Peter Robinson brands Jamie Bryson evidence 'a pantomime' after loyalist claims First Minister was to get Nama bung
First Minister Peter Robinson has branded the appearance by flag protester Jamie Bryson at a Stormont probe into claims of impropriety in the sale of Nama’s Northern Ireland £1.2bn portfolio as a “pantomime”.
The DUP leader was at the centre of explosive claims made by Mr Bryson at the finance committee yesterday.
Mr Bryson alleged Mr Robinson and four named businessmen were to benefit financially from Northern Ireland’s biggest property deal.
He said his evidence for this statement was a document that he had “had sight of”. The Donaghadee loyalist said this document was now in the hands of the National Crime Agency (NCA).
But Mr Robinson has again insisted that he had never expected nor received any money from the deal.
“I repeat, I neither received, expected to receive, sought, nor was I offered a single penny as a result of the Nama sale,” he said.
Mr Robinson went on to blast Mr Bryson’s evidence as a “pantomime”.
The four DUP members of the finance committee were the only MLAs yesterday to vote against Mr Bryson’s evidence being heard in a public session.
Alliance MLA Judith Cochrane and Sinn Fein MLA Mairtin O Muilleoir both expressed reservations about hearing Mr Bryson in a public session.
Mr Robinson said Mr Bryson’s allegations “lack credibility and can have no evidential basis”.
“The scripted performance was little short of pantomime,” he said.
“It is outrageous that such scurrilous and unfounded allegations can be made without providing one iota of evidence.
“I am happy to appear before the committee.”
The finance committee investigation was set up after Mick Wallace TD claimed in the Dail in July that a NI politician was to benefit from £7m in an offshore bank account in the wake of the £1.2bn deal. However, he has yet to state any names.
Belfast solicitor Ian Coulter, formerly of leading Belfast law firm Tughans, had transferred the funds to the account, but has denied that any of the money in the Isle of Man account was intended for any politician.
Mr Bryson claimed to the committee yesterday that the other beneficiaries of what he termed a “success fee” following the sale of the Nama Northern Ireland portfolio were Andrew Creighton, David Watters, Frank Cushnahan and Mr Coulter.
A spokesman for the four said they had no comment to make at this time on the matter. Mr Bryson told the committee that this success fee was to be paid into a dormant Danske Bank account in the Donegall Square West branch in Belfast and from there it was transferred to an off-shore account.
“There were to be a number of beneficiaries to this fee and I will refer to them simply as person A, person B, person C, person D and person E,” he said. “I can now tell this committee without fear of contradiction that person A is Mr Peter Robinson MLA, person B is (developer) Mr Andrew Creighton, person C is (accountant) Mr David Watters, person D is (ex Nama adviser) Mr Frank Cushnahan and person E is (solicitor) Ian Coulter.”
DUP MLA Jim Wells intervened to described the claims as “hearsay”, with no evidence to back them up.
Later, DUP MLA Paul Girvan asked Mr Bryson whether he had evidence for naming the five men. “I have seen it (a document he claims names them), it is in the possession of the NCA,” he said. “I assure you it is not fabricated and I can 110% stand over the evidence I have given.”
Mr Wells asked Mr Bryson whether he realised how serious it was to name people. “I will name them outside with no privilege,” Mr Bryson responded.
However, in response to another question by Mr Wells, Mr Bryson said he would apologise if he was found to be wrong.
Mr Bryson has claimed he is not motivated by a dislike of the DUP.
“It is no secret that I have absolutely no time for the DUP, but I have evidence, I am setting it out... that’s a matter for people to make up their own mind.”