Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Robinson 'appalled' at TV claims

Iris Robinson with her husband First Minister Peter Robinson

Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson has hit out at claims that he failed to alert watchdogs when his wife allegedly broke parliamentary rules to help her toyboy lover.

Iris Robinson secured £50,000 from two wealthy developers, who were family friends, so 19-year-old Kirk McCambley could open a restaurant on the banks of the River Lagan.

But the Strangford MP faces allegations that she did not declare her financial interest in the business despite sitting on the local council which awarded the tender to her teenage lover in 2008.

BBC Spotlight made a series of claims about her on Thursday night. Mr Robinson said: "I completely reject BBC Spotlight's attempt to implicate me by insinuation and innuendo.

"I am even more appalled by the inclusion on that programme of comments and conclusions made without any supporting facts - indeed with facts in the programme which support a contrary position.

"While I have learned from Spotlight for the first time some alleged aspects of my wife's affair and her financial arrangements, I will be resolutely defending attacks on my character and contesting any allegations of wrongdoing. To that end, I will be addressing the media ... after I have taken legal advice."

Mrs Robinson faced calls from the Alliance Party and Ulster Unionist Party to step down as Strangford MP and Assembly member immediately. But potentially of more political significance in Northern Ireland, her husband is confronted with the claim that he became aware of the situation but did not alert the appropriate watchdog bodies that his wife may have broken rules.

If the charges, made in the TV documentary, are true, they would represent clear breaches of parliamentary rules and codes.

On Wednesday, Mrs Robinson, who said 10 days ago that she was stepping down from public life because of mental health problems, issued a stunning statement admitting the affair and revealing that, wracked by guilt, she had tried to take her own life in March last year. That was four months after her fling with Mr McCambley ended in acrimony after the couple rowed over the repayments of the loans.

During an interview about his marriage on Wednesday, the First Minister said he was aware of the Spotlight claims and was confident he had done nothing wrong.

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