DEVELOPERS looking to influence planning decision-makers should “absolutely not” expect to boost their chances of success by attending Tory fundraisers, according to Priti Patel.

The Home Secretary’s remarks are contrary to those of her ministerial colleague Nadhim Zahawi when he was asked about Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick’s links with former media mogul Richard Desmond on Thursday.

Jenrick is fighting to keep his job after documents revealed the extent of the contact between himself and Desmond before the Cabinet minister signed off on the 1500-home Westferry Printworks scheme in east London.

The pair exchanged text messages following a meeting at a Conservative Party event in November, and officials in Jenrick’s department described him as being “insistent” that Desmond’s Northern & Shell project be given the green light before a new levy added millions to the cost.

Jenrick later had to quash his own approval, conceding that the decision was “unlawful” due to “apparent bias”.

Under pressure to explain how a wealthy businessman could have such access, business minister Zahawi indicated that anybody could deploy similar tactics.

“If people go to a fundraiser in their local area, in Doncaster [for example], for the Conservative Party, they will be sitting next to MPs and other people in their local authorities and can interact with different parts of the authority,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week.

But Patel, when asked on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show whether attending a party bash would improve the chances of a successful planning application, she said: “No it will not, it will absolutely not.

“I speak now as a member of parliament who deals with planning at a constituency level week in, week out.”

Pushed on whether she would watch a promotional video for a major planning development at a fundraiser – a reference to Desmond alleging that Jenrick viewed a short film about the Westferry development on the ex-Daily Express owner’s phone – Patel said: “I have four planning authorities to cover my constituency, so I probably would not be watching videos at all.”

She continued: “The fact of the matter is people of all different backgrounds attend fundraisers ... we meet people with different causes, different backgrounds and different interests.”

Patel repeated Downing Street’s insistence that the Westferry affair was “closed” following Jenrick’s decision to publish the papers and correspondence related to the mass housing scheme, which is rumoured to be worth £1 billion.

She told Andrew Marr: “I haven’t followed the details of every single decision on this but what I do know and what I can tell you is that the correspondence, the documentation is out in the public domain on this particular application – and rightly so.

“It is a significant decision, a significant application. The papers have been published, the Secretary of State has followed all issues around transparency. It has been discussed in Parliament a number of times, questions have been answered on this and the matter is deemed to be closed.”