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Thursday 27 July 2017

Doubt over Robinson's future after claim wife solicited cash for toyboy lover

Sam Smyth

PETER Robinson’s resignation as First Minister appeared almost inevitable last night as his MP wife Iris faced an investigation over her sex-and-money toyboy scandal.

Mrs Robinson solicited £50,000 (€55,000) from two property developers for Kirk McCambley (19), who later became her teenage lover – and she kept £5,000 to cover her own expenses.

Mrs Robinson did not declare the payments she had solicited from the developers – and when her husband Peter, the First Minister in the North, found out about it later, he did not make it public either.

Mrs Robinson was "very close" to Kirk McCambley’s father, Billy, and promised him before he died in 2008 she would look after his son, according to last night’s BBC ‘Spotlight’ programme.

The MP – nearly 40 years older than Kirk McCambley – helped him secure a lease on the council-owned Lockeeper’s Inn cafe on the river Lagan near Belfast.

Mrs Robinson opened doors for Kirk McCambley, who won a competition as Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

She approached an old family friend, developer Ken Campbell, who made out a cheque to Kirk McCambley for £25,000.

Another developer, Fred Frazer, since deceased, gave a second cheque for £25,000 to Mrs Robinson.

Kirk McCambley met neither of the two developers and Mrs Robinson was the go-between.

Mrs Robinson asked Kirk McCambley for £5,000 in cash from the £50,000 and he gave it to her.

They had a brief torrid affair, but when it ended she asked him make out two cheques: one for £20,000 made out to her personally to clear her debts and the other for £20,000 made out to a church where her husband’s sister is vicar.

Mrs Robinson, it was said, regarded the money as her own.

There is no record of Mrs Robinson declaring any of the monies she received from the developers, which is required by law.

Her husband Peter later became aware of the payments, and the circumstances under which his wife had received the £50,000 from the developers, and did nothing to require his wife to declare the payments.

And it is the £50,000 gift to the young man, who Mrs Robinson said needed it for a business venture, that could raise questions for both her and the North’s First Minister.

In her statement Mrs Robinson said: "I encouraged friends to assist him by providing financial support for a business venture. Regrettably, the relationship later developed into a brief affair."

But last night political and legal circles in Belfast wanted to know the detail surrounding Mrs Robinson’s soliciting of the money for her teenage friend.

Although Mr and Mrs Robinson had hoped they had dealt comprehensively with all matters arising from the affair, they will be expected to answer further questions about the £50,000 gift.

Political commentators last night wanted to know if Mrs Robinson had used the authority of her office as a Westminster MP to vouch for the teenager’s character and to recommend that her two friends give him the £50,000.

They also wanted to know if Mrs Robinson had told them when her relationship with the teenager changed from friend to lover, to allow them the opportunity to reconsider their generosity to him.

And they also wondered if she considered it appropriate not to return the £50,000 herself when her relationship with the teenager changed.

Political opponents were also asking if Peter Robinson – who, as First Minister, is expected to be above ethical reproach – should not have dealt with the financial question. Mrs Robinson told her husband about her affair with the teenager last March and he would have learned all the details, including the £50,000 gift, last March.

And they wanted to know if Peter Robinson had not considered returning the money to the two friends when all of the circumstances were revealed to him.

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