Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Cafe cash businessman: I gave money to the DUP

Kirk McCambley at the Lock Keeper's Inn in Belfast

The property developer who helped bankroll the business of Iris Robinson’s teenage lover has confirmed he was a DUP donor.

Builder Ken Campbell said he gave a “small amount” — believed to be in the region of £4,000-£5,000 — to the party on one occasion.

He has been catapulted into the headlines in recent days over a financial link to Mrs Robinson’s young lover Kirk McCambley.

The DUP MP and wife of the First Minister solicited £25,000 from the developer in 2008 to help fund a riverside café venture by Mr McCambley. In a statement earlier this week Mr Campbell said the money was an interest-free loan to the young man and £5,000 had still to be repaid.

Responding to a Belfast Telegraph query yesterday, the builder confirmed a separate funding connection to Mrs Robinson’s party.

A spokesman for the businessman said: “Mr Campbell has only ever made one donation to the DUP. It was for a small amount several years ago and he has never made a direct donation to either Iris or Peter Robinson.”

Mr Campbell was pictured at the DUP’s 2006 annual dinner in Belfast’s Hilton Hotel.

The party was yesterday challenged to disclose if it had received any donations from the late property tycoon Fred Fraser. This came after the revelation that Mrs Robinson also secured £25,000 for her lover’s business from Mr Fraser in 2008.

In a statement this week the Fraser family described this money as a “donation”.

The DUP political funding challenge came from Green Party Westminster candidate for North Down Steven Agnew.

“We have a situation in Northern Ireland where it is permissible to receive corporate donations but it is not necessary to declare such donations to the public, so there is no transparency and no accountability. This has to change,” Mr Agnew said.

The DUP has yet to respond to an inquiry from this newspaper on whether it received any financial support from Mr Fraser.

The Fraser family had no comment to make.

Unlike their counterparts in Britain and the Republic, parties in Northern Ireland do not have to declare donations.

An exemption from legislation, which took effect in the rest of the UK in 2001, is to expire this year.

However, the Northern Ireland Office could extend it yet again.

The ongoing lack of transparency has been justified on the basis that donors could be subject to intimidation or threats.

A public consultation process is planned on whether the secrecy should finally be lifted.

An NIO spokeswoman yesterday said: “The Government intends to consult on this issue.”

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