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UUP sex scandal sparks call for reform in way advisers are selected for ministers

By Anne Madden

A review of the role and appointment of special advisers to Government ministers is urgently needed in light of the sex scandal that hit Stormont this week, it has been claimed.

Ulster Unionist special adviser Dr Brian Crowe was sacked by his boss, Employment and Learning Minister Danny Kennedy, on Thursday within hours of this newspaper revealing his sordid comments on an internet chatroom.

The married father-of-two, from Lisburn, boasted to a female lobbyist on a chatroom about abusing his position in return for sexual favours.

The Belfast Telegraph spent two months investigating the 40-year-old’s activities on UK and photographed him meeting the lobbyist after an arrangement was made via the chatroom.

In one transcript, which the Belfast Telegraph obtained, the lobbyist asked: “If I was looking access to DK (Danny Kennedy) would my chances increase if I had sex with you? Be honest.” He replied: “Yes.”

Dr Crowe boasted in graphic detail of a specific incident in January when he went to the offices of a charity where a lobbyist performed a sex act on him in return for a political favour.

He also bragged that he had done similar favours in the past, claiming they were made at both party and departmental level.

Last night SDLP Assembly Member John Dallat called for an urgent review into the appointment of special advisers following the chatroom revelations.

“A review of special advisers is badly needed if only to ensure that the people who are appointed in the future do not cause embarrassment to ministers,” he said.

“Special advisers are political appointees and are there to promote the interests of the minister — there are certainly issues around this to be considered.”

Mr Dallat, who is a member of the Assembly's Public Accounts Committee, also questioned the cost to the public purse of 19 special advisers, also known as ‘spads’, which cost at least £1.1m per year. It is understood a typical ‘spad’ is paid more than an elected Assembly Member in Northern Ireland, with a starting salary of around £57,000, rising to more than £80,000.

“I have never inquired into where these people come from but there seems to be far too many special advisers hanging around Stormont,” Mr Dallat said.

The Belfast Telegraph can reveal today that Dr Crowe has been active on a number of other adult websites, including a website called ‘flirtbox’, which is a free UK dating site.

He has two accounts on this website, one with the username ‘Alwaysstoical’ — the name he used in his email address to send obscene photographs of himself.

He also used the name ‘virtuousguyni’ with a clear photograph of his face and pretending to be 35 years old. He also appears on a third chatroom called ‘fast flirting’, in which he uses the same username ‘guyfromlisburn’ that he used on UK Chatterbox.

Story so far

The special adviser to Stormont minister Danny Kennedy was sacked on Thursday following revelations by the Belfast Telegraph that he boasted of abusing his position for sexual favours.

Dr Brian Crowe (40), who was an adviser to the Department of Employment & Learning (DEL), boasted to a female lobbyist on an internet chatroom over a period of months about sexual conquests and doing political favours for sex from lobbyists.

DEL Minister Mr Kennedy responded by sacking Dr Crowe during a Press conference in Belfast on Thursday, saying his position was “untenable”.

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