Former prime minister David Cameron has accepted he should have acted differently over his role in the Greensill lobbying controversy.
In his first statement in weeks over the scandal, Mr Cameron insisted he broke “no codes of conduct and no government rules”, but having “reflected on this at length” accepted there were “lessons to be learnt”.
He said he accepted “communications with government need to be done through only the most formal of channels, so there can be no room for misinterpretation”.
Mr Cameron approached a number of government ministers on behalf of Greensill Capital – a financial services firm he started working for in 2018.
He sent multiple text messages to the personal phone of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and approached two junior treasury ministers.
Matt Hancock is also involved in the controversy, after it was reported that Mr Cameron arranged a “private drink” between Mr Greensill and the health secretary.
In his lengthy statement, Mr Cameron said that “ultimately” his efforts to gain access to the government’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) “were not taken up”.
“So, I complied with the rules and my interventions did not lead to a change in the government’s approach to the CCFF,” he added.
“However, I have reflected on this at length. 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.”
He added that “many of the allegations” made in the last few weeks “are not correct”, challenging what he called the “false impression” that Lex Greensill, the head of the firm, was a senior member of his Downing Street team.
The Labour Party has previously claimed that Mr Greensill had given out a business card that said he was a “senior adviser” to Mr Cameron.
“The truth is, I had very little to do with Lex Greensill at this stage – as I recall, I met him twice at most in the entirety of my time as prime minister,” Mr Cameron said.
He also said that the remuneration in shares for Greensill were “nowhere near the amount speculated in the press” after their worth was suggested to be in the dozens of millions.
Mr Cameron argued that he should have been able to use his profile as a former prime minister to lobby the government on Greensill’s behalf, saying: “I thought it was right for me to make representations on behalf of a company involved in financing a large number of UK firms.
“This was at a time of crisis for the UK economy, where everyone was looking for efficient ways to get money to businesses.”