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Allister warned over 'crossing line' as he claims DUP is stalling Nama probe

By Noel McAdam

Published 15/09/2016

Clash: Jim Allister
Clash: Jim Allister

The DUP chair of Stormont's finance committee has clashed with Jim Allister as it emerged the National Crime Agency has side-stepped requests for an update on its investigation into Nama.

At one point committee chairperson Emma Little Pengelly warned the TUV leader he was "crossing a line".

Her charge came after Mr Allister said he understood the DUP's "anxiety to thwart and stall everything relating to a Nama investigation".

The spat came as the committee was told the NCA had failed to respond to the committee's request to appear in front of MLAs.

Mr Allister said the committee should repeat its invitation in writing to try to get the investigation into the Nama allegations "to the starting gate".

Then he added that he understood Ms Pengelly's "anxiety to thwart and stall everything relating to a Nama investigation".

She told him he was crossing a line, after arguing the committee could not question Nama officials because the entire inquiry remains sub judice.

Mr Allister replied: "I understand all those excuses" - but insisted that a letter should still be sent to the NCA.

Mrs Pengelly said: "I don't think it becomes the Member, either in terms of his own experience of professional or legal qualifications, to suggest that a strong piece of legal advice is an 'excuse'".

The clash came after SDLP MLA Claire Hanna suggested the Stormont committee should co-operate with its counterpart in the Dail in Dublin, which is also investigating the allegations surrounding the property scandal.

Arguing that the cross-border co-operation would be "cost-effective and pragmatic", she said there was a public perception of inertia around the committee, which she did not want to heighten.

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