Why David Cameron is under investigation
Former PM reportedly lobbied government on behalf of Greensill Capital
David Cameron is under investigation by a lobbying watchdog set up while he was in No. 10.
The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists (ORCL) is probing whether the former prime minister “has engaged in unregistered consultant lobbying” on behalf of Greensill Capital, a finance group that went into liquidation at the start of this month.
The investigation was announced by the ORCL yesterday - just days after Tory MPs blocked an attempt by Labour to launch a parliamentary inquiry into Cameron’s work for Greenshill.
What did Cameron do?
The former PM had been an adviser to Greensill since 2018 and reportedly urged his old Whitehall colleagues to increase the company’s access to state-backed emergency coronavirus loan schemes months before the company collapsed.
Greensill wanted to use money from the government’s Covid corporate financing facility (CCFF) “to lend cash to its clients, including Liberty Steel”, but was turned down, reports The Times.
Cameron is said to have approached 10 Downing Street, the Bank of England and the Treasury, including sending text messages to Rishi Sunak asking the chancellor to intervene.
Why the controversy?
Granting Greensill access to the CCFF “would have meant bending the rules, since lenders are not meant to borrow money through the programme”, explains The Guardian.
And under legislation “brought in by Mr Cameron while he was in Downing Street”, anybody who is paid by a third party to lobby officials on their behalf must sign up to the government’s official register of lobbyists, says The Telegraph. “Failure to do so can lead to a £7,500 civil penalty or, in severe cases, criminal prosecution,” the paper adds.
However, the rules do not apply if the person lobbying is in-house staff. Cameron is yet to officially comment, but The Guardian says the former PM is expected to argue that he was a Greensill employee at the time, rather than a consultant.
The ORCL has also declined to comment further while its investigation is ongoing.