The sleaze report: Five men who fell below the standards that Parliament demands from an MP

Hamilton: cash and a stay at Ritz; Smith: accepted cash in return for lobbying; Grylls: Misled committee over dealings Bowden: Did not declare; Brown: Failed to register
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Neil Hamilton: Former barrister specialising in taxation, aged 48. Became MP for Tatton in 1983 but lost his seat to Martin Bell. Entered Parliament in 1983, became a government whip in 1990 and was corporate affairs minister from 1992 to 1994.

The charges: That he took pounds 10,000 from Ian Greer to lobby ministers and failed to declare it on the Register of Members' Interests or to the Inland Revenue. That he twice failed to declare free hospitality at the Ritz Hotel in Paris from the Harrods owner, Mohamed al-Fayed, and that he stayed at Mr Fayed's estate, Balnagown Castle, without declaring it. That some of the money was disguised as gifts of paintings and other items and that he also took thousands of pounds in envelopes from Mr Fayed. That he deliberately misled Michael Heseltine, the deputy prime minister, about his relationship with Mr Greer.

Downey verdict: There was compelling evidence that Mr Hamilton received cash directly from Mr Fayed in return for lobbying services. Although the total amount was unclear it was unlikely to have been less than the pounds 18,000-pounds 25,000 received by Tim Smith. The way the payments were received and concealed fell well below standards expected of MPs.

Mr Hamilton deliberately misled Mr Heseltine, president of the board of trade, in 1994, when he said he had no financial relationship with Mr Greer. In a phone conversation he gave an absolute assurance that there was no such relationship, when in fact he had received two commission payments from him in 1988 and 1989, totalling pounds 10,000. There was no evidence he received cash indirectly from Mr Fayed through Mr Greer, though he admitted taking payments from Mr Greer for other services.

Hospitality Mr Hamilton received from Mr Fayed at the Ritz and elsewhere was for lobbying and should have been registered. The Inland Revenue was not told of the two commission payments from Mr Greer, and Mr Hamilton asked for payment in kind so the sums would not be taxable.

In 1990 Mr Hamilton deliberately gave the impression he had severed links with Mr Fayed but three months later was still soliciting favours, in the form of a second stay at the Ritz. Mr Hamilton failed to register two introduction payments from Mr Greer in relation to United States Tobacco and the National Nuclear Corporation, some of which he took in kind. But there was insufficient evidence to show that the UST payment was a disguised consultancy fee. He also failed to register hospitality from UST.

Mr Hamilton persistently and deliberately failed to declare interests in the House of Fraser and Skoal Bandits. His action in accepting a commission payment for introducing a constituent to Mr Greer and a consultancy fee for representing a constituent's interests were unacceptable.

A consultancy fee from Strategy Network International was not registered on the spurious grounds that Mr Hamilton had disposed of his interest within four weeks. An allegation that he accepted a paid consultancy from Mobil Oil in return for asking parliamentary questions was not substantiated.

Sir Gordon's report said Mr Hamilton seemed to harbour the misconception that a small giftrepresented a small obligation. "There is a general obligation on members to the effect: `If in doubt, register.' Mr Hamilton seems to have adopted the opposite principle and, if in doubt, gave himself the benefit of it."

Tim Smith:

Conservative MP for Beaconsfield from 1982 until this year, when he was forced to stand down amid allegations of bribe-taking. Worked for Leon Brittan at the Home Office from 1983-85 and was a Northern Ireland minister from January to October 1994, but resigned when the cash for questions affair broke.

The charges: That as chairman of the Conservative Trade and Industry Committee, he took bribes from Mr Fayed to ask questions about the takeover of the House of Fraser and to lobby ministers.

That in 1986 he was paid cash to arrange an adjournment debate in the Commons attacking the Observer and its owner, Tiny Rowland, for running stories against the Harrods owner. He declared the payments to the Inland Revenue but not to the registrar of members' interests.

The verdict: Mr Smith did accept cash payments directly from Mr Fayed, of between pounds 18,000 and pounds 25,000, in return for lobbying. There was no evidence that he received cash from Mr Fayed via Mr Greer.

The way in which these payments were received and concealed fell well below the standards expected of MPs. The allegation that Mr Smith was paid to initiate an adjournment debate was not substantiated.

Mr Smith's financial interest in House of Fraser was only registered in January 1989, when it had been publicly exposed by Mr Rowland, and then only for a period of two and a half weeks.

