That’s Steve Bell on a previous ‘scandal’ involving David Cameron — the Panama Papers. The ordure didn’t stick then …
To be honest, I really cannot understand the Greensill/David Cameron scandal.
No: that’s not quite true. I understand it in so far as a capitalist waved Big Bucks at a political has-been. And the political has-been leaped through hoops.
What beats me is how the thing was meant to work. Again, I’ve got part of it: Greensill was borrowing money from European banks on the basis of unpaid invoices. The European banks, sniffing a healthy profit, didn’t do sure diligence, and heaved out squoodles of that very fluid money. Except, as the Financial Times and other worthy sources discover, by simply asking the names on the unpaid invoices, those unpaid invoices were duff. Even the FT then felt free to deploy the F-word. Not that one: ‘fraud’.
Now along comes something very different.
What Cameron was pressing on the Secretary of State for Health, and the Chancellor of the Exchequer amounts to pay-day loans. The government would agree to Greensill advancing the pay of NHS employees on a weekly, even daily basis ahead of the usual salary dates. What’s not entirely clear there is — who pays? Do the payees pay through a small discount? Or do the employers pay to provide the employees with this service?
Either way — and this is where I lose the thread — this enables Greensill to claim they have such an arrangement, and go running back to those European banks to offer credit in the form of bonds. Which Greensill can then provide as loans to needy industrialists — in particular a very needy steel manufacturer, who curiously was also the predator named on those unpaid (and duff) invoices.
But, as David Cameron and his acolytes say, all this is legal and above board.
Except — and here comes another one — Cameron was looking for the persons on the NHS pay-roll. Here’s today’s Sunday Times with that bit of this seedy story:
He was writing with a pitch from “one of the businesses I now work with”: Greensill Capital, whose Earnd app was being piloted in several NHS trusts. By offering daily payment, he explained, “it addresses one of your key priorities: helping all NHS employees’ welfare, morale and wellbeing”.
He also reiterated Greensill’s claim that the pandemic had created a moral case for a product, which, until that point, the NHS had not used widely. “This is of such potential importance in contributing to the priority of doing all we can to help NHS employees at the current time,” the former prime minister added.
All he needed was for NHSX to speed up the process, and grant it access to the data of NHS employees. As Cameron put it: “Our ask is about electronic staff records, as Earnd will be much slicker if it can obtain access to employee data … I think some help from you would go a long way.”
That is dangled before Matthew Gould (who was at St Paul’s School with a certain George Osborne), erstwhile Cameron’s ‘director of cybersecurity’, now head of NHSX, the health service’s digital arm. Once upon a time I’d have wasted an hour linking these bods/mates/cronies with a spider-chart.
Read that how I may, it seems to mean that Cameron was asking for Greensill to access any data the NHS had on it 1.3 million employees.
OK: the individual employee had to sign up to this wonderful App. Greensill could see their data (and could ‘sell’ them other services?). Meanwhile Greensill was recruiting other public figures — Lord Hogan-Howe, the former Met commissioner gets a name-check in that Sunday Times piece — to expand the system to other parts of the public service.
Short of having a benevolent Nigerian e-mailing me to offer free money, I have rarely come across anything so rancid. This magic App is now well-and-truly bust:
owing undisclosed sums to at least five NHS or taxpayer-funded entities.
Lex Greensill is — for the time being — free and able to move on to other activities. Somewhere along the way the public purse may be picking up those tabs.
In other news, a desirable farm-house property features in the latest issue of Country Life
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has put his country house in Thame up for rent, a house which comes complete with swimming pool and tennis court.
Strutt & Parker are seeking £4,250 pcm for Grade II-listed The Old Farm House, which is set at the end of a single-track lane in North Weston, a few minutes’ drive from Thame, in Oxfordshire.
It seems that Lloyds Bank hold a mortgage on this property, in the names of the owners, Alexander Boris Johnson and Marina Claire Wheeler (That Mrs #2). This, then, was (2001-2008)the constituency seat of said Boris Johnson while he was MP for Henley.
So provided, cash-wise, on parliamentary expenses.