Downing Street has admitted a minister did delete his “informal communications” with David Cameron about Greensill Capital.
The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy was asked to supply all communications between Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, and Mr Cameron. The department refused the request, saying it did not “hold the information”.
It emerged that Mr Cameron had texted Zahawi and released those messages to a select committee inquiry into the Greensill lobbying scandal. Mr Cameron praised Zahawi for being “v helpful” in helping him lobby the Treasury and asked for the contact details of Richard Sharp, a former banker who was advising Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Mr Cameron wrote:
“Hi there. Well done with keeping going in the midst of all this. You’ve been v solid on the media. Lex Greensill, who I work with, says you are being v helpful over HMT and ‘coronavirus business interruption loan scheme’ programme. Would it help if I pinged a message to Richard Sharp? I used to see him a bit in early leadership days but haven’t so much recently so don’t have his number. But would happily pitch in and help. So let me know – and do feel free to call any time.”
There was no record of a reply from Mr Zahawi. Mr Cameron then sent a second message, saying:
“Ta. Will do. Can you send me his contact details? Keep going! D.”
The department was asked why it did not have a record of these texts. After an internal review it said: “It should be noted that deleted information, including informal communications not viewed at the time as requiring official record keeping, is not information now held by the department.”
It’s been disclosed that more than a third of Boris Johnson’s cabinet have downloaded a messaging app that allows users to delete their communications.