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LABOUR has demanded that Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick “explain major discrepancies” between his account of his role in a cash-for-favours scandal and the documents he was forced to publish this week.
in a letter to the beleaguered minister today, Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed also called on him to publish all remaining documents not subject to Freedom of Information laws.
Mr Jenrick is facing mounting calls to resign after documents made public on Wednesday revealed the extent of his contact with billionaire former press baron Richard Desmond.
The Cabinet minister in January fast-tracked approval of the 1,500-home Westferry Printworks scheme in east London, saving Mr Desmond up to £160 million in taxes by avoiding Tower Hamlets council’s new “community levy” and reducing the amount of obligatory social housing on the site.
The pair exchanged text messages following a meeting at an exclusive Conservative Party dinner last November, and officials in Mr Jenrick’s department described him as being “insistent” that the project be given the green light.
The released documents and texts show that Mr Desmond urged Mr Jenrick to approve the development scheme so that “Marxists” in the town hall did not get “doe (sic) for nothing”.
Mr Desmond donated £12,000 to the Conservative Party two weeks after the scheme was approved.
Mr Jenrick later had to quash his own approval of the scheme, conceding that the decision was “unlawful” due to “apparent bias.”
Labour said that the documents reveal that Mr Jenrick initiated further contact with Mr Desmond after the dinner via text message.
It added that they also show that he failed to notify officials immediately about the dinner as required, and that he appeared to have broken the code of conduct.
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