"This has to be seen as a disingenuous attempt at concealment. On any view, this was a totally unacceptable form of registration by Mr Smith," Sir Gordon wrote. He also criticised Mr Smith for continuing to deny receiving cash payments.

"This lack of candour by Mr Smith and the uncertainty over the total sums he received from Mr Al Fayed are matters of great concern. Mr Smith is a chartered accountant and I should have expected him to have more accurate records," he wrote.

The MP persistently and deliberately failed to declare his interests in dealings with ministers and officials over House of Fraser issues.

However, to his credit, he did eventually admit receiving payments, although not until he was asked in 1994. He also expressed his regrets for the non-registration and nondeclaration of his interests.

Sir Michael Grylls:

A former Royal Marine and son of a brigadier, he served as a Conservative MP for 27 years until he stood down in May, aged 63. Most recently was member for Surrey North West.

The charges: That he was regularly paid by Ian Greer, and he abused his position on the parliamentary trade and industry committee to make profits. He failed to note his relationship with Mr Greer on the Register of Members' Interests and lied to the select committee on members' interests in 1990.

Downey verdict: Sir Michael took non-cash payments from Mr Greer, though it was not possible to conclude that they originated from Mr Fayed. However, he did actively participate in lobbying campaigns organised by Mr Greer.

The MP deliberately misled the select committee on members' interests in 1990 when he seriously understated the number of commission payments he had received. He also omitted to inform them of other fees he received from Mr Greer.

Sir Gordon was particularly critical of Sir Michael's failure to tell the committee about his full dealings with Mr Greer.

The committee's report, which concluded that there had been "no clear infringement of the rules," would have been quite different if it had known all the facts, he said.

"In his evidence Sir Michael had omitted altogether to refer to the direct, regular payments received from Mr Greer or Ian Greer Associates which had the effect of putting Sir Michael on an annual, but undisclosed, retainer with the lobbying organisation. I believe the concealment was deliberate."

Sir Gordon also concluded that when meeting ministers and officials to talk about the affairs of the House of Fraser, Sir Michael persistently failed to declare his interest in Mr Fayed's affairs.

Sir Michael also accepted a commission payment from Mr Greer for introducing him to Charles Church, whose property company had its headquarters in his constituency. This was unacceptable, though there was insufficient evidence to show that Sir Michael solicited business for Mr Greer in expectation of commission payments.

Sir Andrew Bowden:

Former businessman and MP for Brighton Kemptown since 1970, now aged 67. Lost his seat to Labour on May 1 this year. Knighted in 1994, but was never promoted to ministerial rank.

The charge: That he took more than pounds 5,000 from Mr al Fayed, through Ian Greer, towards his election funds in 1987, and that he did not declare all of it.

The verdict: The election donation of pounds 5,319 from Mr Greer was intended as a reward for lobbying and Sir Andrew probably knew it came originally from Mr Fayed. He had maintained that he did not know the money came from Mr Fayed.

However, there was insufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation that Sir Andrew received, or demanded, cash payments from Mr Fayed in return for lobbying services.

The MP failed to register this donation. He also failed to declare his interests in dealings with ministers and officials over House of Fraser, and in one case gave a positively misleading explanation for his representations.

Mr Bowden also received lecture fees from Mr Greer which were entered in the Register of Members' Interests, and although the source was not identified this was probably adequate.

Michael Brown:

MP since 1979, first for Brigg and Scunthorpe and since 1983 for Brigg and Cleethorpes. Lost his seat to Labour on 1 May. The only openly gay Conservative MP, he was a minister for trade and industry, Northern Ireland and foreign affairs between 1989 and 1993.

The charges:

That he took pounds 6,000 from Ian Greer Associates for work on behalf of US Tobacco, and that he did not declare it in the Register of Members' Interests or to ministers, and that he did not pay tax on the money until the payments became publicly known.

The verdict: Mr Brown failed to register an introduction payment from Mr Greer on behalf of US Tobacco. He also persistently and deliberately failed to declare an interest in Skoal Bandits in his dealings with ministers over the issue. He did not immediately declare the payment to the Inland Revenue. He accepted that they should have been declared and apologised for not doing so.

Mr Brown had lobbied, along with Mr Hamilton, against the banning of Skoal Bandits, which were believed to cause mouth cancer. Mr Brown also received a free flight to Connecticut to be briefed by the company. However, he did list this in the Register of Members' Interests.

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