David Cameron cleared of breaking lobbying rules by watchdog

26 March 2021, 19:09

David Cameron has been cleared of breaking lobbying rules following an investigation
David Cameron has been cleared of breaking lobbying rules following an investigation. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

David Cameron has been cleared of breaking lobbying rules over texts allegedly sent to Rishi Sunak in which he asked for loans for a financial firm he worked for.

The former prime minister was absolved of any wrongdoing by the lobbying watchdog on Friday.

An investigation was carried out following claims Mr Cameron had tried to persuade members of the government to provide financial aid to Greensill Capital, which collapsed into administration earlier this month.

However, the probe concluded that the former Conservative leader was an employee at the firm and was therefore not required to declare himself on the register of consultant lobbyists.

According to reports, Mr Cameron sent several text messages to the chancellor's private phone requesting support for Greenshill through the government's Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).

It is also claimed that he approached the Bank of England (BoE) about the financial company.

The former PM's activities were investigated by Harry Rich, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists - a post created within legislation passed by Mr Cameron's government in 2014.

David Cameron allegedly sent texts to Rishi Sunak (pictured) asking for financial help for a firm he worked for
David Cameron allegedly sent texts to Rishi Sunak (pictured) asking for financial help for a firm he worked for. Picture: PA

"Based on detailed information and assurances provided, Mr Cameron's activities do not fall within the criteria that require registration on the Register of Consultant Lobbyists," the watchdog's decision said.

Directly lobbying ministers or senior civil servants is illegal if someone is not a registered lobbyist, the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 states.

However, individuals lobbying on behalf of their own organisation or firm are not required to register.

The watchdog said it had received "comprehensive assurances" from the former UK leader that any contact he had with any minister or permanent secretary was made as an employee of Greensill.

Last weekend's edition of The Sunday Times reported that Mr Cameron sent a number of texts to Mr Sunak requesting help for Greensill, while The Times subsequently reported that he had directly lobbied the BoE.

The firm was the main financial backer for Liberty Steel, which owns 12 plants in the UK and employs 5,000 people but now faces an uncertain future.

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