A BUSINESSMAN appointed by Prime Minister David Cameron to head a multi-billion-pound quango has been forced to step down after it was disclosed that he was bankrupt.
A UK government spokesman said Tony Caplin – a former Conservative Party chief operating officer – had resigned as chairman of the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB), which is responsible for £60 billion of loans in infrastructure projects.
It was reported that Number 10 had been forced to act after an investigation it carried out revealed he had been made bankrupt in 2012.
Whitehall rules require anyone serving on a public body who is declared bankrupt to inform the responsible minister immediately.
A government spokesman said: “Tony Caplin was appointed to a number of public bodies by the Labour Party. He was re-appointed to the PWLB by the Prime Minister.
“He should have declared he was bankrupt. This has been pointed out to him and as a result he has resigned.”
Mr Caplin – a former chairman of stockbrokers Panmure Gordon where Mr Cameron’s father Ian was a partner – has also left his post on the Medical Research Council.
He has previously served on a number of other public bodies, including the North West London Hospitals NHS Trust where he was chairman until January last year.
He has been a commissioner on the PWLB for 10 years and in July 2013 he was appointed chairman by Mr Cameron.
Senior Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said: “This raises serious questions which should be investigated.”
Shadow chief treasury secretary Chris Leslie said: “For him [Mr Caplin] to be bankrupted in 2012 and appointed by the Prime Minister as chairman of this key Treasury body the following year is surely a misjudgment too far by a Prime Minister with a track record of poor judgment in relation to his cronies.”
Mr Leslie called for the government to set out exactly what it knew about Mr Caplin’s history before it made his appointment.
Mr Caplin helped Mr Cameron write his party’s 2005 election manifesto.
He was appointed to the PWLB, which was set up in 1793, by the Labour government in 2003, and was then made chairman of it by the Prime Minister 10 years later.
According to the PWLB website, Mr Caplin’s appointment had been due to end in 2015.
Tory MP Douglas Carswell said: “This proves the need for MPs to be given the right to interview public appointments.”