Ethics advisor must investigate David Cameron’s appointment

20 Nov 2023
Wendy Chamberlain MP

The Liberal Democrats have written to Rishi Sunak’s ethics adviser, calling on him to launch an investigation into David Cameron’s appointment as Foreign Secretary.

It comes as Cameron is set to officially take up his peerage in the House of Lords today.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP has raised five key questions in a letter to the ethics adviser, Laurie Magnus. These include whether David Cameron will be publishing a full list of ministerial interests as soon as he is appointed, and if he will be placing his investments into a blind trust to prevent conflicts of interest. Currently, it is expected that David Cameron won't have to publish his register of interests until January.

Failure to prevent any conflicts of interests would risk breaching the ministerial code, which requires ministers to be transparent about their private financial interests to avoid any real or perceived conflicts of interest.

The letter also asks whether Cameron will come clean over any of his recent lobbying work, including involving foreign governments such as China. In addition, it calls for clarity over whether Cameron will recuse himself from any cabinet discussions on decisions related to his recent and current financial interests, including on the Greensill scandal. This could include extradition requests related to the various international criminal investigations into Greensill including in Switzerland and Germany.

Finally, the letter asks what conversations took place between Sunak and David Cameron prior to his appointment, and if these touched on Cameron’s financial interests and lobbying work.

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said:

“We need urgent clarity over David Cameron’s financial interests, which could lead to serious conflicts of interest whilst he represents the UK on the world stage.

“If he was serious about acting with integrity, Rishi Sunak would address these concerns by asking his ethics adviser to launch a full investigation into Cameron’s appointment.

“David Cameron has serious questions to answer over whether he can act impartially in the best interests of the British people. His judgement and integrity have all been questioned in recent years and for good reason.

“Everybody could hear Rishi Sunak scraping the bottom of the barrel when he made this appointment. He is a desperate Prime Minister appointing an equally desperate politician trying to rehabilitate his image. Frankly, the country deserves better.”

ENDS

Notes to editors:

Dear Sir Laurie,

I am writing to request you launch an investigation into the appointment of David Cameron as Foreign Secretary.

As you will be aware, the Ministerial Code states that “ministers must ensure that no conflict arises, or could reasonably be perceived to arise, between their public duties and their private interests.”

There are serious concerns around David Cameron’s failure to be fully transparent over his financial interests and lobbying work in the past, in particular around the Greensill scandal.

The Cabinet Office in its own report into the scandal found that Cameron “on occasion understated the nature of his relationship with Greensill Capital”. Meanwhile the Treasury Select Committee concluded that he had shown a “significant lack of judgement” while lobbying for Greensill, including by sending text messages to former colleagues about the bank.

Given these previous concerns and the speed of Cameron’s appointment to the Lords, it is right that there should be full transparency and public scrutiny of his financial interests to address any potential conflicts of interest that could arise.

In particular, there are five key questions which urgently need to be addressed:

  1. Will David Cameron be publishing a full list of ministerial interests as soon as he is appointed, including his recent sources of income?
  2. Will he place his existing investments into a blind trust to avoid any potential conflict of interest, and if so will this trust be located overseas in a low-tax jurisdiction?
  3. Will David Cameron publicly disclose details of his recent lobbying work, including a list of clients and in which countries they are based?
  4. Will Mr Cameron recuse himself from any Cabinet discussions and decisions over issues in which he has a current or recent interest? This could include any decisions related to the Greensill scandal including any extradition requests from countries carrying out criminal investigations into it.
  5. What conversations took place between the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and David Cameron prior to this appointment, and did these touch on Cameron’s current and former financial interests and lobbying work?

It is vital these are answered urgently, particularly given it is expected that David Cameron won't have to publish his register of interests until January.

Rishi Sunak promised when he became Prime Minister to lead a government with integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level. As his Independent Adviser on Ministers’ Interests, I hope you agree that full transparency over this appointment is crucial in order to live up to that promise.

Yours sincerely,

Wendy Chamberlain

Liberal Democrat Chief Whip