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The controversy over Greensill Capital’s influence within government has deepened, as it emerged that a senior civil servant started working for the finance firm as an adviser while still serving in Whitehall.
As reported by the Guardian, Cabinet Office sources were said to be “deeply concerned” at the revelation that official approval was granted for Bill Crothers to begin advising Greensill in September 2015 while still employed in the civil service.
Crothers, who was the government’s chief commercial officer, left that role two months later and went on to become a director of Greensill, gaining a shareholding potentially worth £5.8m before the lender collapsed last month.
The former prime minister, David Cameron, who was a special adviser to Greensill’s board and partly paid in share options, was previously revealed to have sent texts and emails to ministers as he sought approval for policies that would benefit the lender.
Labour is calling for a wide-ranging parliamentary inquiry into Cameron’s role on the company’s board, saying the independent inquiry set up by the government under Nigel Boardman does not have a broad enough remit.
There is a crunch opposition day vote on a parliament-led inquiry into Greensill this afternoon.
Crothers denies any wrongdoing and Cameron said he did not break any codes of conduct or rules on lobbying and that he welcomes the investigation launched by Johnson.
Senior Labour figures, however, have said Cameron’s lobbying on behalf of the failed company indicated why transparency rules need changing.
Doing the media rounds this morning, shadow Cabinet Office minister, Rachel Reeves, told GMB:
One of the things Labour is recommending, and the Government could do very easily, would be to tighten up the rules about lobbying that former ministers, prime ministers and civil servants can do. At the moment, if you are a consultant lobbyist working for one of the big lobbying companies, you have to register as a lobbyist and declare all the meetings and contacts you’ve made but if you are employed in-house by a company to do exactly the same lobbying, you don’t have to be on that register. And that is why David Cameron is saying, ‘I didn’t break the rules’. Now, if it is the case that Cameron didn’t break the rules, then I think it says something about the rules and that those rules need to change so there is proper transparency so we can see what former ministers and prime ministers are doing.
Here is the agenda for today:
12:00 Prime Minister’s Questions
13:00pm Opposition Day Debates on Committee to investigate the lobbying of government
13:30pm A statement on Greensill Capital
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