Westminster councillor Robert Davis in conduct investigation

image captionRobert Davis has been a Tory councillor for Westminster since 1996

The deputy leader of Westminster City Council has "stepped aside" during an investigation into his conduct.

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

In February, Mr Davis referred himself to the council's monitoring officer.

Mr Davis said: "Due to the ongoing interest and wrongful assertions regarding my time as chairman of planning, I have decided to step aside from my roles."

Until last year Mr Davis had spent 17 years as the chairman of Westminster council's planning committee.

Cabinet member

During this time he received hospitality from several property developers, including Gerald Ronson, Sir Stuart Lipton and Sir George Iacobescu, the chief executive of Canary Wharf Group.

In January 2017 he took over as the council's deputy leader and cabinet member for business, culture and heritage.

Under council rules any gifts and hospitality packages costing more than £25 have to be declared.

Mr Davis's register includes trips to Switzerland, Spain, France, the US, and the five-star Gleneagles Hotel and golf resort in Scotland.

image copyrightTim P. Whitby
image captionRobert Davis spent 17 years as chairman of Westminster City Council's planning committee

The council's monitoring officer has appointed an independent QC to work on the investigation.

The leader of Westminster City Council, Councillor Nickie Aiken, said."Our residents need reassurance that the planning process is not only impartial, but is seen to be impartial."

Councillor Tim Mitchell will assume Mr Davis's responsibilities in the meantime.

In a statement Mr Davis said: "I have at all times acted with the independence and probity required by my role.

"Any suggestion or implication that I have done anything other than to further the interests of the city and its residents are baseless and strenuously denied."

Labour councillor Adam Hug said: "On the basis of the information in the public domain and not under dispute, Westminster Conservatives do not consider his behaviour to be inappropriate. We do."

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