David Cameron intervened to prevent funding being cut to his legacy project despite reviews showing the youth organisation was failing to meet targets, a senior Whitehall source said.
The National Citizen Service (NCS), set up by Mr Cameron in 2011 to run summer programmes for teenagers, has received £1.3bn in funding over the past decade – despite failing to meet any government targets, it emerged last month.
The former Tory prime minister has been in the spotlight over Greensill Capital, which he worked for as an adviser, and his bid for the finance firm to be included in a Covid loans scheme.
Boris Johnson has been warned he risks losing his election gains against Labour if he does not clean up the “shameful” Westminster lobbying controversy.
Sir Bernard Jenkin, chair of the Commons Liaison Committee, urged the prime minister to get a grip on the lobbying system, arguing failure to be “more transparent” than previous administrations could risk the so-called “red wall” seats.
Cameron ‘meticulously observed the rules’ – minister
George Eustice said “no” when asked if David Cameron did anything wrong amid the growing lobbying scandal.
Asked about former prime minister’s conduct, Mr Eustice told Sky’s Sophie Ridge On Sunday: “Well look, he himself has said that with hindsight it probably would have been better if, rather than texting ministers, if he had instead written letters to set out his views more formally.
“But I think the real point is. ‘has he done anything wrong?’ Well, on the face of it, no. There’s a review that is going on, we mustn’t prejudge that.”
Pushed on whether Mr Cameron exploited the rules, Mr Eustice added: “I don’t think he took advantage of any rules, no. He meticulously observed the rules there that he himself actually put in place after some concerns around lobbying a decade ago.
“He put in place these restrictions on what ministers can do for a period of two years.
“But look, he himself has conceded that with hindsight, if he had his time again, he wouldn’t have texted Rishi Sunak and wouldn’t have texted others – he would instead have written through formal channels.”
Hancock ‘did the right thing’ in declaring family company – minister
George Eustice said Matt Hancock had followed the rules when it came to declaring an interest in a family company that has contracts with the NHS.
The health secretary declared in the MPs’ register of interests in March this year that he owns more than 15 per cent of shares in Topwood Limited, a firm which specialises in secure storage, shredding and scanning of documents.
Mr Eustice told the Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “The reason we know about this is because Matt Hancock did what all ministers do in this case, which is to declare that interest.
“And so he did the right thing, he declared that – he had no role whatsoever around that business, so yes there is nothing wrong with ministers having financial interests, providing they declare them in the appropriate way.”
Asked whether lobbying rules were “broken” if they allowed ministers to hold financial interests in companies making money from their government department’s contracts, the Cabinet minister replied: “I’m not sure I would agree with that.
“Ministers can move around a lot – famously we tend not to spend too long in one particular role.”
System for declaring interests ‘pretty good’ – Eustice
George Eustice has said the government would be looking at whether changes were required to lobbing rules after a series of probes had finished, but added that the current system for declaring interests was “pretty good”.
The environment secretary told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I think the right thing is for these reviews to go through their process, to conclude, to work out exactly what did and what did not happen and then yes, of course there may come a time after that when it is right to consider tweaks to policy.
“But fundamentally, I think the systems we have in place with ministers declaring interests with the ministerial code and the focus on that and how ministers conduct themselves in office is actually a pretty good one.
“But that is not to say you couldn’t make tweaks or changes, and also there will be a time and a place for that after these reviews have concluded.”
Cameron ‘intervened to stop funding cuts’ for legacy project, claims Whitehall source
Our exclusive overnight reveals how David Cameron personally intervened to prevent funding being cut to his legacy project despite reviews showing the youth organisation was failing to meet targets, even after receiving huge sums – according to a senior Whitehall source.
The National Citizen Service (NCS), set up by Mr Cameron in 2011 to run summer programmes for 16- and 17-year-olds, has received £1.3bn in funding over the past decade – despite failing to meet any government targets, it emerged last month.
A whistleblower, who operated at a high level within Whitehall, says the NCS chief executive Michael Lynas had “surprising levels of access” to No 10 when Mr Cameron was in power, meaning detailed and reasoned departmental plans for reducing funding to NCS would be “constantly undermined” by Mr Lynas going to Downing Street to get Mr Cameron’s support to resist any cuts, it is alleged.
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the ongoing lobbying scandal enveloping Westminster, amid fresh revelations this weekend.