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UK News Jenrick admits ‘regret’ over text messages with Tory donor Richard Desmond

12:15  06 august  2020
12:15  06 august  2020 Source:   msn.com

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Released papers show messages exchanged between the housing secretary and a Tory donor . Text message from Jenrick : “Good to spend time with you tonight Richard . See you again soon I hope.” Desmond replied: “Thanks Robert I really appreciate your text Will call your office tomorrow to

Jenrick is accused of overruling officials to approve a controversial property development in London financed by billionaire Richard Desmond , after being Jenrick was reported to parliament's sleaze watchdog this week and was forced to make public a series of text messages of his contact with

Robert Jenrick wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a fence: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (Stefan Rousseau/PA) © Stefan Rousseau Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Robert Jenrick has admitted he regrets sitting next to Conservative Party donor Richard Desmond at a fundraising event and sending him text messages afterwards.

The Housing Secretary said that whilst he regrets his communications with the property developer, he does not believe the decision to green light Mr Desmond’s plans for a 1,500-home development at the former Westferry printing works in London’s Isle of Dogs in January was the wrong one.

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Jenrick has admitted he “unlawfully” gave the go-ahead to the 1,500-home development at the former Westferry Printworks The Mail on Sunday first reported that Desmond sat next to Jenrick at the bash in November last year. Jenrick says he refused to discuss the project when it was raised by Desmond .

Mr Jenrick has since had to quash his own approval, conceding the decision was “unlawful”. Labour said the timing of the planning approval – just a day before a new community infrastructure levy came into force – would have saved Mr Desmond ’s Northern and Shell company up to £50 million.

Mr Jenrick came under fire for sitting next to Mr Desmond at a Tory fundraising event in November 2019, but said he had no knowledge of the businessman’s donation and had acted on the “merits” of the case throughout.

a man wearing glasses and smiling at the camera: Richard Desmond (Dominic Lipinski/PA) © Provided by PA Media Richard Desmond (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

The Housing Secretary’s conduct in overturning the decision of Government inspectors and granting permission for Mr Desmond’s luxury housing development to be built has been questioned, but Mr Jenrick insists that he approved the project having been motivated by a desire to see more homes built.

The Westferry development was approved just a few days before a new levy would have meant Mr Desmond would have to pay an estimated £40 million in extra charges for infrastructure.

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Businessman Richard Desmond , who is planning to redevelop the Westferry Printworks in Tower Hamlets, sent a text message The exchange between Mr Jenrick and Mr Desmond was published by the government on Wednesday in an attempt to defuse what the minister called “wild accusations”

Robert Jenrick , the housing, communities and local government secretary, knew that the former media tycoon Richard Desmond had only 24 hours to Jenrick accepted his decision did show “apparent bias” and recused himself from any future decisions over Desmond ’s planned residential project on

Twelve days after the decision was made, Mr Desmond gave £12,000 to the Conservative Party.

Asked why people should trust him over the Government’s new planning proposals which it says will “be faster, but also build better quality homes”, Mr Jenrick told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Well I don’t think this does give more power to developers, it creates a much more certain system. It will, for example, fix the challenge of developer contributions once and for all.”

Pushed to explain what he learned from the experience of the Westferry development, Mr Jenrick added: “I’ve set out the events around that decision and there are definitely lessons to be learnt.

“I wish I hadn’t been sat next to a developer at an event and I regret sharing text messages with him afterwards.

a river running through a city: The Westferry Printworks site on the Isle of Dogs, east London (Yui Mok/PA) © Provided by PA Media The Westferry Printworks site on the Isle of Dogs, east London (Yui Mok/PA)

“But I don’t regret the decision, because I think it was right to get housing built on a brownfield site on a part of London that desperately needs it.

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StrongerStabler @StrongerStabler. Housing Sec Robert Jenrick green lit Tory Donor Richard Desmond 's housing development, allowing him to EXCLUSIVE: Robert Jenrick watched a promo video of £1bn Westferry scheme for "3 or 4 minutes" at Tory dinner on Richard Desmond 's phone

Jenrick is refusing to turn up in the Commons to answer questions about his go-ahead for a billionaire Tory donor ’s property scheme, it has emerged. The no-show, revealed on Commons documents, is certain to pile further pressure on Mr Jenrick , after the murky affair remained partly shrouded by the

“The system that I’ve helped to design that is set out in the proposals we’re publishing today will actually move us forward significantly on some of the challenges that that case rose.”

Downing Street has said the matter is “closed”.

The Housing Secretary also admitted that he has “no idea” how much property developers have donated to the Tories in the last year.

Asked how much money the Conservatives have received from property tycoons since Boris Jonson became Prime Minister, Mr Jenrick said: “Well I’ve no idea because ministers are not involved in those issues, that is entirely for the Conservative Party.”

The Housing Secretary added: “You’re entirely mischaracterising what we’re doing here. We’re actually asking developers to pay more.”

Mr Jenrick said the Government are “saying we’re going to abolish the current system which favours the big developers”.


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