Belfast Telegraph

Peter Robinson denies asking for son to get secret details

By Allan Preston

Peter Robinson has denied asking a DUP Special adviser to send confidential government documents to his son.

The former First Minister spoke out yesterday after startling claims made by DUP Spad Andrew Crawford during his evidence at the RHI inquiry.

In February 2015, Dr Crawford sent a privileged legal document from the Department of Enterprise to Gareth Robinson, a lobbyist and the son of the former DUP leader.

He told the inquiry he was probably asked to send the information by Peter Robinson - who was First Minister at the time - or his adviser Richard Bullick.

He said attaching the legal letter to the email had been a "clumsy" mistake and unintentional.

He also said that as Gareth Robinson was the First Minister's son, he was likely to reply to him more quickly than to other PR firms.

In response, Peter Robinson told the BBC's Stephen Nolan show he did not ask Dr Crawford to send the information or ask Richard Bullick to give him this instruction. He also said he was not aware if Richard Bullick had made any such request.

Now, the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling, has been called on to investigate the issue. Ulster Unionist MLA Steve Aiken told the BBC that the leaks called into question "what was going on with classified documents?".

"And if I was David Sterling right now, I'd be looking to get a leak inquiry on the way."

Dr Crawford served as Arlene Foster's main adviser when she was Enterprise Minister and the botched RHI scheme was established.

The legal letter he sent to Gareth Robinson was linked to a controversial planning case involving a John Lewis store at Sprucefield, which had effectively been blocked by the Environment Minister at the time.

The Department of Enterprise opposed this in a legal case, and details of the case were circulated within the department, which Dr Crawford sent to Gareth Robinson.

The former Spad said he did not believe the letter would have been of any value to him, but the RHI inquiry counsel Joseph Aiken told him he should not have done this.

Earlier this week, Dr Crawford also denied he had engaged in insider trading after he had sent Deti information to an executive at poultry firm Moy Park.

In addition, he also said he had sent information about changes to the RHI scheme to family members with interests in the poultry sector.

He maintained throughout that he had never consciously sent any information of a sensitive nature to outside parties.

Belfast Telegraph

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