Call for UK ministers to face lobbying ban of up to 5 years after leaving office

LONDON — An overhaul of standards rules that would ban U.K. ministers from lobbying for five years after leaving office has been proposed in the wake of the scandal involving former Prime Minister David Cameron.

The proposal, put forward by Jonathan Evans, a member of the House of Lords who chairs the committee on standards in public life, follows the revelations that Cameron became an adviser to the now-collapsed finance firm Greensill Capital after leaving office and attempted to influence ministers on the firm’s behalf.

The former prime minister lobbied former colleagues, including Chancellor Rishi Sunak, via text message before the firm collapsed in March. Cameron asked ministers and advisers to change the rules to allow Greensill to receive COVID-19 corporate loans.

Evans, a former head of the security service MI5, said Whitehall watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACOBA) should be better resourced.

In a report, Evans also proposed a ban on ministers taking private sector roles related to their brief for two years after leaving office, with the ability to impose a longer ban if appropriate. The rules should be written into the contracts of civil servants and special advisers, and put on a legal footing for ministers, the report says.

It also calls for “informal lobbying” via instant message, virtual meetings, phone calls and emails, similar to that undertaken by Cameron, to be recorded. Existing transparency rules call for the recording of formal meetings between ministers and senior civil servants with business and lobby groups.

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