Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Whistleblower is still waiting for apology from DUP adviser

Jenny Palmer
Jenny Palmer

A DUP whistleblower is still waiting for an apology from one of her party's special advisers – almost a month after she was expecting one to be issued.

Lisburn councillor Jenny Palmer went public on BBC's Spotlight programme into allegations of political interference in the awarding of contracts by the Housing Executive.

She claimed that Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland's special adviser Stephen Brimstone had tried to pressure her into voting to extend the contract of a firm which charged taxpayers for work that was never carried out.

Mrs Palmer alleged that Mr Brimstone had attempted to pressure her to change her vote at a board meeting of the Housing Executive discussing its £8m-a-year contract with east Belfast company Red Sky, telling the BBC programme: "He needed me to basically go against the decision of the board on the extension of the contract for Red Sky. I said to him: I don't think I can do that."

She added: "He said: The party comes first – you do what you're told, otherwise there is no point in [you] being on the board, if I wasn't prepared to do what they asked me to do."

It is understood that before heading to America on holiday, Mr Robinson and Mr Brimstone met Ms Palmer, and that she was accompanied by Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson.

Then in August, Mrs Palmer said she had seen a statement in which Mr Brimstone apologised to her, which she expected to be issued publicly within a week.

She said at that time she was happy with the statement, adding that she remains a member of the DUP and has "no intention of leaving the party".

Mrs Palmer has received over 1,500 messages of support for her whistleblowing.

During the Topical Questions section of a sitting of the Assembly on Monday, TUV leader Jim Allister quizzed Mr McCausland on the matter, asking if his special adviser has apologised, given the absence of any follow-up statement.

Mr McCausland responded: "I am not party to any conversation that took place (with reference to the alleged phone call between Mrs Palmer and Mr Brimstone), nor am I aware of any apology being made."

A DUP spokesman said yesterday: "The DUP will deal with it in due course."

Last night a spokesman for Mrs Palmer told the Belfast Telegraph that she would not be making any further comment on the matter until the DUP release the statement.

Mr McCausland has denied any wrongdoing.

QUOTES

"I am not party to any conversation that took place (with reference to the alleged phone call between Mrs Palmer and Mr Brimstone), nor am I aware of any apology being made. All these matters will be considered by the committee inquiry. I'm sure they will all be dealt with. I'm sure the special adviser will appear and will answer those questions."

Minister Nelson McCausland

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