Greensill: How did the David Cameron lobbying scandal unfold?

A lobbying row has engulfed ex-prime minister David Cameron and also dragged in former and current government ministers and officials. So how did it all begin?

February 2010

Then opposition leader David Cameron uses a speech to forecast how political lobbying is “the next big scandal waiting to happen” and says the Conservatives “must be the party that sorts all this out”. The then Tory leader was speaking in the wake of the MPs’ election scandal.


Former investment banker Lex Greensill, the founder of finance firm Greensill Capital, is brought in as a government adviser by Number 10’s top civil servant Jeremy Heywood. The pair were former colleagues at US bank Morgan Stanley.

January 2012

Newly-knighted Sir Jeremy Heywood is made cabinet secretary, the most senior civil service adviser to the prime minister and the cabinet.

October 2012

Mr Cameron announces a new supply chain finance scheme for community pharmacies in England, with Mr Greensill – said to be the mastermind of the plan – sitting alongside him. Citigroup, who previously employed Mr Grensill, becomes the initial financier of the scheme.

January 2014

The Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government – led by Mr Cameron – sees their new lobbying legislation officially pass into UK law. The Transparency of Lobbying, Non-Party Campaigning and Trade Union Administration Act 2014 introduces a register for consultant lobbyists.

March 2014

Mr Greensill is announced as a member of the government’s Crown Representatives network to “make sure that the government is getting the best possible value for taxpayers”. Bill Crothers, the government’s chief procurement officer, says the group brings “top business acumen into Whitehall”.

September 2015

Mr Crothers takes on a role advising the board of Greensill Capital while still employed as a civil servant. This was agreed by the Cabinet Office.

August 2016

Mr Crothers joins Greensill Capital as a director after leaving the civil service. He did not seek the advice of a Whitehall watchdog, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA), as is usual for former ministers and top officials taking on private-sector roles. The Cabinet Office has since said this was because he “was already working in an advisory capacity to Greensill before he left the civil service”.

July 2016

Mr Cameron officially resigns as prime minister less than a month after seeing UK voters choose to quit the EU against his wishes.

July 2018

Greensill takes over the supply chain finance scheme for NHS pharmacies.

August 2018

Mr Cameron joins Greensill as a part-time senior adviser. He has since said he was contracted to work for the company for 25 days per year, with his pay partly in the form of a grant of shares.

October 2019

Mr Cameron has a “private drink” with Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Mr Greensill, at which they are reported to have discussed a payment scheme later rolled out in the NHS. Mr Hancock has confirmed the “social meeting” took place, adding: “Given that departmental business came up, I reported to officials in the normal way.” Mr Greensill is also reported to have met NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens and Dido Harding, then the head of NHS Improvement.

January 2020

Mr Cameron visits Saudi Arabia with Mr Greensill during which the pair meet with the Kingdom’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. The former prime minister has said he “wanted to assist” in Greensill’s plans to open a new regional office in Riyadh. Mr Cameron and Mr Greensill are pictured drinking tea in a tent in the Saudi desert.

April 2020

Mr Cameron exchanges text messages with Chancellor Rishi Sunak about access for Greensill Capital to government-backed loans during the coronavirus crisis. The former prime minister also contacted Tory ministers John Glen, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury, and Jesse Norman, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury. He is also said to have rung veteran Number 10 aide Sheridan Westlake.

June 2020

The government-owned British Business Bank approves Greensill as a lender for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), allowing it to provide finance to mid-sized and larger UK businesses with a group turnover of more than £45m if they are disrupted by the pandemic.

September 2020

New Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has an “informal catch up” with Mr Cameron the day after he takes over as head of the civil service. The Cabinet Office said the pair did not discuss Greensill.

March 2021

Greensill Capital files for insolvency with the company’s demise threatening thousands of jobs in the UK steel industry, as the finance firm was a major financier of Liberty Steel’s owner GFG Alliance. Later the same month, the Registrar of Consultant Lobbyists – which was established under Mr Cameron’s 2014 legislation – finds Mr Cameron was not required to have registered his lobbying for Greensill. This is because Mr Cameron was an in-house employee of Greensill and so his activities “do not fall within the criteria that require registration”.

April 2021

Prime Minister Boris Johnson asks top lawyer Nigel Boardman to “look into the decisions taken around the development and use of supply chain finance (and associated schemes) in government, especially the role of Lex Greensill and Greensill Capital”.

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