Tag Archives: Robert Jenrick

Stamp duty cut is a £1.3bn bung for second home owners and landlords

Robert Jenrick: he has an opportunity to do the right thing for a change. Does anybody honestly think he’ll take it?

This Site said it yesterday and now the Labour Party has confirmed it: Rishi Sunak’s stamp duty cut is a bung for rich second home owners and landlords.

I said the cut might be a good idea if it helps people buy houses and boosts construction – but according to Labour, buyers of buy-to-let properties, holiday homes and other second homes will benefit.

In 2019/20, 34 per cent of homes bought were second properties, meaning this is a bung to second home owners costing taxpayers £1.3 billion.

Labour has called for the government to exclude second properties from this cut – arguing that this could fund a gap in local councils’ finances which the Local Government Association predicts will be £1.2 billion by the end of the year.

It’s just a shame that the government minister responsible is Robert Jenrick, who does not have a reputation for doing the right thing.

Here’s Labour’s Thangam Debonnaire:

“It is unacceptable that the Chancellor tried to sneak out this huge bung to second home owners and landlords while millions of people are desperate for support. He should be targeting support to those who need it, not helping people invest in buy-to-let properties and holiday homes.

“An unnecessary subsidy for second home-owners will only worsen the housing crisis by reducing the supply of homes overall.”

It’s a good point – but will our unaccountable Tory government take it?

Source: Revealed: Sunak’s secret £1bn giveaway to second home owners and landlords – The Labour Party

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Is Robert Jenrick safe from the sack because Boris Johnson is implicated in Westferry corruption scandal?

Jenrick and Johnson: both have personal connections with property developer Richard Desmond, so why have they been interfering in the determination of his planning applications?

Here’s an interesting kink on the Westferry planning scandal:

Let’s assume there’s something in what John Stevens – and Henry Mance – are saying and that Richard Desmond, the man behind the Westferry development plan, had a considerable amount of contact with Boris Johnson. That would create cause for concern, and we would certainly be justified in wanting to know the nature of any communications.

Now consider this:

A key player in the controversial Westferry Printworks development can be revealed as an investment firm owned by a super-rich Tory donor and crony of Boris Johnson.

The “development manager” is a company which has donated £200,000 to the Tories.

[The planning application] was made by a company owned by Mr Desmond but the developer was London and Regional Properties, a firm behind £9billion of building projects owned by [Ian] Livingstone and brother Richard. It is unclear if LRP is still involved, but Westferry Printworks is listed as a development on its website.

The company donated nearly £202,000 to the Tories between 2005 and 2012.

It is run by [Mr] Livingstone, who the Prime Minister appointed to the board of his Mayor’s Fund for London.

Mr Johnson approved the original plans for the East London site during his final days as Mayor of the capital.

So now this “cash for favours” row has a strong connection with Boris Johnson and Downing Street.

Also suspicious is the Tories’ apparent desperation to distance themselves from any interest in Mr Desmond and his firm – for example, by banning the BBC from using photographs of Mr Desmond and Robert Jenrick together at a Conservative Party fundraising event:

The Conservatives have banned the BBC from publishing pictures of Robert Jenrick and Richard Desmond at a party fundraising dinner.

The pictures are owned by Conservative Party, with the BBC saying it was prevented from publishing them. A spokeswoman for the corporation told Yahoo News UK on Thursday: “We didn’t use them for legal reasons.”

The same article states that Johnson is standing by his minister:

Downing Street said on Thursday that the prime minister still has “full confidence” in Jenrick, adding Johnson had spoken to the embattled minister in recent days and “considers the matter closed”.

Isn’t that what a prime minister would say if he was unable to fire his underling – for example, because the flunky was only doing what the PM had told him to do?

I ask merely rhetorically.

Meanwhile, it seems Jenrick is now embroiled in another “cash for favours” row:

Labour has called on… Robert Jenrick, to explain a ministerial meeting with a “family friend” who had a financial interest in the future of a rival mining project that Jenrick was overseeing.

