Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Questions remain over funding of Iris Robinson's lover’s business venture

Questions remain today over the fact that two property developers bankrolled the business venture of Iris Robinson’s 19-year-old lover.

In his Belfast Telegraph interview yesterday, Peter Robinson stated categorically that he had never received a penny from a developer.

It is not denied that his wife secured two £25,000 contributions from property businessmen, to help her lover Kirk McCambley set up his riverside café.

The money came from leading tycoon Fred Fraser, who has since died, and builder Ken Campbell.

While no suggestion of wrongdoing is being made against either man, questions are being asked about the ability of Mrs Robinson to elicit this money.

TUV leader Jim Allister, a barrister, was among those to comment on this matter, saying: “The history and ease of obtaining funds from developers is one such area requiring thorough investigation and explanation.”

Recalling his past in the DUP, before his bitter split in 2007, Mr Allister also said there “appeared to have been a personal relationship between the Robinsons and Mr Fraser”.

Meanwhile, it is known that Mrs Robinson lobbied as an MP in 2008 for a controversial Co Down planning application made by builder Ken Campbell.

The scheme, opposed by a local action group, involved a housing development in Newtownards.

The same town was the location for a 2007 property deal between the Robinsons and Mr Campbell.

In May 2007, the businessman’s firm bought 12 North Street in Newtownards.

Land Registry documents show that the firm sold the property five months later to Peter and Iris Robinson.

It is the location of Mrs Robinson’s Newtownards constituency office address.

In May last year, she and her husband sold the North Street building to a consortium including property tycoon Adam Armstrong. He is listed in Land Registry documents as living in Gibraltar.

Mrs Robinson has retained the address as her constituency office, and the sale to Mr Armstrong had led to taxpayers footing her rental bills.

Under Assembly rules, MLAs cannot claim office rent for premises which they own.

Since selling the office in May, Mrs Robinson has claimed rental payments from Stormont for the North Street address.

A total of £8,000 was paid out in the first six months of the financial year, according to the Assembly’s most recent official publication of MLA expenses.

The money is listed as going to the “Trustees of the R&A Developments”.

Last year, Mrs Robinson rejected suggestions that she should have declared her 2007 property deal with Mr Campbell, when lobbying for his controversial housing development in Newtownards.

In a statement to Sunday Life newspaper, she said: “Peter and I have known Ken Campbell for many years. Indeed I have personally known dozens of those I have represented.

“There is no requirement, legal or moral, for anyone to register whether they know an applicant for whom they are lobbying or not or whether they have done business with them or not as someone acting representing an applicant is an advocate and not the judge of the case.”

At this stage, it was not publicly known that Mrs Robinson had also obtained £25,000 from Mr Campbell for her young lover’s business.

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