The widow of Jeremy Heywood, the former head of the British civil service, claimed that an official examination of the birth of Lex Greensill
working at Whitehall as an unpaid adviser in 2012 will ‘unfairly’ blame her late husband for bringing the Australian financier to the heart of
Suzanne Heywood told the Financial Times that although she was unable to reveal the precise wording of the report, “it will be something like” Jeremy Heywood urged Lex Greensill to be brought into government, ignored the fact that there was a lack of candidacy for supply chain finance in government, promoted it everywhere and it was all very questionable ”.
Ms Heywood said she was made aware of the report’s allegations following a three-hour meeting on Monday with Nigel Boardman, the investigating lawyer.
Greensill has been in the limelight since the March collapse of his financial firm Greensill Capital, which employed former Prime Minister David Cameron as an advisor from 2018.
The company had – in Cameron’s words – a “symbiotic relationship” with GFG Alliance, a metal group currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office. Nine separate investigations are currently underway into various aspects of the Greensill scandal.
One avenue of research is why Greensill was given an unpaid advisory role in Whitehall by the Cameron government in 2012, where he pushed supply chain finance, a form of factoring, where a buyer – often a large company – agrees to be paid by an intermediary, so that they receive payments more quickly but with a small discount.
The government then launched a supply chain finance program for pharmacies, which Greensill Capital contracted in July 2018. At this point, Heywood was on sick leave for terminal cancer.
Greensill had worked with Heywood at Morgan Stanley, the US investment bank. In 2012, he secured an unpaid adviser position in the Cabinet Office, where he had his own office, a security pass and four officials.
Ms Heywood said her husband, who died in 2018, would not deny that he wanted Greensill to enter government. “He argued this, what I think is unfair is that. . . I think he will be blamed for everything in his absence.
Ms Heywood said Boardman refused to represent her late husband during the investigation. The Cabinet Office declined to comment on this claim.
“There hasn’t been someone representing Jeremy Heywood, having access to his papers, putting his side of the story. . . This has been systematically denied, ”she said.
In contrast, others named in the report were able to give their side of events, she said.
She also raised concerns about Boardman’s potential conflicts of interest. He has been a Conservative Party member and potential advisor, and is a member of the business department board and employed by Slaughter and May, a law firm with government contracts. But an official said he stepped down from ministerial and Slaughter and May duties for the duration of the investigation.
Boardman emailed him on June 25 suggesting he had already come to his conclusions, she said. Although Boardman met her on Monday, she believes he had already come to his general conclusions, making it a “check mark exercise.”
When asked if he would be leaving the magazine, “he sat there, smiled and didn’t say anything,” she said.
Francis Maude, who was cabinet minister when Greensill was given his unpaid advisory role, told a parliamentary committee in June that he agreed to the original arrangement because he did not want to “argue” with it. Heywood.
The Cabinet Office said, “Boardman’s 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.”