonably do to achieve the best results. We would like
to pay you a retainer as a "consultant" which will mean
that we can seek your advice from time to time and occasionally
ask you to intervene on parliamentary matters which affect our
client. We are willing to pay the market rate for your services,
and will use as our benchmark the amounts paid to you by your
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 10 of 31
The immediate task.
Today (Monday January 12) is the second House
of Commons reading of the Business Rates Supplements Bill. As
you know, the bill proposes that upper-tier local authorities
should be given the power to impose additional rates of 2% on
business properties with a value of more than £50,000. The
legislation is likely to come into effect in April next year,
at more or less the same time that Emerald is planning to open
its UK retail outlets. All of Emerald's properties are likely
to fall in the over £50,000 tax bracket.
The measures were recommended by the Lyons Report
into local government as a "vital tool for councils to promote
long-term economic growth, working with local businesses and the
However, the bill has been very unpopular amongst
retailers, especially as they are already facing an above inflation
rise on business rates to 43p in the pound. There is also a question
as to whether the bill is necessary, as there are already mechanisms
such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) which raise funds
for local investment. Retailers currently pay £5 billion
a year in business ratesmore than any other sectorand
BRS would see them forking out an extra £160 million a year.
When you combine this with other property cost increases, including
the 2010 Rates Revaluation and the end of Empty Property Rate
Relief, this is a considerable burden to retailers.
One of the main criticismslevelled by
organisations such as the British Retail Consortium and The Forum
of Private Businessis that government is introducing a
new tax purely to finance London's Crossrail project, which only
benefit a limited number of businesses.
Since the government seem determined to press
on with the bill, we are hoping that it can be quietly amended
to make it less onerous for businesses. There are two possible
amendments that could be suggested.
At the moment the bill says local authorities
must consult with businesses before levying the charge. We want
this to go much further. The legislation should say that the charge
can only be levied if the majority of businesses who pay the charge
are in favour of it. This would entail a vote.
Secondly, the over-riding concern with a recession
looming should be to encourage start-up businesses to keep the
economy going both locally and nationally. The bill should be
amended so the business rate supplement does not apply to new
businesses for the first two years, thereby giving them the chance
to become established.
Michael Johnson Associates
Conversation begins in the peer's guest room,
goes on through lunch and ends in the peer's guest room.
LT: Has our friend told you very much about
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 11 of 31
CN: A little bit.
LT: Well, I am deeply unorthodox, I do things
to get results and I do them my way and not always the acceptable....
I am looked upon as one of the senior statesmen in the country
and I am used by government and all kinds of people, because I
don't have to do anything unless I want to do it you see.
CN: A fortunate position to be in.
LT: Being in that position I please myself whether
I do it or don't. If don't like the people then I won't do it.
Because there is no need for me to do it. But I enjoyed our conversation
the other week, when we got together and I thought he's got a
lot to learn has this lad, in many ways. He is sharp, on the ball,
but still very much in, what I call the `civil service' mood.
That `a' leads to `b' and `b' leads to `c' and so on. And it doesn't
always work out like that. And even in the fax he sent me, I thought
he's a bit in command, so I will have to take him down a peg or
two as he goes along. I believe in telling the truth, not what
people want to hear. My role is to look at possibilities, cases,
at government policy and so on and say `in my opinion this will
work or if it won't work and if it will not work and tell them
why it won't work and how it can work and so on. If I don't think
it is ...I'm established with ministers and civil servants as
well as people in commercial life.
[Re: ministers and civil servants] "Before
they came into office I put them on this train and brought them
up. I have worked with a lot of the secretaries of state and also
with the civil servants because I have been here when they started
as juniors and now they've become permanent secretaries and so
on. I have been responsible for bringing people in to government
and to the civil service from outside.
LT: For example, I think in your letter, I picked
them up this morning and meant to read them to refresh my mind,
you were talking about this retail company, that you are interested
in and how it might be affected by the rates and so on.
JC: The Business Rates Supplement Bill.
LT: I would never deal with it the way that
you would think I would deal with itputting questions down
and so on. The way that I would deal with it is have a chat to
the civil servants. Find out who is behind it and who has brought
it out and so on, I would talk to them and before it becomes legislation
or draft legislation.
CN: Oh I see. When it's in the draft stages?
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 12 of 31
LT: This is a far better way to deal with it.
Before it gets too far down the channels.
JC: It has had its second reading in the commons.
LT: Yeah it did.
JC: That's not too late then?
LT: No, no, no. That's early days. There's a
lot of water to flown down the Thames. It goes in committee now.
There's all kind of procedure in committee. I will watch what
is going on in committee and then when it comes in here I will
LT: Being in the position I am in, I will very
often talk to civil servants....I will go discuss it with them
and say `this won't work because of a, b and c, have you realised
the consequence of this?'...
