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Cameron adviser defects to 'legal loan shark' Wonga

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Cameron adviser defects to 'legal loan shark' Wonga

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities, Finance

Cameron adviser defects to 'legal loan shark' Wonga Cameron adviser defects to 'legal loan shark' Wonga

One of David Cameron's senior advisers has left Downing Street to work for controversial pay day loan company, Wonga.

Jonathan Luff was the Prime Minister's adviser on digital strategy and had been seconded to Downing Street from the Foriegn Office. He is free to begin his new role as Global Head of Public Affairs at Wonga immediatley.

Wonga, which charges up to 4,215% APR on its loans, has been called a "legal loan shark" by long-running critic, MP Stella Creasy.

Ms Creasy asked on her website whether Mr Luff's appointment with Wonga was approved by the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (ACBA).

However, Downing Street told 24dash that Mr Luff's position was not senior enough to need the approval of ACBA to take the role, and that No. 10 does not comment directly on the comings and goings of civil servants.

Mr Luff worked on the GREAT Britain campaign promoting British businesses at the Olympics, but Wonga told 24dash that Wonga "absolutely was not” one of the companies that the former civil servant promoted during the campaign. 

The Tory party has been criticised in the past for its links to Wonga. Party donor Adrian Beecroft - who produced an employment law report for the Government earlier in the year - is chairman of Dawn Capital, which has a large stock in Wonga Group.

Trade union Unite is demanding that the Tory party publishes full details of any links it has to and meetings with Wonga, and wants David Cameron to provide assurances that payday lenders will not be granted privileged access to ministers.

Unite said: "It is time the Government came clean on these cosy relationships and gives urgent assurances that Jonathan Luff will not be able to use his Westminster networks to lobby on behalf of Wonga.

"Legislation is urgently required to curb the rip off interest rates legal loan sharks impose to ruthlessly exploit people who are already struggling. Legal sharking is one of the few growth industries under this government; Wonga's enormous profits confirm it has benefited hugely from the austerity hit to ordinary people."

Stella Creasy said: "Along with Wonga paying for cosy chats at Conservative conference with Ministers and the lack of regulation to tackle the problems these companies are causing British consumers, this appointment only further raises concerns about how seriously this government takes personal debt. When most other countries have capped the costs of credit to protect their citizens from the debts this type of lending can cause, British consumers urgently need to know whose side their Prime minister is on- theirs or the legal loan sharks?"

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