Ex-UK leader Cameron faces MP grilling over Greensill lobbying

14 Mai, 2021, 02:10 | Auteur: Auguste Feret
  • David Cameron and Lex Greensill

"I was paid an annual amount, a generous annual amount, far more than what I earned as prime minister, and I had shares - not share options but shares in the business - which vested over the period of time of my contract", he told the committee.

Greensill, 44, appeared before the Treasury Committee on Tuesday (11) and insisted he took "full responsibility" for the company's collapse.

He said that was because he thought Greensill could help make the Government's coronavirus funding schemes more effective.

"The fact that I have this serious economic interest, that's important, but I don't think the amount is particularly germane to answering those questions, and as far as I'm concerned it's a private matter", he told MPs.

Cameron placed calls and sent dozens of texts and emails to ministers and senior officials as tried to win access to Covid support programmes for the since-collapsed financial firm.

He added: "I think I met him twice while I was in Downing Street and I can absolutely confirm at no stage did he ever suggest that I would go and work with him or for him afterwards".

"I did not believe in March or April a year ago when I was doing this contact there was a risk of Greensill falling over", he said.

He said suggestions that he stood to earn £60 million if his lobbying was able to save the company were "absurd".

It was only in late 2020 that he first "thought there was a serious threat facing the company", he said, although he was reportedly on a call with the Bank of England in March past year when Greensill Capital said it was coming under "significant pressure".

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"I had no sense at all the business was in any danger of collapse".

The former PM was confronted by Labour MPs Siobhain McDonagh and Angela Eagle as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Committee.

He also extracted a commitment from Mr Cameron to make a further appearance in front of the committee if they had more questions.

Official documents show that Mr Cameron and his staff sent numerous emails, texts and WhatsApp messages to top government ministers between March 5 and June 26 past year.

And he conceded that former PMs should "think differently and act differently" when it comes to lobbying.

"I've sat on the other side of the fence in government, where you have a credit crunch, you have difficulties in the credit market, and you're desperate to get banks lending", he said.

He said he believed lobbying was a healthy part of the democratic process "but I accept there is a strong argument that having a former prime minister engage on behalf of any commercial interest, no matter how laudable the motive and cause, can be open to misinterpretation".

"That feels to me like we need to be looking much more closely at the systems of control that the principle has in place and potentially also placing some restrictions on the scale of business that can be undertaken through this mechanism".

In documents published Tuesday by the committee, the ex-prime minister and his office staff sent ministers and officials dozens of emails, texts and WhatsApp messages past year relating to Greensill, bypassing official channels. "My children tell me that you don't need to sign off text messages at all and it's very old-fashioned and odd to do so".



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