The standards watchdog has said it cannot investigate David Cameron over lobbying concerns as it “does not have a remit to to investigate individual cases”.
Mr Cameron is accused of providing financier Lex Greensill with ‘privileged access’ to Whitehall departments, and lobbying on his company’s behalf to be able to receive millions of pounds in government Covid loans.
Writing in response to request from the Labour party for the Committee on Standards in Public Life, the committee chair Lord Evans said they cannot investigate the matter.
This comes after Mr Cameron was investigated by another watchdog which he set up as prime minister, the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, which concluded he acted in line with restrictions, as an employee of Greensill.
While there are official records of Greensill meeting with Treasury officials during the pandemic, Mr Cameron is being criticised over reports that he personally contacted the Treasury, Downing Street and the chancellor directly, through private channels.
It is also alleged that the former prime minister contacted the Bank of England as part of his efforts to get Greensill Capital access to taxpayer-backed finance.
Mr Cameron started working as an advisor to Greensill Capital in 2018, receiving share options which would have been worth several million pounds had the company not gone into liquidation.
Mr Cameron is yet to comment on the allegations, or the announcement that he will be investigated over the claims, although figures close to him have reportedly highlighted the
What is lobbying?
Lobbying is the act of advocating on behalf of a certain cause or business to try and influence politicians to their benefit.It is generally legal, and involves meetings or events where lobbyists may discuss policies with legislators.
While it can refer to the actions of grassroots campaigners to try and persuade politicians to make certain decisions, it generally refers to organised and paid efforts to do this on behalf of businesses or specific industries.
Lobbying is often done in a perfectly legal way, however a number of politicians have in the past raised concerns about the potential for corruption and other issues due to close links between lobbying firms, government and finance.
What did David Cameron say about lobbying?
Before taking office, Mr Cameron remarked after the expenses scandal, political lobbying would be “the next big scandal”.
In a speech months before the election that would see him enter government in coalition with the Liberal Democrats, David Cameron said:
“Now we all know that expenses has dominated politics for the last year. But if anyone thinks that cleaning up politics means dealing with this alone and then forgetting about it, they are wrong. Because there is another big issue that we can no longer ignore.
“It is the next big scandal waiting to happen. It’s an issue that crosses party lines and has tainted our politics for too long, an issue that exposes the far-too-cosy relationship between politics, government, business and money.”
Later, in 2014, Mr Cameron would establish the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists, with the passage of the Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act.
What is the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists?
The Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists is designed to provide transparency in the work of consultant lobbyists and their engagement with politicians.
Harry Rich is the current Registrar, and his office has confirmed today that it will be looking into the allegations regarding David Cameron and Greensill Capital.
It said: "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.
"Once it is complete, an investigation summary will be published on the Office of the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists website."