A former Tory Party member was the prime minister’s choice to carry out an independent inquiry into the Greensill lobbying scandal.
Nigel Boardman stood as a Tory candidate in council elections for Islington, London, in 1986, The Guardian has reported.
In April this year, Boris Johnson decided Boardman is the best person to lead an investigation into government contracts and lobbying allegedly involving senior Tories such as David Cameron, Rishi Sunak and Matt Hancock.
Businessman Lex Greensill was allegedly given privileged access to Downing Street whilst Cameron was prime minister – and after leaving the government, Cameron lobbied ministers as an adviser for Greensill Capital to get government-backed loans.
The appointment of Boardman to the investigation was criticised because he is an adviser for law firm Slaughter and May, which was given £7m in government contracts over the past year. He is on the Arbuthnot bank board, which has close links to the Tories and his father was a government minister and Tory party treasurer under Margaret Thatcher.
The prime minister’s spokesperson hailed the independence and trustworthiness of Boardman upon being asked if he was a friend of the Tories.
“He was asked to lead this review independently and he’s been asked to do it thoroughly and promptly. We trust him to do that,” the spokesperson said.
In the 1986 London borough elections, Boardman came ninth out of 10 candidates with 491 votes, losing to both Labour and the SDP-Liberal Alliance. And a former associate said Boardman was an “active member” of the local Tory group.
But, according to The Guardian, sources said Boardman had not been a Tory member for more than two decades.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “This is an independent review. Nigel Boardman is a distinguished legal expert, having undertaken a number of reviews scrutinising the government, and he was asked to lead this review following the appropriate due diligence checks.
“The review is ongoing, and as we have set out, we will publish and present his findings to parliament and the government’s response, in due course.”
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner stressed the investigation should be cancelled.
“This investigation is clearly independent in name only and needs to be scrapped in favour of a properly independent investigation that will get to the bottom of what has been going on at the heart of government,” Rayner said.
“Cosy relationship between politics and finance”
In May, The London Economic heard what Greensill’s access “to the heart of the government” means.
“What was exposed is the cosy, unnatural relationship between politics and finance, which allows a chosen few to have unparalleled access to power to milk the system until it breaks,” shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said.
“They are taking risks happy in the knowledge that if they win, they win big, but if they lose it’s never them, but it’s people in towns like Rotheram and Hartlepool, the liberty steelworkers whose industry has collapsed as a consequence of those dodgy doings, who shoulder the appalling losses.”