Westminster Council Deputy Leader resigns after hospitality inquiry

Since January 2015, Tory councillor Robert Davis has enjoyed 514 “gifts and hospitality” in his council role.

He referred himself to the council’s monitoring officer in February, who concluded that he did not act unlawfully but that he had breached the councillors’ code of conduct.

Council leader Nickie Aiken welcomed his decision.

Mr Davis, who spent 17 years as chairman of Westminster City Council’s planning committee, received hospitality from several property developers.

Westminster Council Deputy Leader resigns after hospitality inquiry

The leader of the council, Nickie Aiken, welcomed his decision to quit saying: “The planning process must be and be seen to be impartial.”

Davis received tickets to West End shows and invitations to exclusive dinners in London’s finest restaurants as well as trips to the south of France, his official declarations revealed. One day in Mallorca he managed two lunches, the first at the home of Andrew Lloyd Webber and the second at the home of the Earl of Chichester.

He was entertained by and received gifts from property industry figures at least 150 times from the start of 2015 onwards – a rate of almost once a week. The Guardian established that he received gifts or hospitality from property firms involved in half of the planning applications his committee ruled on in 2016.

The review found that “by accepting the large scale of gifts and hospitality Cllr Davis has not promoted and supported high standards of conduct through leadership and by example”.

It said there was no evidence of any inappropriate conduct or illegality but the scale of the hospitality was “extraordinary”.

Lamport said Davis’ acceptance of such a volume of gifts and hospitality “lay open his reputation, and therefore that of the Council, to a perception – fairly or unfairly – that called into question his personal responsibility to promote high standards of conduct”.

Davis stood down from his role as deputy leader in March after an outcry at the scale of the hospitality, but denied any wrongdoing and stood again as a councillor in May’s local elections, retaining his seat.

In a statement on Wednesday he said that following an internal investigation led by a senior barrister appointed by the council, he was resigning with immediate effect, bringing to an end his 36 years as a councillor in the borough.

He said: “Earlier this year there was some press coverage concerning the hospitality I received during the course of my duties. To avoid this becoming an issue in this year’s elections, I agreed to refer myself to the monitoring officer and stand aside as deputy leader while an investigation was carried out. My approach to declarations has always been to be honest, open and transparent. I have nothing to hide.

“An inquiry has been completed by the council. They have confirmed that none of the declarations I made or hospitality I received influenced decisions I took as a councillor and that nothing I did was unlawful.

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More Details : https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-45815856
More Details : https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/oct/10/tory-westminster-councillor-resigns-after-hospitality-inquiry

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