Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick on the brink as Richard Desmond messages revealed over £1bn project – but PM backs him
BORIS Johnson threw his weight behind rattled Robert Jenrick tonight over his decision to green-light a Tory donor’s £1billion housing development.
The Housing Secretary had been forced to publish documents over his approval.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick was forced to publish documents over his approval of a Tory donor’s £1billion housing development[/caption]
Mr Jenrick is accused of sanctioning the deal after ex-newspaper chief Richard Desmond made a £12,000 donation to the Tory party[/caption]
But Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill, in a letter to shadow housing secretary Steve Reed, insisted Mr Jenrick had provided a full account of the planning decision.
Mr Sedwell added: “In the light of this account, the Prime Minister considers the matter closed.”
The Tory minister had released papers relating to his approval of the Westferry development in East London, owned by ex-newspaper chief Richard Desmond.
He had been accused of sanctioning the deal after Mr Desmond made a £12,000 donation to the party.
Robert Jenrick still has serious questions to answer about his unlawful, biased decision to approve the development
Shadow housing secretary Steve Reed
Among documents, one aide suggested Mr Jenrick speed up the decision to save Mr Desmond from paying a £40million council levy.
It said: “On timing, my understanding is that the SoS is/was insistent that decision was issued this week ie tomorrow (Friday) — as next week the viability of the scheme is impacted by a change in the London CIL regime.’
In later exchanges, Mr Desmond vented about not wanting to give the “Marxist” council “doe for nothing”.
Mr Jenrick, 38, also sat next to the tycoon at a donors’ ball where he admitted Mr Desmond showed him a video of the development.
Boris Johnson has thrown his weight behind Mr Jenrick[/caption]
The info released revealed Mr Jenrick sent a message saying: “Good to spend time with you tonight Richard. See you again soon I hope.”
He replied: Thanks, Robert. Will call your office tomorrow to arrange.”
But Mr Jenrick replied on November 20 last year: “As Secretary of State, it is important not to give any appearance of being influenced by applicants of cases I may have a role in or to have pre-determined them.
“It is best we don’t meet until after the matter has been decided.”
The planning decision was later scrapped after a court challenge.
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Addressing the Commons today, Mr Jenrick said “wild accusations” were being made against him and branded some claims “not simply wrong but outrageous”.
He admitted “things could and should’ve been done differently” — but insisted: “Who the applicant was is immaterial to my decision.”
Mr Reed responded: “This is an important first step but Robert Jenrick still has serious questions to answer about his unlawful, biased decision to approve the development.”
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