LT: I will tell you who is likely to get these
contracts because if you are bidding for this work, for example,
if you are bidding for the ID cards contract then you're going
to spend roughly £9 million to put a proper bid together.
If you get the contract it's chicken feed, if you don't it's a
hell of a lot of money ... this is where I come in, I will give
you an idea of where you stand. You've got a 50 per cent chance,
75 per cent chance or more, judging by the amount of work you've
got on with other government departments, what you can provide.
My speciality is being ...
JC: Because you can ask people?
LT: Yes, exactly. I can work out what the situation
CN: Yes it's very useful if you can speak to
the people that are making the decisions, civil servants I suppose.
LT: You see, it's not always ministers that
are making the decisions, it's not always permanent secretaries
that are making decisions, it's identifying decision makers in
government departments. Sometimes it can be down the line and
it's getting to know people like that. I am a great believer in
working over what I call `a pie and a pint', rather than over
a ministerial desk or a meeting. The position I am in and the
contacts I have made over the years, what I am telling you is
in confidence, I am being absolutely honest and open with you,
it's easier for me to talk over a pie and a pint in this room
here and explain what the client wants and what we are trying
to achieve and so on and what the story is behind it. Rather than
over a ministerial desk where everything is being taken down and
ministers are reluctant to say more than yes or no
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 13 of 31
or `I will consider that'. But here they can
come back and ask you questions and you can answer those questions
and so on.
CN: And you can invite them here?
LT: And you can even bring the client in certain
cases and get them together. When it comes to the technical side,
I'm not getting involved in the technical side ... [40 mins]
If you got them together you can get all these things straightened
out and what's more it's not recorded and it's not official, it's
just nice friendly conversations. Like next week I've got a couple
of people coming into to see Peter Mandelson. Coming to talk over
lunch. Peter would be very careful what he said to them in his
office but it's the same with companies...
I'm not putting questions down. That's the last
thing I would do.[41.50] ... I am very aware of the credibility
I have achieved over 50 years of working here with government
and departments. I am not going to put myself in an embarrassing
situation or do anything that I think is illegal or using my position
for monetary. I will work within the rules, but also rules are
meant to be bent sometimes, and the way that use it, I am telling
you, the way that I work, is completely different. I am not a
lobbyist, a PR. I am a doer, a sorter-outer, I'm a problem solver
more than anything else. It's easy for me to ring up the phone
and say `come and have a talk to me', or `look we're having a
bit of trouble in your department who is the person I have to
go to talk to'. I'll identify the person, then I'll come here
and then I'll explain to them and if I can't get it, I get somebody
to come in with me who can explain the situation for me. So that's
how I operate.
JC: It's very subtle, it's behind the scenes
and it's very much based on your relationships that are existing.
CN: About personal relationships I suppose?
LT: Yes exactly. I am unique because of the
life I had lead and the positions I've held over the year. Both
for the Conservative government and the Labour government, chairing
select committees, chair royal commissions and what have you.
I have learnt a lot. Now what I've got is experience, knowledge
that you would never get out of going to a course at a university.
It doesn't come that way. It comes with knowing people and how
they react, what they want to achieve why and knowing what is
behind it, why they want to introduce extra rates for shops. It
is also about the difficulties that arise. But also one thing
I would say to both of you is that I promise you nothing, but
I will do my best.
CN: Are there any particularly government departments
that you have particularly strong links to?
LT: I have a very strong relationship with most
government departments and teams ... I've been... with ministers
coming in, explaining to them what their role, where
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 14 of 31
they fit in and what the difference is between
a minister and a secretary of state and a civil servant...
[48 mins go to other room and have lunch.]
LT: You can't buy a lunch here ... you see,
if I want to get hold of somebody, if I want to get hold of the
chairman of Marks and Spencers, ... it's good for them to be seen
here. That's how it works. When you are negotiating with a client
and you want to impress them, bring them here. Give them a tour
of the place, you know...these are little things that you know
... this is to your advantage. We've got certain rooms too.
JC: Would it be possible to bring our client
in to meet a minister?
LT: Oh yes, on certain occasions. It depends
on how far it's got. You've got be very careful not to be seen
to go over the mark.
[CN asks him about what people are best to talk
to in the civil service]
LT: For example, if I wanted to build a power
station in this country I would require a section 37 notice. It's
extremely difficult to get a section notice ... now as much as
I am friendly and love the minster and so on, I would never dream
of doing that. I would go to a chap in who is low grade in Victoria
Street called Gary Mohammed and I would say to Gary, `what are
you doing this lunchtime? I want to talk to you'. And we'd go
across to the Albert in Victoria Street and even though I don't
drink, he'd have a pint. Now when I've got that fellow's blessing
then I would go to the minister, do it that way.
