UK government reject full inquiry into lobbying scandal

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LONDON

The UK government on Wednesday has rejected calls by the Labour party to launch an independent, all-parliamentary investigation into the lobbying scandal that involved the government and a financial services company.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has, instead, launched a review led by a government lawyer to investigate Greensill Capital’s links to former premiere David Cameron and a senior civil servant currently serving in Johnson’s cabinet.

“The Greensill scandal is just the tip of the iceberg in Conservative cronyism, which has been endemic during the pandemic and long before – laced through billions of pounds of contracts paid for by taxpayers and a slew of troubling senior appointments,” Rachel Reeves, a senior Labour shadow minister said, speaking to the BBC News.

She said: ”It is truly extraordinary that a serving civil servant could at the same time be paid to work for a private sector firm that has a clear interest in government business. So if this was allowed under government rules the current rules need to be change and if there was a breaking of the rules then we need to get to the bottom of this.”

The Labour party has offered an alternative investigation, calling for the creation of a new parliamentary committee to investigate lobbying by private companies and individuals and to interview witnesses, including former PM cameron, to give answers and evidence.

Labour party will try to create a cross-party committee by forcing a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday, a vote the government will be against and as such the likelihood of the motion passing through the house will be unlikely as Tory MPs will be whipped by the government to vote against it.

“Does this prime minister accept there is a revolving door – indeed an open door – between his Conservative government and paid lobbyists.” Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said during the weekly Prime Minister’s Question Time, adding that “sleaze is at the heart of this Conservative government.”

In 2018, former prime minister David Cameron contacted the government on behalf of Greensill Capital, a now-defunct financial services company of which Cameron was working for. Cameron was trying to secure access to a government loan scheme through which the company would be able to issue loans using public tax-payers money. Through this scheme, Cameron reportedly stood to make millions.

Cameron was cleared of any wrongdoing by the official watchdog in March 2021, who argued that the ex PM was an employee of Greensill and not a third party lobbyist. Critics argue that Cameron was let go on a technicality and stronger rules and regulations should be put in place to prevent any such scandals in the future.

On Tuesday, it was further revealed that a top civil servant in the government had joined the company on a part time basis while still working for the government.

Bill Crothers was the chief commercial officer for the government two months before leaving to work full time at Greensill where he became director of finance, gaining a shareholder of the company that was worth $8 million prior to the group’s collapse last month.

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