Regeneration big-hitter David Taylor has rejected allegations he lobbied John Prescott to approve the Renzo Piano-designed Shard skyscraper – and potentially earn himself a £1 million fee
According to the Mail on Sunday, Taylor – described by the paper as ‘a former special adviser and friend’ of the then-deputy prime minister – asked for the money from developer Sellar Property Group when Prescott rubberstamped the 87-storey scheme at London Bridge.
It is alleged Taylor, also labelled by the Mail on Sunday as ‘Prescott’s former aide’, had a confidential ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ with millionaire Irvine Sellar to assist in getting approval from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and ‘use his wide contacts in government’.
However, Taylor told the AJ that, although he did speak to the Government Office for London, he had never lobbied ministers in a bid to green light the scheme.
He said: ‘I don’t like lobbying – I never have and I never will be a lobbyist. The only time I spoke to Prescott about the Shard was to make sure we didn’t discuss it. ’
The Mail on Sunday’s story emerged following a court case in Jersey between project backers Simon Halabi – now bankrupt – and Sellar. Halabi claimed he had not been consulted on the professional team, including Taylor, who had agreed to work as an adviser on a ‘risk basis’.
Hitting out at accusations his role was in any way clandestine, Taylor said: ‘If my involvement was secret why would I sit in the public inquiry? Sellar engaged me to restructure the process.’
Taylor, the brains behind the now-defunct Silvertown Quays project and the founder of English Partnerships, admitted he had not given evidence at the inquiry, but said: ‘I’m still glad I worked on the project. I make no apologies for that or for working at risk on a scheme that will become an outstanding landmark for London.’
Taylor maintains he never received the full £1 million fee, emphasising that he continued to work at an on-risk basis ‘60 per cent of the time’.
Sellar did not respond to enquiries about the matter.