Belfast Telegraph

RHI Inquiry: 'Warning letters' sent out to witnesses

The chairman of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) inquiry Sir Patrick Coghlin (Colm Lenaghan/PA)
The chairman of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) inquiry Sir Patrick Coghlin (Colm Lenaghan/PA)

"Warning letters" have been sent out to some witnesses to the RHI Inquiry, it has been reported.

The BBC reports some of those who may face criticism in the final report have been given the opportunity to respond.

The inquiry said there is not yet a date set for the publication of the final report.

In a statement to the Belfast Telegraph, the inquiry said the chairman "has at all times been clear in his determination to act fairly in relation to all those persons and organisations whose acts or omissions have been investigated by the inquiry.

"In his closing statement last December he said he would continue to engage with the participants where necessary.

"One aspect of this commitment to fairness is a process of allowing such persons and organisations to see, and if necessary have the opportunity to make reasoned representations about, criticisms that the inquiry is minded to make in respect of them.

"Such a process is subject to time limits, as the inquiry is mindful of the undertaking to complete its investigations as expeditiously as possible."

The statement continued: "It would obviously be inappropriate for the inquiry to provide any form of running commentary on this process. It would similarly be inappropriate, and a potential breach of the Inquiry’s Restriction Orders, for any person or organisation involved in the process to make any disclosures concerning any communication received by them from the Inquiry in this regard."

The RHI scheme ultimately brought down the Stormont Executive.

Established in November 2012, it was an attempt to increase consumption of heat from renewable sources. It was found to have paid more to boiler owners than the cost of the fuel resulting in a potential £500m overspend.

At the preliminary hearing of the inquiry in September 2017, chairman Sir Patrick Coghlin said 23 individuals had been given "enhanced participatory rights" which is afforded to people that are likely to be mentioned in the final report.

That meant they will have access to witness statements and legal representation, if deemed necessary. They could also make a closing statement to the inquiry before it publishes its final report.

The 23 individuals include consultants who designed the scheme, civil servants, special advisers and DUP leader Arlene Foster and former DUP MLA Jonathan Bell. Mrs Foster was Enterprise Minister when the scheme was set up. While Mr Bell oversaw its closure as minister.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


From Belfast Telegraph