On the Today programme this morning Lord Kerslake, the former head of the civil service and the former permanent secretary at the communities department (where Robert Jenrick is secretary of state) said that even though Jenrick “got to the right place in the end”, in that he turned down a follow-up meeting with Richard Desmond to discuss the Westferry development, the documents released last night raised troubling issues. Kerslake explained:
I’m pleased the documents have come out but I do think they have raised some troubling issues, I have to say, about access and influence.
I don’t for a moment suggest the minister took his decision simply because of a donation to the Conservative party.
But the fact is, for the price of a dinner, the developer was able to present his scheme to the minister, follow up with texts and seek to influence the decision.
Kerslake said the fact that Desmond was able to raise the application with Jenrick at a dinner “creates the impression – and appearance here is really important – that the developer has some level of influence over the decisions”.
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