politics

Labour accuse Boris Johnson of tolerating ‘sleaze’ as Tories whipped to oppose Greensill inquiry


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oris Johnson was accused by Labour of tolerating a “sleazy culture” today as he ordered Conservative MPs to vote against a Parliamentary inquiry into the Greensill Capital lobbying row.

The controversy widened today, with fresh allegations that lax rules in Whitehall were allowing potential conflicts of interest involving serving civil servants.

It emerged that watchdogs declared there was “no conflict of interest” when a top civil servant started working for Greensill as part-time adviser while still working in Whitehall.

Bill Crothers was in charge of spending worth hundreds of millions of pounds yet was cleared for a part-time role. Later, he was able to work full-time for the firm without waiting two years, on the grounds that he already worked for the firm.

Lord Pickles, who heads the committee that rules on potential conflicts in new jobs, complained of a “lack of transparency” over the situation.

Lawyer Jolyon Maugham, of the Good Law Project, said a similar situation existed when former Tory chairman Lord Feldman had an unpaid role as adviser to Health Minister Lord Bethell “whilst also running a lobbying firm” with healthcare clients.

Jill Rutter, a senior research fellow at UK in a Changing Europe, told the Today programme that the revelations about Mr Crothers were surprising: 

“Bill Crothers wasn’t just any civil servant, he was the head of a thing called the Crown Commercial Service which oversees all that government buying activity.

“Among other former civil servants that I know, there was an awful lot of eyebrow raising going on last night.”



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