The Greensill Capital scandal continues to ensnare top members of the establishment.
The financing firm collapsed last month after investors Credit Suisse froze key financing amid panic over the firm’s dodgy debts.
Former Tory prime minister David Cameron had repeatedly lobbied the government on behalf of Greensill. Now Tory peer Lord Prior, who chairs NHS England, faces questions over his links to Greensill.
Prior, a health minister in Cameron’s government, helped Greensill Capital lobby senior health service bosses to promote its plan for an NHS payment scheme.
The scheme would let NHS workers in England be paid daily instead of monthly via an app called Earnd. Prior arranged for Greensill and Bill Crothers, former head of government procurement, to meet Julian Kelly in July 2019.
Kelly is NHS England’s chief financial officer. NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens also attended at Prior’s request.
Former Labour prime minister and warmonger Tony Blair has become embroiled in the scandal too.
Blair met the firm’s founder, Lex Greensill, on three separate occasions last year, first at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January.
Blair is on a committee that has directed a £25 billion relocation of Indonesia’s capital city to Borneo from Jakarta. Greensill Capital held talks last year on financing the relocation.
Also on the committee is billionaire founder of SoftBank Masayoshi Son. SoftBank invested vast sums of cash in Greensill Capital
During a February meeting involving the three, Son gestured to Greensill and said, “He’s the money man!” Blair pointed to Greensill and appeared to say, “He’s really poor!”
Cameron now faces three separate inquiries. Various Tories vented their rage about the scandal in a debate in parliament last week.
Chair of the Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee William Wragg said the lobbying had been “tasteless, slapdash and unbecoming”.
They are furious that the scandal is shining too strong a light on the networks of super-rich bankers and bosses that shape government policy.
Cameron wasn’t isolated in his backing for the Greensill payment plan. Tory health secretary Matt Hancock backed it. And chancellor Rishi Sunak agreed to intervene to help Greensill grab public money from coronavirus loan schemes.
The Times newspaper said the scandal is “about politicians trying to subvert normal processes by using their influence and the old pals’ act”.
“It is not the British way, and it stinks,” it said. But it is the British way—and it stinks.
Cameron lobbied for app
David Cameron used the coronavirus pandemic to make his case for Greensill Capital.
Cameron emailed Matthew Gould, head of the NHSX digital arm of the NHS, on 23 April last year. He said that the Earnd app would contribute “to the priority of doing all we can to help NHS employees at the current time”.
But it would be so “much slicker if it can obtain access to employee data in ESR” the Electronic Staff Record.
“Once this is all over, it would be great to see you again—maybe for lunch?” Cameron went on to write, “Let’s stay in touch!”
Earnd later entered a contract with ESR and signed a deal to roll the app out to “all” NHS organisations. This gave Earnd access to the records of as many as 400,000 people. But just 450 people signed up.
The Earnd app has now gone into administration owing at least £400,000 to NHS-affiliated groups.