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Business

Cameron lacked judgement while lobbying for Greensill, MPs report says

Former British prime minister David Cameron (Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images).

By: Shilpa Sharma

BRITAIN’S former prime minister David Cameron showed a “significant lack of judgement” while lobbying the government on behalf of Greensill Capital, a report by MPs revealed.

The Treasury committee also questioned Cameron’s judgement on the financial health of the Greensill, which slipped into administration in March, the BBC reported.

The committee called for strengthening of rules regarding lobbying by former minister as the current ones offer “insufficient strength”.

It added had Cameron “taken a broader and more enquiring assessment of the business”, there were “signals available” for him to take a “more restrained approach” when asking the government to help the firm.

The report came after Cameron was found to have lobbied for Greensill by sending texts to the chancellor.

Meanwhile, the ex-prime minister said he acted in good faith but there were “lessons to be learnt”.

Mel Stride, chair of the Treasury committee, said the Treasury “took the right decision to reject the objectives of his (Cameron’s) lobbying, and the committee found that Treasury ministers and officials behaved with complete and absolute integrity,”

At the start of the pandemic the government announced to back loans to large companies struggling in lockdown.

Greensill Capital made seven loans totalling £350 million to companies owned by Sanjeev Gupta’s GFG Alliance, which included Liberty Steel, the UK’s third-largest steel manufacturer which employs 3,000 people.

It was revealed in March, that when advising Greensill, Cameron texted ministers within the Treasury to request access to emergency loans for the finance firm, but the requests were rejected.

Cameron has been cleared of breaking any rules over his lobbying, however critics have continued to question his access to ministers.

The committee acknowledged Treasury officials and ministers behaved properly while handling lobbying by Cameron, and “took the right decision” in preventing Greensill from accessing the Covid Corporate Financing Facility.

In response to the report, Cameron said, “While I am pleased that the report confirms I broke no rules, I very much take on board its wider points.”

“I always acted in good faith, and had no idea until the end of last year that Greensill Capital was in danger of failure…I accept that communications of this nature should be done in future through only the most formal of channels,” he said.

He also agreed that the guidance on engagement of former ministers with the government could be updated.

Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner said Cameron being cleared of breaking any rules “proves that the rules that are supposed to regulate lobbying are completely unfit for purpose”.

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