The Guardian revealed this week that Jenrick met the Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer while the then exchequer secretary to the Treasury was considering a request for financial support from Sirius Minerals for a mining project that would have rivalled Ofer’s own firm Cleveland Potash.

A spokesperson for Jenrick said on Friday that Ofer was a “family friend” and that the minister had notified officials, who advised him to step back from the decision on Sirius.

But the spokesperson did not say when Jenrick recused himself and the Guardian understands he retained oversight of Sirius’s request for support for at least six months after the meeting.

Put this together with the amount of money that property giants give to the Conservatives…

The Tories have received more than £11m from property developers since Boris Johnson became prime minister, an investigation has found.

Concerns have been raised about the apparent increased influence property developers have over the Conservative government. Their contributions make up nearly a quarter of the £47.5m in donations received by the party from last July to March, up from 7.9 per cent of the total two years ago.

The latest analysis by the OpenDemocracy website found that the Conservatives’ top 10 property donors have given more than £5.7m to the party since Mr Johnson took the helm in July – up from around £1.5million for the equivalent top 10 in the final 12 months of Theresa May’s premiership, a three-fold increase. In total, around 120 individuals and companies from the sector have donated since July last year.

… and there is certainly enough evidence to ask questions.

Of course, there can be no implication of wrongdoing by Conservative donors whose contributions are made only through support for Tory policies; who have no personal connection with Conservative ministers.

But when there is a connection, as with Idan Ofer and Jenrick, and with Richard Desmond and both Jenrick and Johnson, it is not only right to ask questions – an investigation is positively demanded.

The Westferry matter goes a step beyond even this – because wrongdoing is known to have happened, and because the person who is refusing to take action against the minister responsible for the transgression himself has a connection with the developer – and the development itself.

I mean, who can blame us for questioning Jenrick when it seems he won planning permission for an extension to his Westminster home, against planning officers’ recommentations, from councillors who were his fellow Conservatives?

Conservative councillors on Westminster council gave planning permission for an enlargement of Jenrick’s townhouse despite officers recommending the application be refused because it would harm the appearance of the building and the conservation area.

Planning officers were recommending refusal of this third application but Steve Summers a Tory councillor and a neighbour of Jenrick made an official request that a planning committee take the decision and not officers.

In November 2014 the three Conservative members of the planning committee — Richard Beddoe, Robert Rigby and Paul Church — voted to overturn the officers recommendation and approve the scheme. Ruth Bush, the single Labour member of the committee voted against the application.

In March 2018 Robert Davis who was chair of planning at Westminster council for 17 years resigned after the Guardian revealed he had received hospitality and gifts hundreds of times including from property developers.

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How many scandals can Keir Starmer hide with his sacking of Rebecca Long-Bailey?

 

Choke hold: Israeli armed forces using the same ‘knee on neck’ technique that was used to kill George Floyd. But we’re being asked to believe Israel never taught that technique to US police and it is anti-Semitic to suggest that one country’s armed forces could teach such techniques to another’s police.

Quite a few, it seems.

Let’s start with the biggie: Israel is due to launch a major invasion of Palestinian territory next week, targeting in particular areas containing the aquifers that make life possible in these parched places.

Starmer’s sacking of RLB is a warning to Labour Party members that he will not tolerate the voicing of any dissent against this racist military action.

Any comment that he dares to make will be entirely ineffectual:

Labour has a policy that all people have a right to self-determination. Israel’s right to self-determination has been used as a stick to beat party members accused of anti-Semitism. Palestine’s right to self-determination goes unrecognised under racist Starmer.

But let’s not stop there. Starmer has also taken the heat off Robert Jenrick, whose corrupt manipulation of the planning system to save Richard Desmond £45 million in return for a small bung for Conservative funds was causing trouble for the Tories.

