David Cameron Texted Treasury’s Most Senior Civil Servant To Lobby For Greensill
David Cameron texted the Treasury permanent secretary to lobby him over the now-collapsed financial firm Greensill Capital (Alamy)
The most senior civil servant in the Treasury has admitted that David Cameron personally lobbied him over Greensill Capital.
Sir Tom Scholar, the department’s permanent secretary, said the former Prime Minister sent him "some text messages” about getting the now-collapsed supply chain finance firm onto a government pandemic fund.
He told MPs they came to him on his professional mobile phone number, which Cameron only had because “I used to work for him," having been an adviser on Europe and global issues in the Cabinet Office.
The senior mandarin was appearing in front of the Public Accounts Committee to discuss the Greensill scandal after it emerged Cameron had lobbied the Chancellor Rishi Sunak and other ministers, sparking a number of inquiries into the wider issue of the revolving door between politicians, Whitehall and the private sector.
Asked why he engaged in a dialogue with the ex-PM, Scholar said: "If a former minister that I've worked with asked to talk to me I will always do that.”
He added: “It’s natural when somebody that you know asks to speak to you, it's quite natural to take that.”
Cameron was initially attempting to get Greensill, who he worked for and had shares in, onto the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).
The Treasury permanent secretary said he replied “thank you very much this is something we’re looking at and Charles Roxburgh is the person leading it”, adding: “It was not a call with any more substance than that.”
Roxburgh, his deputy, appeared alongside him at the committee and admitted he had a total of nine meetings with Greensill.
The firm was unable to get onto the CCFF, but it was later admitted onto a different Covid finance scheme, allowing it to issue government-backed loans worth millions of pounds.
Scholar added: "We were approached quite persistently from this company.
"We listened to what they said, we analysed it, we tested it, and in the end despite them submitting a series of successful proposals we decided to reject them all.
"And I think that’s a completely appropriate way of dealing with the matter."
Asked how many times he has met Cameron since the PM left office he replied: "I've seen him probably two or three times, but never to discuss government business.”