A cabinet colleague today backed Robert Jenrick, the minister embroiled in an alleged cash-for-favours row, saying he was sure he had acted in “the perfect proper way”.
Mr Jenrick, the Housing Secretary, approved a £1 billion property scheme on the Isle of Dogs two weeks before the developer donated £12,000 to the Tories.
He also overruled Tower Hamlets council and a planning inspector a day before a community levy that could have cost the developer up to £50 million was introduced. Steve Reed, shadow housing secretary, has asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Mark Sedwill to investigate.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told Sky News: “Ministers have to make a whole series of decisions. These are always made based on the information that’s put in front of you. I don’t know the specifics of this case but I’m sure he will have done it in the perfect proper way. It’s easy to look at decisions retrospectively and make these sort of claims but there is a whole civil service and propriety thing around being a minister. I’m sure he will have followed all that guidance properly.”
The Westferry Printworks development in east London, including plans for 1,500 homes, is led by former newspaper and magazine owner Richard Desmond’s Northern and Shell firm.
It has emerged that Mr Jenrick “inadvertently” sat next to Mr Desmond at a Conservative Party fundraising dinner in November where the project was raised. He said he told Mr Desmond he could not discuss it.
Mr Jenrick has since quashed the decision on the scheme after a High Court challenge from Tower Hamlets council. A different minister will take any further decision on it. Yesterday Mr Jenrick told MPs he was “confident that all the rules were followed”.