MLA Robin Newton's wife and son are his only staff at DUP constituency office
ROBIN Newton's immediate family has earned up to £800,000 from the public purse since he was elected as an MLA for East Belfast in 2003.
At his Castlereagh Road constituency office, his wife Carole and son Adam are his only current staff.
Carole is office manager and secretary, while Adam is a researcher and constituency worker.
According to accounts presented to the Assembly, Robin's wife and son have earned £400,028 in the nine financial years Mr Newton has been an MLA.
Last year they earned a combined £60,831 – making up 87% of his office cost allowance. There is no breakdown of their individual salaries available.
Mr Newton (right) defended only employing his family, saying: "The pieces of work that I got done were competently done.
"The work my wife does is full-time constituency office work, which is done to a high standard."
His daughter Emma is now a detective constable for North Yorkshire Police.
But between October 2007 and February 2009, Mr Newton claimed three payments totalling £3,000 for research or secretarial work that were recorded as having been carried out by Emma Newton. And a further 10 payments were listed for ERN Research Services, totalling £10,780. We asked Mr Newton if ERN had any workers other than his daughter, but he did not respond.
Mr Newton could not say whether his daughter was a student or a serving police officer at the time. But he said she had carried out the work from York.
"She did economics at York University and went on to join the police," he said.
"So there was her and two other girls at once doing work for me, research into different things."
When asked why he had not declared it on the register of Members' interests, he said: "It went through the Assembly. It was all provided."
Mr Newton is currently earning a salary of £48,000 a year and is allowed to claim a maximum £71,378 from the office cost expenditure. Last year he claimed £69,264.
But in previous years he earned more for roles chairing committees at Stormont. In nine financial years he has earned a personal income of £404,301.
The four earnings, when tallied together, come to £818,110.