Greensill: Nonsense to claim Greensill was desperate, says David Cameron

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David Cameron has rejected Labour's claim that Greensill Capital was "carrying the begging bowl" when he asked ministers and officials for access to government-backed loans.

The ex-PM said it was "nonsense" to say the firm had been "in difficulty" when he lobbied on its behalf.

Greensill had not requested "direct support in any way", he added.

But Labour said the company, which later collapsed, had been "desperate for access to taxpayer money".

Mr Cameron has come in for severe criticism for the work he carried out for Greensill after it took him on as an adviser in 2018.

It has been revealed that he texted Chancellor Rishi Sunak and top Treasury official Sir Tom Scholar early last year over access to government-backed loans for businesses suffering in the pandemic.

On Thursday, the Treasury released 40 pages of messages relating to its contact with Mr Cameron and Greensill. And the Bank of England has said Mr Cameron contacted it multiple times.

In June last year, Greensill was accredited as a lender to "midsized and larger" firms under the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

For Labour, shadow chancellor Annaliese Dodds said: "We need to follow the money. Greensill was carrying the begging bowl from the Bank of England to the Treasury and back.

"It was desperate for access to taxpayer money, and the government granted that access by accrediting it to the CLBILS scheme in June [2020]."

She added that Mr Sunak and the Treasury had done "nothing when they were aware Greensill was deep in the red three months earlier".

Mr Cameron lobbied for the terms of the separate Covid Corporate Financing Facility scheme to be changed so that Greensill could take part, which was rejected.

Mr Cameron's spokesman said the company had not been "asking for a government loan or direct support in any way".

"The Treasury letter rejecting the proposals in June makes clear that Greensill reported that market conditions were improving," he added. "So the idea that Greensill was in difficulty at that stage is nonsense."

Speaking in a visit to Hartlepool, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Cameron had lobbied "anybody who'll reply to him".

He added that it "wasn't just David Cameron" and that it was "increasingly obvious" Prime Minister Boris Johnson had "been involved in this action".

Three MP-led inquiries and a lawyer-led government review are looking at Mr Cameron's work for Greensill, which fell into administration in March this year, with the loss of 440 jobs.

The former Conservative leader, who started working for the company as an adviser two years after leaving Downing Street, has insisted he broke no lobbying rules but accepted he should have contacted ministers using more formal channels.