The Hound

New ministerial watchdog Lord Geidt makes Number 10 nervous

Newly appointed Ministerial watchdog Lord Geidt made his debut appearance in front of MPs this week and fired several warning shots across Boris’s bow. As would be expected of the one time senior courtier, Geidt was understated and scrupulously polite but his intent was clear.

“I am determined,” he said, “ to assert that I have the independence to fulfil this role without fear or favour.” If that isn’t enough to put No 10 on alert he went on to say that he was prepared and willing to “speak truth to power.” He had more powers than his predecessors in the role and is perfectly willing to use them, he pointed out. He did not rule out resignation if he thought it was necessary, noting no Prime Minister would want to lose more than one advisor in the role.

Many have underestimated Geidt in previous jobs he has done and most wished they’d listened to his advice. The Prime Minister has, perhaps by accident, appointed a truly independent and fiercely rigorous person to police ministerial behaviour and Boris’s allies must hope he will not be the first to fall foul of his first investigation. The hope had been that Geidt, an establishment figure, would play nicely. 

Following his appearance in front of MPs there is nervousness in Number 10. Rightly.

Cameron admits to cushty Greensill perks as committee inquisitors turn the screws

David Cameron has admitted that he had a “big economic investment” in Greensill Capital and that he had access to Greensill’s private plane, in an uncomfortable appearance before the Treasury Committee. 

Cameron said the main reason for the persistence of his lobbying on behalf of the collapsed firm was that he was passionate about its supply chain finance services, believing they provided a lifeline for small businesses in the midst of the pandemic. 

Labour’s Angela Eagle had a different take on the 56 messages he sent to officials and ministers – saying his behaviour was “more like stalking” than lobbying.

In hindsight, Cameron said, “A single letter or email would have been more appropriate”.

Asked why a text to permanent secretary Sir Tom Scholar was the only one he signed off “Love Dc”, Cameron said: “My children tell me that you don’t need to sign off for text messages at all and it’s very old fashioned. But anyway that’s what I do.”

Intriguingly, he said a “roadmap” to help ex-PMs navigate life post No 10 could be helpful – especially for a younger one like himself, who doesn’t just want to sit on the board of a bank and make the occasional speech, but, instead, “wants to get stuck in and help a business expand”. Cameron is 54.

He also made a valiant attempt to outline how his reforms had brought greater transparency into lobbying – conveniently forgetting that those reforms would have exposed his own lobbying attempts, not to mention his 30-day silence after first being approached by the FT over his lobbying activities. 

As if one grilling wasn’t enough, Cameron had a quick turnaround before facing the Public Accounts Committee. Watch the full thing here:

Unpaid debt of £535 leaves PM with a county court judgement, reports Private Eye

There is a county court judgment against Boris Johnson in relation to an unpaid debt of £535, reports Private Eye in its latest edition. 

“Most prime ministers might be pretty embarrassed to see “10 Downing Street” on the register of county court judgements (CCJs), but the record shows the debt still “unsatisfied” more than six months on”, the magazine’s correspondent says.

Guardian political correspondent Peter Walker has confirmed the allegations, tweeting a screenshot of the unsettled, or unsatisfied, record. He said: “Boris Johnson has a county court judgement against him for an unpaid debt of £535, from October last year. He still hasn’t paid it.”

The nature of the unpaid debt and creditor are unknown. 

The government guidance on CCJs says: “Records of judgments are kept for 6 years unless you pay the full amount within a month – this can make it hard to get credit.” 

It adds: “If you get a judgment do not ignore it – you could be taken back to court and forced to pay.”

Number 10 said that they are “looking into” the issue.

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