David Cameron accused of ‘demeaning’ office of prime minister through Greensill involvement

Labour MP tells former PM his messages to ministers including Rishi Sunak were ‘more like stalking than lobbying’

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Thursday 13 May 2021 21:22 BST
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David Cameron accused of ‘demeaning’ office of prime minister

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David Cameron has been accused of “demeaning” the office of prime minister, as he answered MPs’ questions about his role in the collapse of Greensill Capital.

And an MP told him that his frenetic messaging of ministers including Rishi Sunak was “more like stalking than lobbying”.

The former PM was confronted by Labour MPs Siobhain McDonagh and Angela Eagle as he gave evidence to the House of Commons Treasury Committee.

Describing the dozens of texts, WhatsApps and emails which Cameron sent to ministers and Whitehall officials as “more like stalking than lobbying”, Dame Angela asked him: “Looking back, aren’t you at least a little embarrassed by the way you behaved?... Don’t forget, there were thousands of people dying at the time.”

Ms McDonagh told him that former Treasury minister Lord Myners had described the firm’s operations as a “Ponzi scheme”.

She told him: “You had the enormous privilege of being the prime minister of our country, you’re one of just five people post-war to have been re-elected to lead our government. “Do you not feel that you have demeaned yourself and your position by WhatsApping your way around Whitehall based on a fraudulent enterprise, based on selling high risk debt to unsuspecting investors?”

She asked: “Did you know that 90 per cent of Greensill’s business represented unsecured loans to high-risk borrowers, and half the time without any invoice whatsoever?”

And referring to his involvement in the Earnd app used in the NHS to allow staff to receive payments up-front, she asked him: “Do you accept that your lobbying of the NHS wasn’t for its health but for the health of Greensill expand its balance sheet?”

But Mr Cameron insisted that the NHS pay scheme was intended to “stamp out payday lending” by allowing staff to access money they had learnt.

He told Ms McDonagh: “My view is that what I did was I made a choice to work for a business which I hoped would be a UK FinTech success story - and many people believed that it would - and I wanted to help that company.

“What I did at that time of economic crisis was put to the government what I genuinely believed was a good idea of how to get money into the hands of small businesses and get their bills paid early.”

After the ex-PM told the committee he did not realise that Greensill was in trouble, Labour MP Rushanara Ali told him: “It seems like you either conveniently turned a blind eye on things or you didn’t do the due diligence properly or you didn’t have proper oversight and your reputation is now in tatters.”

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