What is the Greensill scandal and what has David Cameron done?

PRESSURE is growing on former Prime Minister David Cameron over his involvement of lobbying key government figures during his work with Greensill Capital.

Boris Johnson has now launched a formal inquiry to find out exactly what happened.

What is the Greensill scandal?

Former Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron is coming under increasing pressure over sending texts begging Chancellor Rishi Sunak for millions of pounds in Covid bailouts for his new paymasters, Greensill Capital.

He is also said to have been in contact with other Government ministers as well after going to work for the firm after leaving No10.

Critics have demanded an investigation into the ex-PM and how he was able to lobby ministers without it being recorded internally.

While there are thousands of lobbyists from trade unions to environmental groups to multinational corporations, critics have questioned why Cameron was granted so much access to key figures.

Questions have also been raised over the way government Covid contracts were handed out.

Ex-Labour PM Gordon Brown called for a legal crackdown and impose a five year lobbying ban on ex ministers.

Shadow cabinet minister Bridget Phillipson said: “Through David Cameron, Greensill looks to have had the run of Government from No10 down, including access to millions of pounds of public money.”

Ultimately, Cameron’s efforts to get the Covid loans were unsuccessful.

Under the current rules, it appears Cameron did not break any regulations.

The guidelines state: "On leaving office, ministers will be prohibited from lobbying Government for two years."

Cameron stood down as PM in July 2016.

What did Greensill do?

Greensill Capital dealt in what is known as “supply chain finance” and run by Lex Greensill.

For a fee, the company would pay the seller as soon as the goods are delivered and then get their money back when the bills are actually paid by the customer.

Cameron joined the company in 2018.

In 2018, Greensill Capital won the contract to run a supply chain scheme for pharmacies which would see them paid early for money owed to them from the NHS.

Reports say Cameron told friends he was set to make as much as £60million from the share options he owned in the company.

The firm has since gone bust.

What was David Cameron's involvement?

Cameron has been accused of inappropriate practices using his contacts when he was a politician to lobby government figures.

As well as texting Sunak, Cameron texted a senior Boris Johnson aide just hours after the Treasury rejected his bid for an emergency Covid loan.

The former PM claimed it was “nuts” to exclude his employer Greensill from a multi-billion-pound scheme and asked ministers to reconsider.

In a message uncovered by The Sunday Times, Cameron wrote: “What we need is for Rishi to have a good look at this and ask officials to find a way of making it work.”

He sent Chancellor Rishi Sunak multiple texts urging him to allow Greensill access to the scheme, which led the Treasury to re-look at it. Greensill later collapsed.

It also emerged Cameron and financier Lex Greensill lobbied Health Secretary Matt Hancock while having a “private drink” in 2019 to bring in a payment scheme for NHS staff.

Mr Sunak has admitted he responded to Cameron and “pushed” Treasury officials to look at plans that could help the firm.

What has David Cameron said about the row?

Cameron released a grovelling 1,200-word statement admitting he should have acted differently – but refusing to apologise.

He said: "As a former Prime Minister, I accept that communications with government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation."

Cameron also disputed the figure of £60m he was said to have told friends he could make if the deals were successful.

He said: "Their value was nowhere near the amount speculated in the press.” He did not give any further details on the real amount.

What did the watchdog say about David Cameron?

Watchdog The Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists cleared Cameron in March 2021 after it concluded Cameron's activities had not fallen within the criteria that required registration.

A source close to him said at the time he was exempt from the register as he had been an in-house employee for Greensill.

His activities were investigated by Harry Rich, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists.

"Based on detailed information and assurances provided, Mr Cameron's activities do not fall within the criteria that require registration on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists," the watchdog's decision said.

Liam Herbert, the chairman of the public affairs board at the Public Relations and Communications Association, said it was "inevitable that the registrar would reach this conclusion as unfortunately the legislation fails to cover the vast majority of those engaged in lobbying activities".

"The legislation fails to ensure a level playing field on transparent and ethical lobbying, because it not only excludes literally every single in-house lobbyist but even manages not to cover a significant number of consultant lobbyists, such as lawyers, management consultants and others," he said.

How will the independent review work and who is leading it?

Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched a formal inquiry on April 12 which will investigate Cameron’s role in lobbying Government.

The review will be led by lawyer Nigel Boardman, he is a non-executive board member at the government's department for business.

He has been instructed to report “promptly” although no date has been set.

The Sun has learned that ministers and special advisers across Whitehall are being asked to declare all contact with the former PM over Greensill.

The Cabinet Office propriety team are looking into all reported contact.

The prime minister's official spokesperson says the review will examine the awarding of contracts for supply chain finance.

"This independent review will also look at how contracts were secured and how business representatives engaged with government," they added.

"There is significant interest in this matter, so the prime minister has called for the review to ensure government is completely transparent about such activities".

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