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PM accused of cronyism as he stands by minister who backed porn baron’s £1bn development

In the swing: Boris Johnson with former porn baron Richard Desmond in 2017 PICTURES: LNP/REX/GETTY

BORIS JOHNSON was accused of favours for the rich last night as pressure mounted over ex-porn baron and Conservative donor Richard Desmond avoiding a multi-million pound tax bill.

The prime minister resisted calls to sack housing secretary Robert Jenrick after claims he tried to rush through Mr Desmond’s plan for a £1billion property plan to avoid a £45million levy.

Mr Johnson ignored calls last month to sack his adviser Dominic Cummings who breached lockdown rules.

Shadow housing minister Mike Amesbury said: ‘We’ve had Dominic Cummings and now we’ve got secretary of state Jenrick. We can’t have one rule for the elite few and rules and indeed laws for the rest of us.’

Pressure: Robert Jenrick

A BBC reporter has claimed it was blocked from showing photos of Mr Desmond with the PM at a Conservative fundraiser where the plan was raised with Mr Jenrick.

Mr Desmond, former owner of the Daily Express, Asian Babes and Big Ones, sent messages to Mr Jenrick about the plan at the Westferry Printworks in east London. One read: ‘We don’t want to give Marxists a load of doe for nothing!’

Mr Jenrick overruled Tower Hamlets Council and the planning inspector to approve the plan in January, a day before the community levy applied. Mr Desmond later donated £12,000.

The minister, who insists he has acted properly, later quashed his decision and has told MPs: ‘Things could and should have been done differently.’

Business minister Nadhim Zahawi yesterday said similar access to MPs and councils is available at local party fundraisers.

A No.10 spokesman said ‘the PM considers the matter closed’.