David Cameron has suggested he will give evidence to inquiries into Greensill as the government reels from another wave of lobbying revelations.
A spokesman for the former PM said he will ‘respond positively’ to any approaches from MPs or the official probe by lawyer Nigel Boardman.
The signal came as business appointments watchdog Lord Pickles is set to vent his frustration at the system for monitoring the ‘revolving door’ between Whitehall and business.
There was shock this week when it emerged procurement chief Bill Crothers was allowed to join Greensill as an adviser in September 2015 alongside his £149,000 role.
The permission was given through an internal ‘conflicts’ process at the Cabinet Office – meaning he was never required to run it past the the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments.
Lord Pickles, who heads Acoba, has demanded to know how many other civil servants were granted similar arrangements and will appear before the Public Adminstration and Constitutional Affairs Committee this morning.
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, the UK’s most senior civil servant, last night ordered Whitehall’s top mandarins to notify him of any second jobs.
David Cameron has suggested he will give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into the Greensill lobbying storm
The Treasury’s probe will almost certainly examine how Lex Greensill enjoyed such access to the heart of government during the Cameron administration (pair pictured in Saudi Arabia in 2020)
Bill Crothers (pictured left) spent several months as Government procurement head and a Greensill board adviser. The then Cabinet Office permanent secretary John Manzoni (pictured right) is thought to have approved the arrangement
Yesterday the Commons Treasury Committee launched an inquiry into the financial firm’s collapse, which threatens thousands of British jobs at Liberty Steel.
It came after Tory MPs, whipped by the Government, blocked a Labour motion to create a committee to specifically drill down into the lobbying saga.
But the Treasury’s probe will almost certainly examine how Lex Greensill enjoyed such access to the heart of government during the Cameron administration.
And how Mr Cameron, later an adviser and shareholder, used his influence and contacts to lobby ministers and officials on Greensill’s behalf – including texting Rishi Sunak in an unsuccessful effort to secure coronavirus loans.
The Conservative ex-premier has already denied breaching lobbying rules but acknowledged he should have communicated via formal channels.
A spokesman for Mr Cameron said he ‘will respond positively to all such requests when the terms of reference of each inquiry are made clear and any invitations to provide evidence are received’.
‘While he was an adviser to the business and not a board director, he is keen to ensure that lessons from it going into administration are learned,’ the spokesman said.
Boris Johnson (pictured this morning with dog Dilyn) has also tasked City lawyer Nigel Boardman with heading an inquiry into Greensill and lobbying
Lord Pickles, chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) which oversees the ‘revolving door’ of business and government, is demanding an explanation.
The morning he will appear before the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC), which has indicated it will launch its own wider investigation into the Greensill affair.
In a letter to permanent secretaries, Simon Case said the disclosures were a cause of ‘acute concern’.
Sir David Normington, former permanent secretary of the Home Office, this morning said it was ‘absolutely baffling’ Mr Crothers was allowed to moonlight.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I’ve never come across anything like it in my 40 years in Whitehall. I know Simon Case is checking whether there are any other similar cases, I’d be very surprised if there were.
‘I’m absolutely amazed that Bill Crothers could be allowed to work for Greensill while still in the civil service. But worse this allowed him to evade scrutiny of his appointment after he left the civil service – it’s completely unacceptable.’
Sir Alistair Graham, former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said Mr Cameron remained silent about Greensill for so long out of ‘pure embarrassment’.
He told GMB: ‘How else can you explain it. The story unfolded over a long period of time, and the more it unfolded, the worse it got for him. As we found he’d arranged for Greensill and key colleague in Greensill to have a quiet drink with the Health Secretary to try to, and succeed to some extent, sell one of Greensill’s services.’
Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has ordered the heads of all government departments to search their ranks for civil servants taking money for a second job that could pose a potential conflict of interest
Yesterday the Prime Minister insisted he had not spoken to Mr Cameron about his role in the Greensill affair
Mr Johnson has also tasked City lawyer Nigel Boardman with heading an inquiry into Greensill and lobbying.
Yesterday the Prime Minister insisted he had not spoken to Mr Cameron about his role in the Greensill affair.
Speaking at PMQs, he said: ‘The honest truth: I cannot remember when I last spoke to Dave.
‘But if she [Labour MP Ruth Cadbury] wants to know whether I’ve had any contact with him about any of the matters that have been in the press, the answer is no.’
Greensill, a firm that specialised in supply-chain financing, cratered into administration in March this year.
It was a key backer of Liberty Steel, which is now in jeopardy and jobs hang in the balance.
Mr Greensill, an Australian venture capitalist, was brought into government by the late former Cabinet Secretary Lord Heywood under Mr Cameron.
He was given a desk and had a Downing Street business card describing him as a ‘senior adviser’ to the prime minister.