Robert Jenrick is summoned before MPs to explain 'serious mistakes'

Robert Jenrick is summoned before MPs to explain ‘serious mistakes’ in his handling of Tory donor’s £1billion homes plan as select committee rejects the PM’s claim that ‘the matter is closed’

  • The Housing Secretary is in a ‘cash for favours’ row over a housing development
  • He approved the 1,500-home development Westferry print works in London 
  • Tory donor Richard Desmond’s proposal for the development was approved 

Robert Jenrick has been summoned before MPs to explain ‘serious mistakes’ in his handling of a Tory donor’s £1billion homes plan.

The Commons housing select committee said it disagreed with the Prime Minister’s claim that ‘the matter is closed’.

Yesterday the committee wrote to the Housing Secretary with a list of 26 unanswered questions and demanded that he appear before it in a fortnight.

Mr Jenrick is embroiled in a ‘cash for favours’ row over his approval of Richard Desmond’s proposal for a 1,500-home development on the site of the Westferry print works in east London.

 

Secretary of State for Housing Robert Jenrick (pictured) has been summoned before MPs to explain ‘serious mistakes’ in his handling of a Tory donor’s £1billion homes plan

The minister overruled the planning inspector and his own officials to grant permission in January, two months after he sat next to the tycoon at a Tory fundraising dinner.

In a letter to Mr Jenrick yesterday, the housing select committee said it would not normally scrutinise individual planning decisions but in this case ‘we feel it is important to make an exception’.

The Housing Secretary last week was forced to hand over documents that show he sped up the approval process. 

Mr Desmond urged him to do so before the introduction of a local levy that he said would cost him £45million.

 Mr Jenrick is embroiled in a ‘cash for favours’ row over his approval of Richard Desmond’s (right) proposal for a 1,500-home development on the site of the Westferry print works in east London

Emails between Mr Jenrick’s officials show that he was ‘insistent’ that the planning decision was made ahead of the deadline. 

The minister subsequently agreed for his decision to be quashed after admitting it had been ‘unlawful by reason of apparent bias’.

Clive Betts, the select committee’s Labour chairman, yesterday wrote in his letter to Mr Jenrick that ‘the documents do clearly demonstrate that serious mistakes were made during this process, and that these put into doubt your ability to act as a neutral arbiter in this case’.

He added: ‘The committee respectfully disagrees with the Prime Minister’s assertion that “the matter is closed”.’

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