Belfast Telegraph

Jonathan Bell handed secret tapes to Stephen Nolan after recording him

Jonathan Bell, the former Enterprise Minister in office while the botched RHI scheme mushroomed out of control, handed the BBC's Stephen Nolan tapes of his own secret recording.

Recounting the details of the incident during his Radio Ulster show on Friday morning, Nolan said: "It seems to be he was recording people everywhere he went."

Mr Nolan confirmed Mr Bell had made the recording during a visit to his home at "the very beginning of this saga", and he was handed his own tape while receiving a secret recording of former Permanent Secretary in the Department of Enterprise Trade and Investment Andrew McCormick.

He said he was unsure whether Mr Bell had intended to hand him the recording.

In his latest written evidence to the RHI Inquiry, Mr Bell admitted to secretly recording Mr Nolan as well as former DUP leader Peter Robinson.

After the revelation emerged on Thursday evening, Stephen Nolan wrote on Twitter he had a "sixth sense" he was being recorded during the visit to his home.

"Jonathan Bell at the very beginning of this saga, I got a phone call from him and he asked to come down to my house," said Nolan.

"And I very rarely let anybody down into my home, I just keep that barrier. But he insisted that it was that big a story that he needed to speak to me at my home. And when Jonathan Bell came down to my house Sam he was telling me how much he trusted, he was telling me how much I was the man for the job.

"And there was just something in my mind, I don’t know what it was, it was a sixth sense. And I remember at the time thinking ‘is he recording me?’ What he then did was he handed over to me secret recordings that he had done including with Andrew McCormick, the permanent secretary.

"But what he did when he was handing those recordings over to me is, and I don’t know if he did this by mistake or not, at the end of it he handed me the tape where he had been secretly recording me.

"So I never shared this with him. I never told him that I knew he had been recording me, but I knew he had been recording me."     

In his public statement on Thursday evening, Mr Bell told the RHI Inquiry team he did not know if the BBC had kept copies of the tapes he provided to them.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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