Report clears Iris Robinson over Kirk McCambley lease
Published 26/08/2011 | 03:10
Iris Robinson was not present at a council meeting when a lease was awarded to her former 'toy-boy' lover, an official investigation has concluded.
The finalised report says the wife of First Minister Peter Robinson left the Castlereagh Council meeting around 10 agenda items before the issue of a lease for the Lock Keeper's Inn on the Lagan Towpath was raised.
The report, obtained by the Belfast Telegraph, sparked a row when it was given to council members at a behind-closed-doors meeting last night, but supported claims by the DUP back in May that the disgraced MP had been exonerated.
The probe by consultants Deloitte said Mrs Robinson - who later resigned as an MP, Assembly Member and councillor over her affair with then-teenager Kirk McCambley - arrived almost an hour late for the meeting in August 2008, but left around 9pm.
Therefore, she did not breach the voluntary code of conduct which prohibits councillors from gaining financial or other advantage for themselves, family or friends.
But consultants Deloitte also said the current guidance on conflicts of interest lacks clarity and without clearer definitions it would be difficult "to assess what constitutes an interest".
After the meeting last night the DUP group leader on the council, Jimmy Spratt, said he remembered speaking to Mrs Robinson in the foyer after she gathered up her papers, and after dealing with a phone call, saw her leave the building. She did not return.
Alliance councillors, however, last night complained they had been asked to support the report's findings without being given an opportunity to read it. They abstained from the vote.
Alliance group leader Michael Long said: "There was a clear attempt to intimidate us.
"But we will not be intimidated and will continue to ask the questions we feel need to be asked."
But Mr Spratt said: "There are some who attempted to advance their own political agenda behind a smokescreen of mud-slinging and rumour-mongering who have now no basis for their vindictive campaign."
The 35-page report also concluded the council had sustained no financial loss as a result of awarding the lease. It cleared other councillors and council officers from any wrongdoing.
But it also said Mrs Robinson requested an information pack for Mr McCambley from the council's then economic development manager and said it was on behalf of a contact known to her through her church.