Tag Archives: scandal

After ‘hamper’ fiasco, Tories want to deny kids free school meals during half term week. But what are they hiding with all this noise?

Scandal: only two days ago, the Tory government came under attack for letting an outsourcing company skim £25 in profit from the cost of a £30 food hamper FOR CHILDREN. Now the Tories are trying to confuse parents by forcing them to apply to their local council for food vouchers over half term week. Is it all a big distraction from something else they don’t want us to see?

Isn’t it incredible?

Days after they were found to have been starving children by outsourcing £30 ‘free school meal’ hampers to a company that provided only £5 worth of food and kept the other £25 to itself, the Conservative government has announced a plan to starve schoolkids during half term week.

They say they won’t allow schools to provide free meals to pupils who usually get them; instead, local councils have been given responsibility to provide food under the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

This scheme provided £170 million to councils in December. Under it, families have to apply to their local council for help, and will get a £15 voucher for each qualifying child.

It seems a deliberate attempt to cause confusion by switching schemes just when families need clarity.

And how much of that £170m fund has been spent already? It’s not a lot, divided across the whole of England (other UK countries have equivalent schemes, according to the government).

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, warned that switching schemes meant “yet more disruption to free schools meals could lie ahead in half term”.

He said that rather than allowing schools to carry on providing food it would cause an “unnecessary logistical nightmare”.

He said ministers should now “hang their heads in shame” for threatening more “chaos and confusion” over providing food.

“These are battles which should not have to be repeatedly fought,” said Mr Courtney.

But they are.

And both the media and the public tend to focus on recurring issues like this, to the exclusion of other matters happening at the time.

School meals don’t cost a huge amount – in government terms – and it won’t cause too much upset if the Tories are forced to capitulate again.

So This Writer is left to ask what else is happening that the Tories don’t want us to know?

Source: Row over half term free school meals plan – BBC News

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#FreeSchoolMeals scandal: ‘£30’ shopping basket provides just ‘£5’ of food because the Tories outsourced provision

Let’s not beat around the bush: your lovable Conservative government led by cuddly Boris Johnson deliberately starved schoolchildren by outsourcing free school meals to a very expensive company – because it was part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’.

The government had promised to provide £30 to feed children for periods lasting 10 days.

But rather than giving vouchers to parents so they could buy the food themselves, or even tasking local authorities to do it, the Department for Education outsourced the job to private, profit-making firms.

One of these firms is called Chartwells. It seems it won the contract as part of the so-called ‘chumocracy’ – it is part of the food service giant Compass Group whose former chairman, Paul Walsh, was once a member of David Cameron’s business advisory group.

Instead of putting all £30 into food hampers for hungry children, it seems Chartwells provided just £5.22 worth of food and kept the remaining £24.78 as profit.

Food parcels have been brought in to replace £30 vouchers given to parents to spend in supermarkets as schools close for remote learning. But one mum valued the contents of her parcel at no more than £5.22, if bought from Asda.

She was given two jacket potatoes, a can of beans, eight single cheese slices, a loaf of bread, two carrots, three apples, two Soreen Malt Lunchbox Loaves, three Frubes, some pasta and one tomato.

Chartwells has protested that it followed Department for Education guidelines – which throws the blame back towards the Tories – but has also admitted that details of the contents of its hampers do not conform with its own specifications.

Whichever way you slice it, someone has been creaming cash from this scheme and allowing children to starve – and the only reason they’ve managed it is because of the Tory obsession with privatisation.

It is a ridiculous state of affairs. Everybody in the Tory government, from Johnson down, knows that giving a contract to a private company means it will keep some of the cash for itself.

So a claim to be providing £30 to feed children is a lie. They were always providing £30 to their friends in food companies.

Sadly, many of the parents whose children are now being forced to starve on pennies-worth of food per day actually voted for this treatment in December 2019.

The question has to be asked: why weren’t vouchers provided to parents?

Was it because another Tory – Ben Bradley – put out a false claim that they would squander the money on “crack dens” and “brothels”, even though the vouchers that existed at the time specifically prohibited their use for such purposes?

It only takes a piece of fake news like this from one influential source to influence large numbers of people into believing the lie, and I wonder whether this was what enabled the Tory government to starve children in the way it has.

Think of it this way: Isn’t it odd that many people get outraged at the (faked) possibility of someone spending a fraction of a food voucher on alcohol (more likely than Bradley’s choices but still impossible) – but don’t bat an eyelid when private firms take 80 per cent of food vouchers for their own profits?