While Starmer moved quickly to sack RLB, he has done nothing about the right-wingers in his party who subjected Diane Abbott to racist abuse:

Finally, let’s bear it in mind that Starmer has no interest in opposing the Tory government’s genocidal policy on handling the Covid-19 pandemic…

… and, come to that, the people to whom he is pandering – the Board of Deputies of British Jews and all those other right-wing supporters of the Likud government in Israel – never criticised successive Tory governments for killing huge swathes of the UK population either:

Underlying all of this, remember: The claim RLB was sacked for – in an interview with her constituent Maxine Peake – is accurate. Israeli forces do indeed train United States police. And Starmer’s claim that it is anti-Semitic to say this loses any force when one realises that Jews know about it and oppose it:

 

Here’s the last word – it should be the last word on Starmer’s catastrophic leadership of the Labour Party (but it won’t, because these creeps cling like limpets):

Jenrick faces more pressure to resign for conspiring to deny the ‘Marxists’ loads of ‘doe’

Robert Jenrick: it seems that, like Richard Desmond, he thinks the people of Tower Hamlets are ‘Marxists’ and wants to make sure they can’t have any money to improve their local area.

Pressure is building for housing minister Robert Jenrick to resign after it was alleged he rush-approved a £1bn planning application to prevent a left-wing council from receiving money.

Documents released amid pressure on the minister show civil servants in the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government believed Jenrick wanted to rush the approval so developer Richard Desmond would not have to pay the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) to Tower Hamlets Council – thereby saving £45 million.

Text messages between Desmond and Jenrick show the former Express newspaper owner and pornographer pressured the minister to grant planning permission, saying: “We don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing!”

Charming. Let’s all remember that, next time the Tories say left-wing policies don’t work – it seems clear the reason for any failures is corruption on the part of greedy capitalists.

Some readers may be further scandalised by the fact that the only profit the Tories accrued from diddling Tower Hamlets out of £45 million appears to be a donation of just £12,000. Perhaps crime really doesn’t pay after all.

After the circumstances of his decision were revealed, Jenrick withdrew his decision to overrule the council and the government’s planning inspectorate and approve the 1,500-apartment, 44-storey development at Westferry Printworks, a former printing plant in east London.

It won’t happen now, after all.

The documents were released on Wednesday after a debate and vote in Parliament, when Jenrick was accused of potentially breaking the ministerial code.

The code says all ministers must “declare and resolve any interests and relationships” and “take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias”.

Readers of Vox Political may consider that he didn’t just break the code – Jenrick shattered it.

After the documents were released, cabinet secretary Mark Sedwill said. “The prime minister considers that the matter is closed.”

This should come as no surprise to those of us who have watched Boris Johnson’s own adventures in corruption. Let’s not forget that we are still waiting for him to publish the report on Russian interference in UK politics, that he stepped in to delay all the way back in October last year – most probably because he thought it would put people off voting for him in December’s general election.

Come to that, what about Johnson’s illegal prorogation of Parliament earlier last year, that illegally stopped all work in the Palace of Westminster for weeks?

Fortunately, the Labour Party is not accepting Johnson’s wibblings as any assurance of fair play – why should anybody do that? – and is demanding an explanation of differences between the account revealed by the newly-released documents and Jenrick’s explanation.

Jenrick himself is now in an untenable position. Nobody will trust any decision he makes in the future – in spite of what Johnson says, and possibly, indeed, because of it.

The Westferry decision clearly was not a mistake – it was a deliberate choice to break planning rules to allow a development, and to break them again to starve a London community of £45 million.

Neither decision is acceptable behaviour for a minister of the Crown.

And what crazy plan will he rubber-stamp next?

Source: Robert Jenrick under pressure to resign after donor-row documents released | Politics | The Guardian

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Planning corruption: it seems Jenrick isn’t the only Tory accused of breaking the rules

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

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.

Source: Jenrick under growing pressure after fresh Desmond revelation | Politics | The Guardian

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Westferry development scandal grows as Jenrick admits he knew he was saving tycoon millions

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

Calls for Robert Jenrick to be removed from his role as a housing minister are escalated after he admitted he knew he was saving tycoon Richard Desmond between £30m and £50m by approving plans for a £1 billion development at Westferry, London – in defiance of planning rules.

