UK lobbying regulator questions David Cameron for second time this year

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Former British Prime Minister David Cameron is under investigation for the second time this year by the lobbying regulator as to whether he should have registered as a consultant lobbyist.

The Office of the Registrar of Consulting Lobbyists, an organization aimed at improving transparency in the government lobbying industry, confirmed on Friday that it was investigating Cameron “in connection with possible lobbying by unregistered consultants.”

Documents seen by the Financial Times indicate that a formal investigation began around August 2. The registrar’s office declined to give details and told the FT that a summary of its findings would be released once the investigation is complete.

The revelations follow reports earlier this year that the former PM lobbied then-Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi and then-Health Secretary Matt Hancock on behalf of of the American biotech company Illumina – for which he has worked as a paid advisor since 2019.

Open Democracy reported in July that Cameron met Zahawi less than two months before Illumina was awarded £ 870,000 in genome sequencing contracts by Public Health England at the end of April.

The Times newspaper reported in August that in April 2019, Cameron pressured Hancock over a multi-million pound contract with a company owned by the Department of Health and Welfare.

Under the 2014 legislation, individuals and organizations who lobby ministers or permanent secretaries on behalf of clients are required to register with the regulator.

Cameron, who stepped down as Prime Minister in July 2016, has come under scrutiny in recent months after the Financial Times revealed he had lobbied on behalf of financial firm Greensill Capital, today ‘hui collapsed, at the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

This year, the Registrar investigated Cameron over concerns he acted as an unregistered consultant lobbyist in reference to his conduct while employed by Greensill. The organization concluded that the activities of the former prime minister did not fall “within the criteria for registration in the Registry of Consultant Lobbyists.”

A summary of the investigation noted that Cameron said any contact he had with government officials was as an employee of Greensill. “Mr. Cameron has provided full assurance that lobbying is not included in any of the contractual arrangements he has entered into in relation to his other business interests,” the report continued.

In the wake of the Greensill scandal, some 13 separate inquiries were launched to investigate lobbying practices within Whitehall, including the behavior of the former prime minister.

Earlier this month, one of the surveys released 19 recommendations to improve transparency. The Boardman Review, an independent review led by lawyer Nigel Boardman, called on former ministers and senior UK government officials to register as consultant lobbyists and argued that the guidelines for virtual official communication and physical should be clearer.

Cameron did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

DHSC said the 2019 contract followed a 2014 sequencing contract with Illumina. “[It] was awarded in the right way, through the proper process and any suggestion of undue ministerial involvement in the decision-making is totally wrong, ”the department said.

Illumina said, “Illumina always follows the correct and necessary process in its negotiations with its customers. We’ve been working with Genomics England since 2013 when we won a tender for the £ 78million contract for the 100,000 Genomes project.

“For the £ 123million price, Genomics England has again done due diligence and issued a voluntary ex ante transparency notice (VEAT) which sets out its rationale for choosing a supplier and invites competitors to respond. The 2020 agreement provided for the sequencing of samples of Covid as ‘research samples’ under the 2019 agreement. “

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