Perhaps the most pertinent comment on this whole shabby affair is the following:

Sadly, it would have been necessary for millions of people to have voted a different way in 2019 for that to have happened. And something stopped them:

Source: Free school meals firm with Tory links shamed over £30 shopping basket | Metro News

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All Windrush victims to get at least £10,000 – including those who’ve died or been wrongly deported?

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. As I never tire of pointing out, if it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

People are reacting to this announcement with scepticism – and who can blame them?

Here’s what the government has said:

The government is to give more money to victims of the Windrush scandal, which saw hundreds of people wrongly threatened with deportation.

Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the minimum payment will rise from £250 to £10,000, and the maximum from £10,000 to £100,000.

The figure will be higher still in “exceptional” circumstances, with money coming through quicker than before.

In the analysis inset by Westminster Hour‘s Jack Fenwick, though, he said

One person [told] me they won’t believe it until a cheque is in the post.

Who can blame them?

The big scandal of the Windrush compensation scheme so far is that people have died before receiving compensation. Did their descendants get the cash? That would have been reasonable, in the circumstances. Taking it back would not.

And what about people who were wrongly deported. Has the Home Office made any effort to contact them, apologise, and ask them to come back? Many of Priti Patel’s deportation victims have suffered terrible ill-treatment since deportation, so that is a can of worms that needs to be opened.

So it’s a nice announcement. But we need to action, not just pretty words.

Source: All Windrush victims to get at least £10,000 – BBC News

Care home residents told they can’t have vaccine unless they get on a bus

Frail residents of care homes across the UK are being told they can’t have the new Covid-19 vaccine unless they get on a bus to the hospitals where the jabs are being administered.

Apparently storage conditions mean they can’t have the injections in their care homes – but their physical condition means they can’t take the trip to hospital either.

Isn’t this going to cause yet another Covid care home scandal?

Covid vaccine plans for frail care home residents were in chaos tonight after they were told: Get on the bus.

The Government says they will have to travel to hospital hubs for the jab but angry care bosses said: “There’s no way they can do that.”

Care homes fear vaccines won’t be delivered to them until next year despite Government promises they would be a priority.

The vaccine must be transported at minus 70C, and can only be kept outside ultra-cold storage for a few days.

This means 50 hospital hubs in England will receive the first batch before GPs start delivering the vaccine in the community from December 14.

The complex logistical issues mean there are fears some of the most vulnerable in care homes will miss out if they can’t be safely taken to hospital.

Yet again, the Tories fail to think out their stratagy properly.

Yet again, it seems the most vulnerable will pay the price for bull-in-a-china-shop Boris Johnson’s stupidity.

Source: Covid vaccine plans for care home in chaos after frail residents told to ‘get on bus’ – Mirror Online

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Less than a week after the EHRC damned the Tories over the Windrush scandal, deportations continue

The Empire Windrush brought many people to the UK to help rebuild the country after World War II. If it had still been in service a couple of years ago, the Tories would have been trying to use it to deport them all again.

It is ironic that the Conservative government’s own review of its behaviour in the Windrush Scandal was called Lessons Learned, considering its plan for a mass deportation to Jamaica tomorrow (December 2) shows that the Tories have learned nothing.

The Home Office failed to comply with the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) under the Equality Act 2010 when implementing Theresa May’s “hostile environment” strategy, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

May’s plan, which commenced in 2012, was originally intended to make staying in the UK as difficult as possible for illegal immigrants – people who do not have leave to remain, in the hope that they would leave of their own accord.

But the policy’s severe harm to members of the so-called Windrush generation – whose documents showing that they were allowed to stay in the UK were destroyed by May’s Home Office shortly after she took over responsibility for it in 2010 – was ignored, dismissed and disregarded, despite the fact that the Home Office was warned about it repeatedly.

Perhaps part of the responsibility for this lies in the fact that the Tory government, obsessed with outsourcing work to private, profit-making firms, told landlords, banks, doctors and employers to carry out ID checks and report people who lacked adequate documentation.

As a result, thousands of people – yes, thousands – were denied access to health care, benefits and housing, before being deported illegally.

Engagement with representatives of the Windrush generation – people who came to the UK, mostly from Jamaica, to help rebuild the country after World War Two, after the government of the day promised to allow them to settle here (see the 1948 Nationality Act) – was limited.

Most of the government’s Windrush victims are still awaiting compensation.

Some have died before receiving it.

The EHRC report said the consequences – which have included several deaths – were “foreseeable and avoidable” and the organisation’s interim chair, Caroline Waters, said the treatment of the Windrush Generation was “a shameful stain on British history”.

This Counterfire article is damning in its condemnation of the policy:

Dehumanisation and discrimination are built into the very concept of the ‘hostile environment’. For the Tories, the purpose of the policy was twofold: to divert growing anger at their austerity policies and to undercut the rise of far-right rivals like Ukip by appropriating their unabashedly dehumanising and racist ideology.