Desmond subsequently gave the Conservative Party a £12,000 donation, raising questions about this being a “cash-for-favours” scandal.

According to the Mail:

He insisted ‘all the rules were followed’ over the 1,500-home development in east London.

But he told MPs he knew that the timing of his decision would save the businessman a fortune.

Steve Reed, Labour’s housing spokesman, urged Mr Jenrick to make a full Commons statement, publish all correspondence and ‘disclose all conversations with all Government ministers and officials’.

In response, the Cabinet minister said information relating to the decision has now been passed to Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill.

So he knew he was breaking planning regulations – in fact Jenrick had to quash the planning permission he had granted, as a result of the scandal, and he knew that doing this would benefit the developer, who subsequently rewarded the Tories with a donation. And he isn’t publishing anything.

He still says he’s innocent of wrongdoing, but Jenrick must know how suspicious his behaviour looks.

Indeed, anti-corruption expert Elizabeth David-Barrett, a professor of governance and integrity who is also the director of the Centre for the Study of Corruption at the University of Sussex, has already said he should have resigned:

“In most previous governments, Robert Jenrick would have resigned well before now.

“The questionable conduct that is tolerated and defended in this current government is creating a dangerous new world in which standards in public life are seen as a concept from the past, and personal patronage and loyalty are now prized higher than combatting corruption.

“Although Robert Jenrick eventually reversed the decision on the Westferry scheme, under threat of legal action, this should not be the end of the matter.

“If there is no subsequent investigation into alleged misconduct, then the message that sends is that ministers can do whatever they like and just reverse the decision if their actions are questioned. The system needs to be preventive and act as a deterrent.”

Fat chance of that, under Boris Johnson!

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Digest June 11: It’s still all about race

On Covid-19, the Tory government is still a danger to UK citizens:

As Boris Johnson announces further easing of lockdown restrictions, the negative experiences of other countries showing him wrong are piling up:

… especially as the ongoing lack of PPE (personal protective equipment) is now the basis of a court challenge against the Tories:

Not only that, but Covid is now revealed as a particular danger to BAME citizens – creating double jeopardy for Johnson:

Johnson himself has been condemned as lazy. Tell us something we don’t know…

Dominic Cummings is still in trouble: the house he used in Durham really didn’t have planning permission so enforcement action will be taken:

Is this a good moment to remind everyone that Cummings has set up Brexit to ensure that fabulously rich businesspeople can create conditions for a UK economic crash – and then make a fortune betting that it will happen?

This is the man who Boris Johnson has put in charge of the government, according to a former Tory aide:

Priti Patel is also in trouble. Her harsh immigration bill will needlessly shut out people trying to “contribute to society”, say Catholic leaders in a stinging attack on the plans:

They should excommunicate her. I doubt she’s a Catholic but a good pre-emptive strike won’t do them any harm.

And there’s this:

The Robert Jenrick corruption scandal is rolling on:

And Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being taken to court over his sexist self-employed grant scheme:

Over at Labour, tone-deaf Keir Starmer has unveiled a new ‘race equality’ strategy. Presumably he’s desperate for us to forget his own two-tier attitude to racism in his own party:

He mentioned seven reports on racism in the House of Commons but strangely can’t seem to see the leaked report by his own party that named racists among Labour employees who targeted Diane Abbott (among others) for racist abuse – and won’t take action against them:

Consider Starmer’s shadow work and pensions secretary, who thinks the best way to mark Diane Abbott’s 33rd anniversary as the UK’s first black female MP was to delete his backstabbing tweet attacking her choice of education for her children:

Labour isn’t the only UK organisation that needs to have a serious look at itself with regard to racism:

Thank goodness we have a few people whose attitude to racism is more sincere:

Grenfell Tower campaigners are trying to get the Conservatives to commit to removing flammable cladding from more than 23,000 households that should never have been forced to have it in the first place:

No sooner had he alerted us all to the danger to cancer patients of having to wait longer for treatment, than Dr Karel Sikora ruined his reputation:

Statues are still in danger across the UK as their subjects’ misdeeds are re-examined:

Racism in the United States is still under the spotlight (and rightly so):

Former IS bride Shamima Begum has launched a legal appeal to reclaim her UK citizenship after it was stripped from her by former Home Secretary Sajid Javid:

Oh, and some right-wing nutjob called Nigel Farage is no longer working at LBC radio:

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Digest: June 10 – all the news the Establishment won’t want you to read

As ever, the social media is boiling over with useful information that the Great and the Good don’t want you to know.

