Lord Heywood's widow warns the Greensill inquiry will 'dump the blame' on him

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LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (L-R) Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, NIck Clegg and David Cameron attend a service of thanksgiving to remember the life of Lord Jeremy Heywood at Westminster Abbey on June 20, 2019 in London, England.Lord Jeremy Heywood of Whitehall GCB CVO served as Head of the Civil Service until shortly before his death in 2018. Former Prime Ministers, senior politicians, civil servants joined his family and friends at a service of thanksgiving for his life and work. (Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images) - (Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images)/ (Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: (L-R) Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, NIck Clegg and David Cameron attend a service of thanksgiving to remember the life of Lord Jeremy Heywood at Westminster Abbey on June 20, 2019 in London, England.Lord Jeremy Heywood of Whitehall GCB CVO served as Head of the Civil Service until shortly before his death in 2018. Former Prime Ministers, senior politicians, civil servants joined his family and friends at a service of thanksgiving for his life and work. (Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images) - (Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images)/ (Photo by Henry Nicholls - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

The widow of Lord Heywood has warned that the Government’s inquiry into lobbying will “dump all the blame” on him, as she protested that his perspective has not been represented in the probe.

Lady Heywood, 52, spoke out in an interview with The Telegraph ahead of the conclusion on Wednesday of the Boardman review into Greensill Capital.

She raised concerns that her late husband Jeremy, who was Cabinet secretary at the time the controversial Australian banker Lex Greensill enjoyed access to No 10, has been used as a “convenient scapegoat” by politicians caught up in the resulting lobbying scandal.

Others involved in the debacle are “destroying the reputation of somebody who has dedicated their life to public service across four different administrations” in a bid to avoid culpability for their own actions, she alleged.

In April, the Prime Minister announced an independent inquiry into the row over Greensill Capital and asked Nigel Boardman, a non-executive director of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to chair it.

Businesswoman Lady Heywood said she was “concerned” that Mr Boardman was “very close to Government” and said the inquiry should have been chaired by a senior judicial figure free from the perception of any conflict of interest.

Mr Boardman has stepped aside from his work at BEIS while he has been running the review. He is understood to have written to Lady Heywood saying he will not read any submission she makes.

She said it was “extremely, extremely unfair” and “against natural justice” that Lord Heywood was being refused a voice in the probe. She has asked that she or another individual be allowed to argue his case in the review, but said the request has been rejected.

There is precedent for such moves, she added, pointing to the recent Dyson Inquiry into Panorama's interview with Princess Diana, which allowed the widow of the BBC programme's editor Steve Hewlett to offer a detailed and robust response to accusations against him.

Lady Heywood's fears have been stoked by testimony made by politicians and mandarins to MPs at the public administration and constitutional affairs committee (PACAC), which is also investigating the Greensill scandal.

Earlier this month Lord Maude of Horsham and three senior officials appeared before the committee and “all to a greater or lesser extent, particularly a couple of them, basically blamed their actions on Jeremy”, she alleged.

Tory peer Lord Maude, the former cabinet office minister, told MPs at the session that “it was perfectly clear that Jeremy had brought Lex Greensill into Government” and that “Jeremy was the principal advocate” of the use of supply chain finance for major Government suppliers.

Lady Heywood said: “People are basically creating a Jeremy-shaped space, if you like, through this review process, into which they're going to dump all the blame, because as a dead man he is the only man who cannot defend himself and he's been denied any sort of representation.”

She added: “I cannot do anything with the inquiry because they will allow me no access whatsoever… It goes completely against natural justice which is that individuals, live or dead, should have a fair opportunity to correct or contradict anything that is said against them. That's the problem.”

Downing Street confirmed on Tuesday that the findings of the review will be made public, but it is unclear whether the inquiry will be published in full.

Lady Heywood has written to MPs investigating the Greensill scandal, insisting her late husband acted with “complete integrity” and claiming that Mr Cameron's office agreed that Mr Greensill could have a No 10 business card. Mr Cameron went on to work for Mr Greensill’s controversial lender after he left office.

Her concerns echoed those of William Wragg, Tory chairman of PACAC, who has issued a warning about attempts to “scapegoat” the late Cabinet secretary when he cannot “contextualise or challenge” claims made about him.

She told The Telegraph: “I'm not a politician, I'm not in this world at all. Sadly, I am a widow and I just see something happening here, which feels very very wrong to me... I just have to speak out, because otherwise there is nobody to speak out for him, unfortunately.

“I just wish he was here to kind of do this himself, but he's not, so I'm afraid I'm the only person who can do it for him.”

The Telegraph attempted to reach Mr Boardman for comment.

A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said: "As you know, the Boardman review is ongoing and we are not going to speculate over the findings before it is published."

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