Arlene Foster’s long-standing special advisor continues to work for the party as an advisor, despite his high-profile resignation last year, it has emerged.
The Beragh man resigned from his role last January after senior civil servant Andrew McCormick said he was aware of rumours that Dr Crawford acted to delay cost controls in summer 2015.
At the time, Dr Crawford insisted that he was only quitting the role because he had “become the focus of the story” and that an inquiry would show that “I acted with complete integrity in all that I did”.
Mrs Foster said at the time: “I think Andrew will be absolutely cleared when the inquiry comes about.”
However, yesterday he told the inquiry that he was now doing “part time advisory work for the party”.
Dr Crawford said that his main job now is as a farmer.
In his written evidence to the inquiry, Dr Crawford has accepted that he acted “inappropriately” by forwarding confidential ministerial submissions about looming RHI cost controls to relatives with an interest in the scheme.
Dr Crawford insisted that the commercially sensitive information had not ultimately led to his relatives – some of whom were already RHI claimants who were in the process of installing more boilers – benefiting from the inside knowledge.
In her written evidence to the inquiry, Mrs Foster was asked if Dr Crawford’s behaviour was a breach of the code of conduct for advisors, the Civil Service code of ethics or the Seven Principles of Public Life.
In response, the DUP leader said of her former advisor: “It was clearly inappropriate for submissions to be forwarded to third parties and may well be a breach of the various codes referred to.”
The News Letter asked the DUP what role Dr Crawford currently has with the party, whether it is a paid position and whether the party will keep him in that role in light of his admission that he acted inappropriately while a Spad.
In response, the DUP said in a brief statement: “Dr Crawford has given his evidence to the RHI inquiry. As previously stated, we will not be providing a running commentary in the inquiry.”
Meanwhile, the inquiry has published several text messages which it has compelled Dr Crawford to release.
The messages, were between the DUP man and Mark Anderson, a friend who is a biomass expert at that point employed by Ulster University but now working for major Fermanagh wood pellet producer Balcas.
In one message, sent on the day that Andrew McCormick was giving evidence in which he named him as the Spad rumoured to have been delaying cost controls, Mr Anderson said: “Time to leak an email?” Dr Crawford replied: “I’ve been destroyed”.
In another text sent by Dr Crawford last February, he asked Mr Anderson if he knew details about the inspection of boilers.
Mr Anderson replied that he was attending a meeting about the issue. After the meeting, he sent a message to say that no one would be able to meet the department’s terms for the inspections contract – something subsequently borne out by events.
He added: “And if someone does farmers are f**ked hi”.