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Minister quizzed over Peter and Iris Robinson's support for businessman’s plans

DUP Environment Minister Edwin Poots has been asked to detail lobbying by Peter or Iris Robinson for prominent developer Adam Armstrong.

A consortium headed by Mr Armstrong bought a Newtownards property from the DUP couple last year. Mrs Robinson was a long-time strong supporter of the massive Castlebawn retail scheme for the town involving one of the developer's companies.

Last year, she said she was writing to her First Minister husband to protest about the length of time this project had been in the planning system.

The new questions to the Environment Minister have been tabled in the Assembly by SDLP MLA John Dallat. They ask Mr Poots to detail any representations received from the Robinsons since 2003 “in relation to planning applications which were submitted by Adam Armstrong and associated companies”.

Mr Armstrong and a group of associates bought a Newtownards office from the Robinsons in April 2009 for £207,500. The developer's address was listed in sale documentation as the tax haven of Gibraltar.

When asked if the office sale had been on the open market, a DUP spokesman last month said it was “an arm's length transaction for full market value”.

The spokesman also defended Mrs Robinson's past lobbying for the developer, saying: “Mrs Robinson and all elected representatives have a duty to represent constituents who seek their assistance.”

The Newtownards office had been bought by the Robinsons two years earlier from builder Ken Campbell.

Last week, Green Party MLA Brian Wilson tabled questions asking the minister if Mr Robinson had ever lobbied for developer Fred Fraser. The late Mr Fraser and Ken Campbell provided £50,000 to Mrs Robinson in 2008, for the café business of her teenage lover. There is no suggestion that either businessman knew of the sexual relationship when supplying the funding.

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