Consider:

The Government’s policy on Covid-19 continues to be a fiasco:

And how are those death figures looking…?

(Does anybody believe a word he says any more?)

Perhaps his advisors could help him out?

Not this one, we should suspect:

Maybe the Independent SAGE will help Mr Johnson’s credibility?

… Maybe not. And the criticism seems valid:

(But it won’t be done by a Tory:)

It seems Tory Housing Minister Robert Jenrick netted a £12,000 bung for his party by corruptly approving a development in London:

Other Tory policies are rubbish, too:

Boris Johnson is now a subject for ridicule, not reverence:

(Fans of Keir Starmer should not be encouraged by this; anybody would look good in contrast with Boris Johnson.)

Dominic Cummings might think he’s in the clear but he isn’t:

Tory racism isn’t going away:

(These may not be Tories but they’re certainly racists:)

The Labour Party still hasn’t got its act together regarding its attitude to racism:

Meanwhile, racists are targeting black female MPs for supporting the Black Lives Matter protests:

And former Labour leader Tony Blair is getting flak – after he criticised Jeremy Corbyn for campaigning for free broadband for everyone, he’s now demanding it himself:

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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

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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Jenrick ignored lockdown rules to visit his family. Should he resign or be sacked?

Robert Jenrick: he thinks he’s above his own government’s social distancing rules.

It seems the Housing, Communities and Local Government Secretary Robert Jenrick – who has made broadcasts calling for us all to obey social distancing rules – thought they didn’t apply to him.

He says he visited his parents 38 miles from his own Shropshire home to deliver supplies and medication – which is allowed according to the rules.

But members of the local community have already been delivering supplies to them. He wasn’t needed.

Other people in the same situation have resigned – such as Scotland’s chief medical officer.

And New Zealand’s health minister was demoted after he flouted that country’s social distancing rules, which are stricter than ours. PM Jacinta Ardern said normally she would have sacked him but could not afford the “massive disruption” to her coronavirus response this would cause.

What will happen to Jenrick? Will he resign, be sacked or be demoted?

Let’s not kid ourselves.

He’s a Tory. He’ll apologise and carry on as normal. They all think they’re above the rules.

But here’s a thing: there’s been quite a fuss about people ignoring the social distancing rules so they could go out and enjoy the warm weather.

Even though it will worsen the crisis, they’re thinking the obvious: why should they observe the rules of the government can’t be bothered?

The cabinet minister Robert Jenrick is facing questions after travelling to visit his parents at the weekend, despite repeatedly urging the public to stay at home during the lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The Guardian has established that the housing, communities and local government secretary – who has made media appearances urging people to save lives by remaining in their properties even if tempted to see loved ones – went to see his parents at their Shropshire home, 40 miles by road from his own.

A witness has told the Guardian they saw Jenrick, 38, visiting the property at the weekend.

A source close to the cabinet minister admitted that he had made the journey during lockdown conditions, but defended the trip by saying he dropped off food and medication, and did not enter the house. Jenrick later confirmed this in a tweet in which he said his parents were both self-isolating, because of age and his father’s medical condition, and he had respected social distancing rules.

Government instructions say: “You should not be visiting family members who do not live in your home.” The only exception is if they need help, such as having shopping or medication dropped off.

The Guardian understands that the local community has been supporting Jenrick’s parents by delivering groceries in recent weeks. This was not denied, though the source said Jenrick had collected and delivered medication for his parents, too.

Source: Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick visited his parents during Covid-19 lockdown | World news | The Guardian

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

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