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Health Secretary Matt Hancock dragged into Cameron-Greensill lobbying controversy

DAVID CAMERON took scandal-hit financier Lex Greensill for a “private drink” with Health Secretary Matt Hancock to discuss a payment scheme which was later rolled out in the NHS, reports claim. 

The Sunday Times reported that the Treasury reconsidered Mr Greensill’s application for an emergency coronavirus loan after the former prime minister messaged a senior adviser to Boris Johnson.

Mr Cameron was said to have described the decision to exclude his employer’s firm, Greensill Capital, from the multibillion-pound scheme as “nuts” and pressed for the Chancellor to reconsider. 

The developments are the latest in a weeks-long controversy, with questions mounting over Mr Cameron’s efforts to secure access for the finance company, which later collapsed putting thousands of British steelmaking jobs at risk.

Mr Greensill was also understood to have written to Mr Hancock’s office about the payment scheme in August 2019, before a drink took place between Mr Cameron, the Health Secretary and the Australian financier in October 2019.

Mr Greensill’s firm wanted to introduce a flexible scheme to pay doctors and nurses either daily or weekly.

A Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) subsidiary subsequently announced in October 2020 that mobile app Earnd, then a division of Greensill, would be available free-of-charge to NHS employees to access their pay.

An ally of Mr Hancock said the business was “entirely appropriate” while Mr Cameron is yet to comment publicly.

Labour shadow chief secretary to the Treasury Bridget Phillipson MP said: “Through David Cameron, Greensill looks to have had the run of government from No 10 down, including access to millions of pounds of public money.

“We need a full and thorough investigation into what happened.”

A No 10 spokesman said: “Throughout the pandemic, an immense number of businesses contacted Downing Street with representations; these were passed on to relevant departments.”

The latest calls for action come as the Sunday Mail revealed Scottish government minister Fergus Ewing held an unrecorded dinner with Mr Greensill, prompting calls for an investigation into whether he broke the ministerial code. 

The SNP’s rural economy secretary dined with the financier and colleagues in 2017, with an FOI revealing no officials were present, no notes were taken, and no record of communications about the meeting could be found.

Financial deals struck by Holyrood have since exposed the SNP-led government to hundreds of millions of pounds of debt after the collapse of Greensill Capital.

The SNP said “opposition attempts to make mischief around this issue are utterly baseless,” but Scottish Labour said the situation requires “serious explaining.”

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