CN: And how do you know Gary? Just from
LT: Because over the years you get to know who
is who, who are the decision makers in government departments.
I've been at it a long time. If I didn't know who the person was,
there's always a lot of changes that take place. I've always got
somebody in the department that knows people that knows people
... I'm telling you too much.
[CN goes to toilet. Different tape]
JC: What do we do about the fee?
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 15 of 31
LT: I don't know, honestly I don't know. I mean
I'm embarrassed by this.
[Waitress talks about coffee. Taylor talks to
JC: Absolutely... I don't know, what's the going
rate? Between 5 and 10,000 a month? Is that?
LT: Yes that would be all right. Is that ok
JC: Ok then.
LT: Well Janet will deal with all of this and
you'll find that I will earn this money for you in no time at
JC: Who's your Olympic -
JC: Who's your Olympic?
LT: They're a Chinese company, based in Hong
Kong and they've asked to come and see me next month. Luckily
we know -
LT: No, I'm very friendly with Coe and the procurement
on the Olympics is absolutely as clean as it is possible to get,
there's not going to be any dodgy , er, anybody gaining favours
or anything like that. It going to be really grand, that I really
admire and I've gone through it like a small tooth comb to see
how I'm going to select the clients and they're going to do it
and it's really good. But there's one thing that I've got in...
which is a maint contact with the people who are in charge of
the procurement and he's going to inform us of the exact dates
when you've got to get it in, what you've got to do and take us
through because it's very bureaucratic.
JC: Is it?
LT: Yes, but if you've got any clients it would
be good because there will be information that you've got, you
know, to do things. And Tom who does the IT work - really made
it because he wanted to impress me on this and then I mentioned,
Coe and a few more of the team.
JC: Yes. Is he still involved? He is still involved
isn't he, Coe?
LT: Yeah he's the chairman
JC: He's still the chairman?
LT: Yeah. Look, I think that we could get on
very very well together. I like your attitude. So where does this
girl fit in?
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 16 of 31
JC: Well she works to me but she also has her
own clients who she looks after.
LT: Because she seems very bright.
JC: Yes, no she's very good
LT: Where does she come from? What's her background?
JC: She's come from ... well she was initially,
I mean, I think she went to Oxford and was then in PR for a while
and then she moved on intonow what is the name of that
company? It was a company, it wasn't a public affairs company,
it was a small PR, type cross over between public affairs and
... and then she came to us, um. I just can't remember the name
of it. Not a famous one. No, but she is very good and we've been
very impressed with her.
LT: Is she married?
LT: So she's got plenty of time has she then?
JC: Yeah, she has a boyfriend.
LT: Yeah, yeah it's just if you're doing things
at all kinds of stupid hours, you know, it's getting somebody
who can fit it in. You know, if we've got a major client, say
in the evening. What I will do is I will liaise with you. You
are the boss of the company, you will decide on who, what, if
we're taking, if we're working at Ascot Park you will decide who
the jockey's going to be for the Ascot Park, if we're at another
racecourse, you will decide on that and you will decide obviously
because I don't know the team. It would be good for me some time
to meet the team and see what they do and where they're from.
LT: So then that will give me an idea. So if
you use all your facilities and bring them in to other things
JC: Which would be great.
LT: Yes but I can only do that if I meet people.
[CN returns and go back to original recording].
[10 mins. Taylor says he has a good relationship
with Neil Kinnock and Peter Mandelson. Helpful re: Brussels. And
George Roberts, the Nato guy, and Baroness Ashton, a very good
friend of his].
JC: How realistic do you think it would be for
us to amend that legislation?
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 17 of 31
LT: I just started looking at it the other day...what
I am hoping to do is, I've agreed to talk to the team that are
going to deal with it in the commons.
CN: The policy team?
LT: Yes, behind the scenes and so on. Then I'm
going to talk to people here to get things amended in the commons.
First we will do. If not we'll try..We've got two bites of the
JC: Do you think we should get someone to table
an amendment for us?
LT: Don't start doing things like that.
CN: Is that the way to do it?
LT: If you can get it down behind the scenes
first. If you can get the lads to agree. They don't like amendments.
JC: If they agree they will just write it in
LT: Right now, you're going to give me more
detail? Now, we've agreed that we are doing a deal?
LT: Right so we've agreed on that then? Right,
when do we officially start? When do you want to start?
JC: I don't know, do we have to have a contract?
LT: No, you just name a figure and Janet will
send you an account every month and she'll add on for entertainment.
CN: Do you normally work on a retainer basis?
JC: We've just discussed this. What did we say?
Between 5 and 10?
LT: We said 10.
CN: A month?
