Cameron faces grilling over Greensill lobbying role

Westminster

David Cameron said it was a "painful day" as he was hauled before MPs to answer for his role in the collapse of the financial firm Greensill Capital.

Cameron said there may also be a case to include in-house lobbyists in Britain's transparency register, provided that can be done "without excessive bureaucracy or damaging the interests of charities".

While it first emerged in March that Cameron had been sending inappropriate texts to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and his juniors, a fresh slew of cringeworthy messages came to light on Tuesday.

He defended approaching ministers and senior government officials by text as opposed to email in the context of the pandemic, but acknowledged this was a "lesson" from the controversy.

Explaining, the former MP told the Treasury Committee: "Anyone I know even at all well, I tend to sign off text messages with "love DC" - I don't know why, I just do".

The ex-prime minister promised MPs: "If ever there's an occasion, and I doubt there will be, where a business has a commercial proposition to put the government, it will be a single letter or email".

Cameron potentially stood to make millions if Greensill went public.

"I had no sense at all the business was in any danger of collapse".

But he insisted "the motivation was about trying to help the Government and get those schemes right".

The former prime minister faced a tough - and, at times, tempestuous - quizzing by two House of Commons' committees on Thursday over his efforts to secure Greensill access to government-backed COVID support schemes.

- His text message style is "old-fashioned".

Cameron sent dozens of texts and emails to politicians and officials, some signed "love DC". "My children tell me that you don't need to sign off text messages at all and it's very old-fashioned and odd to do so".

- He did not believe Greensill was at risk of collapse at the time of his lobbying.

"I did not believe in March or April, when I was doing this contact, that there was a risk of Greensill falling over", he said.

Mr Cameron told the Treasury Committee he had not broken any rules when he tried to influence ministers and officials on behalf of Greensill Capital around the start of the Covid pandemic in spring previous year.

The boss of the City watchdog has said that authorities need to look more closely at a system which allowed failed finance company Greensill to operate in the United Kingdom without a licence.

He insisted he didn't break any rules.The former Prime Minister refused to say how much he was paid for all his work, though he did reveal he used the corporate jet.

Labour MP Angela Eagle asked how many times he used a private plane to get to Newquay, close to his Cornish holiday home, or any other non-business declarations.

Mr Cameron has previously said he began working as a "part-time senior adviser" to Greensill Capital in August 2018.

"We learnt that in this place over so many issues, personal conduct and codes of behaviour, and how such conduct and behaviour both appears and can be perceived, these things matter too".

"We need to think differently and act differently".

The former prime minister relentlessly lobbied the Chancellor and a string of other ministers on behalf of the company last summer.

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