Housing minister Jenrick faces ‘resign’ demands after approving donor’s £1bn scheme

Robert Jenrick: while he was presenting press conferences about Covid-19, he was also mired in an apparent corruption scandal.

The news seems to be full of stories alleging corruption by Tory minister. Does the Covid crisis mean they have nothing better to do?

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick is facing calls to resign after he admitted “unlawfully” signing off a 1,500-home development that saved a Tory Party donor millions of pounds.

The £1bn project on the former Westferry Printworks site on London’s Isle of Dogs was approved in January by Jenrick – a last-minute reprieve after the council and then the independent Planning Inspectorate both deciding it should be refused. They had said it lacked enough affordable housing and conflicted with local conservation policy.

But the housing secretary’s decision came just a day before Tower Hamlets Council approved a new rate for its Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) – a move that would have increased the property owner’s financial liability to the local authority by between £30m and £50m.

That money would have been spent mitigating the impact of the development on the local area, and improving local services. Instead, thanks to Jenrick’s timing, it stayed in the pocket of the developer.

So this was a development proposal that did not meet planning conditions.

It did not provide enough affordable housing.

It conflicted with conservation policy.

It should not have been approved.

But Jenrick stepped in to do just that – and on the day before a new rule was imposed that would have compelled the developer to pay between £30-50 million that would have minimised any harmful impact on the Isle of Dogs.

The money would also have improved local services. All lost, due to this Tory minister’s intervention.

We need to ask who benefits from this decision?

The local authority? No.

People who need affordable housing? No.

The public? Certainly not!

The environment? Don’t make me laugh!

But the developer did.

The land is owned by publisher and former Tory donor Richard Desmond.

The local council – Tower Hamlets – began legal action in March, alleging that the timing of the decision appeared to show bias. It asked the High Court to order the government to disclose documents that, it argued, would show Jenrick was influenced by a desire to help Desmond save money by avoiding the charges.

Faced with the prospect of having to publicly release documents relating to the case, Jenrick accepted his decision letter was “unlawful by reason of apparent bias” and confirmed it was deliberately issued before the new CIL policy could be adopted. He agreed planning permission should be quashed and decided by a different minister.

So the minister admitted interfering in the planning process to grant planning permission to a development that should not have been allowed, and to save a developer connected with a Tory donor from paying extra costs.

This is not the standard of service the public should expect from a government minister.

Should he step down? Should he face disciplinary or legal proceedings for corruption?

Source: Robert Jenrick Faces Calls To Resign After ‘Unlawfully’ Approving Tory Donor’s £1bn Housing Project

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  1. chriskitcher May 31, 2020 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    It seems to me that this is far more than a mere resignation being required. Surely it is an abuse of power and considering the haste with which her approved this the police should be involved by looking into a case of misconduct in high office. The CPS guidance on Misconduct in Public Office clearly states;

    Seriousness of the neglect or misconduct

    The behaviour must be serious enough to amount to an abuse of the public’s trust in the office holder. In R v Dytham, Lord Widgery said that the element of culpability:

    “… must be of such a degree that the misconduct impugned is calculated to injure the public interest so as to call for condemnation and punishment.”

    It appears to me that in this case his actions clearly fit the example quoted.

  2. Jeffrey Davies May 31, 2020 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    But they all at it awarding this and that lining their own pockets it’s called

  3. Dez May 31, 2020 at 4:26 pm - Reply

    That’s a familiar smell so typical of the Cons behind closed doors taking advantage of their positions either local or central. Does not help the Virus scam when these guys are foraging in the trough. One starts to question are these trustworthy humans in the Cons who really have the publics health and interests at heart. Just imagine say lucrative contracts, dealing with the Pandemic, being handed out to friends and relatives irrespective of the procurement process and competence. Unthinkable.

  4. kateuk May 31, 2020 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    Disciplinary action, resignation and prosecution are all in order. Preferably all 3. He should be also be barred from ever holding a public office again.

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