That’s right – the Tories under Theresa May adopted a deliberately racist ideology. And the policy of dehumanising victims was taken directly from the Nazi playbook, as Jews know very well from bitter experience.

Counterfire continues:

The lives of migrants and ethnic minorities are routinely exploited and endangered for the political gain of those in power in this way. This is not recognised in the EHRC report, which is only able to recommend a set of vague rectifications that rely heavily on the government’s good will, such as the recommendation for the Home Office to ‘prioritise and act early’ on its Equality Act duties.

The Home Office under current Home Secretary Priti Patel has made a public commitment to avoid any similar events occurring.

So it is strange that Ms Patel is determined to force as many as 50 more people out of the UK – including another member of the Windrush generation – in a specially-chartered flight tomorrow:

Immediately after it was revealed that the flight was taking place, no fewer than 82 BAME celebrities wrote to six airlines known to have carried out such flights, begging them to reject contracts to carry out any more. It is not known which airline has been engaged to carry out tomorrow’s flight.

Signatories included the author Bernardine Evaristo, model Naomi Campbell, historian David Olusoga and actors Naomie Harris and Thandie Newton, as well as lawyers, broadcasters and NGO chiefs. Leading Windrush campaigners including Michael Braithwaite and Elwaldo Romeo also signed.

And now – better late than never – 70 MPs and peers have also written to Patel, demanding that the flight must be cancelled:

The letter, co-ordinated by Labour’s Clive Lewis, states:

You have previously committed to ‘righting the wrongs’ concerning the Windrush scandal. But eight months after the Windrush Lessons Learned Review was published, the recommendations have still not been fully implemented, it adds.

“Planning a pre-Christmas deportation flight demonstrates that the Home Office has so far failed to learn any lessons.”

The letter also highlights the threat posed by Covid-19 to anybody being forcibly deported:

“The conditions of deportation, such as shackling detainees to ushers for long journeys in potentially cramped conditions, risk exposing people to the virus,” the letter reads, adding that Black people are already at an increased risk of contracting coronavirus.

And there is the more tangible threat of deportees suffering harm or death at the hands of the authorities when they arrive at their destination:

“We know that five UK deportees were killed between 2018 and 2019. Some people in detention have scars from past abuse in Jamaica, or siblings who have been murdered.”

Strangely, Labour leader Keir Starmer has not signed the letter – nor have 12 of his front benchers. They are: Angela Rayner, Anneliese Dodds, Nick Thomas-Symonds, Lisa Nandy, Ed Miliband, Jon Ashworth, Rosena Allin-Khan, David Lammy, Jess Phillips, Rachel Reeves, Wes Streeting and Yvette Cooper. Are we to conclude that these MPs approve of the Tories’ racism?

On the other hand, one of the signatories is former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn:

There is absolutely no doubt that the Conservative government’s racist deportations of people who have every right to remain in the UK should stop. This Writer also has absolutely no doubt that they won’t.

Priti Patel’s record marks her out as a vicious racist who delights in dehumanising and tormenting others.

It is sad to see that she faces no opposition from the so-called Opposition front bench.

But we should remember that the people who have opposed this obscenity are those who have been vilified by the Tory Establishment and their lackeys in the mainstream media. They have lied to us; they are not to be trusted.

And we need to find better ways to oppose them.

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Prejudiced Tories are unfairly denying benefits to people whose relatives die of Covid-19

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Sanction centre: it isn’t a sanction as such, but anyone receiving compensation for the death of a relative due to Covid-19 will be automatically denied state benefits.

Doesn’t this show how sly, sneaky and underhanded Boris Johnson and his Tory friends are?

If any low-paid frontline NHS and social care workers die of Covid-19, their relatives are entitled to claim a £60,000 lump sum under a Tory compensation scheme.

But if they are already claiming benefits and they do this, they will lose their entitlement to those benefits, meaning they could not claim Universal Credit, Housing Benefit or Pension Credit.

Some of you might think that’s fair; £60,000 is a lot of money, after all.

But this is at a time when Boris Johnson has been dishing out huge sums – £563,400 to consulting firm McKinsey for ‘advice’ that is likely to see the new National Institute for Health Protection sink without a trace, £150 million on face masks that can’t be used, an unspecified amount to Public First for the ‘A’ level results fiasco. Why should benefit claimants lose out when these fat Tories are making such a killing?

Perhaps more to the point, other compensation schemes such as those for the Windrush scandal and the Grenfell Tower fire do not affect entitlement to state benefits. Why should this be different?

