Government dealings around the sale of Cambridge’s Arm holdings to Japanese firm SoftBank were shrouded in secrecy in 2016. Has the reason why just become clearer?
At the time Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner repeatedly asked the Government what dealings senior ministers were having with the Arm and SoftBank but was fobbed off with answers such as the “details of ministerial discussions are not routinely disclosed”
Now the FT has reported that Jeremy Heywood, at the time the UK’s top civil servant, played a key role in the £23bn sale of Arm.
They quote a former Whitehall official as saying “Jeremy [Heywood] was down in the weeds of the Arm-SoftBank deal. I don’t know why: there was amazement in Whitehall that he was doing that”
SoftBank were being advised by a company run by Mr Heywood’s former boss Sir Simon Robey.
We now know that Mr Heywood invited the SoftBank chief executive to Downing Street to help facilitate the deal and arranged a meeting with the chancellor Philip Hammond who went on to sing the praises of the sale of Arm.
Daniel Zeichner MP said: “Why was the government so keen on selling Arm? Is it because Mr Heywood was mates with the people involved with the deal? The government were very cagey about the whole episode – and now we know why. This time round we need full transparency.”