LT: Yeah. That's what said. Are you happy about
CN: That sounds fine.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 18 of 31
LT: Exactly, if they can see a way of doing
it ...What you don't want to do is put someone in a position where
they have to back down. If you can get them to think that this
is possible as well, convince them of the argument behind the
scenes. You can do far more that way than putting an amendment
[JC interested in Mandelson meeting next week.
Taylor doesn't say who clients are but says three things to discuss
[Says would declare MJA on register of interests
and if spoke on an issue]
LT: But because I do it in the way that I do
it, it would only be if I wanted some publicity for the client
that I would speak in the chamber ... if we had a client that
wanted some publicity then I would speak.
Conversation ends shortly after
LT: Thank you for ringing.
JC: I'm really sorry my office just told me
there had been a number of calls. I was out at the theatre...
LT: What has happened is that, I had meetings
across at the... and I decided that as my meeting finished early,
I went to the Treasury. I have got a meeting next week with Yvette
Cooper who as you probably know is first secretary to the treasury
and we are going to discuss the problem that we have in hand.
JC: Oh, over the Business Rates Supplement Bill?
LT: What I would like is anything that you have
got, apart from the brief that you sent me over to Janet last
week. So if you have got any information at all, I would be very
JC: Basically what you want is a fuller brief
so that you can discuss it with Yvette.
LT: I do.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 19 of 31
JC: Then I'll get that to you. When is your
meeting with her?
LT: It is on Thursday.
JC: What are your movements today?
LT: I am in London all weekend. But if I could
have it at the Lords for say, Tuesday, I'd be very grateful.
JC: What sort of time are you meeting Yvette
LT: Well, she has got Cabinet. I'm meeting her
JC: Right. Do you know her?
LT: Oh yes. I know her very well. I certainly
do know her, yes.
JC: She is the MP for Pontefract I think.
LT: I'm not sure which constituency she represents.
I think it is Pontefract, yes. I think she took over from Geoff
JC: That would be right, he's Lord Lofthouse
now isn't he. He was Labour MP for Pontefract for many years.
LT: Oh yes. They didn't count votes in Pontefract
you know, they used to weigh them.
JC: Yes, there wasn't really any opposition.
LT: I know that at one stage it had the highest
majority in the country. Geoff became deputy speaker in the Commons
and then he was knighted. He is a very quiet chap but he has done
a hell of a lot for the miners, especially on compensation. But
with the greatest of respect to Geoff, he is not there now and
we're concentrating on Yvette Cooper.
JC: I'll send something to Janet by email.
LT: The next thing that I want from you is that.
I also, last night, spoke to a company looking for a public relations
company. It's a company called Canatxx. They are wanting planning
permission for a gas storage in the ... there. They've had a public
relations firm, but they're not happy about them and I was telling
them how good you were so they said, could I give them some information
JC: Absolutely. I could contact them?
LT: No, well do the contacting afterwards.
LT: What did you say the remuneration was?
JC: We said between 5 and 10 thousand. You said
10, so we left it at that.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 20 of 31
LT: Ten thousand a year?
JC: A month.
LT: Oh that's better, yes. Because you worried
me then. Leave it at 10 thousand for the time being. Are you ok
with that? Are you sure?
JC: I think the client will be very impressed
with how quickly you are able to get in front of the minister.
LT: I'm not doing this to impress you, I am
doing this for action.
JC: He will be impressed by action. He is travelling
at the moment so I won't get any final agreement until next week
LT: Could I meet him sometime? I would do with
JC: Yes. It all depends when he is in the UK.
LT: If I could meet him here that would be far
better. They are based in Hong Kong are they? I did quite a lot
in Hong Kong in the new territories and so on. I am with the university
there. Anyway, if I could meet him I would be delighted to.
JC: Brilliant, ok. Well talk again.
LT: Thank you very much indeed.
Hello. Can you pass this on to Lord Taylor as
soon as possible. Many thanks.
Dear Lord Taylor,
I have attached the full briefing on the Business
Rate Supplement Bill to this email. Obviously, not all of it is
relevant to the matter at hand but I thought it might be better
if you had a rounded view of the issues. If you require further
reading, it might be worth having a look at the Hansard, Monday
12 January 2009 (Volume 486, No.11), for last week's debate.
I have passed on your information about Canatxx
to our business development manager and he will provide me with
a package I can pass on to you. Is it ok if we wait a week as
our brochures are being reprinted?
Let me know if there is anything further you
require. I'll give you a call on Wednesday ahead of your meeting.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 21 of 31
Supplementary Business Rate Bill
JANUARY 19, 2009
Strictly private and confidential. For Lord
Taylor's use only.
