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Housing Secretary's ‘cash for favours’ scandal reported to parliamentary standards watchdog

LABOUR lodged a formal complaint against Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick today, urging an investigation into whether he breached the MPs’ code of conduct by approving a controversial development plan.

The party’s letter to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards lists five “apparent breaches” in what it describes as a “cash for favours” scandal involving former press baron and pornographer Richard Desmond.

Labour has also piled pressure onto PM Boris Johnson to come clean over his own links with the billionaire developer after it was revealed that the pair spoke at a fundraising dinner and were pictured with their arms around each other.

Earlier, Labour demanded that Mr Jenrick “explain major discrepancies” between his account of his role in the scheme and the dossier of texts and emails he was forced to publish this week.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed also called on him to publish all remaining documents not subject to freedom of information laws.

In January, Mr Jenrick fast-tracked approval of the 1,500-home Westferry Printworks scheme in east London, saving Mr Desmond’s company Northern & Shell up to £160 million in taxes and reducing the amount of obligatory social housing on the site.

The pair exchanged text messages following a meeting at an exclusive Tory dinner last November, and Mr Jenrick’s department described him as being “insistent” that the project be approved.

Mr Desmond urged Mr Jenrick to approve the development scheme so that “Marxists” in Tower Hamlets’ town hall did not get “doe (sic) for nothing,” the dossier shows.

Two weeks after the scheme was approved, Mr Desmond donated £12,000 to the Conservative Party.

Mr Jenrick later had to quash his approval of the scheme, admitting that the decision was “unlawful” due to “apparent bias.”

The PM has denied any involvement in the decision to give Mr Desmond permission for his development, while Mr Jenrick has described allegations over the matter as “wild.”

Mr Johnson has resisted calls for an investigation and stressed that he considers the matter to be closed, but Labour’s Mr Reed said: “The Prime Minister can’t just sweep this issue under the carpet.

“… [He] has yet again shown woefully poor judgement by not referring clear breaches of the Ministerial Code to the Cabinet Secretary and he must now come clean himself about his own involvement in this case.”

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