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HMRC ‘examining David Cameron’s Greensill benefits including private flights’

HMRC officials are examining private flights taken by the former prime minister during his time lobbying for Greensill Capital

Archie Mitchell
Wednesday 22 November 2023 11:49 GMT
David Cameron addresses ‘lobbying rules’ in Greensill investigation

Tax officials are said to be examining whether David Cameron failed to fully disclose perks such as flights on private jets when he worked for collapsed lender Greensill Capital, it has been revealed.

According to The Guardian’s sources, HMRC is investigating flights that landed and took off near the former prime minister’s Oxfordshire house and in Cornwall, near his holiday home.

Officials are also looking at an offshore trust that was created by Greensill to pay Lord Cameron extra benefits, it is claimed.

The alleged issue was revealed days after the ex-PM’s shock return to frontline politics which saw him rushed into the House of Lords and appointed foreign secretary.

There have been wider concerns about his elevation to the Lords, including that the process was rushed through to avoid details of Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle leaking.

According to The Guardian, HMRC officials are looking at whether Lord Cameron declared all the so-called benefits in kind he received during his work for Greensill between 2018 and 2021.

It is the latest headache for Mr Cameron as a result of his lobbying for Greensill Capital since the scandal erupted in 2021.

Concerns over Mr Cameron’s relationship with the supply chain finance firm were first raised in March of that year when the company went bust.

The ex-PM’s advisory role at the firm, which he took up in 2018, has since been probed, as well as his relationship with founder Lex Greensill while he was still in government.

Lord Cameron was cleared of any wrongdoing, but MPs on the Treasury committee criticised his “significant lack of judgement” and said there was “a good case for strengthening” existing lobbying rules.

The new foreign secretary had embarked on an intense lobbying drive for funds during the Covid crisis, with revelations of increasingly desperate messages sent to then chancellor Mr Sunak, former Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove and then health secretary Matt Hancock, among other top government officials.

While the company’s eventual collapse left investors and UK taxpayers facing huge losses, a BBC Panorama report in August 2021 suggested that Mr Cameron had made some £7.2m from Greensill Capital.

HMRC’s probe will allegedly look into at least 13 flights to and from Newquay airport in Cornwall on Greensill’s Piaggio P180 private jet and two flights involving RAF Brize Norton, all understood to be for the benefit of Lord Cameron.

The flights could each have cost thousands of pounds, with Greensill having charged £1,600 an hour to lease a Piaggio aircraft in the past.

Sources told The Guardian there were more flights given to the foreign secretary and that Lord Cameron could face an outstanding tax bill on each, which represents a so-called benefit in kind.

A spokesperson for Mr Cameron told The Guardian: “As already made clear in David Cameron’s evidence to the Treasury select committee in May 2021, he did use Greensill’s company plane a number of times on a personal basis, all for short-haul flights, and tax was paid appropriately for any benefit received. Further, all income received from Greensill has been properly declared to HMRC and all tax paid in full.”

An HMRC spokesman said: “We cannot comment on identifiable taxpayers.”

The Guardian also reported Lord Cameron could face further tax liabilities due to an employee benefit trust based in the tax haven Guernsey through which he was allegedly paid.

The Independent has contacted Mr Cameron’s spokesperson for comment.

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