Boris Johnson has ordered an unprecedented independent inquiry to look into a firm which employed former prime minister David Cameron to lobby officials for access to government-backed loans.
After a number of reports in the Financial Times and Sunday Times over the last month relating to the former PM’s lobbying efforts, Mr Cameron broke his silence on Sunday evening, saying he had reflected on his actions and concluded he should have communicated “through only the most formal of channels”.
The review is expected to report back fairly soon, with a government report saying the findings will be delivered “promptly”.
What did David Cameron do?
Mr Cameron contacted Treasury officials and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak to try and get his employer, Greensill Capital, access to the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF).
Last week, the chancellor confirmed that he “pushed” his team to try and find a solution to allow Greensill to access the loans, after lobbying efforts by Mr Cameron.
The lobbying watchdog set up by Mr Cameron during his time in office found that, as an employee of Greensill, his activities were out of the scope for them to investigate.
Greensill Capital crashed into administration in March after a number of creditors pulled funding over doubts about its valuation, leaving firms such as Liberty Steel in the UK at risk, as one of its main lenders.
As an employee of the company it is understood that Mr Cameron had shareholdings which would have been extremely valuable had the company not folded.
What will the inquiry look at?
According to the government, the review will look into “the decisions taken around the development and use of supply chain finance (and associated schemes) in government, especially the role of Lex Greensill and Greensill Capital”.
Some have pointed out that this would suggest that David Cameron’s activities, his interactions with serving ministers and the wider issue of lobbying in government will not be examined in the review.
Jolyon Maugham, a barrister and director of the Good Law Project, which has challenged the government over allegations of cronyism in procurement, said the government wants to “have its cake... and to eat it too” with the review.
“This is not a review into David Cameron’s lobbying activities - or Rishi Suank’s decision to push civil servants to help Greensill after Cameron’s lobbying,” he wrote on Twitter.
Political editor of The Times, Steven Swinford, reported that the government confirmed the review will look at Mr Cameron’s lobbying of the Treasury, “despite wording by the Cabinet Office”.
Who is Nigel Boardman?
The review will be led by Nigel Boardman, a corporate lawyer and non-executive director at the Department for Business.
Mr Boardman is a senior consultant at law firm Slaughter and May, which the Guardian reports was part of a challenge to a government proposal to introduce reforms to lobbying in 2013, when David Cameron was prime minister.
Mr Boardman was a partner at the firm at the time, but left the role to become a senior consultant in 2019.
The government said Mr Boardman will temporarily pause his work at the Department for Business while the review is ongoing.