Officials told RHI whistleblower: ‘People would never do that’

A handful of wood pellets, the main fuel used in the RHI scheme

A handful of wood pellets, the main fuel used in the RHI scheme

The whistleblower who exposed the RHI scandal was assured by civil servants in Arlene Foster’s department that people would would not take advantage of the incentive, it has been claimed.

The Times has reported that the female whistleblower’s suggestion that the scheme was overly generous and open to abuse was “immediately dismissed”.

“I was told, ‘People would never do that’. Those words have always stayed with me,” she told the London paper.

The whistleblower told the Times she became aware of the scheme after setting up a company that promotes cost savings through technology-based energy efficiency. She said businesses were constantly telling her that they were not interested in her product because they were trying to burn up as much energy as possible through the initiative.

She told the Times that she warned Ms Foster’s staff in October 2013 that her warning was immediately dismissed by senior civil servants in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment, then governed by Arlene Foster.

“I remember thinking: either they don’t get it and don’t think people will abuse it, or they have targets to meet for renewable energy and will meet those at any cost,” she said.

The whistleblower said she had ignored all interview requests until a face-to-face meeting with The Times. She said she has held numerous meetings with PwC, the public accounts committee and others. She said that her solicitor advised her not to appear before the PAC as some politicians may try to discredit her on behalf of constituents.

The woman also said that she feared being identified as a “tout”.