Greensill row: David Cameron 'believes he should have sent letter' to Rishi Sunak, says friend

image copyrightEPA
image captionDavid Cameron sent texts to Conservative ministers about access to loans for a firm he advised

David Cameron now believes it might have been better to approach the Treasury formally over access to loans for a firm he worked for, a friend has said.

A row over lobbying erupted after it came to light the former Conservative PM had sent texts to Chancellor Rishi Sunak and two other ministers appealing for help for Greensill Capital.

As reported in the Financial Times, a friend of Mr Cameron said he now thinks a formal letter would have been better.

Mr Cameron has yet to respond himself.

On Thursday, the chancellor published two of his text replies to Mr Cameron, saying the request he had made would "require a change" to the system in place - but that he had "pushed the team to explore an alternative".

A source close to Mr Sunak said the former prime minister had messaged the chancellor "multiple times" on his personal phone, and that he had chosen to publish the messages "in order to reassure beyond doubt that there was no wrongdoing and that he acted with integrity and propriety".

Mr Cameron's texts have not been published.

But Labour's shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, said the messages "raise very serious questions about whether the chancellor may have broken the ministerial code" as they suggested the firm "got accelerated treatment and access to officials".

The party has called for a "full, transparent and thorough investigation", while the SNP has demanded Mr Sunak make a statement to Parliament.

After leaving office, Mr Cameron got a job as an adviser to Greensill Capital.

The company - which has now gone bust - was run by financier Lex Greensill, who worked as unpaid adviser to Mr Cameron during his time in No 10.

When working for Greensill in 2020, Mr Cameron texted Conservative ministers within the Treasury to appeal for access to emergency government-backed loans amidst the height of the pandemic.

But the requests were eventually rejected by Treasury officials.

Mr Cameron was investigated by a watchdog over whether he broke rules by not registering as a lobbyist for his work at Greensill - but he was cleared in March.

But critics have continued to question his access to ministers - and Labour has raised questions about the access Mr Greensill had when he worked as a government adviser.

However, the friend of Mr Cameron said he and Mr Greensill met twice at most when Mr Cameron was PM.

'No rules broken'

In the latest development in the row, a friend of Mr Cameron's said he now believed it may have been better to formally approach the chancellor through a letter, rather than sending text messages to his personal phone.

The friend said Mr Cameron approached Mr Sunak at a time of national crisis - when the Treasury was actively seeking ideas.

And they said that no rules had been broken by the former prime minister.

Mr Greensill, the Australian founder of Greensill Capital, has yet to comment on the row.