The Tories have no answer to this question. Their spokesman is quoted as saying, “It has always been one the central principles of Universal Credit that decisions on awarding the benefit should take into account individuals’ existing ability to meet their basic needs, so that we maintain our focus on supporting families in most need.”

But the Windrush and Grenfell schemes are exempt from being taken into account.

It seems the Tories have created a hierarchy of merit – and relatives of Covid-19 victims have been ruled undeserving, even while ministers’ cronies are mopping up the last coppers from the Treasury that Johnson has emptied.

Source: UK families bereaved by Covid-19 lose eligibility for welfare benefits | Universal credit | The Guardian

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Gavin Williamson’s bigotry has endangered the futures of thousands of people – and the UK as a whole

Promoted beyond his abilities: Gavin Williamson was fired as Defence Secretary last year after… someone… leaked information about Chinese firm Huawei’s involvement in the UK’s 5G system (and look how that story has developed). Now he has messed up the hopes of thousands of ‘A’ level students.

What a fiasco – and all to create an artificial impression that privately-educated school pupils are better than those in the state system.

We all knew that school pupils taken their GCSE and ‘A’ level exams have been seriously disrupted this year, with schools being closed from late March.

This meant it was impossible for their exams to go ahead in the normal way, with knock-on effects for the future of candidates as they apply to move into a career or further education.

There are ways to make fairly accurate predictions of each pupils’ likely achievements, based on their mock examination results and their term work.

But Education Secretary Gavin Williamson couldn’t be bothered with all of that, so this year’s results are estimates – figures plucked from some apparatchik’s rear end.

The results he has produced show a clear bias in favour of privately-educated pupils that is unlikely to stand up to scrutiny; it seems Williamson has simply promoted the children of rich Tory voters above everybody else.

Picture the scene if you can: Williamson in his office, looking at students’ details.

WILLIAMSON: “Julian Huntley Farquar – studying at Harrowton*. Predicted grades are C, C and… C. We’ll give you an A, A* and, oh, I think another A. Well done, Julian for going to the right school!

“Now, who’s this? Billy Tozer. Factorytown Comprehensive. Predicted A, A and A*! That’ll never do. You can have a D, U and D, Billy – and that’ll teach you not to be born to poor, working-class parents next time!”

(Who’s the real DUD in this vignette, by the way?)

Result: Bedlam.

People are right to be outraged. These seems to be another clear example of the Tories using the Covid-19 crisis to hammer anybody who doesn’t have a million quid in the bank.

Look at these examples of deliberate downgrading:

And how has the Education Secretary responded?

Not only has he said (through Ofqual) that appealing against these false, imposed grades would harm other pupils in the appellant’s school…

But changing the grades would promote pupils “beyond their abilities”:

https://twitter.com/Independent/status/1293870590642851841

I think I speak for the entire United Kingdom when I say that this fiasco has certainly shown how one person has been promoted beyond his abilities – that person being Gavin Williamson.

Williamson should resign – or be sacked again. By downgrading pupils who didn’t go to posh, expensive schools he is harming the future of the whole of the United Kingdom.

Given the right opportunities, those students could go on to become captains of business, industry, science and the arts, leading the nation forward into a brighter future.

But now those opportunities will go to dim Julian who hasn’t got a clue – just because he went to the right school.

It is a crime against the nation.

Oh… the official leader of the Opposition, Keir Starmer, has said something about this, but it isn’t even worth repeating.

I will repeat some of the responses to him, though:

From Rachael Swindon: “Why aren’t you calling for Gavin Williamson to go immediately? STOP HELPING THE TORIES FFS.”

And from Raphael Dogg: “Criticise. The. Fucking. Government.”

If either of those tweeters is a Labour Party member, I have no doubt that Mr Starmer will be having them expelled as soon as possible.

*Feeble attempt to concoct a fictional public school name.

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Child benefit scandal: a million more children in poverty, 900 women forced to disclose rape

The Scottish National Party seems to have taken over what used to be Labour’s job as guardian of vulnerable benefit claimants.

(And it’s a good thing; Keir Starmer seems to think he is better-occupied persecuting innocent party members with trumped-up anti-Semitism accusations.)

So we have the SNP to thank for revealing the latest scandalous details of the Tory government’s decision to deprive parents of child benefit if they have more than two children – and to force mothers to relive details of rape as the price of having that benefit restored for additional children.

Here’s the headline:

New figures published by the UK government have revealed that 911,190 children have lost access to vital financial support since April 2017, while 900 women have been forced to disclose that their child was conceived of rape in order to access vital funds.

