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Second politician named in Jenrick ‘cash for favours’ controversy

Housing minister Chris Pincher has now been named in media investigations into allegations concerning his political boss, Robert Jenrick, and the involvement of a lobbying company.

Jenrick is Housing Secretary - the senior of the two housing positions, which entitles him to a seat in the Cabinet - but he has in recent weeks been the subject of media probes into a controversial planning decision which he has now accepted as being illegal and showing bias.

Jenrick and former newspaper magnate Richard Desmond sat on the same table at a Tory fundraising dinner in November last year; some eight weeks later, Jenrick approved a plan put forward by Desmond to build 1,524 homes on an east London site, Westferry Printworks - despite the independent Planning Inspectorate recommending that the application be rejected. 

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Shortly afterwards, Desmond made a financial contribution to the Conservative Party.

Last month - in an announcement which was made during the Dominic Cummings affair and which received little publicity at the time - Jenrick admitted acting unlawfully in the decision, following legal action initiated by the local Tower Hamlets council. 

Jenrick’s January decision was made just one day before the council adopted planning rule changes which would have meant that Desmond would have had to pay between £30m and £50m more to the council.

In the latest twist over the weekend, the Mail on Sunday details Jenrick’s close links with the lobbying company Thorncliffe Communications which lists the Westferry development as one of its clients. Jenrick is alleged to have given the company a private briefing on the housing market in February this year, shortly after attempting to push through permission for the scheme. 

To cap it all, the Mail on Sunday has found that the managing director of Thorncliffe, Richard Patient, boasted on Facebook that he had known housing minister Chris Pincher “for 30 years”.

Pincher last week agreed to deputise for Jenrick to answer an emergency question on the Westferry controversy in the House of Commons.

The story has now been covered by The Times, The Observer, the Daily Mail and the property trade press as well as the Mail on Sunday - you can see the most recent MoS story, from yesterday, here.

Throughout, Jenrick and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have denied any allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

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