Secretary of state for housing Robert Jenrick has repeatedly rejected the notion of bias in giving permission for the Westferry development.

Robert Jenrick Conservative Party Conference 2019

Source: Isabel Infantes_EMPICS Entertainment

“There was no bias whatsoever,” said Jenrick at a select committee today, broadcast online.

“Any suggestion of that, I think, is extremely unfair,” he added, “And is in most cases a willful misreading of events.”

While he admitted regret at being sat next Richard Desmond, a donor to the Conservative party, he maintained it was not his decision.

“Would it have been better not to have been sat next to the applicant? Yes,” he said.

In January, Jenrick overruled the local council and independent planning inspector by giving the green light to the scheme for 1,500 homes.

The go-ahead came a day before the introduction of a community levy would have kicked in, saving Desmond £45m.

In June, Jenrick published a 129-page document detaining his correspondence with Desmond, which included text messages between Jenrick and the developer.