Jeremy Heywood, Britain’s most influential senior civil servant for 20 years earlier than his demise in 2018, has been positioned firmly within the body throughout hearings into the Greensill lobbying scandal, because the guiding hand who opened doorways in Whitehall for the collapsed finance firm’s chief government.
MPs heard on Tuesday that Heywood’s “influential” regard for Lex Greensill and the businessman’s provide chain finance proposals had helped the rich financier keep away from extra sturdy scrutiny as he moved by way of authorities.
The allegations had been made by Invoice Crothers, the previous authorities buying chief who went on to develop into a Greensill board member, as he gave proof to a parliamentary inquiry into the corporate’s lobbying efforts.
Crothers was drawn into the scandal earlier this 12 months, when it emerged that he had been a paid adviser for Greensill for 3 months whereas nonetheless gathering his wage as the federal government’s chief industrial officer. The revelation about “double hatting” – holding roles in authorities and the personal sector concurrently – have led to inquiries by the cupboard secretary, Simon Case, and parliament’s public administration and constitutional affairs committee.
In his first public feedback on the scandal, Crothers gave proof to the committee on Tuesday, claiming Heywood had helped approve his transfer to Greensill.
Following his appointment as Tony Blair’s personal secretary in 1999, Heywood rose to develop into Britain’s strongest mandarin, with key roles within the Cupboard Workplace and as head of the civil service. Heywood’s memorial service was attended by 4 prime ministers.
The civil service chief met Greensill’s founder, Lex Greensill, within the mid 2000s whereas on a break from authorities. He had taken a senior publish on the US financial institution Morgan Stanley, the place the Australian entrepreneur was working on the time. After 4 years within the Metropolis, Heywood returned to Downing Road decided to deliver experience from the personal sector into authorities. It was whereas serving below David Cameron that he started to introduce Greensill to key figures in Whitehall.
Greensill, which recruited Cameron as an adviser in 2018, went into administration in March after a posh association with insurers and buyers at Credit score Suisse fell aside as a result of considerations over its administration and publicity to dangerous shoppers. It later emerged that the agency, which provided advances on firm invoices, had deployed Cameron to foyer Whitehall officers and acquire entry to the federal government’s emergency Covid mortgage scheme final 12 months. The revelations have sparked a wide-ranging lobbying scandal that has led to at the least 11 parliamentary and regulatory investigations.
Crothers advised MPs that Heywood launched him to Greensill, and “strongly really useful” that the financier be appointed as one of many Cupboard’s new crown representatives – the company specialists meant to assist the federal government liaise with the personal sector and determine methods to economize.
These endorsements in 2014 meant the appointment was not subjected to the same old checks and recruitment course of, Crothers claimed. On the time of his elevation to the function of crown consultant, Greensill was already working as an adviser in 10 Downing Road, a job to which he was additionally recruited by Heywood.
“He was already an adviser at No 10, and he had a powerful endorsement by Jeremy Heywood, who was clearly held in excessive regard … And so there’s no purpose to say no,” Crothers stated.
Crothers, who based the Crown Industrial Service, and helped handle £40bn value of purchases for ministries and authorities businesses, stated Heywood, together with John Manzoni, who was cupboard secretary till April 2020, crafted a plan to assist him “transition” out of the civil service again into the personal sector.
In September 2015, three months earlier than leaving authorities, Crothers took on a job as an adviser at Greensill, the place he went on develop into a board member and amass a shareholding value £8m.
Crothers says he was “clear” and adopted the principles in “spirit and in type”.
When he requested for Heywood’s recommendation on the matter, Crothers stated the mandarin was “extraordinarily constructive”.
“When you ask the cupboard secretary about taking a board place, and he tells you that he’s a person of the best integrity. I imply, that may be very influential in fact,” Crothers stated.
The committee additionally heard proof from Francis Maude, a Conservative peer who served as former Cupboard Workplace minister below Cameron. Maude stated it was “stunning” that Greensill was in a position to acquire an advisory function in No 10 within the first place, given “how exhausting it often is to usher in individuals with real experience”.
Maude stated he couldn’t recall authorising Greensill’s appointment, however stated he believes he deferred to Heywood’s judgement and help for Greensill’s provide chain finance imaginative and prescient. “Considering again, I can see how I agreed to [a] short-term three month factor to try it out … I revered Jeremy Haywood rather a lot.”
Ian Watmore, who served as everlasting cupboard secretary from 2011 to 2012, additionally advised MPs on Tuesday that it was Heywood who pushed the federal government to assessment how provide chain finance may very well be utilized in authorities.
Nonetheless, “it turned more and more clear that there wasn’t something in it for us when it comes to serving to us to do what we had been attempting to do, which is save the federal government cash”, Maude stated. For the crew attempting to slash prices following the monetary disaster, “it was a distraction from their predominant job’, he added.