Richard Desmond is a multi-millionaire who has previously donated funds to the Conservative party. He applied to build 1,500 homes in east London and his application was approved by Robert Jenrick, the Housing Secretary.
The approval was given earlier than expected and a day before Tower Hamlets council was due to approve a change in community charges would have cost Mr. Desmond’s company between £30 million and £50 million.
Fortunate timing you might think, but it now appears Mr. Desmond paid £12,000 to attend a Conservative party political dinner in November and was sat next to Mr. Jenrick.
The politician has admitted he was lobbied to approve the application at the dinner but claims that he refused to discuss the issue. A very sensible approach to adopt for a seasoned, street-smart politician with lots of integrity and respect for the office he holds.
Under the glare of public scrutiny, Mr. Jenrick has subsequently admitted showing ‘apparent bias’ in giving the go-ahead to the development and the approval has now been withdrawn. He denies any wrongdoing, which is only to be expected.
The Labour party and the mayor of London, Mr. Sadiq Khan, are having a field day at Mr. Jenrick’s expense and there is a clamour for an inquiry into the Conservative party’s links with Mr. Desmond and other such developers and businessmen. We could be set, yet again, for a new Housing Secretary.
The good news is that we have been told we do not have to question the integrity of our politicians. The timing of the approval was pure coincidence. As you might expect, our faith in politicians remains intact.