UK’s David Cameron denies Greensill lobbying was for personal gain

Marco Green
May 14, 2021

- Mr Cameron was an accidental lobbyist.

The former United Kingdom prime minister has been at the center of Britain's biggest lobbying row in a generation after it emerged he pressed senior ministers and officials to include Greensill Capital - a supply-chain finance specialist that employed him as an adviser after he left governent - in a coronavirus lending scheme.

He acknowledged there were "important lessons to be learned" following his bombardment of government ministers and officials via texts and emails on behalf of Greensill at the height of the COVID crisis.

The former prime minister is appearing at back-to-back hearings by the Commons Treasury and Public Accounts committees.

The ex-prime minister promised MPs: "If ever there's an occasion, and I doubt there will be, where a business has a commercial proposition to put the government, it will be a single letter or email".

But Mr Cameron insisted that the NHS pay scheme was meant to "stamp out payday lending" by allowing staff to access money they had learnt.

"I absolutely had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill, I wanted the business to succeed", he said.

But he insisted "the motivation was about trying to help the Government and get those schemes right".

- His text message style is "old-fashioned". "Love Dc", Cameron wrote to Scholar in March 2020 in one particularly cringeworthy message. "If I am still stuck, can I call you then?"

She asked: "Did you know that 90 per cent of Greensill's business represented unsecured loans to high-risk borrowers, and half the time without any invoice whatsoever?"

Cameron, who left Downing Street in 2016, said he didn't know Greensill was in financial difficulty when he contacted officials a year ago.

The ex-prime minister said it was a "great regret" that Greensill - who he joined as an adviser in August 2018 - collapsed into insolvency earlier this year and that he was "desperately sorry" over the firm's demise.

In one message to Sunak, Cameron complained objections to Greensill's application were "nuts", adding: "Think there is a simple misunderstanding that I can explain".

The former MP for Witney told MPs Greensill Capital was paying him "far more" than the around £150,000 salary he was earning as prime minister, but he would not reveal the amount.

The ex-PM once described lobbying as "the next big scandal waiting to happen", a point seized on by Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh.

Cameron says he met Lex Greensill after he left office and that Greensill told him about "the business he had created and was growing".

Asked how many times he used its aircraft to fly to Newquay airport in Cornwall, where he has a third home, and for other personal trips, Mr Cameron replied: "I haven't got a complete record of the use of the planes".

- Rules may need to be toughened up for former occupants of No 10.

As well as messaging and speaking to Sunak, the former prime minister texted senior Cabinet minister Michael Gove and held a call with Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

"At the very least we need to know what's going on in these areas which are not formally regulated", Rathi said.

Prime minister Boris Johnson last month appointed a senior lawyer to investigate the lobbying matter involving Cameron.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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