Parliament committee says there was lack of judgement’ by former PM over Greensill lobbying
LONDON (UK) – Former Prime Minister David Cameron showed a lack of judgement when it came to personal contacts and informal channels to lobby for the now-collapsed supply chain finance firm Greensill Capital, gauged the parliamentary committee on Tuesday.
Cameron lobbied ministers and senior officials repeatedly, with regard to giving access for Greensill Capital to the government’s pandemic funding schemes during a four-month period in 2020.
Despite the fact that his efforts did not result in a change in government policy and Greensill filed for insolvency protection in March, Cameron’s involvement has brought alive wider questions about the extent to which lobbyists and former politicians can have influence.
“The committee concludes that Mr Cameron’s use of less formal means to lobby government showed a significant lack of judgement on his part, especially as his ability to use an informal approach was aided by his previous position of Prime Minister,” they said in a statement accompanying a report on the issue.
Cameron had previously spoke in defense of his use of WhatsApp and SMS messages to contact people he used to work with when prime minister. He said that it was justified taking into account the severity of the COVID-19 crisis. He also said different rules could be used in the future.
The committee, the scrutinising body without statutory powers, said the finance ministry should have prompted Cameron to employ formal channels of communication. They also made recommendations that the finance ministry bring forth formal processes to deal with future lobbying attempts by ex-ministers.
The committee also examined the lessons that they could derive around supply chain finance.
They did not call for making supply chain finance in general a regulated activity but said the mechanism used by Greensill, known as the ‘appointed representatives regime’, should be tightened up to reduce “opportunities for abuse”.
Lawmakers said rules on who can take control of a lender also needed tightening as a “matter of urgency” after Wyelands Bank, which was part of Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, was forced by the Bank of England to hand back deposits.
Changes should ensure that the Bank of England has powers to ensure that existing banks “do not fall into the hands of owners who would not be granted a banking licence in their own right”, the report said. BoE Deputy Governor Sam Woods told lawmaker hearings he was already raising this with the finance ministry.