Former UK chancellor Philip Hammond is being investigated by the UK lobbying regulator over allegations that he broke the Ministerial Code by advocating the use of software made by OakNorth, the business banking startup to which he is a paid advsor.
In an email sent during the first few months of the Covid crisis, the Sunday Telegraph said Hammond contacted Charles Roxburgh - the Treasury’s second most senior civil servant - to tell him of a “toolkit” OakNorth had developed to assess possible borrowers.
An attachment to the message contained OakNorth’s pitch, and Hammond asked Roxburgh to “pass it on to anyone else who might be appropriate”, the newspaper said.
Hammond took on a paid advisory role at OakNorth after stepping down from frontline politics.
The contact is under investigation after the opposition Labour Party claimed that the pitch violated an imposition on Hammond that for two years after leaving the Commons he should not make use of his “government and/or ministerial contacts to influence policy or secure business on behalf of OakNorth”.
OakNorth says the bank was offering help for free to the UK government. In a statement, the firm says: “There was absolutely no reference of payment in the presentation that was sent and it was made explicit in the discussions we had with the Treasury that this would be pro bono.”
The allegations against Hammond come amid tales of cronyism in the ruling Conservative party and follows the scandalous behaviour of former Prime Minister David Cameron who earned millions of pounds in fees while persistently lobbying former colleagues on behalf of disgraced supply chain finance outfit Greensill