The rationale for introduction of a supplementary
1. The proposal for a business rate supplement
arises from Sir Michael Lyon's report into the future of local
government, in which he argued that councils should become more
instrumental in supporting local economic development, for example
through greater investment in local infrastructure. In this context,
the report recognized the importance of having a competitive local
business tax regime and concluded that this could be best delivered,
as presently, via the uniform business rate.
2. The Lyons Report makes an important case
for local authorities to have greater flexibility, and this can
be achieved by giving councils the power to levy a supplementary
business rate (SBR). Sir Michael also notes that there would need
to be limitations on such new powers in order to get business
buy-in and greater trust in the relationship between businesses
and councils. Obviouslyalthough this is not proposedan
important safeguard on this power would be a business vote on
whether each local proposal was acceptable to the businesses that
would be affected by it.
3. While investment in local economic development
projects, particularly transport infrastructure, the Government
should not consider this recommendation in isolation. The overall
corporate tax burden is already too high. The lowering of corporation
tax rates has been a step in the right direction but much of this
reduction has been offset by other adjustments to the business
tax regime. An increase in business rates through a new levy would
be a further concern particularly alongside the proposed changes
to business rates for empty property.
Accountability and approval mechanisms for the
introduction of a supplementary business rate at a local levelthe
role of business and the wider community:
1. If councils are given the power to introduce
a levy on the business rate its success would rest on genuine
accountability and rigorous approval mechanisms. Sir Michael Lyons
presented two options (voting and consultation) as approval mechanisms,
opting for statutory consultation in his final recommendations
to Government. The CBI, the Forum for Private Business and the
British Retail Consortium all argue that businesses must have
a vote for the idea to be acceptable.
2. The Lyons Report emphasises the importance
of building up trust between businesses and local authorities.
Sir Michael argues that the power to levy a supplementary business
rate, if used to fund projects which were genuinely intended to
drive the local economy, is one way in which this trust could
be built up. However, this can only be achieved if businesses
feel that they genuinely are able to influence the decision-making
Consultation simply would not provide sufficient
mandate for councils to levy a supplementary business rate nor
would it demonstrate that affected businesses supported the proposed
project. This could only be achieved through a vote.
3. One of the arguments put forward against
the idea of a vote is that businesses would use it simply to block
any proposal being promoted by local authorities. However, we
do not believe this would be the case. Businesses asked to vote
on a particular development project will make their judgement
based on an assessment of the potential benefits set against the
additional costs to them through the SBR. If the economic case
for the project is strong enough, the vote will be positive. Indeed,
experience with existing Business Improvement District (BID) schemes
is that this is
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 22 of 31
exactly the way in which it works. Business
feedback on BIDs has been very positive largely because they feel
they have had a say in the process. Even where they had voted
against a particular proposal which subsequently went ahead (because
a majority was in favour), they were supportive because of the
role they had played.
4. As Sir Michael recognises, unless the approval
mechanisms for a SBR are right there is a danger that this power
could see the relationship between businesses and councils deteriorate
rather than improve. Since publication of the Lyons report, the
CBI has consulted with approximately 600 companies on 10 regional
councils across England. Whilst there was an appreciation of some
of the difficulties associated with a proposed vote, the overwhelming
majority felt that anything less than a vote simply would be unacceptable.
Since a business vote would be so key to the
principle of a supplementary rate, here are proposals for a potential
(i) Voting should be weighted according to rateable
(ii) Members should have an opportunity to vote
on the specific project plan rather than just the principle of
(iii) There should be safeguards on re-voting
so that if a vote failed it would be significantly amended before
it is voted on again.
(iv) The exact voting mechanisms should be spelt
out in legislation so as to ensure continuity across all council
Please note: the principle of voting to agree
a business rate levy has already been established through the
Business Improvement District model.
The need for exemption for new businesses
1. The bill was originally conceived in a government
white paper in 1998, long before the Lyons report. It was a time
of boom, in stark contrast to our current economic predicament.
2. During the second reading of the bill in
the Commons on January 12, 2009, Brian Binley, the member of Northampton
South pointed out some 13,5000 companies failed in 2007, the Forum
of Private Business predict 200,000 businesses will fail, and
KPMG say some 150,000 businesses will become insolvent. Unemployment
is projected to rise to 3m by the end of 2009
3. It goes without saying that this is not a
good time to impose extra taxes on business. However, if the government
is determined to go ahead with the SBR, consideration should be
given to an exemption for new businesses which will be the green
shoots of a recovering economy. We propose that a two-year exemption
should be given to new businesses taking up new retail premises.
In such circumstances, firms will have to be able to demonstrate
that they are genuinely new rather than a relocation from some
other premises. Furthermore, they will have to show that they
are creating new jobs which would not otherwise have been available.
Consideration of implementation issues, including
the impact on local authority tax bills and decision-making in
two-tier local authority areas:
1. Management of projects that were approved
by the business community, via a positive vote, would need to
be both transparent and accountable in order to give confidence
that projects would be delivered efficiently and effectively.
