Grant Shapps has been fending off claims that he showed favouritism in the allocation of taxpayers’ money to a town in his own constituency — but the photo above seems to put paid to claims that he wasn’t unduly involved.

As a Local Government minister, Shapps was responsible for overseeing the so-called Portas Pilots scheme to regenerate high streets. Fifteen towns received grants of £100,000, including the town of Hatfield in Shapps’ own Welwyn Hatfield constituency.

Claims of bias first arose when Freedom of Information requests revealed that Hatfield representatives were the only ones to have a face-to-face meeting with the man in charge of local regeneration.

The now-Tory Chairman claimed that the process was “completely proper”, but his public support for the Hatfield bid at the same time as he was making the decision suggests a conflict of interest.

Perhaps Shapps should have delegated the issue to Michael Green.

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