David Cameron and Rishi Sunak have been sent a series of demands by a parliamentary inquiry into the former prime minister’s lobbying activities for Greensill Capital.
The Commons Treasury Committee wrote to the pair on Tuesday, setting a May 6 deadline to answer the questions ahead of a possible appearance before MPs over the controversy.
It is one of the inquiries launched after it emerged Mr Cameron sent text messages to the Chancellor as he sought to gain access to Government-backed coronavirus loans for his employer Greensill.
The cross-party panel of MPs also want to question Lex Greensill, the boss of the firm which collapsed into administration in March.
The Bank of England, Financial Conduct Authority and UK Government Investments also faced questions in the probe into the failure of Greensill and its attempts to lobby the Government.
(4/4) We'll seek to take oral evidence from @David_Cameron, @RishiSunak, @bankofengland, @TheFCA, Lex Greensill, and others in due course.— Treasury Committee (@CommonsTreasury) April 19, 2021
We'll hold a scene-setting oral evidence session with relevant experts on 28 April.
Further details will be announced in due course.
In his letter to Mr Sunak, Treasury Committee chairman Mel Stride called for a full timeline of contacts that Treasury officials and ministers had with Mr Cameron and other Greensill representatives.
The senior Tory MP also asked Mr Cameron for the full texts that he sent the Chancellor, which the Treasury has not published.
A series of investigations have been launched into the role Mr Cameron played in securing Whitehall access for Mr Greensill, whose firm’s collapse risks thousands of jobs, particularly in the steel sector.
The Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee gave details of its investigation into the lobbying row, which will look at whether existing rules and penalties are tough enough.
The terms of reference published by the committee note the collapse of Greensill Capital and revelations about its relationship with ministers and Whitehall “have raised significant concerns about the propriety of governance in this country” which “risks undermining public trust”.
Committee chairman William Wragg MP said: “We will look into whether the rules need tightening up and clarifying and we will make any necessary recommendations without fear or favour.”
The MPs will examine whether codes of conduct for ministers, special advisers and officials are effective, how conflicts of interest are managed and whether the business appointment rules are broad enough.
The committee will also examine how lobbying should be regulated and consider the issues around the use of consultants and contractors in government.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson sought to play down the extent of links between Whitehall and the private sector, insisting there are not “loads of people” working as civil servants while also employed by a business.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said there were no civil servants moonlighting in the private sector while working in his department after Cabinet Secretary Simon Case ordered Whitehall chiefs to declare any instances of senior officials performing dual roles.
“There were some people that had worked on charitable bodies but, other than that, nothing else,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
The Prime Minister has asked lawyer Nigel Boardman to investigate after it emerged that former government procurement chief Bill Crothers worked as an adviser for Greensill Capital while in his Whitehall job.
Greensill, which collapsed in March, also employed Mr Cameron, who lobbied ministers on behalf of the firm.
Mr Johnson, who said he has had no recent contact with Mr Cameron, said Mr Boardman will look at “the whole thing”.
The Prime Minister told reporters on a campaign visit to Gloucestershire: “I just want to stress one thing to people who are sort of vaguely tuning in to this.
“People should not, in my view, form the impression that the upper echelons of the British Civil Service have got loads of people who are double-hatting, as it were, doing two jobs – it just isn’t true.”