Cameron cleared for ‘brand ambassador’ role with US tech firm

Appointments watchdog ACOBA approves former PM’s request to work for electronic-payments company

David Cameron is taking on a new job with US electronic payments firm First Data that will see him work as a “brand ambassador” for the technology business, the company has announced.

The former prime-minister’s part-time role with the Georgia-headquartered business was cleared by anti-corruption watchdog the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments in July, according to a just-published decision letter.

Like other former ministers and senior civil servants, Cameron was required to notify ACOBA of his plans so it could offer an opinion on the job’s suitability. Last month the body voiced concern after former GCHQ director Robert Hannigan’s appointment to a role with US cybersecurity firm BluteamGlobal was publicised before it had considered his request.

ACOBA said Cameron’s request to work for First Data was acceptable, provided that he did not seek to use privileged information he had access to as prime minister for his work with the firm, or lobby the UK government on its behalf until July next year – two years after he left office.

Committee chair Baroness Angela Browning said she had consulted Cabinet Office perm sec John Manzoni on Cameron’s appointment, which is the sixth he has successfully sought clearance for since he stood down as prime minister after failing to secure a “remain” victory in 2016’s EU referendum.

“He confirmed that the government has no links with First Data in its procurement frameworks and has no concerns about you taking up this appointment,” she said.

As part of the corporate announcement of his new role – which ACOBA said was expected to take up “two to three days per month” –  Cameron said he was “incredibly proud” that the UK had become a global force in financial technology during his time as prime minister.

“I remain passionate about the opportunities that exist for British and international companies that are developing exciting technologies both for businesses and consumers – technologies that have the potential to revolutionise the way we all live our lives,” he said.

“[Chairman and chief executive officer] Frank [Bisignano] and his team at First Data have had tremendous success over the years and I am delighted to work alongside them, continuing my association with the Fin-Tech sector, and supporting First Data enhance its international presence.”

Bisignano said Cameron was “one of the world’s most well-regarded leaders” and would be joining the firm’s international advisory board.

Cameron’s other post-government appointments include being president of Alzheimer’s Research UK and chairman of National Citizen Service Patrons, as well as working as a public speaker with the lucrative Washington Speakers Bureau.

ACOBA can advise against senior civil servants and former ministers taking up roles if it thinks the result would be a breach of its rules. In such cases, a request would most likely be withdrawn but the fact that it had been made would not be individually publicised.

The watchdog’s annual report for 2016-17, which came out in July, said eight applications for clearance had been withdrawn “for a variety of reasons” over the course of the year.

It added that 140 applications from civil servants and 104 from former ministers had been reported over the 12 months to April this year.

Suzannah Brecknell

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