The Sunday Times ‘revealed’ John Prescott Jr’s involvement in the housebuilding industry at the weekend. Is this another embarrassment for his dad?

I couldn’t resist smiling when I started to read my copy of The Sunday Times yesterday. “Prescott Jr profits from father’s land boom” ran the front page headline. The story below told how our deputy prime minister’s son Jonathan had visited a ‘Riviera conference’ (that’s MIPIM to us), and has been ‘cashing in on the housebuilding boom planned by his father’ (by working as a site finder for residential developers).

Most people in and around the housebuilding industry would hardly have spluttered over the muesli at that revelation. Young Prescott has kept a low profile from the media – rejecting my requests for interview over the past year, and I’d guess those of plenty of other journalists – but within the industry he seems to be almost as well known as his father. I’ve seen his name in the signing-in book of developers’ offices and heard him talked about by housebuilders and consultants (including one who told me a story about a night on the tiles in Prescott Jr’s company that couldn’t possibly be repeated on a family website).

In its story The Sunday Times voices Conservative concerns that Prescott Sr’s decisions (as minister responsible for planning until the May reshuffle) could have had an impact on Prescott Jr’s business in buying sites without planning permission and benefiting from the uplift in land value once planning permission is granted. Whatever the truth of the matter one question remains: has the industry been so welcoming to Prescott Jr because they hoped that would happen? Or is he really just a very good site finder?