Giving evidence to a House of Commons committee, the former prime minister insisted that he did not know that the finance firm was in trouble when he lobbied government ministers last year, despite boss Lex Greensill saying he informed him as early as March 2020.
And he said he would be ready to support changes to the law to ensure that in-house lobbyists like himself are forced to register if they make contact with ministers and officials on companies’ behalf.
Beginning up to five hours of grilling by two parliamentary committees, Mr Cameron said it was “a painful day” for him to have to answer questions about his behaviour as a senior adviser to Greensill, when he bombarded ministers including Rishi Sunak and Michael Gove with text messages, emails and calls seeking access to state Covid support schemes in the early days of the pandemic.
Asked how much money he stood to gain if Greensill had succeeded, Mr Cameron said: “I was paid a generous annual amount – far more than what I earned as Prime Minister – and I had shares, not share options but shares, in the business.
“I absolutely had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill, I wanted the business to succeed, I wanted it to grow. I haven’t put a number on those things.”
While accepting it was right for the committee to ask what his role was and whether he “overstepped the mark”, he said: “I had this economic interest – a serious economic interest, that’s important – but I don’t think the amount is particularly germane to answering those questions and as far as I’m concerned it’s a private matter.”
He insisted that reports he stood to gain £60m if the company succeeded were “completely absurd”.