Not clear if ex-Spad Brimstone remains a member of DUP

Stephen Brimstone. Photo: NI Assembly Broadcasting
Stephen Brimstone. Photo: NI Assembly Broadcasting

The DUP has refused to confirm if a former special advisor (Spad) facing allegations that he is using a non-domestic RHI boiler to heat his house is still a member of the party.

Stephen Brimstone, who was appointed as one of four DUP Spads at Stormont Castle by Arlene Foster last year, resigned from his position in November – two weeks before a BBC Spotlight programme on the controversial green energy scheme.

Mr Brimstone has confirmed he is a RHI claimant but the party has said he was planning to “pursue other interests” before the RHI overpay crisis began.

The DUP has also declined to comment on his current membership status.

Responding to a request from the News Letter on Tuesday, a DUP spokesman said: “Stephen had indicated as far back as the 2016 election that he may not remain in post for a long period of time and would seek to pursue opportunities in the private sector.”

He added: “The party does not comment on membership issues.”

Speaking under privilege during a debate in the Assembly chamber on Monday, TUV leader Jim Allister alleged Mr Brimstone removed a new wood pellet boiler to install a similar boiler to become eligible for the RHI subsidy, and questioned whether the former Spad was also heating his house through the non domestic RHI scheme.

The DUP has not yet responded to those claims.

Commenting on whether Mr Brimstone received a ‘golden handshake’ on leaving his post, a spokesperson for The Executive Office said: “Mr Brimstone resigned from his post to pursue other interests, as per his contract he did not receive and is not eligible for any severance payment.”