Belfast Telegraph

We didn't see danger: top civil servant


By Staff Reporter

The senior civil servant in the Department responsible for the RHI scheme said in a witness statement published last night that no one saw the risks in the scheme properly.

Dr Andrew McCormick was asked about when he first knew of officials raising concerns about potential abuses of the RHI scheme, including "boilers being run just to generate RHI income".

He said: "I think it is, regrettably, simply a matter of fact that no one identified or perceived that the issues around the scheme crossed the threshold of risk..."

He added that no one took the view that investigation was required, and "no one seems to have perceived the risk properly."

The RHI Inquiry team was also concerned that in December 2016 Dr McCormick had taken a list of names of RHI scheme participants to Parliament Buildings and permitted another DUP Spad, Timothy Johnston, to look through them.

Asked to explain this by the RHI Inquiry team, Dr McCormick said in his statement: "The precise arrangement was that I did not give the list directly to Timothy Johnston: John Robinson (another DUP Spad) asked me to bring the list of names to Simon Hamilton's office, and leave it there.

"He and I then went to another room to talk, both of us knowing that Timothy Johnston would then come to Simon Hamilton's office and look at the document, which is what happened. I was acting under the direction of the Minister."

At the time Mr Hamilton was Finance Minister, and John Robinson was his special adviser (Spad).

Dr McCormick said he had been concerned about the provision of these names to others, and described the episode as a "charade".

"I made the point from the legal advice that, in relation to Data Protection legislation, DfE and the Executive Office were separate legal entities, and that there were constraints in law in relation to the sharing of personal data. That said, I believe I said that the legal position was at odds with the corporate nature of the way the NI Executive and its Departments were intended to work."

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