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Bid to force Robert Jenrick to release £1bn development papers

Robert Jenrick will today face a Commons bid to force him to hand over documents relating to his decision to give a Tory donor the green light for a £1billion development.

Labour will stage a parliamentary vote on its demand for the Housing Secretary and his advisers to publish all correspondence on the matter.

Mr Jenrick is embroiled in a ‘cash for favours’ row over his approval of Richard Desmond’s plan for 1,500 homes in east London.

He overruled the local council and a planning inspector to grant permission in January, two months after the minister sat next to the former newspaper tycoon at a Tory fundraising dinner. 

His decision came the day before a community levy was introduced that would have cost Mr Desmond around £40million.

Robert Jenrick (pictured) will face a Commons bid to force him to hand over documents relating to his decision to give a Tory donor the green light for a £1billion development

Robert Jenrick (pictured) will face a Commons bid to force him to hand over documents relating to his decision to give a Tory donor the green light for a £1billion development

Mr Jenrick also waived affordable housing rules for the Westferry development, giving the billionaire businessman an estimated £106million in extra revenue. Two weeks later, Mr Desmond donated £12,000 to the Conservative Party.

Mr Jenrick has resisted calls to hand over correspondence relating to his decision. Tower Hamlets Council launched a High Court challenge in March and demanded he disclose the papers. 

Instead, Mr Jenrick accepted that his approval had been ‘unlawful by reason of apparent bias’ and it was quashed. He agreed to take no further part in decisions about the application.

The housing, communities and local government Commons committee has also requested he publish the correspondence. Labour called for Mr Jenrick to ‘come clean’ by releasing the documents without delay. It will hold an opposition day debate on the matter this afternoon and will force a vote on a motion that would compel the publication of the papers.

Labour housing spokesman Steve Reed said: ‘The Secretary of State has admitted he knew his unlawful, biased decision to approve Richard Desmond’s property deal would save the Conservative Party donor up to £150million, but there are still far too many questions left unanswered.








Mr Jenrick is embroiled in a 'cash for favours' row over his approval of Richard Desmond's (pictured) plan for 1,500 homes in east London

Mr Jenrick is embroiled in a ‘cash for favours’ row over his approval of Richard Desmond’s (pictured) plan for 1,500 homes in east London

He overruled the local council and a planning inspector to grant permission in January, two months after the minister sat next to the former newspaper tycoon at a Tory fundraising dinner

He overruled the local council and a planning inspector to grant permission in January, two months after the minister sat next to the former newspaper tycoon at a Tory fundraising dinner

‘The Government’s moral authority hangs by a thread. If the Secretary of State has nothing to hide then he has nothing to fear from publishing these documents.’

Last night Mr Jenrick was facing questions over a second planning row, involving the Jockey Club.

He has called in an application for it to build 318 homes and a hotel at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey. 

The intervention has raised concerns about conflicts of interest because of the Jockey Club’s links to senior Conservative figures and donors.

Its board includes Tory peer Baroness Harding, who oversees the Government’s coronavirus test and trace programme,

Rose Paterson, wife of Tory MP Owen Paterson, and Peter Stanley, who last year donated £5,000 to Health Secretary Matt Hancock’s constituency office in Newmarket, where the Jockey Club is based. 

Racehorse owner Tim Syder gave the Conservative Party £12,500 in November, shortly before he joined the Jockey Club board.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has insisted that ‘each planning appeal is taken on its own merits’.

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