Senior civil servants have until the end of the week to declare any second jobs outside government, the cabinet secretary, Simon Case has said as a lobbying row continues to gather steam.
Case wrote to permanent secretaries this week saying there is “acute concern” about issues brought to light in an ongoing scandal in which it emerged former prime minister David Cameron lobbied cabinet ministers on behalf of Greensill Capital.
It also emerged this week that Bill Crothers, then the civil service’s chief commercial officer, had worked for Greensill as a part-time adviser in 2015 for at least three months while he was still an official.
Advisory Committee on Business Appointments chair Lord Eric Pickles confirmed that the Cabinet Office had agreed the appointment under its internal conflicts of interest policy.
In his letter to perm secs, Case said that while there is a place for people with private-sector expertise in government, there must be "transparency and full proper management" of outside interests to maintain the "integrity and impartiality" of the civil service.
And he stressed that officials are not allowed to have external appointments that conflict with the civil service code.
"If you come across any instances of senior civil servants holding remunerated positions or other interests outside government which might conflict with their obligations under the code please bring them to mine and [Cabinet Office director general of propriety and ethics] Darren Tierney's attention immediately and, at the latest, by the end of this week,” Case told the perm secs.
Yesterday, Boris Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons that he also shared “widespread concern” about some of the issues that the scandal had brought to light.
He said that while it was a “good idea in principle that top civil servants should be able to engage with business and should have experience of the private sector… it's not clear that those boundaries had been properly understood”.
In his letter, Case also stressed that departments must "engage fully" with the inquiry launched by the prime minister into the Greensill row, which is being led by Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy lead non-executive director Nigel Boardman.
"If, as Nigel Boardman completes his review, he identifies areas where we as a civil service have made mistakes, it is important that we are honest about these and learn from them," Case wrote.
The letter comes as both the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee and the Treasury Committee prepare to launch their own inquiries into the Greensill-Cameron affair.