Civil servant in Greensill row ‘breached rules’ over trustee role

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Vincent Wood
·2 min read
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Lord Pickles, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), giving evidence to the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) via video link (PA)
Lord Pickles, chairman of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba), giving evidence to the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) via video link (PA)

A former Whitehall procurement chief breached official rules after taking on a trustee role at a professional body without seeking advice on the appointment.

Bill Crothers had already been under fire after it emerged he had worked for Greensill Capital while still employed by the civil service.

Now the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) has said the former chief commercial officer made a mistake in taking on an unpaid role with the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply in November 2016 a year after leaving his Whitehall position.

Lord Pickles, chairman of ACOBA, which examines the jobs taken up by former ministers and senior officials, said the rules were not followed when Mr Crothers took up the trustee role.

Mr Crothers said he did not believe approval was required for the unpaid role and was “sorry for this honest mistake”.

He resigned as a trustee at the organisation in December 2018.

In a letter to Mr Crothers, Lord Pickles said: “You did not seek the committee’s advice on this work and have written to say you made a mistake in not seeking advice before being appointed to this role in 2016.

“This was because you did not think an application was required for an organisation with not-for-profit charitable status and have apologised to the committee.

“The Government’s business appointment rules apply to paid and unpaid appointments or employment.

“It was therefore a breach of the Government’s rules, and the requirement set out in the civil service management code, to fail to seek advice.”

In a letter to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, Lord Pickles said it was “now a matter for you to decide what appropriate action to take”.

It comes as further links emerge between Whitehall and Greensill, the collapsed lender that David Cameron lobbied for.

David Brierwood combined a role as a crown representative in the Cabinet Office with being a director at Greensill for three and a half years.

The Cabinet Office stressed that Mr Brierwood’s role was nothing to do with supply chain finance, Greensill’s area of business, and all crown representatives go through “regular propriety checks”.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing, but links between ministers, officials and businesses are under intense scrutiny following the collapse of Greensill in March and revelations about Mr Cameron’s lobbying activities for the firm.

Additional reporting by PA

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