UK minister confirms ‘private meeting’ with David Cameron in lobbying row

LONDON — U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock admitted former prime minister David Cameron lobbied him about a procurement proposal — but details of the meeting were not published on government records.

Hancock told the House of Commons he met Cameron and controversial financier Lex Greensill for a “social meeting” in which “departmental business came up” and that he flagged the event to officials.

Cameron was working for Greensill at the time, and invited Hancock to the meeting in 2019 to discuss a proposal for an NHS staff payment app the businessman’s firm had devised, which was later used by the health service, the Sunday Times revealed.

But the meeting never appeared in the public records of ministerial engagements, which exist to boost government transparency and regulate lobbying. 

It comes after Downing Street announced a probe into Cameron’s attempts to lobby ministers on behalf of Greensill, after it emerged he also sent private texts to ministers and aides seeking coronavirus scheme support. 

A No. 10 spokesman told reporters on Tuesday that the review would have “carte blanche” to look into the issue and recommend on whether lobbying rules should be changed. Cameron has agreed to cooperate with the review, which will have no legal powers to obtain evidence. 

The former prime minister, as well as Hancock and others, reject the suggestion of any wrongdoing. 

The opposition Labour Party said the probe “has all the hallmarks of a Conservative cover-up” and called for a House of Commons committee to look into the affair. 

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