Sunday 18 March 2018

Lease probe puts Iris Robinson in the clear

Catherine Lynagh and Noel McAdam

IRIS Robinson, the wife of North First Minister Peter Robinson, has been cleared of any wrong-doing over a council lease awarded to her former young lover, it emerged last night.

Castlereagh council in Belfast said an investigation had found no council members were guilty of any impropriety in relation to the lease for a cafe for the then 19-year-old Kirk McCambley

Full details of an independent investigation commissioned by the council were being kept under wraps following an hour-long behind-closed-doors session.

But after a briefing by consultants Deloitte the DUP group on the council said it had brought the entire controversy to a conclusion.

"This is the matter finished as far as we are concerned," the party's leader on the council, Jimmy Spratt, said.

A council statement said the report concluded that there was no evidence of financial loss to the Council or any impropriety by council officers or Members directly involved in the Assessment Panel regarding the award of the lease.

However, one source said the report was inconclusive over whether Mrs Robinson was present when the final lease was approved. Council minutes had not been able to prove the issue "one way or another".

It is almost 18 months since the BBC 'Spotlight' programme disclosed Ms Robinson helped secure two loans of £25,000 each to help her then lover raise the capital to operate the Lock Keepers Inn.

Mrs Robinson was a member of the council but did not declare any interest in the Tow Path project when the lease was being awarded.

Following the revelations of her affair which lead to an attempted suicide, the council commissioned Deloitte to conduct an independent report into the awarding of the lease.

Its terms of reference were to examine whether the council lost any money, failed to meet government guidelines or was guilty of any impropriety by either councillors or council officers.

Publication of the report was delayed after the PSNI said it was investigating the Spotlight allegation and -- as the 'Belfast Telegraph' revealed -- a report was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions. Then the DPP announced Mrs Robinson would not face any charges.

Irish Independent

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