I am writing to ask that Rehman Chishti, Member of Parliament for the Rainham and Gillingham constituency, is investigated for breaking Parliamentary Standards.
On Wednesday 31 March 2021 planning application MC/20/3204 came in front of Medway Borough Council’s Planning Committee. This was the third time that a planning application for this plot of land had been considered by the Planning Committee.
Prior to March 2021, the proposed developments on this site have twice been refused by the Planning Committee and on both occasions the Secretary of State has refused the applicant’s subsequent appeal against the Council’s decision to refuse permission.
The applicant Colin Jarvis (Director of MEMS Power Generation) is a Conservative Party member and a Conservative Party donor. Two members of the Planning Committee declared a conflict of interest as they belong to the same Conservative Party Association as the applicant, therefore leaving the debate and not voting on the application.
Although Mr Chishti also belongs to the same Conservative Party Association as the applicant, Mr Chishti still felt that it was appropriate to write a letter supporting the application, which was submitted on the Council’s online planning portal and included in the Committee report provided to members of the Planning Committee.
This demonstrates that Mr Chishti has a clear conflict of interest in relation to this plot of land, its owner and the application which have been submitted to develop the land.
Furthermore, Mr Chishti has also accepted monetary donations from the applicant in 2015 and again in 2020, which can be found via the following links: https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/200111/chishti_rehman.htm https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm/cmregmem/151214/chishti_rehman.htm
This unequivocal financial interest in supporting the planning application heightens the significance of the conflict of interest.
Mr Chishti’s publicly stated support for the latest application cannot therefore be considered to be an impartial or an objective point of view. I strongly believe that Mr Chishti’s inappropriate interference in the local planning process is a question of integrity, and his actions tarnish and undermine the very office to which he was elected.
Recognising the very clear trail of association and financial links to the planning applicant, it is difficult to conclude that Mr Chishti acted in the public interest. Indeed, residents who have objected to all three planning applications have previously asked Mr Chishti for his support in helping them fight against the planning applications. Mr Chishti informed the residents that it is not appropriate for him to get involved in small planning applications such as this. It would appear that Mr Chishti has failed to “resolve any conflict between the two, (personal interest and public interest) …. and in favour of the public interest”
I understand that the Rules of Conduct outlined in the House of Commons Code of Conduct 2019 not only applies to the conduct of Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, but in all aspects of their public life.
Therefore, whilst it is noted that Mr Chishti has declared the donations from the applicant in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests in accordance with Paragraph 14 of the Code of Conduct, I would like his actions to be investigated against the other Rules of Conduct, most notably:
11. Members shall base their conduct on a consideration of the public interest, avoid
conflict between personal interest and the public interest and resolve any conflict between
the two, at once, and in favour of the public interest.
17. Members shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage
to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole, or of its Members
Additionally, I feel that Mr Chishti has also failed to observe many of the General Principles of Conduct identified by the Committee on Standards in Public Life, most notably:
Holders of public office should take decisions solely in terms of the public interest. They should not do so in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends.
Holders of public office should not place themselves under any financial or other obligation to outside individuals or organisations that might influence them in the performance of their official duties.
In carrying out public business, including making public appointments, awarding contracts, or recommending individuals for rewards and benefits, holders of public office should make choices on merit.
Councillor Chrissy Stamp
Member for Watling Ward