MPs have agreed to launch a second “full inquiry” into the Greensill lobbying scandal separate to one already launched by Boris Johnson as the government faces mounting questions over a “revolving door” with business.
The inquiry — to be held by the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee — was formally announced by chairman William Wragg on Thursday, as he prepared to question Lord Eric Pickles on the growing row.
“It is the intention of this committee to commence a full inquiry into the topical matters around Greensill and the terms of reference for that inquiry will be published next week,” he said.
Labour MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who sits on the cross-party committee, said members had agreed “unanimously” to launch a “full inquiry into Greensill and its associated ramifications into civil service, lobbying, standards in public life and Acoba: business appointments of officials.”
On Wednesday, the Treasury Select Committee also announced it would probe the issue with an inquiry and David Cameron, who is facing intense scrutiny in his role lobbying for the now collapsed finance company, has indicated he will appear.
Mr Cameron, who joined Greensill Capital in a paid role as special adviser in 2018, two years after leaving No 10, was found to have sent to text messages and emails to ministers, including the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, in an effort to exert influence within government.
Raising the prospect of the MPs’ inquiry hearing from Mr Cameron among its witnesses, a spokesperson for the former prime minister told the BBC he would “respond positively” to requests to give evidence “when the terms of reference of each inquiry are clear”.
It comes as the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee heard evidence from Lord Pickles, who currently acts as the chair of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointment (Acoba) — the body responsible for scrutinising new jobs in the private sector for former ministers and senior civil servants.
Lord Pickles said the Bill Crothers cases “highlights a number of anomalies” when it came to his watchdog, after it emerged the former head of government procurement began working for Greensill as a part-time adviser on the board in September 2015 — in a move approved by the Cabinet Office — and did not leave his role in government until November the year.
Responding to MPs’ questions, Lord Pickles, a former Conservative Cabinet minister, said he had discovered Mr Crothers had not had to seek his committee’s advice when moving to take up a position with the now collapsed financial company.
“It appears he was not isolated in that position,” he said. “I think it also highlights a number of anomalies within the system that require I think immediate address”.
Lord Pickles said contractors and consultants to the government should have to sign a memorandum of understanding about the restrictions that would be placed on them after completing their public sector work.
Explaining some of the “anomalies in the system” regarding Lex Greensill’s work in Downing Street, the senior Conservative told MPs on PACAC on Thursday: “Contractors, consultants, people who arrive and offer assistance, maybe during the pandemic or maybe as Mr Greensill did, they are not covered at all. I think that needs addressing and I think it needs addressing urgently.”
He said there were steps that “could be taken now” to have in place “well before the summer”.