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Robinsons paid full price for offices I sold them, insists builder Campbell

Developer Ken Campbell has spoken about a property deal with Peter and Iris Robinson in the year before he loaned money to Mrs Robinson’s teenage lover.

Mr Campbell told the Belfast Telegraph the DUP couple paid full price for office premises, and that reference in official documentation to a £1 figure was simply due to a “trust arrangement”.

The builder was one of two men who provided business start finance in 2008 to Kirk McCambley, the 19-year-old who turned out to be Mrs Robinson’s lover.

In 2007 Mr Campbell’s firm sold a Newtownards office building to the Robinsons.

It became Mrs Robinson’s advice centre in the town.

Government Land Registry documents show that Mr and Mrs Robinson registered ownership of the premises in September 2007, acquiring it from Mr Campbell’s firm.

His firm had purchased it some six months earlier for £195,000.

A Land Registry document on the transfer of ownership to the Robinsons includes the phrase “in consideration of the sum of one pound”.

Asked about this reference yesterday, a statement issued by Mr Campbell said: “The reason the 2007 transfer registered in the Land Registry records a consideration of £1 is that it reflects the conclusion of a trust arrangement in place at that time.

“Mr and Mrs Robinson paid the full purchase price, stamp duty and all legal fees.”

No further details were provided on the nature of this trust arrangement.

Mr Campbell has also told the Belfast Telegraph that the price paid by the Robinsons for the building was £199,591.

The office is at 12 North Street in Newtownards and remained Mrs Robinson’s advice centre up to her dramatic recent announcement on quitting politics.

In 2008 Mrs Robinson obtained £25,000 from Mr Campbell for the fledgling riverside café business of her 19-year-old lover. This was an interest free loan and the builder said this week that the young businessman still owed him £5,000.

A £25,000 donation to the café business, the Lough Keeper’s Inn, was solicited by the DUP MP from developer Fred Fraser, who has since died.

There is no accusation of wrongdoing against Mr Fraser or Mr Campbell, or any suggestion that they knew of the sexual |relationship between Mrs Robinson and Mr McCambley.

Mr Campbell this week also confirmed being a DUP donor, saying he made one contribution to the party some years ago. The sum involved is believed to be in the region of £4,000-£5,000.

The Robinsons sold the North Street building last year to a consortium including Adam Armstrong, a businessman listed in Land Registry papers as having a Gibraltar address.

The consortium paid the Robinsons £207,500 for the office and the deal led to taxpayers footing rental bills paid to the new owners.

Under Assembly rules, MLAs cannot claim advice centre rent expenses for premises which they own.

Since selling the office last year Mrs Robinson claimed rental payments from Stormont for the North Street address.

A total of £8,000 was paid out in the first six months of the financial year, according to the Assembly’s most recent official publication of MLA expenses.

The money is listed as going to the “Trustees of the R&A Developments”.

Last year Mrs Robinson rejected suggestions that she should have declared her 2007 office property deal with Mr Campbell when lobbying for a controversial housing development he planned in Newtownards.

In a statement to Sunday Life newspaper she said: “Peter and I have known Ken Campbell for many years. Indeed, I have personally known dozens of those I have represented.

“There is no requirement, legal or moral, for anyone to register whether they know an applicant for whom they are lobbying or not or whether they have done business with them or not as someone acting representing an applicant is an advocate and not the judge of the case.”

At this stage it was not publicly known that Mr Campbell had also helped bankroll Mr McCambley’s business.

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