The exact mechanisms would need to be considered but in practice
there should be business involvement in the running of specific
projects eg business representation on any management boards.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 23 of 31
2. If the recommendation to allow supplementary
business rates is taken forward business confidence would rely
on transparent decision-making, genuine accountability and efficient
delivery. These factors would be vital whether the projects were
in unitary or two-tier local authority areas. It is worth noting
that businesses could be wary of agreeing to a supplement in a
two-tier authority if the administration costs were noticeably
higher than under a unitary authority.
3. Clearly where potential projects had implications
for two or more local authorities, perhaps at the level of city-region,
and where regional authorities needed to be involved, implementation
is likely to be more complex. It would therefore be important
for Government to be clear, if taking forward this recommendation,
whether the purpose was to fund local or regional projects and
shape the proposals, including approval and accountability mechanisms,
The impact of a supplementary business rate on
1. The case against the relocalisation of business
rates was accepted in part because of the difficulties of equalisation:
the differences in business rate revenue between councils would
outweigh any increased incentive for councils to boost local businesses.
2. If revenue from supplementary rates was redistributed
by central Government through the equalisation mechanism in the
same way that standard business rates are shared out there would
be a danger that the power was seen as an increase in business
rates through the back door rather than a specific levy to fund
local projects. So Lyons recommended that revenue from any supplementary
business rates should be retained locallynot redistributedto
avoid undermining the purpose of the proposed supplement.
3. In recognition of the greater flexibility
this would give some councils over others (ie: those with more
businesses and therefore potentially higher revenue from a supplement)
it would continue to be important for the Government to invest
in those areas that had fewer businesses and therefore a lesser
capacity to generate revenue through a supplement. Councils and
central government would also need to consider the risk that a
supplement could deter incoming businesses, particularly in regeneration
The appropriate scale of the supplement:
1. Lyons proposed that revenue from any supplementary
rate must be entirely additional to existing local government
funding and used exclusively on specific projects that were agreed
with the relevant business community. In the future it may be
increasingly difficult to know whether economic development projects
would have been provided without a business supplement and therefore
whether the supplement was truly `additional'. In order to avoid
this scepticism it would be vital for all tiers of government
to demonstrate that spending on economic development projects
had at least kept pace with current investment.
2. Lyons recognised that businesses need certainty
and predictability of their business rate liability and therefore
recommended the idea of an upper limit or cap on supplementary
business rates. A centrally-set cap must be implemented if businesses
are to have confidence in councils to use this power effectively
and efficiently. Where BIDs already exist the cap must include
this revenue and the onus should be on councils to demonstrate
the future benefits for businesses to offset the initial cost.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 24 of 31
3. At the lower end of the range proposed by
Lyons the experience of BIDs shows that for certain additional
services businesses can be willing to pay a levy of 0.5-1%. At
the other extreme the 4 pence supplement (effectively almost 10%
increase on business rate bills) implemented in the Rugby BID
is atypical and far higher than the vast majority of businesses
would be willing to pay. We therefore believe the 2% currently
proposed is too high.
4. All parties who benefit from the project
should share the cost. Where those parties include non-business
rate payers councils should demonstrate how the cost burden is
being shared fairly.
1. In terms of providing businesses with greater
assurance about the parameters of a supplementary there should
be a centrally-set time limit on the duration of a supplement.
This would have the advantage of giving greater certainty to businesses
so that they could plan for the additional cost. It would also
provide greater assurance about the efficiency and effectiveness
of delivery since the project would have to be delivered within
2. As with the proposed rate cap it would be
within the power of local authorities to set out in any proposals
the appropriate duration of a supplement for a specific project
which could be lower than the national limit.
3. In terms of providing assurance that a supplementary
rate would not represent relocalisation through the back door
Government should also consider introducing a `freeze' time to
be implemented at the end of one project and before a new project
could be proposed.
He says: "Hello David, it's Tom, Lord Taylor.
Thank you very much. I have received the brief which is excellent.
It's just what I want. I understand most of it. I have been doing
quite a bit of research or the team have and I know what you want
to achieve or I think I know what you want to achieve now. I will
go ahead and I will probably give you a ring towards the weekend
and let you know what first steps I have taken. Hope everything
is ok with you. Thank you. Bye.".
21 2009, LORD
"Hello David. I have met Peter Mandelson
and I have discussed it with him. And I met Baroness Andrews (the
local government minister) and I have discussed it with her and
I am meeting Yvette Cooper later on today and I'm also meeting
two of the
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 25 of 31
local authority teams tomorrow morning. So everything
is in hand and thank you very much for your suggestions. I will
ring you back when I can. Bye".
