Cameron met with minister 2 months before firm he advises got £870k contracts

The ex-PM advises the UK arm of Illumina Inc, which was awarded two genome sequencing contracts by Public Health England in April and May

David Cameron
David Cameron

David Cameron met with vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi two months before a private health firm he works for secured Government contracts worth £870,000.

The ex-PM advises the UK arm of Illumina Inc, which was awarded two genome sequencing contracts by Public Health England in April and May.

And openDemocracy revealed today that Mr Cameron met with Mr Zahawi to discuss “UK genomics sequencing” on March 1.

Official transparency disclosures reveal Illumina was being represented at the meeting.

Illumina hired MrCameron as an advisor in 2018.

He told the ‘revolving door’ watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) that he would be paid to work two to three days a month for the firm.

And he said he would not play any role in contract negotiations between Illumina and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) or Genomics England – a state owned company he set up in 2013 while he was still PM.

According to the watchdog, he also gave assurances that while his role may involve some very limited contact with UK ministers from time to time”, he “would not lobby ministers or the UK government in any way on behalf of Illumina or its partners.”

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner told openDemocracy: “David Cameron’s behaviour is evidence that the rules that are supposed to regulate lobbying are completely unfit for purpose and need a radical and urgent overhaul.

“There appears to be nobody in government who the former prime minister has not lobbied in an effort to enrich himself and his clients during this pandemic.”

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi



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It comes after the government admitted Mr Zahawi had deleted his “informal communications” with the former PM about Greensill Capital.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy said it did not “hold the information.”

The Times reported Mr Cameron had texted Mr Zahawi and released his messages to the minister to a select committee inquiry into the lobbying scandal.

But only Mr Cameron’s side of the conversation was released to the committee.

After being forced to perform an internal review of the FOI request, the department said: “It should be noted that deleted information, including informal communications not viewed at the time as requiring official record keeping, is not information now held by the department.”

A spokesperson for Illumina told the Independent: “Illumina always follows the correct and necessary process in its negotiations with customers.

“We have worked with Genomics England since 2013, when we won a competitive tender process for the £78m contract for the 100,000 Genomes Project. Our ISO-accredited facilities in Cambridge were chosen by Genomics England as being the most appropriate in the UK in terms of being able to deliver this advanced genomics programme.

“The vast majority of David Cameron’s work with Illumina is outside the UK, representing the best practices of the UK in genomics to other countries.”


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