Greensill review proposes new code of conduct and greater lobbying transparency
Signage is seen outside the offices of collapsed finance firm Greensill near Warrington, northwest England, on April 12, 2021. (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A government review into the Greensill scandal has called for a new code of conduct and greater transparency over lobbying in Whitehall, The Guardian reported.
The report released on Thursday (16) also recommended the government curb its use of supply chain finance, a method of deferring supplier payments for a fee.
The method was pushed by Greensill’s bosses and advisers, including Cameron, during the Covid crisis.
The review was ordered by Prime Minister Boris Johnson earlier this year and was carried out by the corporate lawyer Nigel Boardman.
It was launched in April after it emerged that Cameron privately lobbied ministers in the hope of securing access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme for Greensill Capital, the supply chain finance firm that collapsed a month earlier, The Guardian report added.
Media reports revealed that Cameron contacted chancellor Rishi Sunak on his private mobile phone as part of his lobbying efforts.
The scandal raised concerns over the way private businesses have been able to hire and use former officials to try to gain preferential access to government contracts.
“The transparency of lobbyists be strengthened, including by requiring lobbyists to disclose the ultimate person paying for, or benefiting from, their lobbying activity,” the review recommended.
Boardman, in the review, added that any former senior civil servant or minister who engages in lobbying should be forced to register, and that any registered lobbyist should meet a “statutory code of conduct” that sets minimum standards.
Currently, UK rules only require people who lobby on behalf of a company they are not directly employed by to declare their work.
According to the newspaper report, the review also called for the government to broaden the definition of the kind of meeting that must be declared to the public, even if it is not held in person.
This could mean that texts and unplanned phone calls, which are not required to be logged under the current ministers’ code of conduct, could end up listed in quarterly lobbying records, it said.
The review further suggested that post-employment rules, such as those that ban former civil servants and ministers from taking part in any public contracts or lobbying efforts, be made legally binding.
Greensill Capital had an array of civil servants and ministers, including Cameron and the UK government’s ex-chief commercial officer Bill Crothers, on its board and advisory team, before it collapsed.
Neither Crothers, Cameron or their former colleagues have been found to have broken any rules.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson told The Guardian that the government would “carefully consider Boardman’s recommendations, along with the ongoing work of the committee on standards in public life.