MG: I'm interested in talking about discussions
you are having at the moment with a company called MJA over a
Chinese client that they have. Ring any bells?
LT: Oh yeah.
MG: They have this Chinese businessman, Mr Jiang.
MG: Who they represent and I understand that
they've contracted your services.
LT: That's right.
MG: What do you know about Mr Jiang?
LT: They only thing that I know about him is
he has been looking after servicing the Olympic industry for some
MG: What is it that you have contracted yourself
to do for him?
LT: Assistance with how they go through with
projects in various bids that they were putting.
MG: Bid for what?
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 26 of 31
LT: For the Olympics in the UK.
MG: What are they bidding for?
LT: When the appropriate time comes, the time
hasn't come, we've done nothing for them as yet. It will be when
they are putting bids in that they are conforming to the appropriate
rules and so on.
MG: It's bids to do what?
LT: Oh, they provide china and so on for the
Olympics and what have you.
MG: What I understand that they asked you to
do, correct me if I'm wrong, is that they wanted help in amending
the legislation around the business rates supplement bill.
MG: That they wanted to amend legislation around
the business rates supplement bill. Is that not your understanding?
LT: Yes but that is a completely different firm
that you are talking about. Oh no, I'm not involved in that. I've
met with them. They just came to have a chat that's all.
MG: So the Olympics...
LT: ...is nothing to do with that. I'm mistaking
you for something else.
MG: Who's the Olympics thing?
LT: It's a Chinese firm in Hong Kong that I've
talked to for some time.
MG: But Mr Jiang as I understand it...
LT: ...oh he is not the same person. We are
at cross purposes.
MG: OK. So we now know what we are talking about?
LT: Yeah, I do know what you are talking about.
MG: David Thompson and Claire Taylor.
MG: What's that all about?
LT: They just asked me about what is happening
and so on and I gave them my advice but I am not contracted with
them in any way.
MG: Oh, I understood you had agreed to a consultancy
fee of £10,000 per month.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 27 of 31
LT: Oh no.
MG: And that you had already started doing work
LT: Oh no.
MG: Have you met anyone or pressed any buttons?
LT: No, not yet. (inaudible) only just talking
MG: I'm afraid I'm going to have to be a bit
more forceful about what I understand because the two people that
you metCT and DTare undercover reporters for the
Sunday Times Insight team and the whole conversations that you
had over the last, er, you had two meetings, were secretly recorded.
And what I understand from the transcripts of those conversations
Lord Taylor is that you did agree to work for them, that the fee
structure was £10k per month and that what you agreed to
do was help amend the legislation on the business rates and that
in that regard you had already approached Peter Mandelson, Yvette
LT: No, I'm sorry.
MG: You are recorded as saying...
LT: You're on the wrong Taylor. I have not met
anyone at all.
MG: I'm sorry you are on record to these two
LT: I have not met anyone.
MG: Did you not meet Yvette Cooper yesterday?
LT: No I have not met YC, I've not met PM or
MG: Why would you tell them that you had done
LT: I didn't tell them that.
MG: Its on record Lord Taylor...
LT: Well I'm sorry I have not met anyone. I
have not met any government officer at all.
MG: You are saying you didn't tell the two undercover
LT: No. To be quite honest I was playing them
along because I thought they were undercover reporters and I just
played them along. I've not met any politician or anything.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 28 of 31
MG: So when you offered to arrange diners and
hold meetings in the Lords to impress the clients what was that?
LT: Oh, that was just a scene because I was
suspecting they were undercover reporters right at the beginning.
MG: So when you, sorry I'm going to read you
some of the transcript to get your taken ... One of things that
you said the following: "I will work within the rules but
also rules are meant to be bent sometimes." What do you mean
LT: What do I mean by that? To explain things
to people that's all
MG: That you would bend the rules to explain
things to the outside client? The context of that comment and
the context of the conversation was that you were being contracted
by a firm that represented a Chinese businessman.
LT: Oh no, no. no. no. No, I wasn't contracted.
I signed nothing and I've agreed to nothing at all. Nothing at
MG: As I said, all this was recorded...
LT: Well I'm sorry it's recorded, it's recorded
wrongly. I'm sorry I've signed nothing, or agreed nothing. I've
met no one. You can get in touch with any government department
I've approached no one at all about it.
MG: So what were you doing? Conning the company
LT: No, I was conning two reporters.
MG: You thought they were reporters?
LT: Oh, yes, right at the beginning.
MG: And did you notify anyone of this?
LT: No because there was no need to notify anybody
I was waiting to see what developed from it.
MG: Why not? Wouldn't it be sensible to tell
the whips office?
LT: Oh no, no, no. It wasn't necessary because
they were so naive the people. You don't do things like that.
