Government defends Housing Secretary amid 'bias' allegations

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi has defended Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick amid claims he helped a multi-millionaire Conservative Party donor avoid millions in taxes.

Documents and text messages have revealed that Mr Jenrick “insisted” a controversial planning decision in east London went ahead before a new levy was brought in that would allegedly have cost property developer Richard Desmond an extra £50 million.

Speaking with talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mr Zahawi said Mr Jenrick had offered “absolute transparency”.

“As soon as Robert Jenrick thought there may have been perception of bias - although he absolutely insists there was no bias in his decision making - but the perception was there, this thing was pulled.”

Although Mr Jenrick quashed his own planning approval after conceding the decision was “unlawful”, the minister is under pressure to resign over the matter.

Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat spokesman for Communities, Housing and Local Government, was among those calling for the frontbencher to quit.

He said: “Jenrick’s calculated decision to push through a huge development just in time to save a party donor millions exposes something rotten at the heart of this Conservative government.

“Yet again we are seeing Tory ministers show it is one rule for them and their cronies, and another for everyone else.”

However, according to the head of the civil service, Sir Mark Sedwill, Boris Johnson considers the matter “closed”.

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