The evidence is mounting against planning minister Robert Jenrick in the scandal over the Westferry development – and interest in the controversy has revealed further potential corruption.
It seems Robert Jenrick was induced to overturn the refusal of the Westferry planning application after property developer Richard Desmond showed him a promotional video for the £1bn development. Here’s The Guardian:
“What I did was I showed him the video,” Desmond told the Sunday Times, adding that Jenrick had watched it for “three or four minutes”, and adding: “It’s quite long, so he got the gist.”
Jenrick subsequently overturned a decision by a local council and the government’s planning inspectorate in order to approve a 500-apartment, 44-storey development at Westferry Printworks, a former printing plan in east London.
Viewing the video would appear to constitute lobbying by Desmond, potentially giving rise to a conflict of interest.
Labour will use the opportunity of a three-hour opposition day debate on Wednesday to discuss the controversy.
That’s today – June 24.
Meanwhile, according to The Mirror…
A Tory former planning minister is reportedly under investigation for failing to declare an interest in a hotel development in his constituency.
Sir Bob Neill wrote a letter to his local council in December 2018, urging them to approve the redevelopment of The Royal Bell – a neglected hotel in his Bromley Constituency.
But he failed to mention in his letter that he was on the payroll of the Substantia Group – the firm handling the planning application for the hotel.
Sir Bob has been paid £50,000 by the firm for “strategic consultancy advice” since 2016, according to the register of members’ interests.
But his links to the firm were not explicitly outlined in the letter.
Shadow Housing Minister Mike Amesbury said: “It beggars belief that a former planning minister would not be aware of the obvious conflict of interest in this case.”
And the Telegraph today reported Sir Bob had intervened in another planning application being handled by the same firm – again without mentioning his paid position.
MPs voted in 2018 for investigations by the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to remain secret. Some might suggest that this was an offence against justice, which must be seen to be done.
But it has been reported the Commissioner has launched an investigation into Sir Bob’s involvement in the project after receiving a complaint.
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