Belfast Telegraph

DUP had no right to share my email, says RHI whistleblower

One of the whistleblowers at the centre of the Renewable Heating Incentive scandal has blasted the DUP for publishing her email to the minister over the matter.

On Wednesday evening the DUP published the woman's email saying it demonstrated how "no concerns" were raised to Arlene Foster when she was Enterprise Minister.

Deputy leader Nigel Dodds said the email "nailed the myth" that Mrs Foster failed to act.

He said: "There has been a quite scurrilous attempt to blame Arlene Foster for the RHI saga. The endlessly repeated claim has been that she failed to follow up on the whistle blower concerns.

"Now we know that no such concerns were raised with her. This is no criticism of the lady in question. She has behaved with great integrity throughout and even told the media that her initial email to the Minister did not go into detail."

He added: "The email simply asked for a meeting on energy efficiency matters."

More: Timeline: How Renewable Heat Incentive unfolded

However, the woman, speaking on the BBC Stephen Nolan show said, that while she said there was no detail in original email, it was "touched upon".

She said the party did not seek her consent to share the email and she had sent on a number of further emails following her first correspondence to those "at the top".

"Only in Northern Ireland would somebody with the label of whistleblower have their email shared without their consent which is so poorly redacted," she said.

"I know we have to sort out this RHI.

"But we also need to sort out how people like me - that raise concerns - are treated. And how our concerns are treated and given air time and not just swept under the carpet."

The DUP told the BBC it sought permission for the email to be used but they were unclear when that was given.

A DUP spokesman said: "The First Minister had asked for a copy of the correspondence from the individual identified as a whistleblower by the Spotlight programme some weeks ago. Whilst other correspondence was identified, it was only after a broadcast interview that officials were able to source the original email.

"Minister Hamilton and the First Minister previously discussed this email in error as there was a misunderstanding as to its content. This is another example of why the PAC and other investigations should be allowed to do their work rather than becoming engaged in a trial by media where facts are rushed to air rather than being properly tested. 

"Department for the Economy officials contacted the her yesterday (14-12-16) and gained her permission to publish the original email to Mrs Foster provided her name and company name were redacted. The Department for Economy Permanent Secretary has sought to further clarify this matter with her today but has been unable to get in touch with her."

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