United Kingdom

David Cameron claimed Soviets tried to recruit him during gap year: ‘Probably harmless!’

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has returned to the limelight over his alleged involvement in a lobbying scandal with a firm he advises and the Treasury. He was trying to secure Greensill access to a loan scheme called the Covid Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). The former Prime Minister wanted Greensill Capital to be able to issue loans using tax-payer cash through this scheme.

He sent multiple text messages to the personal phone of Chancellor Rishi Sunak and approached two junior treasury ministers.

The scandal has sparked a wider row over private companies’ attempts to influence ministers and officials.

The Government has now asked a senior lawyer to conduct a review into the issue and a report by the end of June, but on Wednesday the Commons Treasury committee announced plans for its own probe, with other committees reportedly planning to do the same.

Mr Cameron, who led the Remain side in the referendum, resigned after Britons voted by 52 percent to 48 percent to leave the EU.

Before he became the “man who lost Europe” and even before he became Prime Minister, Mr Cameron was a “youthful” and “articulate” Conservative Party leader.

Six months after his leadership election in 2005, Mr Cameron appeared on the iconic Radio 4 programme Desert Island Discs, during which he opened up about his formative years and even confessed that two Soviets tried to recruit him during his gap year.

He told journalist Sue Lawley: “I can’t prove this is true but in my year between school and university, I worked in Hong Kong for a while and then I travelled on the Trans-Siberian Railway across Russia.

“This was 1985 so sort of pre-Gorbachov and I met a great friend in Moscow.

“We went down to the Black Sea and we were on the beach and these two Russians, who both spoke perfect English, sort of turned up on the beach which was reserved for foreign tourists.

“They took us out to dinner and interrogated us in a very friendly way about life in England and what we thought in politics.

“Obviously we were both very careful and guarding about what we said but later on, when I got to university, my politics tutor said it was a definite attempt [to recruit me].”

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In 2011 on an official trip to Moscow, Mr Cameron repeated the anecdote almost word-for-word to the then Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and joked about having “failed his KGB interview”.

Mr Medvedev replied that Mr Cameron would have made a “very good KGB agent”.

But, Russia’s biggest selling newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda – a mouthpiece of President Vladimir Putin – said the story was untrue in 2015.

The newspaper quoted Gennady Sokolov, a Russian author and intelligence historian, who said he had been assured by high-level secret service sources there had been no bid to recruit the future Tory leader.

He said: “If the KGB had a task to work with a 19-year-old unknown young man Cameron, there would have remained certain paperwork on this matter.

“We have cautiously asked well-informed people if there is a file on Cameron in KGB archives.

“We got a definite reply that there is no such file in the archives, and there was no such file earlier. The KGB was not working on Cameron.”


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