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By Ben Guerin
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Senior Civil Servants Admit They Have No Idea What Businessman Lex Greensill Was Doing In Downing Street

2 min read

The country's most senior civil servant Simon Case said he is alarmed Australian businessman Lex Greensill had a Downing Street pass but no official job contract, and it is unknown what he was doing there.

Greensill, who wrote on his own business card that he was  "senior adviser, PM's Office", was granted a security pass under David Cameron, which was signed off by former minister Francis Maude and former permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office Ian Watmore. 

Cameron went on to work for Greensill once he had left government and has been at the centre of a lobbying scandal since it emerged he had tried to secure finance for Greensill Capital by lobbying the Treasury during the pandemic. 

The requests for funding were ultimately turned down but since then questions have been raised over Cameron's contact with senior government figures, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, via text message. 

Giving evidence at the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, Case was asked if he was "alarmed" that he had almost no information on why Greensill had been installed in Downing Street in 2012. 

He said: "Yes". 

Darren Tierney, director general of propriety and ethics at the Cabinet Office, told the committee that it was "unclear" what the businessman had been doing. He said Nigel Boardman, a former partner at law firm Slaughter and May, has been asked by Downing Street to look into that through an independent inquiry. 

"He wasn't a special advisor. His exact status is unclear," he said. 

"We've been unable to find a contract. What we've found so far is an appointment letter and subsequent reappointment letter," Tierney said. 

"He was given a pass and IT for the Cabinet Office, and a pass subsequently for No 10," he said. 

Conservative MP for Clywd West, David Jones, suggested Greensill would have acquired information at Downing Street, which he could have been helpful to him in offering commercial services to the government.

Asked: "Doesn't it look like a screaming, glaring conflict of interest?" Tierney replied: "Yes it does".

Tierney said he did not think that Greensill had any government contracts until 2018.

Greensill Capital was set up in 2011, and focused on supply-chain finance, to help business settle bills immediately, for which they were charged a fee. Some of his work has involved government contracts and the NHS. 

The firm collapsed in March this year. 

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