MG: If they were so naive and you knew they
were reporters, why did you take them along in the way you did?
LT: Because it was interesting to see the way
undercover reporters work. I was quite amazed the way thy were...
MG: So your position is that all the claims
that you made on the tape recordings all the things that you agreed
to do for money you were doing on the basis you knew you were
speaking to undercover reporters?
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 29 of 31
LT: Yes because I haven't done a damn thing
and there's no... or anything like that, and I've not taken a
penny and would never take a penny for it.
MG: Would it be improper in your view then to
have done that?
LT: Well it is improper of them to come under
MG: Putting that aside for one minute, and we
can get back to that, the issue is, is it improper or not for
a Lord to take money or agree to take money from a third party
to have legislation amended?
LT: Absolutely it is.
MG: Would you agree that is what you admitted
doing on the tape?
LT: No I did not. I would not agree that I admitted
doing that. We were just playing. We were just play that's all.
It was absolutely farcical to do what they thought.
MG: Why did you go along with it then?
LT: Because I wanted to see what they were doing?
MG: Why didn't you just say `Sorry this is something
I don't do'.?
LT: Because I was interested in, it was fascinating
to see how undercover reporters work. I'm not so naive. And it
was interesting to see what they were trying to get at.
MG: So the position is that you didn't contact
or have a meeting with YC?
LT: Not at all.
MG: That you didn't have a meeting with Peter
LT: Not at all.
MG: You didn't speak to the head of the bill
LT: Not at all.
MG: And you've made no approaches to anyone
on behalf of...
LT: None whatsoever.
LT: None whatsoever. No minister or anybody
has been contacted at all. And nothing has been done and no money
has been asked for in any way at all.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 30 of 31
MG: The money was, there was a discussion about
money and there was an agreement to pay you £120k a year.
LT: If it was, it was just a verbal agreement
that I never suspected that it would get any where near that figure.
MG: Why would you make a verbal agreement?
LT: I didn't make a verbal agreement; it was
completely to see how far they would go.
MG: Isn't this just a defence that you are putting
up now that you've been caught in a sting?
LT: Not at all. I've never been caught in anything
at all. I'm absolutely honest.
MG: So you have no issue with the transcript
being properly represented in the paper.
LT: If you publish I'll read what the transcript
has to say.
MG: I'm telling you what it says and I'm telling
you the admissions you made and the things you agreed to do on
behalf of this company and its Chinese client.
LT: Well I'm sorry, erm, we'll have to wait
and see whether it's been published and we'll take action when
MG: Just so I'm clear, your statement for the
record is what?
LT: My statement on the record is `I knew they
were undercover reporters. I was seeing how far they would go.
I have not seen any minister or done anything in any improper
way at all and would never dream of doing it. I've been at the
house for 30 odd years and been in government for 50 odd years
and would never dream of doing it'.
MG: There is one thing before I go. During the
tape conversations you referred to having done work to amend legislation
for Experian. Was that also fabrication?
LT: No I've worked for Experian for a long time.
But it's not to amend regulations.
MG: No amending legislation?
LT: No it's pointing out the difficulties about
MG: I'm trying to find the appropriate part
in one of the transcripts and I'll read it to you and then you
can be kind enough to give me your take on what you were saying.
Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 31 of 31
MG: The conversation is about Experian and you
say `Experian are a company ... working and so on'.
LT: That's true [referring to last bit] and
you do it through the trade agency and that's what we did. No
me but the trade agencies.
MG: So when you say `I've got that amended'.
LT: I've not got it amended. Using that term,
it is the trade agents who got it amended.
MG: So what do you get paid for?
LT: With Experian, I help them in various ways.
MG: And then when you say to us, going back
to the work MJA wanted you to do for their Chinese clients you
said `I've got many contacts in the Treasury...Yvette Cooper ...
juniors to me' You were then asked ...
LT: Junior in age.
MG: Yes. You were then asked `If my client wished
to meet anyone would that be possible?' And you said `it possible
... in most cases yes'. Then you were asked `Presumably senior
civil servants as well'. And your reply was `Yes'.
LT: Yeah well it is possible to meet them if
you go through the appropriate channels.
LT: Me and other people through the appropriate
channels. If you've got a suggestion to make you apply to see
the minister or to see the appropriate civil servant through the
usual channels. This is open government.
MG: I think I've got this comment of yours and
this is what we will go with. Can I leave a number with you if
there is anything you...
LT: You can but my answer is that I have not
seen any minister, spoken to any minister, any senior civil servant
or anyone at all.
MG: OK let me give you he number if you have
anything you want to discuss with me then I'll be on the end of
LT: I don't think there is anything that I do
want to discuss with you but...
MG: Just in case.
[number passed on. MG gives names and name of
LT: Oh it used to be a very good newspaper.