David Cameron has accepted he had a “big economic investment” in Greensill Capital but denied that motivated his intense lobbying of the Government as coronavirus struck.
The Conservative former prime minister said it was a “painful day” as he gave evidence to MPs on Thursday over his controversial lobbying of senior figures including Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Cameron placed calls and sent dozens of texts and emails to ministers and senior officials as tried to win access to Covid support programmes for the since-collapsed financial firm.
Appearing virtually before the Commons Treasury committee, he insisted there was “absolutely no wrongdoing” in his lobbying attempts, but accepted that former prime ministers must “act differently”.
Cameron confirmed he was a “regular” attendee of Greensill’s board meetings but said there was “certainly no sense of jeopardy” over the firm’s future as the coronavirus pandemic struck.
Committee chairman Mel Stride questioned whether his “opportunity to make a large amount of money was under threat” as he sent a “barrage” of messages last spring when the pandemic broke.
Cameron replied: “I have spent most of my adult life in public service. I believe in it deeply.
“I would never put forward something that I didn’t believe was absolutely in the interests of the public good.
“I did not believe in March or April last year when I was doing this contact there was a risk of Greensill falling over.”
He repeatedly refused to say how much he stood to gain from his involvement with Greensill, saying it is a “private matter”, but he insisted that suggestions he was to make £60m are “completely absurd”.
“I had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill, so I wanted the business to succeed, I wanted it to grow,” Cameron said.
He said he had shares in the firm and was paid a “generous, big salary” which was “far more” than he made as prime minister, when he earned around £150,000 per year.