David Cameron has admitted he should have communicated with the Government “through only the most formal of channels” as criticism mounted of his attempts to influence government on behalf of the banker Lex Greensill.
In his first comments after weeks of silence, the former prime minister said that having “reflected on this at length” he accepts he should have acted differently “so there can be no room for misinterpretation”, but said he broke no rules.
It has emerged the former Tory leader privately lobbied ministers, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, for access to an emergency coronavirus loan for financier Mr Greensill.
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Four ministers have become embroiled in the controversy. It was reported that Mr Cameron arranged a “private drink” between Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Mr Greensill to discuss a payment scheme, which was later rolled out in the NHS.
Mr Cameron also lobbied a senior Downing Street adviser to reconsider Mr Greensill’s application for access to emergency funding.
The attempted influence has been described as the “biggest lobbying scandal in a generation” by Sir Alistair Graham, the former chairman of the public standards committee.
On Sunday night Mr Cameron said: “In my representations to Government, I was breaking no codes of conduct and no government rules.”
He said that “ultimately” the outcomes of his efforts to win access to the Government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) were “not taken up”.
“So, I complied with the rules and my interventions did not lead to a change in the Government’s approach to the CCFF,” he added.
“However, I have reflected on this at length. There are important lessons to be learnt. As a former prime minister, I accept that communications with government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation.”
Mr Cameron said that “many of the allegations” made in recent weeks “are not correct,” arguing that Mr Greensill was not a key member of his team while in No 10.
“The truth is, I had very little to do with Lex Greensill at this stage – as I recall, I met him twice at most in the entirety of my time as prime minister,” Mr Cameron said.
The comments come after i reported on concerns about a “revolving door” between British politics and the corporate world.
66 of Cameron’s former ministers and special advisers have been given a paid position in an industry connected to the job they held in Government since he left office.