Health Secretary Matt Hancock met former PM David Cameron and financier Lex Greensill for a “private drink” in 2019 to discuss a new payment scheme for the NHS, it has been revealed.
It is the latest in a series of Sunday Times disclosures about Mr Cameron’s lobbying work since leaving office.
Mr Greensill advised Mr Cameron’s government, and the ex-PM went on to be employed by Greensill Capital.
An ally of Mr Hancock told the BBC he “acted in entirely the correct way”.
They added that Mr Hancock “updated officials on the business that was discussed, as is appropriate”.
The development is the latest story published by the Sunday Times around Mr Cameron’s work for Greensill Capital – which recently collapsed costing 440 jobs – after he left politics.
Mr Hancock is the fourth minister to have been lobbied by Mr Cameron on behalf of Greensill Capital.
Mr Greensill worked as an unpaid adviser to Mr Cameron when he was prime minister.
The financier developed a policy designed to help small businesses get their bills paid faster, as part of a scheme that also benefited his own financial company, Greensill Capital.
Mr Cameron went on to work for Greensill Capital after leaving office, and tried unsuccessfully to lobby the government to increase the firm’s access to government-backed loans during the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr Cameron pressed Treasury officials – and sent text messages to Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s personal phone – to access emergency funding for Greensill Capital.
The former Tory leader – who was PM between 2010 and 2016 – is reported to have told friends he was set to earn as much as £60m from shareholdings in Greensill Capital, although this has since been disputed.
In the end, Mr Cameron’s pleas to the Treasury for Covid emergency loans for Greensill Capital fell on deaf ears.
The “private drink” between Mr Hancock, Mr Cameron and Mr Greensill took place in October 2019.
In August 2019, Mr Greensill wrote to Mr Hancock to set out a proposal to allow the NHS access to an app Greensill Capital had devised, called Earnd, to pay doctors and nurses either daily or weekly in advance and free-of-charge to workers.
Having received the letter, the health secretary commissioned advice from civil servants to explore the idea.
The advice was that the “principle” of the idea was “good,” but sources insisted he wanted other suppliers to be able to offer the same work and it would be up to local NHS managers to decide whether to sign up to it.
Some NHS trusts went on to use Greensill Capital’s Earnd app during the pandemic.
A source close to Mr Greensill said the scheme was offered free to both the NHS and its employees, while a source close to Mr Cameron said: “David Cameron was an enthusiastic champion of Greensill’s pay product, Earnd, and met with various people to discuss its rollout across the NHS.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “The wellbeing of NHS staff is the top priority of the department and health secretary.
“Our approach was and is that local NHS employers are best placed to decide how different pay flexibilities fit with their overall pay and reward offer for their staff.”
Labour’s Bridget Phillipson said “every day brings fresh revelations about the culture of cronyism” in government and called for a “full and thorough investigation into what happened”.
There has been no comment from Mr Cameron or from Mr Greensill.