Belfast Telegraph

Inappropriate to comment over Paisley 'lie' claims during RHI inquiry: Ofgem

The Office of Electricity and Gas Markets (Ofgem) has said it would be inappropriate to comment on remarks made in the House of Commons that one of its staff members "lied" to the Renewable Heat Incentive inquiry.

The energy regulator said it was committed to "cooperating fully and openly" with the inquiry and would respond to any questions it may have through its formal procedures.

Speaking in the House of Commons DUP MP Ian Paisley called for an apology from the chair of the RHI inquiry after an allegation he was involved in an "intimidating" phone call in which he lobbied on behalf of a scheme participant.

Teri Clifton, a senior operations manager with the Office of Electricity and Gas Markets (Ofgem), told the inquiry Mr Paisley had taken part in a conference call along with a number of companies lobbying her to accept a business's late application to the RHI scheme at a higher tariff.

Ms Clifton told the inquiry the November 2015 call had taken place with applicants McNaughtons, their representatives Action Renewables - which provides renewable energy advice - Mr Paisley and a person from Moy Park.

Addressing the Commons, Mr Paisley said "no such call took place" and "it is a lie" to say it had.

He also called for inquiry chair Sir Patrick Coghlin to apologise for "putting words in the mouth" of the witness.

He said Action Renewables and another company called FG Plumbing, both of which are based in his constituency, had held a conference call with Ms Clifton in March 2016 - but that he was not involved in this.

Mr Paisley said Ms Clifton "should be brought back to the inquiry and put through the ringer and asked why they lied to the inquiry about such a matter".

Chairman of the inquiry Sir Coghlin, Mr Paisley said, should "apologise to me personally for his conduct and his actions as I do not take it at all well".

Responding, a spokesman for Ofgem added: "Ofgem is committed to cooperating fully and openly with the Renewable Heat Incentive Inquiry. We will present our evidence and answer any questions the Inquiry raises through its formal proceedings, but as the Inquiry is ongoing it would not be appropriate for us to comment any further.”

A spokesperson for the RHI Inquiry said it would not engage in a debate about evidence outside its formal process.

"If Mr Paisley, or anyone else has evidence that they wish to give to the inquiry, they should provide it to the Inquiry in writing," said a spokesman.

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