David Cameron lobbying row erupts: Demands for new law after ex-PM revelations
David Cameron is ‘entitled to earn a living’ says Charles Walker
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Labour last night urged the Government to include legislation to regulate contacts between businesses and Whitehall. A new statutory register of lobbyists was among the proposals put forward by the opposition. The demand followed fresh revelations about the former Tory prime minister pressing ministers including Chancellor Rishi Sunak for a Treasury loan for Greensill Capital. Mr Cameron was working as a paid advisor for the firm, a backer of Liberty Steel, at the time.
A newspaper report yesterday claimed the former premier contacted a second Treasury minister, Jesse Norman, to press for a loan for Greensill as well as sending mobile phone text messages to the Chancellor.
Another newspaper report claimed Lex Greensill, the firm’s boss, forced through a government loan scheme from which he directly benefited after citing the personal authority of Mr Cameron, the prime minister at the time.
The Australian banker was said to have told Downing Street advisers and civil servants via email in 2012 that “the PM” had requested that he implement his ideas “across government”.
Weeks earlier civil servants had warned that his proposal might be unlawful and that Greensill had to be “reined in”, according to the report in the Sunday times.
The newspaper also claimed Jeremy Heywood, the then cabinet secretary, brought Greensill into Whitehall as an adviser having worked with him at a bank and later nominated him for a CBE for “services to the economy.“
Mr Cameron has been cleared breaching lobbying rules by a watchdog inquiry. He has declined to respond to media questions about his links with Greensill Capital.
Following the latest claims, Labour frontbencher Rachel Reeves called for overseeing lobbying and proposed the creation of an independent “integrity and ethics commission.”
The shadow chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said: “Given the cronyism consuming the Conservative party, it’s crucial that the scope of the lobbying register is expanded to include in-house lobbyists.
“Otherwise it’s clearly one rule for them, and another for everyone else.
“The former Conservative Prime Minister’s conduct and the immense access Greensill was given illustrates perfectly both the toothlessness of current rules, and Tory ministers’ complete disregard for any self-driven integrity when lobbying.
“In 2014, the Conservatives were more concerned with gagging charities and trade unions than tackling the real issues with commercial lobbying.
“A Labour government would create an Integrity and Ethics Commission to restore transparency and accountability back into the heart of government, introduce a fairer framework for commercial lobbying, stamp out crony contracts while freeing up civil society to campaign.”
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