Tuesday, May 18

Cameron and Sunak will be called to testify in Greensill investigations | Lobbying


David Cameron and Rishi Sunak will be among high-ranking politicians called to testify in a growing number of investigations into the Greensill lobbying scandal, after two parliamentary committees said they would begin their own investigations.

In a sign that ministers are struggling to contain the most serious crisis over political ethics for years, three separate committees of parliamentarians said they would launch investigations, in addition to an independent investigation ordered by No. 10.

A spokesman for Cameron has said it will respond “positively” to any request to provide evidence of any of the investigations, once they have established their terms of reference.

Eric Pickles, the former Conservative minister who now chairs the watchdog that examines appointments of former ministers and public officials, gave testimony to MPs on Monday, where he made clear his anger at the growing scope of the scandal.

Pickles wrote an angry letter to the Cabinet Office on Monday that revealed for the first time that a senior official, Bill Crothers, had started working for Greensill while in office, with the approval of the Cabinet Office.

That revelation prompted Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, who heads the civil service, to issue an order in Whitehall for any similar conflict of interest to be brought to his attention before Friday, saying the matter was of “great concern to us. as senior managers. ” public function team ”.

Downing Street on Thursday defended conservative peer Francis Maude, who is implementing changes in Whitehall for Boris Johnson.

Maude, who runs her own consulting firm that she created with Johnson’s deputy chief of staff Simone Finn, recruited Crothers to the Cabinet Office during the Cameron administration and later hired Crothers to work for her firm, Francis Maude Associates, after leaving office.

Crothers assumed a part-time board advisor role with Greensill Capital in September 2015 while still employed as an officer. Later he became a director of the company.

Downing Street rejected calls for Maude to step away from her Cabinet Office role pending the independent investigation into the lobbying scandal, chaired by corporate attorney Nigel Boardman.

“This is an individual who brings a great deal of relevant experience to this position,” Johnson’s spokesman said.

Former permanent Home Office Secretary Sir David Normington said he was “absolutely amazed” that a senior official had been allowed to work as a part-time consultant at Greensill while still in Whitehall.

“I thought it was absolutely unnerving. I’ve never come across anything like this in my 40+ years at Whitehall, ”he said. “I am absolutely amazed that Bill Crothers should be allowed to work for Greensill while he was still in the civil service. But what is worse, I think, this allowed him to evade the scrutiny of his appointment after he left the civil service, and that is completely unacceptable. “

Westminster surveillance chief 'anticipated nothing like Greensill' - video
Westminster surveillance chief ‘anticipated nothing like Greensill’ – video

The government used its Commons majority to defeat an attempt by the Labor Party to force the creation of a committee of parliamentarians specifically to examine lobbying issues and the Greensill affair.

The scandal grew after it emerged that Cameron had personally lobbied Sunak on behalf of the now-collapsed company to gain access to coronavirus loan schemes, and had been able to arrange for company founder Lex Greensill to take a ” private drink “. “With the Secretary of Health, Matt Hancock.

Cameron has suggested that he regrets the way the lobbying was carried out, saying he did not violate any rules but acknowledging that there were “lessons to be learned” and that, as a former prime minister, any contact he had with the government should be through of formal channels ”.

Pickles testified before the civil service committee Thursday, and its chairman, Conservative Representative William Wragg, formally announced Thursday morning that he would conduct a full investigation into the lobbying rules.

Wragg said during a Commons debate on Greensill on Wednesday that his committee would begin investigating, referring to the fictional anti-corruption police unit in the BBC’s Line of Duty series and calling the committee “the Whitehall AC-12.”

The chairman of the Treasury selection committee, Conservative MP Mel Stride, said he would discuss the lessons that could be learned about the appropriateness of Sunak’s response to Cameron’s lobbying efforts, as well as that of Treasury officials. He will also examine the regulatory lessons from Greensill Capital’s failure.

Labor MPs on the committee said their original efforts to launch an investigation had been blocked by the committee’s conservative majority.

On Thursday, the public accounts committee, chaired by Labor MP Meg Hillier, announced that it would launch an investigation into the supply chain financing and corporate financing facilities of Covid, the fund that Cameron hoped to gain access on behalf of. Greensill. The former prime minister will be invited to testify.


www.theguardian.com

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