Belfast Telegraph

Peter Robinson cleared of code breach but Iris should have declared cash

By Michael McHugh

First Minister Peter Robinson has been cleared of breaching a code of conduct following an investigation into a sex and money scandal involving his wife, sources said.

The probe was launched after Iris Robinson, a former Strangford MP, obtained thousands of pounds from property developers to help her teenage lover establish a business.

Stormont standards commissioner Douglas Bain has found that Mr Robinson, the leading figure in the fragile devolved powersharing government, did not infringe the legislative assembly's code.

However, Mr Bain concluded that Mrs Robinson, a former assembly member, broke a Stormont rule by not publicly declaring receiving the cash from the developers.

In January 2010 the First Minister's wife's dealings with her teenage lover Kirk McCambley were revealed, including obtaining £50,000 from two property developers in order to help Mr McCambley secure a tender for a busy south Belfast cafe, the Lock Keeper's Inn.

That business on the leafy banks of the River Lagan which winds through the affluent suburbs, was in the district of Castlereagh Council, of which Mrs Robinson was a member. She also allegedly asked her boyfriend to give her £5,000 of the money for herself.

The disclosures caused shockwaves in Northern Ireland. Mrs Robinson stepped aside from public life and her husband temporarily delegated his responsibilities as first minister to a colleague to concentrate on clearing his name.

While the DUP remains the largest party in the ministerial Executive, relations with coalition partner Sinn Fein have been fraught with disagreements on how to deal with contentious flags and parades, the legacy of the past and issues like welfare reform.

The assembly's standards and privileges committee is expected to discuss Mr Bain's report with a view to publication and the commissioner's recommendations are likely to be adopted, sources said.

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