Northern Ireland's public appointments watchdog has claimed senior civil servants are failing to tackle conflict of interest issues when assessing candidates.
Felicity Houston also highlighted breaches of basic good practice in appointment procedures. She told MLAs that an official asked her: "We know who we want to appoint so how do we get round this code of practice?"
Mrs Houston, the province's Commissioner for Public Appointments, was giving evidence yesterday to a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC). She said she had no sanctions when appointment rules are not followed. She also said Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM's) sponsorship role creates a "real conflict" for her office's independence.