Johnson’s Choice to Lead Inquiry Greensill is a former Conservative member | Pressure
The lawyer Boris Johnson appointed to conduct an independent investigation into the Greensill lobbying scandal is a former Conservative Party member who ran for council, the Guardian can reveal.
Nigel Boardman, whose appointment raised fears that he was seen as being too close to the Conservatives and the government, attempted to become a party adviser in Islington, London, in 1986.
The disclosure, after weeks of government denials that Boardman is too close to the Conservatives to conduct a conflict of interest investigation, prompted calls for the investigation to be dropped.
Johnson appointed Boardman, 70, in April to conduct an independent investigation into government contracts and lobbying involving a number of senior Tory politicians, including former Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, MP and former Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Peer François Maude.
Supply chain financier Lex Greensill appears to have had privileged access to Downing Street when Cameron was prime minister and Jeremy Heywood was cabinet secretary. After leaving government, Cameron became an advisor to Greensill Capital and lobbied ministers, including Sunak, for access to government guaranteed loans.
Boardman’s appointment has come under fire because he is a paid non-executive director of the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and long-term adviser to the law firm Slaughter and May, which won $ 7 million. sterling of government contracts. over the past year. He sits on the board of directors of Arbuthnot Bank, which has close ties to the Conservative Party. Her father, Lord Boardman, was a former government minister and Conservative Party treasurer under Margaret Thatcher.
When asked in April if Boardman was a friend of the Tories, the Prime Minister’s spokesman praised Boardman’s independence. “He was asked to lead this review independently and he was asked to do so thoroughly and expeditiously. We trust him to do it.
Documents from the May 1986 London election show that Boardman had even closer ties to the party. He served as a Conservative Councilor in the North Junction district of Islington, north London, where he was living at the time.
He came ninth out of 10 candidates after securing 491 votes, losing to Labor, the SDP-Liberal Alliance and his fellow Conservatives. He was an “active member” of the local party, said a former associate.
A number of senior officials have already questioned whether Boardman is the right person to conduct a conflict of interest investigation.
Suzanne Heywood, whose husband Jeremy was cabinet secretary when Greensill walked into Downing Street, questioned her suitability in an interview with The Guardian.
When asked to comment on Boardman’s previous membership in the Conservative Party and whether he had said so before taking over the investigation, sources said he had not been a member of a political party for over 20 years.
A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said: “This is an independent review. Nigel Boardman is a distinguished legal expert, having undertaken a number of government scrutiny reviews, and has been asked to lead this review following appropriate due diligence checks.
“The review is ongoing and, as we have indicated, we will publish and present its findings to parliament and the government’s response, in due course.”
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and fictitious Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Angela Rayner said Boardman’s former Conservative membership was further proof that the investigation had to be dropped.
“After filling the non-executive director positions of political acolytes, it seems the prime minister is now appointing conservative cronies to also carry out investigations,” she said.
“This investigation is clearly independent in name only and must be abandoned in favor of a truly independent investigation that will shed light on what is happening at the heart of government.”