Greensill lobbying row: Rishi Sunak texts released

·2-min read
<p>Rishi Sunak</p> (PA Wire)

Rishi Sunak

(PA Wire)

The Treasury has released two text messages sent by Rishi Sunak amid an ongoing lobbying row.

They relate to former prime minister David Cameron “reaching out informally by telephone” to him, as well as Economic Secretary John Glen and Financial Secretary Jesse Norman, over Covid support for the collapsed finance company Greensill Capital.

Greensill had approached Treasury officials regarding access to the Covid Corporate Finance Facility (CCFF), administered by the Bank of England.

The firm - whose backers included Credit Suisse- was run by Lex Greensill - a former unpaid adviser to the ex-PM during his time in No 10.

The texts show Mr Sunak told Mr Cameron his request for access to government-backed loans was not possible.

The Chancellor defended the decision to listen to the requests given the desire to help businesses survive the Covid-19 pandemic

Mr Sunak also published two text messages he sent to Mr Cameron in April 2020, although messages sent by Mr Cameron have been withheld by the Government.

David CameronPA Archive
David CameronPA Archive

The Treasury, responding to a Freedom of Information request, said: “These communications were made by David Cameron in his capacity as an employee of Greensill, and with an expectation of confidence.”

The first message from Mr Sunak to Mr Cameron, sent on April 3 2020, read: “Hi David, thanks for your message.

“I am stuck back to back on calls but will try you later this evening and if gets too late, first thing tomorrow. Best, Rishi.”

The second message from Mr Sunak sent on April 23 said: “Hi David, apologies for the delay.

“I think the proposals in the end did require a change to the market notice but I have pushed the team to explore an alternative with the Bank that might work.

“No guarantees, but the Bank are currently looking at it and Charles should be in touch. Best, Rishi.”

A source close to Mr Sunak told the BBC 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”.

But Labour’s shadow chancellor, Anneliese Dodds, said the messages “raise very serious questions about whether the chancellor may have broken the ministerial code”, saying they suggested the firm “got accelerated treatment and access to officials” and Mr Sunak “pushed officials to consider Greensill’s requests”.

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.

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