Greensill Capital: Exploring the Cameron lobbying row as review announced

David Cameron (PA Archive)
16:13pm, Mon 12 Apr 2021
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The Government has launched an independent review into Greensill Capital, the collapsed financial firm for which David Cameron lobbied ministers.

Questions had been mounting over the former prime minister’s efforts to secure access for the finance company, which collapsed in March, putting thousands of UK steelmaking jobs at risk.

The PA news agency looks at how the controversy unfolded and what happens next.

– What is the Greensill row about?

Labour has led calls for an inquiry after it emerged that Mr Cameron had privately lobbied ministers, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, to win access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme for his employer, Lex Greensill.

Allegations also surfaced that Mr Greensill, an Australian financier, was given privileged access to Whitehall departments when Mr Cameron was in No 10.

Budget 2021 (PA Wire)

– What was David Cameron’s involvement?

Mr Cameron sent a number of texts to Mr Sunak’s private phone asking for support for Greensill, which later collapsed into administration, through the Government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

It was later reported that Mr Cameron had arranged a “private drink” between Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Mr Greensill to discuss a payment scheme later rolled out in the NHS.

The former Conservative leader also emailed a senior Downing Street adviser, pressing for a rethink on Mr Greensill’s application for access to emergency funding.

– Are jobs on the line?

Greensill was the main financial backer of Liberty Steel and its collapse has left the firm, which employs around 5,000 workers at a number of sites across the UK, facing an uncertain future.

– What has Mr Cameron said about the row?

Breaking his weeks of silence in a statement on Sunday evening, Mr Cameron insisted that, in his representations to Government, he did not break any codes of conduct or lobbying rules.

But he did acknowledge that he should have communicated with the Government “through only the most formal of channels”, rather than texts to Mr Sunak, and said he accepts there are “important lessons to be learnt”.

Mr Cameron said “many of the allegations” made in recent weeks “are not correct” as he challenged what he called a “false impression” that Mr Greensill was a key member of his team while prime minister.

– Hasn’t a watchdog already looked into this?

Last month, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists cleared Mr Cameron of breaking lobbying rules, because, as an employee of Greensill, he was not required to declare himself on the register.

– What will the independent review involve?

The review, commissioned by the Cabinet Office on behalf of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, will examine how Government contracts were secured by the company and the actions of former premier Mr Cameron.

– Who is leading the review?

Nigel Boardman, who is a non-executive board member of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and chairman of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee.

The lawyer has previously conducted a review of Cabinet Office procurement processes, according to Downing Street.

– And what has Labour said about it?

The Opposition, which has repeatedly called for an investigation into the “scandal”, said the review risks kicking the issue into the “long grass”.

Shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Rachel Reeves said: “This has all the hallmarks of another cover-up by the Conservatives.

“We need answers on Greensill now – that means key players in this cronyism scandal like David Cameron, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock appearing openly in front of Parliament as soon as possible to answer questions.”

Labour will seek to maintain pressure on the Government over the row on Tuesday, when a minister will be forced to respond to an urgent question from shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds on the issue.

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