Press release 09th Jul 2020

Westferry controversy: It's now essential for the Housing Secretary to demonstrate he followed the Ministerial Code

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June 25th, London – Responding to the release of documents by the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick, which shed fresh light on the circumstances surrounding his decision to approve the Westferry Printworks redevelopment, Daniel Bruce, Chief Executive of Transparency International UK, said: 

“These documents appear to show that soon after the Secretary of State’s meeting with the developer he intervened in such a way as to have a material impact on the outcome. The developer petitioned the Secretary of State to intervene and approve the application before a costly new levy would apply; officials then wrote of the Housing Secretary’s ‘insistence’ that the development was approved before this deadline.

“The Ministerial Code requires all ministers to adhere to the highest standards of behaviour and propriety. The Housing Secretary eventually withdrew from further discussions with the developer. Nevertheless, what transpired raises questions over whether the ministerial obligation to uphold the public interest has been fully met.

“It was only after significant pressure, that the Housing Secretary published more documents surrounding his decision on the Westferry Printworks and this is now to be welcomed.  In our view, it would have been more appropriate – in light of the Ministerial Code – if this information had been made public earlier. The Government should be much faster at responding to any further requests for information regarding this development.

“This affair continues to demonstrate that until a concerted effort is made to bring UK lobbying and political access out of the shadows, this sort of controversy will continue to blight our democracy and undermine public trust.”