Good morning everyone. I will be running the blog today so feel free to drop me a message on Twitter with any story tips.
Eric Pickles, head of the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments, is giving evidence to the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee at 9.30 am.
Pickles, a Conservative peer, was said to be furious with Cabinet Office permanent secretary Alex Chisholm this week over the decision to allow civil servants to take second jobs with external companies while still working in Whitehall.
Cabinet Office sources were said to be “deeply concerned” at the disclosure that official approval was granted for Bill Crothers to begin advising Greensill in September 2015 while still employed in the civil service.
In a stinging letter to Chisholm, Pickles wrote: “The lack of transparency around this part-time employment with Greensill may have left the misleading impression that Mr Crothers had wilfully ignored the obligation to seek advice.”
In reference to the Crothers situation, the former Home Office permanent secretary Sir David Normington told the Today programme:
We’re not just talking here about any old civil servant. We’re talking about someone who was responsible for commercial dealings in government and had oversight of relations with a large number of major contractors and the handling of lots of public money. Therefore, it’s essential that people like that, when they leave the civil service, are subject to scrutiny and are subject to rules which mean that they can’t take up appointments immediately.
“It’s essential that the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments is allowed to scrutinise those appointments and give its advice,” he added.
Crothers has said he had been taken on by Greensill in a “transparent” way and has denied any wrongdoing.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson declined to rule out the possibility that more officials could have been connected to the collapsed finance firm set up by the Australian financier Lex Greensill.
Tory MPs voted en masse to block a broader inquiry into the Greensill scandal, as Labour claimed there was now evidence of sleaze at the heart of government.
During a heated PMQs, the Labour leader, Keir Starmer challenged the prime minister to back the opposition motion on Wednesday afternoon, which calls for a cross-party select committee of MPs to investigate the lobbying allegations.
Johnson, however, has insisted that Nigel Boardman, the lawyer he appointed this week to carry out a review of the affair, will lead a “proper” inquiry, adding that the Tories had been “consistently tough on lobbying”.
We will bring you all the latest Greensill developments throughout the day.
Here is the agenda for today:
09:30am: Acoba chair Lord Pickles before the Pacac
10:30am: Universities minister Michelle Donelan will reply for the government to an urgent question on return date for university students
11:00am: Nicola Sturgeon to launch SNP election manifesto
11:30am: SNP leader will hold a virtual press conference
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