David Cameron has said he often signs off text messages “love DC”, as he defended his informal approach to lobbying Whitehall.
The former prime minister bombarded ministers and Government officials with texts as he controversially lobbied for Greensill Capital.
The Conservative politician said it was a “painful day” for him on Thursday as he gave evidence to MPs over his controversial lobbying of senior figures including chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Cameron placed calls and sent dozens of texts and emails to ministers and senior officials as he appealed for their help in gaining access for Greensill to government Covid support programmes.
Appearing virtually before the Commons Treasury Committee, he insisted there was “absolutely no wrongdoing” in his actions and defended his lobbying efforts, but accepted that former prime ministers “need to think differently and act differently”.
Cameron confirmed he was a “regular” attendee of board meetings at the financial firm headed by Lex Greensill but said there was “certainly no sense of jeopardy” over the firm’s future as the coronavirus pandemic struck.
He repeatedly refused to tell the MPs how much he stood to gain from his involvement with Greensill, saying only that he had a “big economic investment”.
“I was paid an annual amount, 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 – which vested over the period of time of my contract,” he said.
“I had a big economic investment in the future of Greensill, so I wanted the business to succeed, I wanted it to grow.
“The fact that I have this 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 suggestions he was to make £60 million was a “completely absurd figure”, and refused to tell the committee chairman whether his salary was higher or lower than £1 million.
“It was a generous, big salary that you might earn as someone in my position at a bank or what have you,” he said.
He said he was not offered a job by Greensill, who had been an adviser to the government while Cameron was in No 10, until after he had resigned as prime minister.
At the hearing, Cameron was also asked about his text messages to ministers, and Treasury mandarin Sir Tom Scholar.
In a message on March 3 2020, Cameron asked Sir Tom for a number for the Bank of England’s deputy governor Sir Jon Cunliffe, adding: “Can I give you lunch once the budget is done? Love Dc.”
Three days later he signed off a message to Sir Tom: “See you with Rishi’s for an elbow bump or foot tap. Love Dc.”
Asked if he has a wider personal relationship with the senior official, he told MPs: “I think I have seen him perhaps once or twice since leaving office.
“Anyone I know even at all well, I tend to sign off text messages with ‘love DC’ – I don’t know why, I just do.
“My children tell me that you don’t need to sign off text messages at all and it’s very old fashioned and odd to do so.”
It is not the first time an inquiry has examined Cameron’s text message etiquette.
During the Leveson Inquiry into press standards in 2012, media executive Rebekah Brooks gave details of her text exchanges with the then prime minister – explaining he mistakenly thought “LOL” meant “lots of love”.
She said: “He would sign them off DC, in the main. Occasionally he would sign them off LOL – lots of love.
“Until I told him it meant ‘laugh out loud’.”