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25 Mar 2021 | 07:51

Ex UK PM Cameron faces probe over possible lobbying law breach

(Sharecast News) - Former UK prime minister David Cameron faces a formal investigation over a potential breach of lobbying laws through his work on behalf of collapsed lender Greensill Capital. Cameron, who drew up the laws on lobbying when in office having previously called it the "next big scandal" in political life, came under scrutiny last week when allegations emerged he contacted Finance Minister Rishi Sunak on his private phone last April while working as a Greensill adviser.

The firm, which collapsed in administration earlier this month, was trying to secure access to emergency Covid loans under the 100% government-backed Covid corporate financing facility (CCFF).

To do so would have meant bending the CCFF's rules as lenders were not meant to have access to its funds. Greensill provided

Harry Rich, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, has now launched a formal investigation into Cameron's alleged lobbying efforts.

"Following media reports, the registrar of consultant lobbyists is investigating whether Mr David Cameron has engaged in unregistered consultant lobbying. The registrar will not comment on this further while the investigation is ongoing," a spokesperson for Rich said.

The Guardian newspaper reported that Cameron will argue he was acting as an employee for the firm and as such would not need to declare himself on the register.

UK rules require people who directly lobby ministers or senior officials on behalf of a third party to declare their efforts on an official government register for lobbyists. Breaching those rules can result in fines of up to £7,500 and in severe cases even criminal charges.

The Bank of England's chief economist, Andy Haldane, on Wednesday said the central bank had rejected requests to include Greensill in its Covid financing programme.

"We had very clear criteria about accessing in this case one of our financing facilities, and the firm in question, Greensill, did not meet the criteria and therefore wasn't granted access," Haldane told ITV when asked about the matter.

"So asking is fine. And the purpose of clear criteria, is it gives you the means of saying no, and we did."

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the claims around Cameron were "news to me" and earlier this week the powerful Treasury select committee, dominated by members of the former leader's Conservative Party, rejected calls for an inquiry into the Greensill's collapse.

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