David Cameron is ‘entitled to earn a living’ says Charles Walker
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The unprecedented Whitehall probe comes after Mr Cameron admitted he should have acted differently when lobbying the Government for cash to prop up finance firm Greensill Capital. Lawyer Nigel Boardman will lead the investigation into the now-collapsed firm’s activities in Government and the role its founder Lex Greensill played. The independent review will look at how Government contracts were secured by Greensill Capital, as well as the actions of ex-prime minister Mr Cameron.
The former Tory leader accepted that he should have communicated “through only the most formal of channels” rather than via text messages to Chancellor Rishi Sunak as he acknowledged missteps over the controversy.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson had called for the probe to be launched into Greensill, which collapsed into administration in March.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told a Westminster briefing: “The Cabinet Office is commissioning an independent review on behalf of the Prime Minister, to establish the development and use of supply chain finance and associated activities in Government, and the role Greensill played in those.
“As you know, there is significant interest in this matter, so the Prime Minister has called for the review to ensure Government is completely transparent about such activities.
“And the public can see for themselves if good value was secured for taxpayers’ money.
“This independent review will also look at how contracts were secured and how business representatives engaged with Government.”
The probe will be completed “thoroughly and promptly”, the spokesman added.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said: “We welcome this inquiry and will be glad to take part.”
But Labour said the review risks kicking the issue into the “long grass”.
Mr Cameron’s predecessor as PM, Gordon Brown, has called for tougher rules to prevent former prime ministers lobbying within Government, claiming it “brings public service into disrepute”.
Former Labour leader Mr Brown added they should not be “lobbying for commercial purposes” and suggested legislation banning the practice for five years if existing rules cannot be made to work.
He said: “Ministers must never be lobbying. Former ministers, prime ministers, must never be lobbying for commercial purposes. Current ministers should not be entertaining such lobbying.
“If we can’t succeed in this stopping, we are going to have to pass laws to make sure that at least for, say, five years, no serving or former prime minister or minister is ever lobbying for any commercial purpose within Government.”
The row surfaced when it emerged Mr Cameron privately lobbied ministers, reportedly sending texts to Mr Sunak, to win access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme for his employer, financier Mr Greensill.
It was later reported Mr Cameron had arranged a “private drink” between Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Mr Greensill to discuss a payment scheme later rolled out in the NHS.
Mr Cameron said: “In my representations to Government, I was breaking no codes of conduct and no Government rules.”
Labour is now demanding that Mr Sunak should appear before Parliament to explain his involvement in the issue.
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