James O'Brien hears 'astonishing' insight into David Cameron lobbying controversy

13 April 2021, 15:37

By Sam Sholli

This is the moment journalist Jim Pickard gave what James O'Brien described as an "astonishing" insight into the David Cameron lobbying controversy.

The exchange between the pair comes after Downing Street has confirmed that an independent investigation will be carried out into David Cameron's efforts to lobby for Greensill Capital.

Mr Cameron has faced criticism after it emerged that he privately lobbied ministers, including though texting Chancellor Rishi Sunak, to win access to an emergency coronavirus loan scheme for his employer, financier Lex Greensill.

Mr Pickard, who is the Financial Times' Chief Political Correspondent, told James that David Cameron's lobbying "is a big story in and of itself".

However, he predicted that in the future the story would "move onto not just Mr Cameron, but also these slightly unsavoury people he was representing".

He suggested that the story would progress in this way when, among other things, "people get their heads around what has been at Greensill and how it has financed the expansion of Liberty Steel and various other companies owned by [tycoon] Sanjeev Gupta".

Mr Pickard went on to say that he wouldn't be surprised if Mr Cameron "never fully got his head around" what he was doing for Greensill.

The former Prime Minister - who was in Downing Street from 2010 to 2016 - said in a statement: "In my representations to Government, I was breaking no codes of conduct and no government rules."

He said that "ultimately" the outcome of his efforts to get Greensill's proposals included in the Government's Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) was that "they were not taken up".

"So, I complied with the rules and my interventions did not lead to a change in the Government's approach to the CCFF," he added.

"However, I have reflected on this at length. There are important lessons to be learnt.

"As a former Prime Minister, I accept that communications with government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation."

READ MORE: Rishi Sunak told to 'explain himself' in Parliament over Cameron lobbying texts
READ MORE: Greensill: Gordon Brown says ex-PMs should be banned from lobbying for 5 years

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