Priestly demoted amid letter probe
One of Northern Ireland's most senior civil servants has been demoted following an investigation into claims he helped draft a letter attacking a Stormont scrutiny committee.
Paul Priestly was suspended as permanent secretary at the Department of Regional Development (DRD) last August after a series of controversies rocked the government-owned Northern Ireland Water (NIW) company.
An independent review had led the then minister Conor Murphy to sack the NIW board chairman and three non-executive directors, but the episode was being probed by the Assembly's powerful Public Accounts Committee.
Mr Priestly was dramatically suspended from his role as the minister's top government adviser after claims he helped draw up a letter for one of the review team which criticised the committee.
A Stormont spokesman has now said: "Paul Priestly has been downgraded from permanent secretary to deputy secretary.
"The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Sir Bruce Robinson, is now considering the staffing issues which arise from the demotion."