By: Sattwik Biswal
THE former prime minister has finally broken his silence in the Greensill Capital lobbying row and said he should have rather approached ministers formally.
David Cameron, however, in a statement last night insisted that he had not broken any rules.
Cameron has faced criticism for contacting chancellor Rishi Sunak and two other ministers from the Treasury on behalf of the financial firm.
After leaving office, the former Conservative leader worked as an adviser to Greensill Capital, which has now collapsed. The financial firm, a major financer of Sanjeev Gupta-owned Liberty Steel, has now put the future of the steelmaker and its over 5,000 employees at stake.
Last year, working for Greensill, Cameron had texted ministers in the Treasury to appeal for government-backed loans at the outbreak of the pandemic. However, later the requests were rejected by the Treasury.
Cameron was investigated by a watchdog, but was later cleared in March.
In a latest development, health secretary Matt Hancock’s name has dropped when he had met Cameron and financier Lex Greensill for a private drink in 2019 to discuss a new payment scheme for the NHS.
However, an ally of Hancock said he had “acted in entirely the correct way”.
In his statement, Cameron said: “In my representations to government, I was breaking no codes of conduct and no government rules.
“Ultimately, the outcome of the discussions I encouraged about how Greensill’s proposals might be included in the government’s CCFF (Covid Corporate Financing Facility) initiative – and help in the wake of the coronavirus crisis – was that they were not taken up.
“So, I complied with the rules and my interventions did not lead to a change in the government’s approach to the CCFF.”
“As a former prime minister, I accept that communications with government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation,” he added.
Cameron said he worked for Greensill Capital in the first place with the belief that there “would be a material benefit for UK businesses at a challenging time”.
In the statement, Cameron added he had “very little to do with Lex Greensill” during his time as prime minister.
“He was not a political appointee, but part of the Civil Service drive to improve government efficiency,” he said.
“The false impression has been created that Lex Greensill was a close member of my team, meeting with me on a regular basis.
“The truth is, I had very little to do with Lex Greensill at this stage – as I recall, I met him twice at most in the entirety of my time as prime minister,” he also said.
Labour said Cameron’s statement has left “many serious questions” unanswered and demanded that he address them before parliament.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said: “It is crucial that the former prime minister appears before parliament so that all the information is brought to light. Transparency and accountability are crucial and that requires the utmost openness from government to establish the full facts behind this scandal.”