Greensill scandal: Second Cabinet Office adviser hired by company while in civil service

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Harry Yorke
·4 min read
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Lord Heywood with David Cameron in 2012. Sir Jeremy has been accused of bringing the Australian financier Lex Greensill into the Government fold - Andrew Parsons/ I-Images
Lord Heywood with David Cameron in 2012. Sir Jeremy has been accused of bringing the Australian financier Lex Greensill into the Government fold - Andrew Parsons/ I-Images

Downing Street was under mounting pressure on Thursday night over the Greensill scandal after it was reported that a second official in the Cabinet Office had been hired for the firm while working for the civil service.

David Brierwood, a former banker at Morgan Stanley, appears to have joined the firm as a director two months after he joined the department as a crown representative in 2014.

It comes just days after it emerged that Bill Crothers, the former Government’s former chief commercial officer, had also taken on a role advising Greensill two months before he left the civil service in 2015.

Separately, allies of Lord Heywood, the former civil service chief who died in 2018, on Thursday night claimed he had been unfairly impugned for his role in the scandal.

They pushed back against criticism of the former cabinet secretary amid claims he brought the Australian financier Lex Greensill into the Government fold a decade ago.

Questions over Mr Greensill and his eponymous company have mounted following the disclosure that David Cameron lobbied ministers to increase access to Covid loan schemes for the firm, for which he was a paid adviser.

David Cameron-Greensill lobbying scandal explained
David Cameron-Greensill lobbying scandal explained

Subsequent revelations over senior civil servants and public figures who also went on to work for Greensill have cast a spotlight on the role of lobbying and the “revolving door” between Whitehall and the private sector.

It has also prompted inquiries to be launched, with two further Parliamentary committees on Thursday confirming they were starting their own probes, taking the total to six.

Mr Cameron played down his involvement with Greensill as prime minister, while others suggest Lord Heywood was responsible for extending his influence across Whitehall.

Concerns have been raised over Lord Heywood’s alleged desire to push Greensill’s proposal for Government departments to use supply chain finance to speed payments to suppliers.

However, sources who worked with Lord Heywood argued that he had been committed to the integrity of the civil service.

According to the Guardian, Mr Brierwood’s LinkedIn online profile appears to show that he continued as a Greensill director throughout his appointment as a crown representative, which it says lasted between October 2014 and June 2018.

On the same profile, Mr Brierwood describes his role as a crown representative as ensuring that “gets the best possible value from government contracts.”

Approached for comment on Thursday night, the Cabinet Office did not deny the claims that Mr Brierwood’s roles had overlapped, but suggested there was no conflict of interest.

A spokesman said: "Crown Representatives do not participate in the procurement process nor are they able to award any contracts. They are part time senior executives recruited for their working knowledge of a sector to help ensure value for money for the taxpayer.

"All Crown Representatives go through regular propriety checks and cannot work with a supplier where there could be a conflict of interest."

"Mr Brierwood's Crown Representative role was not anything to do with supply chain finance."

The Telegraph was unable to contact Mr Brierwood.

Profiles Greensill scandal
Profiles Greensill scandal

Meanwhile, allies of Lord Heywood on Thursday night defended his role in bringing Greensill into Whitehall, with one telling this newspaper: “Jeremy was constantly on the lookout, rightly so, for innovations that would support the public service.

“But he was also very careful about the ethics of the civil service. He pursued reform while respecting the fundamental basis of civil service ethics.”

A second claimed that Greensill’s influence receded following the departure of Mr Cameron in 2016, despite Lord Heywood remaining in post to advise his successor, Theresa May.

Others questioned whether he was being used as a scapegoat because he was unable to defend his actions or correct inaccuracies.

The row came as two parliamentary committees on Thursday confirmed they would join the growing list of bodies scrutinising the role of Greensill and lobbying in Whitehall.

The public administration and constitutional affairs committee (PACAC) will examine lobbying and conflicts of interests arising from business appointments, while a second probe by the public accounts committee will examine supply chain financing.

William Wragg, the Tory chairman of PACAC, on Wednesday hit out at Mr Cameron over his role in the scandal, describing his actions as “tasteless, slapdash and unbecoming”.

Mr Cameron’s spokesman has said he will “respond positively” to any approaches from MPs or Mr Boardman.