The Conduct of Lord Moonie, Lord Snape, Lord Truscott and Lord Taylor of Blackburn - Privileges Committee Contents

Lord Taylor of Blackburn—Sunday Times Transcript

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 my philosophy.

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 on.

  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 then.

  LT: And then it goes on from there, yes.

  JC: Very handy. You already work for several people?

  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 do?

  LT: It is, it is. But it depends. Go a littler further down the line. Tell me, what do they want the retail outlets for please.

  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 of planning.

  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 she used.

  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 it—over 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 do over.

  (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 meetings?

  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.

  JC: No.

  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 hope things

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 yes.

  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.

  JC: £100,000?

  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 all fine.

  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 I want.

  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 that?

  LT: Yes

  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?

  LT: Yes.

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 12, 2009:

  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.

  Kind Regards

David Thompson

Managing Director.

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 400 clients.

  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

  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 venture—which intends to take on existing mid-market clothes retailers such as Uniglo, Next and Gap—will be one of the biggest retail start-ups for more than a decade. It is a joint venture between the Taiwanese conglomerate Wong Hing—who have more than 2,000 retail outlets in the Far East—and 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 trade matters.

  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.

  Your role.

  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 other consultancies.

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 local community".

  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 rates—more than any other sector—and 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 criticisms—levelled by organisations such as the British Retail Consortium and The Forum of Private Business—is 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.

David Thompson

Managing Director.

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 me?

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.


  [17 mins]

  [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.

  [18 mins]

  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.

  CN: Yes.

  LT: I would never deal with it the way that you would think I would deal with it—putting 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 do more.

  [23 mins]

  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 is.

  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.]

  [1 hour]

  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 her]

  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 with you?

  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 all.

  JC: Who's your Olympic -

  LT: Pardon

  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 into—now 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?

  JC: No.

  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.

  JC: Absolutely.

  LT: So then that will give me an idea. So if you use all your facilities and bring them in to other things as well.

  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].

  [13 mins]

  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 cherry.

  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 themselves?

  [15:30 mins].

  LT: Right now, you're going to give me more detail? Now, we've agreed that we are doing a deal?

  JC: Right.

  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 that?

  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 down ...

  [17 mins]

  [JC interested in Mandelson meeting next week. Taylor doesn't say who clients are but says three things to discuss with them.]

  [18 mins]

  [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... (chit chat).

  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: Exactly.

  JC: Great.

  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 Cooper?

  LT: Well, she has got Cabinet. I'm meeting her after Cabinet.

  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 Lofthouse.

  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 about you.

  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 sometime.

  LT: Could I meet him sometime? I would do with pleasure.

  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.

David Thompson

  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.

  Kind regards


Sunday Times Lord Taylor page 21 of 31

Supplementary Business Rate Bill


  Strictly private and confidential. For Lord Taylor's use only.

The rationale for introduction of a supplementary business rate:

  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. Obviously—although this is not proposed—an 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 level—the 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 process.

  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 voting mechanism:

    (i) Voting should be weighted according to rateable value.

    (ii) Members should have an opportunity to vote on the specific project plan rather than just the principle of a levy.

    (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 areas.

  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, accordingly.

The impact of a supplementary business rate on equalisation:

  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 locally—not redistributed—to 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 areas.

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 that timescale.

  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.".


  "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: Michael?

  MG: MJA.

  LT: Oh yeah.

  MG: They have this Chinese businessman, Mr Jiang.

  LT: Yes

  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 time.

  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.

  LT: Who?

  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: 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. David Thompson...

  MG: David Thompson and Claire Taylor.

  LT: Yep

  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 for them.

  LT: Oh no.

  MG: Have you met anyone or pressed any buttons?

  LT: No, not yet. (inaudible) only just talking to them.

  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 met—CT and DT—are 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 Cooper...

  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 undercover reporters...

  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 anyone.

  MG: Why would you tell them that you had done that?

  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 reporters?

  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 by that?

  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 all.

  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 (MJA)?

  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 false pretences.

  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: Right.

  LT: Absolutely.

  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 Mandelson?

  LT: Not at all.

  MG: You didn't speak to the head of the bill team?

  LT: Not at all.

  MG: And you've made no approaches to anyone on behalf of...

  LT: None whatsoever.

  MG: OK.

  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 it's published.

  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 legislation.

  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.

  LT: Right.

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.

  MG: You.

  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 this phone.

  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 paper].

  LT: Oh it used to be a very good newspaper.


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