The deputy chairman of Westminster council has resigned after he accepted more than 500 gifts including dinner at top restaurants and theatre tickets, many from developers.

Westminster’s longest serving councillor who was awarded an MBE in 2015 for services to local government, was warned three times about the risks he was taking whils he was chairman of the planning committee, an independent investigation has revealed.

Councillor Robert Davis referred himself to the council’s monitoring officer in March following media reports about the 580 gifts and hospitality he had accepted since 2015.

They included dinner at the exclusive Ivy restaurant, lunch at the Ritz and a trip to see the Cirque du Soleil show. They were recorded in the register of interests councillors have to make for items valued at £25 or over.

He reported a further 85 gifts during the investigation, which the report said were due to an administrative oversight.

The investigation looked over 333 planning decisions . It discovered that six applicants, agents or others involved with 41 decisions against officer recommendations gave councillor Davis gifts or hospitality.

Gifts or hospitality were given six times before or after a planning application was made. Councillor Davis also received gifts or hospitality linked to five applications before or just after consent was approved despite officers recommending the committee turn plans down.

The report said this was not evidence in itself of inappropriate conduct, as decisions were made by a politically balanced committee.

However it said it did not rule out a conclusion that he may have put himself in a position where people “might have sought to influence him in the performance of his duties”.

Independent investigator Sir Stephen Lamport told the council’s investigating officer Hazel Best: “The fact of this scale of declared hospitality laid him open, fairly or unfairly, to a perception of his activities which could damage his personal reputation and, particularly given the senior positions he has held and does hold, the public reputation of the council generally.”

He said the council's code of conduct requires councillors ‘to promote and support high standards of conduct through leadership and by example.’

Ms Best found that he had broken the council's code of conduct.

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She said as councillor Davis had a role as ambassador for Westminster council’s leadership. “It is therefore not surprising that he made the most declarations of all Westminster councillors," she said.

Mr Davis's own submission to the investigation pointed out "there was no reason for him to place himself under an obligation, being well-off financially and a man of high reputation."

It said there was no evidence he put himself under any obligation to anyone who might try to influence him in his civic duties.

In a statement issued after his resignation this week (OCT 9) Mr Davis said he was very proud of his 36 years service in local government. “My approach to declarations has always been to be honest, open and transparent. I have nothing to hide. I registered all my hospitality and it was posted by officers on the Council’s website. I have been making such declarations since 2007 when the requirement was first introduced. I also declared any relevant interests at the beginning of every planning committee I chaired during this time.”

He added: “I have acted with the utmost transparency and probity at all times and have only ever taken decisions on the basis of what I thought was best for Westminster.”

He said the inquiry confirmed that none of his declarations were unlawful or influenced decisions and disputed the conclusion that his actions created “a perception that was negative to the council.”

He added he wanted to draw a line under the matter and move on.

Mr Davis was first elected in 1982 for the Conservative safe seat Lancaster Gate,

He has served as council leader and was the youngest-serving mayor at 36 when he held the role in 1996.

He spent 17 years as chairman of the planning committee, until last year.

City of Westminster Council launched an independent investigation into Councillor Davis's actions

Fourteen residents and residents associations got in touch with the council once the investigation was underway, according to the report.

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The monitoring officer Tasnim Shawkathad investigated a complaint against councillor Davis in 2016. Although no breach was found she decided “to discuss his acceptance of gifts and hospitality” and warned him there were likely to be further complaints.

In all she told the investigation she “raised the issue of risks around public perception of his gifts and hospitality” three times - twice highlighting his role on the planning committee.

But the report said it seemed that previous warnings “did not sink in”.

Westminster Labour Leader Cllr Adam Hug said:“Labour welcomes the findings of the council’s investigation that shows in no uncertain terms the inappropriate nature of councillor Davis’s long-standing behaviour, taking extraordinary amounts of hospitality from the development industry.”

He added: “Councillor Davis’ behaviour has dramatically undermined public trust in Westminster Council and it is absolutely right that he has resigned.”

Council leader Conservative Nickie Aiken said he made the right decision to step down.

"Our residents rightly expect the highest standards of those in public office. It is clear from the report that Councillor Davis breached the code of conduct.

"The planning process must be, and be seen to be, impartial. “

A by-election is expected to be called for November.