Newly released documents show exchanges between Robert Jenrick, the housing secretary, and Richard Desmond, a property developer and Tory donor, as well as other documents relating to a £1bn development in east London.
18 November 2019
This was the day of a Tory fundraising dinner where Jenrick sat next to Desmond.
Text message from Jenrick: “Good to spend time with you tonight Richard. See you again soon I hope.” Desmond replied: “Thanks Robert I really appreciate your text Will call your office tomorrow to arrange Very best.”
At 10.46pm, an email from Robert Jenrick to [redacted]: “Could you contact this lady and set up a meeting with Richard Desmond, owner of the express newspaper. Thanks Robert.”
Email at 10.45am from housing department official [name redacted] to [name redacted]: “Morning (and you thought you wouldn’t hear from me over purdah!!)! Quick thing from me, SoS has flagged a case in Westferry Docklands (redevelopment of a printworks or something like that?) He understands a ministerial decision on this is likely to be coming up soon and also that there may be some sensitivity with timing on final decision. Given this he has asked that advice be prepared for the first few days of the new Gov so a decision can be made and communicated before xmas.”
Text message from Desmond: “Your efficient PA has arranged a meeting for 19 December at 10.30am for meet and site visit. Good news finally the inspectors reports have gone to you today, we appreciate the speed as we don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing! We all want to go with the scheme and the social housing we have proposed and spent a month at the Marxist town hall debating, thanks again, all my best, Richard.”
Text message from Jenrick: “Richard. As Secretary of State it is important not to give any appearance of being influenced by applicants of cases that I may have a role in or to have predetermined them and so I think it is best that we don’t meet until after the matter has been decided …”
Text message from Desmond: “Morning Robert How does the advice look? We have to get the approval before January 15 otherwise payment of 45 million pounds to tower hamlets meaning we have to stop and reduce social housing Thanks Robert look forward to speaking soon Best Richard” [Jenrick does not reply]
9 January 2020
Email from Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government official [name redacted]: “We have to provide reasoning … as to justify why the SoS [Jenrick] is going against the recc [recommendation] of inspector and officials. That is what we have tried to do.
“On timing, my understanding is that SoS is/was insistent that decision issued this week ie tomorrow – as next week the viability of the scheme is impacted by a change in the London CIL [community investment levy] regime.”