Second Cabinet Office Advisor Hired By Greensill While In Public Service | Politics


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A second Cabinet Office adviser was hired by Greensill Capital while working for the public service, raising further questions about the revolving doors between the government and the scandal-stricken company.

Former Morgan Stanley banker David Brierwood was brought to the heart of government under David Cameron’s administration in 2014, the same year Greensill founder Lex Greensill apparently took on a similar role. Two months later, Brierwood was recruited to join the board of directors of Greensill Capital as a director.

Brierwood remained a director of Greensill throughout his appointment at Whitehall, which lasted more than three and a half years, according to his LinkedIn profile, which also showed he had resigned from the supply chain finance company. in February of this year.

On Tuesday, it emerged that government trade director Bill Crothers had joined Greensill while remaining a public servant – to a measure sanctioned by the Cabinet Office. The revelation raised alarm within No 10 over the growing scandal.

David Brierwood
David Brierwood.

It happened as Downing Street began to lose control of its grip on the response to the saga. Three select committees have announced polls in the system, which will likely imply that ministers such as Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Health Secretary Matt Hancock will be invited to testify publicly.

Brierwood, who advised on government procurement and its supplier management, was part of a new breed of « representatives of the Crown ”in the Cabinet Office management consultants and business experts to help the government liaise with the private sector and identify ways to save money.

A few months after joining the Cabinet Office in October 2014, he was recruited to join the board of directors of Greensill Capital as a director.

He was one of a series of former officials and paid representatives of the Cabinet Office and the government at large – including former Minister of Education David Cameron, former Home Secretary David Blunkett, the former homeless Czar Dame Louise Casey and Crothers – whom Greensill targeted for employment. There are no suggestions of wrongdoing on the part of Greensill employees.

Nick Davies, program director at the Institute for Government, said the revelation about Brierwood raised further questions about the inadequacy of the rules of impartiality at the heart of government.

“Crown officials play an important role in managing the relationship between government and key vendors,” he said.

“Whether or not individuals break the rules, Greensill clearly believed he would benefit from hiring a network of people in senior positions within the Cabinet Office.

“The insufficiency of the current rules means that we cannot be sure that government decisions have been shaped through private channels by those with a financial stake in the outcome.”

Rachel Reeves, of Labor, said there were more and more questions about Greensill’s reach.

“We said the Tory sleaze is back, but in a lot of ways it seems like it never really went away,” she says.

“Revelations like this continue to expand the web of the Greensill scandal and show us how much the Conservatives have weakened measures designed to contain cronyism and conflict of interest in government.

Crown representatives, who can occupy part-time positions, work within the Cabinet Office and support relationships with large suppliers across government, acting as a single point of contact for the entire government.

Unlike full-time civil servants, they are more likely to have other roles in the private sector. Lex Greensill has been described as a representative of the Crown, although that title has raised eyebrows in Whitehall. “It’s not the kind of job you can combine while running your own large international business,” a source said.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said: “State officials are not involved in the procurement process and are not in a position to award contracts.

“These are part-time senior executives recruited for their working knowledge of an industry to ensure value for money for the taxpayer.

“All Crown officials undergo regular property checks and cannot work with a supplier where there may be a conflict of interest. Mr. Brierwood’s role as Crown representative had nothing to do with supply chain finance. “

The revelation came as the business date watchdog said Crothers broke the rules by not declaring a trustee role he took on within a year of leaving.

Westminster watchdog chief 'didn't anticipate anything like Greensill' - video
Westminster watchdog chief ‘didn’t anticipate anything like Greensill’ – video

On Thursday Lord Pickles, chairman of the Professional Appointments Advisory Board (Acoba), wrote to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove to say that Crothers had broken rules that require ministers and former public servants to declare any paid or unpaid role years in departure.

Crothers worked at Whitehall for eight years, most notably as the government’s commercial director, overseeing £ 40 billion in annual public spending.

It emerged on Tuesday that he had started advising Greensill two months before leaving public service in November 2015, with Cabinet Office approval. He became a member of Greensill’s board in August 2016 and built up an estimated stake of $ 8million (£ 5.8million) in 2019.

Crothers became an unpaid trustee of the industry body, the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply, in November 2016, but did not notify Acoba at the time.

In a letter informing Acoba of the violation, Crothers said: “I am concerned that once appointed I did not think Acoba’s approval was necessary as it was not a charity for the purpose. non-profit and an unpaid trustee role. I’m sorry for this honest mistake.

Crothers separately took issue with misleading Acoba when asked to advise on plans to launch his independent consultancy, Commercial Common Sense, nearly a year after it was incorporated in September 2015. He has stated that all activities carried out during this year were related to invoices already approved. The warden attempted to contact Brierwood.

On Thursday, Downing Street was forced to defend Conservative peer Francis Maude, who is implementing changes at Whitehall for Boris Johnson.

Maude, who runs his own consulting firm – which he set up with Johnson’s deputy chief of staff Simone Finn – recruited Crothers to the Cabinet Office during the Cameron administration and hired him to work for his firm, Francis Maude Associates, after leaving office.

Downing Street has rejected calls for Maude to step down from her Cabinet Office role while an independent investigation into the lobbying scandal, chaired by corporate lawyer Nigel Boardman, is being conducted.

“He’s a person who brings a tremendous amount of relevant experience to this role,” said the spokesperson for Johnson.

Boris Johnson says government must 'get to the bottom' of Greensill scandal - video
Boris Johnson says government must ‘get to the bottom’ of Greensill scandal – vidéo

No 10 had hoped to contain the response to the growing scandal by launching the Boardman inquiry where evidence can be given in private, although Johnson said he would have “carte blanche” to recommend changes.

But growing pressure has meant that three select committees of MPs have announced plans to conduct their own investigation. The Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs officially announced Thursday morning that it would conduct a full inquiry into the lobbying rules.

The Treasury select committee said it would review the relevance of Sunak and Treasury officials’ responses to Cameron’s lobbying efforts and regulatory lessons from the collapse of Greensill Capital last month.

On Thursday, the public accounts committee, chaired by Labor MP Meg Hillier, announced that it would launch an inquiry into supply chain finance and Covid business finance facilities – the fund Cameron hoped to gain access to. name of Greensill. The former prime minister will be invited to testify.

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