A parliamentary committee looking into the Greensill saga blasted ex-prime minister David Cameron for the “significant lack of judgement” he showed in his support for the failed firm.
The “Lessons from Greensill Capital” report by the Commons Treasury Select Committee found that the current ministerial lobbying rules are “insufficient” and “there is a good case for strengthening them,” in light of Cameron’s behind-the-scenes work for collapsed finance group Greensill Capital.
The former PM’s efforts to convince ministers to allow Greensill to sign up to emergency government coronavirus loans to save it from collapsing are being scrutinised by multiple inquiries, including another by Boris Johnson.
Cameron had previously told Westminster’s Treasury Select Committee that his almost 60 emails, texts and Whatsapp messages to figures like Rishi Sunak to curry favour for Greensill’s application was not because the firm, in which he held shares, was in danger of going bust.
In the 71-page report published on Tuesday, MPs wrote that the Treasury was right to reject Greensill’s offer, but should have encouraged Cameron to use “more formal methods of communication”.
The committee also concluded that Cameron “should have taken a broader and more enquiring assessment” of the financial health of Greensill, and “there were signals available to Mr Cameron that might have led him to a more restrained approach.”
The cross-party report added that his use of texts and calls “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”.
As a result, the MPs expect the department “to put in place more formal processes to deal with any such lobbying attempts by ex-prime ministers or ministers in the future.”
It comes a week after it emerged that Greensill paid Cameron a salary of more than $1m (£722,000) a year to lobby government ministers and officials on behalf of the firm.
The former PM was contracted to work 25 days a year as an adviser to the board, meaning his daily take home earnings amounted to more than $40,000.
The hefty pay package made him one of the highest earners at Greensill, earning far more than career bankers with decades of experience.
The Cameron-Greensill lobbying scandal was sparked by a series of damaging stories earlier this year in the Sunday Times and FT about the former PM’s involvement in lobbying the government.
In May, Cameron told MPs he was paid a “generous amount” by the failed company, but did not think it was in trouble when he sent a slew of almost 60 emails, texts and Whatsapp messages to figures like Rishi Sunak.
“I was paid an annual amount, a generous annual amount – far more than I earned as prime minister,” Cameron told Westminster’s Treasury Select Committee.
“I had shares, not share options, but shares in the business which vested over the period of time of my contract.
“The fact I had this economic interest, serious economic interest, is 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 added.