Crown rep worked for Greensill, it emerges as ex-civil servants sound alarm over 'revolving door'

Kerslake says he is “baffled” by process that saw chief commercial officer cleared to moonlight for financial firm
The Cabinet Office PA

A second Cabinet Office adviser had a part-time job with Greensill Capital at the same time as working in government, it has emerged, as former officials expressed concern about civil servants' external appointments.

David Brierwood, who was a crown representative in the Cabinet Office between 2014 and 2018, was hired as a director by Greensill months after taking up the role, the Guardian reported.

The revelation comes after it emerged that Bill Crothers, then the civil service’s chief commercial officer, worked for Greensill as a part-time adviser in 2015 for at least three months while he was still an official.

Cabinet secretary Simon Case this week wrote to permanent secretaries asking them to report any instances in which senior civil servants have second jobs.

External appointments are permitted as long as they do not clash with the civil service code, but Case said there must be "transparency and full proper management" of outside interests to maintain the "integrity and impartiality" of the civil service. 

Brierwood, who previously worked for Morgan Stanley, remained a Greensill director until February this year, according to his LinkedIn profile.

In his role as a crown representative, he worked with other civil servants to manage the Cabinet Office’s relationships with government contractors. Crown representatives often have second jobs in the private sector.

Greensill Capital founder Lex Greensill was described as a crown representative.

Commenting on Brierwood’s appointment, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “Crown representatives do not participate in the procurement process, nor are they able to award any contracts.

“They are part-time senior executives recruited for their working knowledge of a sector to help ensure value for money for the taxpayer.

“All crown representatives go through regular propriety checks and cannot work with a supplier where there could be a conflict of interest. Mr Brierwood’s crown representative role was not anything to do with supply chain finance.”

Ex-civil service head 'baffled' by Crothers appointment

As more revelations about the Greensill row come to light, former top civil servants have expressed concern over the “revolving door” of external appointments for officials.

Lord Bob Kerslake, who was head of the civil service from 2011 to 2014, said today that he was “baffled” that Crothers had been allowed to work for Greensill while he was a civil servant.

Kerslake told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that he could "see no circumstances" under which the appointment would be "acceptable".

"He led on procurement, an area of absolutely intense scrutiny and where integrity is vital," he said.

Former first civil service commissioner David Normington today wrote to The Times saying the Greensill affair “undoubtedly highlights the need for changes in the rules on both lobbying and on politicians and civil servants accepting business appointments”.

He said the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments should have greater powers, but also called for greater cultural change – reiterating comments he made to the Committee on Standards in Public Life last month – and for ministers and officials to set an “example”.

However, Robin Butler, who was cabinet secretary and head of the civil service from 1988 to 1998, cautioned not to “not to throw out the baby with any dirty bathwater”.

In a separate letter to The Times, Butler said links between  civil servants and business “clearly need investigation”.

But he added: “It would be damaging if civil servants were driven back into an ivory tower, cut off from commercial realities.”

He pointed to an example of  a Treasury official who had been “relaxed” about an EU proposal for a minimum duty on spirits, until a trade association contact pointed out “just in time that it would wreck UK whisky sales on the continent”. 

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