David Cameron's lobbying will undoubtedly overshadow his legacy as prime minister, ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener reports
Former prime minister David Cameron has given evidence to MPs over his lobbying of the government on behalf of the now-collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital.
Mr Cameron agreed to answer questions from MPs in both the Treasury Committee and the Public Account Committee after journalists revealed the controversial extent of his lobbying.
The former PM had been communicating - via phone calls, texts, and meetings - with government ministers on behalf of the financial services company, in a bid to win from government a package of support to help survive the coronavirus pandemic.
Greensill Capital owner Lex Greensill, who had previously been a Downing Street adviser when Mr Cameron was in charge, employed the ex-PM after he resigned.
After years of working with Mr Greensill, the firm collapsed amid the coronavirus pandemic, putting thousands of jobs at risk - but concerns go further, with serious questions being raised about how government contracts are secured.
In an opening statement, the ex-Tory leader told the Treasury Committee the circumstances in which he was being asked to answer questions made it a "painful day" for him, but said he welcomed the inquiry.
Here we take a look at what we learned from the former PM's committee appearance:
Mr Cameron was being paid a 'generous amount' - but how much?
The former MP for Witney told MPs Greensill Capital was paying him "far more" than the around £150,000 salary he was earning as prime minister, but he would not reveal the amount.
He said he had a "serious economic interest" in the company via shares, but claimed the exact amount he was being paid was a "private matter" and fear of losing money was "not what motivated" him to lobby ministers.
He said suggestions that he stood to earn £60 million if his lobbying was able to save the company were "absurd".
Pressed for more detail on what he was earning, the former PM said Greensill paid him a “generous, big salary” but refused to say if it was lower or higher than £1 million per year.
David Cameron regularly signs off text messages with "Love DC"
When Mr Cameron's text messages to ministers and officials were revealed, one of the more bizarre features was the way he signed off texts to Tom Scholar, the Treasury Permanent Secretary.
In a text to the official, he wrote: “Hope you are still alive and well. [REDACTED]. Three questions: Is Sir Jon C still at the bank? Do you have a number? Can I give you lunch once the budget is done? Love Dc.”
Explaining, the former MP told the Treasury Committee: “Anyone I know even at all well, I tend to sign off text messages with ‘love DC’ – I don’t know why, I just do.
“My children tell me that you don’t need to sign off text messages at all and it’s very old fashioned and odd to do so.”
He believes 'rules are never enough' but accepts there are lessons to learn
In his opening statement, Mr Cameron insisted he had not broken any lobbying rules, but added that "rules alone are never enough" and they can "can be open to misinterpretation".
He defended approaching ministers and senior government officials by text as opposed to email in the context of the pandemic, but acknowledged this was a “lesson” from the controversy.
“It was a time of extraordinary crisis and so it was a time when I think it was appropriate to use phone and text over email and letter,” the former prime minister said.
“I think, in future, one of the lessons I take away is prime ministers should only ever use letter or email and should restrict themselves far more.”
Mr Cameron is 'extremely sorry' Greensill Capital failed and it was 'depressing'
The 54 year old claimed he was unaware of Greensill's financial woes until the coronavirus crisis, despite being a "regular attender" at board meetings, but said he was "extremely sorry" the firm eventually failed.
“Obviously, what’s happened is deeply regrettable and being part of a company that goes into administration is depressing, but never mind me, for the people who lost their jobs they had whole futures invested in this company being their future and it’s incredibly depressing to see it go wrong," he said.
He added: “I am extremely sorry and sad that it has come to this end. Clearly, there were faults with the business, there were vulnerabilities that weren’t properly addressed.
“Just because a business goes into administration doesn’t mean that everything was wrong, it doesn’t mean the whole thing was necessarily a giant fraud.”
His texts to ministers were 'more like stalking than lobbying'
At least 56 text messages were sent by Mr Cameron to ministers and officials, including to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, whom the former PM says he doesn't know "that well".
Among the messages, was one to Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove in which said: "I know you are manically busy - and doing a great job, by the way (this is bloody hard and I think the team is coping extremely well. But do you have a moment for a word? I am on this number and v free. All good wishes Dc."
In another text to Downing Street's Sheridan Westlake he wrote: “Sheridan. DC here. Could you give me a quick call. There is a looming problem you can help solve…”
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Labour MP Angela Eagle said: “I read your 56 messages and they’re more like stalking than lobbying – looking back are you at least a little bit embarrassed about the way you behaved?"
Mr Cameron replied: “The Government was introducing plans to try and help businesses, we thought we had a good idea.
“I was keen to get it in front of Government, but as I’ve said, there are lessons to learn, and lessons for me to learn, and in future the single formal email or formal letter would be appropriate.”
He added: “I think it’s easy to forget now just what sort of time of economic shock it was.”
Private jets and proper taxes
He insisted that “every proper tax is paid” when asked if he was keeping any of his earnings offshore.
“Everything I have done I have paid full UK tax on, whether that is capital gains tax or income tax,” he told the Commons Treasury Committee.
“I don’t have any money offshore, I have an office of David Cameron which I fund through some of the work that I do, and I earn some money in a personal capacity.
“But every proper tax is paid – income and capital gains.”
Asked how many times he used Greensill’s private jets to fly to or from Newquay, he said: “I haven’t got a complete record of the use of the planes.
“It was used quite a lot by Lex Greensill and senior managers, and sometimes myself on business visits.
“I did use it a handful of times on other visits, and of course all proper taxes and all those things would be dealt with in the proper way.”