Wednesday 24 June 2020 / 5:03 PM Local Government / Steve Reed

Labour Forces Government to Release Westferry ‘Cash-for-Favours’ Documents

Labour has successfully forced the Government to release documents relating to the Westferry Printworks scandal.

The Housing Secretary confirmed that the Government would publish documentation to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee today, after the Government abstained on the Humble Address Motion put forward by Labour.

Steve Reed MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, said:

“Labour has forced the Government to publish some documents in relation to this ‘cash-for-favours’ scandal after it could not convince its own MPs to cover up this shocking case of Tory sleaze.

“This is an important first step but it remains the case that Robert Jenrick still has serious questions to answer about his relationship with Mr Desmond and his unlawful, biased decision to approve the development.

“The Government needs to comply fully with this binding motion of the House of Commons Nothing but full transparency will do if this Government wants to restore broken trust in the integrity of the planning system.”


Notes to Editors:

  • During the debate, the Housing Secretary failed to answer several questions posed about his conduct during the affair:
    • Whether he told officials that he had viewed a promotional video for the Development on Mr Desmond’s phone
    • How and when the Secretary of State notified officials about his dinner with Mr Desmond
    • On what grounds he overrode the decision of the Planning Inspector
    • Why he rushed through the approval on 14 January, the day before a Community Infrastructure Levy came into force that would have cost Mr Desmond up to £50 million
    • Why he needed to take the decision in a way that helped Mr Desmond cut his tax bill
    • Whether officials advised Mr Jenrick to recuse himself and whether he over-ruled them
    • What advice Mr Jenrick received about the viability of the scheme with a higher level of affordable housing
    • Whether any other ministers or their officials contacted him about the scheme before he took his unlawful decision, and whether he disclosed those contacts to his officials as he is required to do
    • How often the Prime Minister has met Mr Desmond since he took office, and whether they discussed this scheme
  • Text of Motion:
    Westferry Printworks DevelopmentKeir Starmer
    Steve Reed
    Mike Amesbury
    Rachel Reeves
    Valerie Vaz
    Mr Nicholas Brown

    That an Humble Address be presented to Her Majesty, that she will be graciously pleased to give direction to Minister to provide all correspondence, including submissions and electronic communications, involving Ministers and Special Advisers pertaining to the Westferry Printworks Development and the subsequent decision by the Secretary of State to approve its planning application at appeal to the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee.