The Daily Telegraph

Scotland Yard chief was paid Greensill adviser

Lord Hogan-howe is latest high-profile figure linked to failed lender as scrutiny intensifie­s on cronyism

- By Ben Gartside and Tom Rees

‘As David Cameron made clear, he had very little to do with Lex Greensill while in government’

THE former commission­er of the Metropolit­an Police was a paid adviser to the collapsed lender at the centre of a lobbying scandal at the same time as working at the heart of Whitehall, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Lord Hogan-howe, who was Britain’s most senior police officer for six years to 2017, was made a non-executive director of the Cabinet Office in May last year. In the same month, he disclosed his role as a consultant to a subsidiary of Greensill Capital on the register of interests at the House of Lords.

It meant Lord Hogan-howe was part of the board overseeing officials as they invited bids for a four-year, £80million contract to provide the entire public sector with the type of financing in which Greensill specialise­d. After the firm imploded last month, the Cabinet Office said it had “paused” the process.

Lord Hogan-howe said he was “unaware of the contracts mentioned, until

The Telegraph inquired about them”. He said his role advising Greensill usually involved one meeting each month.

“I advised on product and organisati­onal developmen­t but not on opportunit­ies in the Cabinet Office or government. It therefore follows, and I can confirm, that I played no part at all in the procuremen­t process for the contracts.”

Lord Hogan-howe said he had joined the Cabinet Office board after seeing an advertisem­ent on its website. He worked as an adviser to Earnd, a Greensill subsidiary that secured a deal with the NHS to offer 400,000 staff early payment of their wages in exchange for a commission. His relationsh­ip with the firm ceased when Greensill declared insolvency last month.

An Earnd insider told The Telegraph that the venture was used by Greensill last year as a “Trojan horse” to help the firm win more Whitehall contracts.

The disclosure of Lord Hogan-howe’s dual role has piled further pressure on the Government. Ministers are struggling to contain the fallout from Greensill’s failure and lobbying on its behalf by David Cameron, who was also a paid adviser to the company, despite the Government announcing an independen­t investigat­ion by a senior lawyer.

Under fire at Prime Minister’s Questions, Boris Johnson said he did “share the widespread concerns about some of the stuff that we’re reading at the moment” in relation to Greensill.

While it was useful for senior civil servants to engage with the private sector, “it’s not clear that those boundaries have been properly understood”, he said.

The Treasury select committee of MPS said it would also investigat­e the Treasury’s response to lobbying. Mr Cameron made personal appeals to Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor, for Greensill to be granted access to emergency coronaviru­s funds. Mr Sunak said he would “push” civil servants on the issue and Greensill had 10 meetings with officials, but was ultimately excluded from the Bank for England’s scheme.

Rachel Reeves, shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, claimed

Lord Hogan-howe’s work for Greensill may have violated the principles set out by Lord Nolan more than 25 years ago to tackle Whitehall sleaze. She said: “This newest concerning case shows a deep disregard for integrity and the spirit of the seven principles of public life. The Government’s disregard for the Nolan principles runs through the catalogue of cronyism over the last year.”

A Cabinet Office spokesman said: “Lord Hogan-howe transparen­tly declared his interests, which were published online, and he had no role [for the Cabinet Office] in any procuremen­t or policy relating to these interests.”

Concern over Greensill’s links to the Government has also been stoked by an email seen by The Telegraph in which a senior adviser to Mr Cameron encouraged an organisati­on for small businesses to promote the “supply chain finance guru” Lex Greensill, founder of Greensill Capital, to its members.

Tim Luke, then a civil servant who was a senior adviser in the former premier’s policy unit, attempted to introduce the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) to Mr Greensill in March 2013.

Using a Downing Street email address, Mr Luke referred to Mr Greensill as “Lex the supply chain finance guru” and said the FSB members would “benefit from connecting” with him. Mr Cameron is now under close scrutiny after it was revealed he personally lobbied Mr Sunak to allow Greensill to access more taxpayer support last year as the pandemic piled pressure on its business. He also set up a private drink with himself, Mr Greensill and Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary.

The FSB distanced itself from Mr Greensill and his firm. Craig Beaumont, its external affairs chief, said: “The FSB has never met Mr Greensill, despite a request to do so in early 2013. David Cameron gave a keynote speech at the FSB’S policy conference in 2014, as did [then] chancellor George Osborne.

“On the day, the prime minister brought an entourage which included Mr Greensill, who was then namechecke­d in the prime minister’s answer in a Q&A session. Mr Greensill was not registered for the conference and left with the prime minister.” Mr Greensill was an adviser to the government but Mr Cameron has claimed to have only met him twice while in Downing Street.

Asked to comment on Mr Luke’s email, a spokesman for Mr Cameron said: “This is not a matter for us. As David Cameron made clear in his statement on Sunday, he had very little to do with Lex Greensill while in government.”

Mr Luke, who now works in Barclays’ investment banking arm, did not respond to a request for comment.

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