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Lord Lister and the loan for property developers

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Issue 2755
Lord Lister
Lord Lister (Pic: Wikipedia)

Homes England is a government agency set up with the purpose of funding “affordable homes”. It met on 9 May 2019 to consider a request from a luxury property company for a £187 million publicly-backed loan.

Unexpectedly, the chairman showed up. He was Lord Udny-Lister, then just Sir Edward. In his £68,000 a year role Lister was not required or expected to attend meetings.

Those in the room did not know that Lister was being paid by the developer that would benefit from the loan.

Lister was Boris Johnson’s close ally, who went on to become his chief strategic adviser in Downing Street. He left the government suddenly last month.

Lister’s resignation followed a series of stories of potential conflicts of interest.

The latest details about Lister’s role at Homes England centre on his work for Delancey, run by Jamie Ritblat. Delancey has donated more than £350,000 to the Tories, including £100,000 in the run-up to the last general election.

Just before the 2012 Olympics, Delancey and the Qatari state formed a consortium to buy the new Olympic Village in Stratford, east London.

At the time, Johnson was mayor, while Lister was his deputy responsible for planning.

Lister signed off the sale of the ­village, with Johnson describing it as a “great deal for London”. It was sold for £275 million less than it cost to build.

In March 2015, the Delancey and Qatari joint venture borrowed £181 ­million in public funds to develop two plots of land in the village.

They included Victory Plaza—two high-rise towers of 482 flats. Plans said it would have bars and restaurants, and rooftop gardens.

The money came from Homes England’s build-to-rent fund. The Olympic Park became a flagship build‑to-rent site. By May 2019, Victory Plaza had been completed. Delancey and the Qataris had created a company to market and run the flats.

That company was Get Living, whose joint biggest shareholder is Delancey Oxford Residential. Get Living applied to a separate Homes England scheme to pay off the £181 million loan.

The fund was known as the ­private rented sector guarantee scheme, designed to encourage companies to run newly built, privately rented flats.

Get Living’s application was for a loan of £187 million.

In other words, a Delancey-led firm would be borrowing public money to pay off a publicly funded loan that Delancey had used to build the blocks.

Lister was being paid by Delancey at the time. In his register of interests, Lister had declared that he advised a firm called Dream Ltd, a formulation that has not been used before or since and is a reference to Delancey Real Estate Asset Management.

With Lister present, the committee agreed to approve the loan.

Two months after the meeting, Lister resigned as chairman of Homes England to become the chief adviser to Johnson, by now the prime minister.

While in Downing Street, Lister continued to be paid by Delancey and invited Ritblat to advise on policy towards the property sector during the pandemic.

Cameron ‘just does’ corruption

David Cameron was strangely unwilling to reveal the size of his Greensill pay packet in two appearances before Commons committees last week.

But he did at least have the decency to answer a question of why does he text like that?

He was asked at the Treasury committee why he had signed off his lobbying messages to just about everyone in government—apart from Michael Gove—with “Love Dc”. Cameron said, “With anyone I know even at all well, I tend to sign off text messages with ‘Love Dc’. I don’t know why, I just do.”

What else does an ex‑prime minister with a gig for a finance giant “just do”, then?

Cameron reluctantly disclosed details of the perks, pay and share options he received while lobbying ministers on behalf of the company.

He admitted that from time to time he had enjoyed the use of the firm’s private jet to whisk him away to his Cornwall holiday home.

Tory minister Nadhim Zahawi said, “I think clearly this was a painful period for him it cannot be easy for a prime minister to go through this,” he said.

“It’s a difficult time for him and I think we should respect that as well.”

Cameron’s private company, the Office of David Cameron, filed accounts in January 2020.

They revealed that as of April 2019 the firm—which is supported with a publicly funded grant—had £873,821 in net assets.

As well as his lucrative position at Greensill, he has raked in cash for speeches—charging as much as £120,000 an hour.

And his book deal was worth a reported £800,000.

He probably has around £35 million.

He just does.

Disgraced ex-MP got contract from Hancock

Health secretary Matt Hancock personally intervened to help a shamed former Tory minister land a contract worth nearly £180 million.

Hancock insists that Brooks Newmark received no special treatment as he brokered a deal for international firms to supply millions of pairs of goggles to the NHS last year.

Newmark quit as minister for civil society in 2014.

He was exposed as sending explict messages to a “female party activist” who was in fact a male undercover reporter who was posing as a female.

National Audit Office emails show that last May, at the height of the first Covid-19 lockdown, he lobbied the government on behalf of a Hong Kong firm.

After a string of email exchanges with Hancock and his senior aides the company was awarded a £178 million deal in


MPs to vote to save Johnson’s holidays

Tory MPs have vowed to prevent Boris Johnson from being suspended from the Commons over a “freebie” holiday in Mustique—by rejecting the verdict of Westminster’s standards watchdog.

They are threatening to vote down the sanction if Kathryn Stone, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, calls for it.

One senior Tory said the prime minister’s “mandate from the British people” could not be overturned by a standards inquiry.

Stone had accused Johnson of failing to come clean over the real cost of his holiday in December 2019. She suggested it was twice as much as the £15,000 he declared in the Commons register of interests.

She also suggested that the cost had not been met by Tory donor and Carphone Warehouse co-founder David Ross, as Johnson claimed.

Things they say

‘My home town has gone communist’

Jeremy Clarkson writing on Chipping Northon voting Labour

‘Watch the Labour Party roar back to life with an agenda not seen since Vladimir Lenin decided he’d had enough of the tsar’

Clarkson explains how Labour will win votes if posh people are too annoying

‘Six to one’

New Democratic Unionist Party leader Edwin Poots argues Catholics are six times more likely to infect people with Covid-19

‘We should stop forcing local authorities to create Traveller sites… phase out the ethnic minority rights of people who are not a race

but a doomed mindset’

Times columnist Matthew Parris calls for a relentless “squeeze” to get rid of Travellers

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