SNP MP Alison Thewliss first discovered the two-child cap and the so-called “rape clause” in George Osborne’s 2015 Budget and has been a vocal opponent of the policy since its inception.

The MP has challenged the Prime Minister to scrap the abhorrent policy, describing the figures as “a horrific legacy for any government”.

She said: “The UK Tory government’s own data reveals the devastating impact of their two-child limit on families across the UK. Approaching one million children are now suffering financial hardship, the majority of them in families where their parents are working.

“This is a horrific legacy for any government. It’s time for Boris Johnson to wake up to this reality, signal a change of direction on welfare and scrap this pernicious Tory policy.

“Most shocking of all, 900 women have been forced to go through the process of claiming for an exception due to a non-consensual conception. Every single one of these women has been put in a position where they’ve had to fill in a form to prove their child was conceived as a result of rape or coercion, just to make ends meet.

“The UK Government has no place to hide in the face of these damning statistics. Covid-19 has exposed the gaps in the social security safety net – I urge the new Prime Minister to do the right thing and scrap the two-child limit for everyone”.

But this is Boris Johnson she’s talking about. Do you honestly think he could care less?

Source: NEARLY 1 MILLION CHILDREN INTO POVERTY, 900 WOMEN FORCED TO DISCLOSE RAPE – Welfare Weekly

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EU citizen registration scheme isn’t risking another Windrush scandal – the first one isn’t over!

Bumi Thomas: this jazz musician’s citizenship of the UK is in the balance and the government has already tried to deport her.

EU citizens living in the UK may find themselves the focus of another Windrush-style scandal if they fail to apply for “settled status” – but it seems the first Windrush scandal isn’t over and people are still being deported.

According to The Independent:

EU nationals are in danger of slipping through the cracks of the government’s Brexit registration scheme and turning into another Windrush-style scandal, citizens’ groups have warned.

MPs on the EU future relationship committee were told by community groups that there was simply no way to tell whether how many people had been left out of the scheme because there were no accurate figures for how many were eligible.

EU nationals in the UK have been expected to sign up for “settled status” because of Brexit bringing an end to free movement, but campaigners have complained that the scheme is poorly designed and will leave some people behind.

There are concerns that some EU nationals – particularly vulnerable people – may not realise they need to register, and may find themselves being removed from the UK without understanding why.

This raises uncomfortable parallels with the Windrush scandal, in which documents showing that people had emigrated to the UK and had every right to be here were destroyed by the Conservative government.

The Tories then contacted these people, demanding proof of a right to live in the UK. When they could not produce it, they were deported.

And they still are.

Yes, government representatives have apologised; yes, they said it would not happen again. Either those Tories were mistaken or they were lying.

So we see twin brothers Darren and Darrell Roberts being threatened with deportation to two different countries after completing prison sentences because – despite having been born in the UK – the Tories say they have no legal status here.

Darren, 24, is being sent to Grenada because that’s where his mother was born; brother Darrell will go to the Dominican Republic in one of the errors for which the Home Office under the Tories is justly infamous – he has no family there because his father was born in Dominica, which is a completely different nation.

All children born in the UK are eligible for citizenship but there is an application process with attached costs, which have risen enormously in recent years. Some might argue that this has happened alongside the rise of overt racism in the UK’s government.

The correspondence received by Darrell is certainly racist; it offers him a financial incentive to “return home” – implying that his home must be a foreign country because he is black. This is a young man who was born in London and has lived in the UK for his entire life, remember.

Legally, the government will undoubtedly say it is well within its rights as neither brother has citizenship. But they were still minors when they were imprisoned and their childhood has been described as “traumatic”, so it may be unsurprising that no citizenship applications were completed for them.

Windrush was about sending black people “home” because they couldn’t prove they belonged in the UK. This is no different.

And what about jazz musician Bumi Thomas, who was born in 1983, after the Tory government of Margaret Thatcher passed their British Nationality Act that stripped automatic citizenship from children born to parents from UK colonies?

Despite having been born in Glasgow in 1983 and living in the UK solidly since 2000, she found herself fighting a -crowdfunded – legal battle to remain in the country of her birth.

An immigration tribunal judge has ruled in favour of withdrawing the threat of deportation, but she must wait two years before she can apply for British citizenship. Her status is still at the mercy of a divisive immigration policy – meaning her application may be turned down and she might have to go through this process all over again.

So it seems to This Writer that we should not be discussing the EU nationals’ registration scheme as “another Windrush”. The Windrush scandal is still going on.

EU nationals are merely in danger of joining the Windrush generations as victims of a racist UK government.

Source: Brexit: EU citizen registration scheme risks another Windrush scandal, MPs warned | The Independent

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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.

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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