Belfast Telegraph

Demoted civil servant 'on full pay'

A senior Northern Ireland civil servant who was demoted after serious misconduct is on full pay without being assigned a new job, a committee has heard.

Paul Priestly was suspended from his lucrative position as permanent secretary of the Department of Regional Development for helping to draft a letter of complaint to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Mr Priestly wrote to committee chair Paul Maskey earlier this week to apologise.

The head of the civil service, Sir Bruce Robinson, told the PAC Mr Priestly had still not been found a new position, even though he is earning almost £100,000 a year.

"At present he is engaged in exploring a range of options as to where he will be deployed," he said.

He added: "It is a situation I am keen to resolve as quickly as possible.

"He has been demoted from permanent secretary, that has never happened before. He has lost salary, it has had a serious impact on himself personally and also on all the issues around the damage he will have suffered in his career and to his reputation."

Mr Priestly was suspended after it was discovered that he helped draft a letter of complaint from Peter Dixon to the PAC in July 2010.

Mr Dixon was carrying out an independent investigation into Northern Ireland Water.

The regional development minister at the time, Conor Murphy, said Mr Priestly's post was untenable.

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