Former UK leader breaks silence on lobbying scandal

LONDON — Former British Prime Minister David Cameron has broken his silence on allegations that he improperly lobbied government officials on behalf of a financial services firm, saying there are “important lessons to be learnt” from the scandal.

The comments, released late Sunday in an 1,800-word written statement, are Cameron’s first since Greensill Capital collapsed more than a month ago, threatening thousands of jobs at a British steelmaker it had financed.

A series of news reports revealed that Cameron had used text messages to lobby government officials, including Treasury chief Rishi Sunak, in an effort to secure government-backed loans for Greensill under a program designed to help companies hurt by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cameron, who was employed as a part-time adviser to Greensill, said his work on behalf of the company didn’t break any rules or codes of conduct on the activities of former ministers.

“However, I have reflected on this at length,” Cameron said. “There are important lessons to be learnt. As a former Prime Minister, I accept that communications with government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation.”

Cameron was prime minister from May 2010 to July 2016, resigning after he led the failed campaign for Britain to remain in the European Union. Lex Greensill, a banker who later founded Greensill Capital, began working as a government adviser in 2011.

Cameron said he started working for Greensill in August 2018, and that he received shares in the company as part of his compensation. He rejected press reports that he expected the shares to be worth $60 million when Greensill went public.

“Their value was nowhere near the amount speculated in the press,” he said.