News | Published June 27 2020

Questions remain over housing secretary’s conduct, Labour leader says

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has insisted that housing secretary Robert Jenrick still has a case to answer following his decision to grant planning permission to a Conservative donor.

Jenrick has come under fire for opting to overrule government inspectors back in 2019 and hand planning permission to party donor Richard Desmond for a new luxury housing development, which is to be built at the former Westferry printing works on London’s Isle of Dogs.

Less than a fortnight after receiving planning permission from Jenrick, Desmond, former owner of the Daily Express newspaper, donated a sum of £12,000 to the Conservative Party.

Sir Keir told the BBC that he saw the matter as “far from closed” but stopped short of calling for the housing secretary to resign over the decision.

Jenrick claims that he was unaware of Desmond’s donation to the party and acted solely upon the “merits” of the case put forward to receive planning permission for the development.

The housing secretary has agreed to publish all details of his contact with Desmond, with prime minister Boris Johnson considering the matter to be “closed”.

Sir Keir, however, viewed the issue differently.

In his interview with the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg, Sir Keir said: “We want straight answers on this, and I think the public do. They can tell that something is wrong here.”

The Holborn and St Pancras MP went on to call for top UK civil servant Sir Mark Sedwill to investigate Jenrick to determine whether he contravened ministerial conduct rules, which Sir Mark has since rejected.

Downing Street said in a statement that the PM backed his ministerial colleague and gave him his full confidence.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
June 27 2020

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