The Bullingdon boys have each other’s backs as Tory corruption scandal deepens

David Cameron

Tory prime minister Boris Johnson – like former Tory prime minster David Cameron – was a member of the elitist Bullingdon Club. Following questions about Cameron lobbying on behalf of loans company Greensill Capital, Johnson has appointed an insider to investigate.

And with more corruption scandals emerging on an almost weekly basis, it’s clear that this scandal is just the tip of the iceberg.

Cameron and the Greensill affair

The inquiry will look into a meeting Cameron organised between Greensill founder Lex Greensill and health secretary Matt Hancock. Also, after Cameron contacted a “senior adviser to Boris Johnson”, it’s claimed the Treasury “reconsidered Greensill’s application for an emergency coronavirus (Covid-19) loan”. In the end the application was rejected.

Cameron’s concerns about Greensill were also personal, in that he held shares in Greensill’s company. After the company collapsed, those shares were rendered worthless. Had events turned out otherwise, Cameron was “in line to profit from a $30m (£21.8m) employee benefit trust registered [offshore] in Jersey”.

Boardman: the consummate insider

Questions have been raised about the suitability of Nigel Boardman being appointed to investigate lobbying activities Cameron undertook on behalf of Greensill. There are a number of reasons to question Boardman’s suitability for the role, in particular his closeness with the Conservative Party and the scandal itself.

For example, Boardman is a senior consultant at the law firm Slaughter and May. Its lawyers worked “as an integrated team with Treasury legal advisers” in setting up the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). This is the very scheme to which Greensill applied for a loan.

Lord Paul Myners points out that Boardman is also a non-executive director of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, the government body that oversees the British Business Bank.

Read on...

And as chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, it could be argued that Boardman has been appointed by Johnson to investigate himself:

Cameron personally appointed Boardman to the British Museum trustees, to which he is now deputy chair:

Nigel Boardman is the son of the late lord Thomas Boardman – a Tory MP, minister, peer, honorary treasurer of the Conservative Party, and Confederation of British Industry council member.

According to one estimate, Nigel Boardman is worth over $1bn.

Conflicted?

Lord Eric Pickles heads the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA). He stated:

I think there should be a review of lobbying and this [the allegation against Cameron] is something that maybe we need to take into consideration

However, Pickles may himself be conflicted in that he’s president of Enterprise Forum (EF). The EF aims “to improve the quality and flow of information between the business community and the Conservative Party”. The chairman and founder of EF is Andrew Cumpsty who is also on ACOBA.

Meanwhile, Tory MPs voted against a Labour proposal for a parliamentary inquiry into lobbying.

Revolving doors

But there’s more.

As previously reported, from September 2015 Bill Crothers was a part-time adviser to Greensill. This was while Crothers was working as the government chief commercial officer until November of that year. But he neglected to seek clearance about his Greensill role from the government’s Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA).

Later, Crothers was appointed director of Greensill Capital and acquired shares potentially worth around £5.8m. Reportedly, in 2019 Crothers attended a meeting over drinks between Lex Greensill, Hancock, and Cameron. It was at this meeting that a payment scheme for NHS staff was brought up. Subsequently, NHS Shared Business Services commenced a pilot scheme for payments with Earnd, a mobile app owned by Greensill.

Furthermore, it has emerged that:

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

More sleaze?

Meanwhile, more questions regarding senior Tories and corruption have surfaced in recent days.

For example, it’s been revealed that health secretary Matt Hancock has at least a 15% share in Topwood, a company owned by his sister Emily Gilruth. NHS Wales “reportedly awarded the firm [Topwood] £300,000 worth of contracts”. According to HSJ, Companies House records show that Topwood shares are divided between Hancock, his sister, and her husband.

A Byline exclusive reported that:

57 contracts – worth some £944 million – have been awarded to 15 companies with directors, or people with controlling interests over these companies, who have donated £12 million to the Conservative Party

Altogether, more than 2,000 contract awards and counting were logged. Byline added that its ‘scorecard’ did not include:

the up to £1.15 billion in two COVID-19 contracts that have been awarded to Global Access Diagnostics. One of the firm’s directors, Ali Siddiqui, appears to have donated £8,000 to the Prime Minister’s brother, Jo Johnson, in 2017

The Good Law Project has expressed concern about the number of “hidden” coronavirus contracts awarded to firms and which are yet to be fully disclosed.

No stranger to controversy

Cameron is no stranger to controversy in regard to his family’s financial dealings. His late father Ian helped set up Blairmore Holdings Inc, which was listed in the leaked Panama Papers.

According to its 2006 prospectus, Blairmore Holdings was set up in order to evade taxes in the UK:

The Directors intend that the affairs of the Fund should be managed and conducted so that it does not become resident in the United Kingdom for United Kingdom taxation purposes.

Two years after Ian Cameron’s death in 2010, the Blairmore Holdings fund was worth £25m. He reportedly left an estate worth £2.7m, including £300k in cash to David Cameron, which was “just under the inheritance tax threshold at that time”.

A question of ethics

It’s not yet proven that the individuals or organisations named above acted illegally, though whether they acted ethically is another matter. Meanwhile, Cameron denies breaking the law.

There will likely be many more scandals. As to the outcome of the investigations into these scandals, they’ll undoubtedly conclude that lessons must be learned and rules tightened, etc.

In other words, business as usual.

Featured image via YouTube

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us