While he was a DUP minister, Jonathan Bell told his Spad that he had prepared a dossier on senior DUP members’ private lives which he claimed would “end several people’s careers”, his former adviser Timothy Cairns has said.
Last week Mr Bell claimed that it had in fact been Mr Cairns who “inappropriately” discussed the alleged “sexual misbehaviour of two DUP ministers” with him.
But in evidence to the RHI Inquiry, Mr Cairns said: “The issues with Jonathan became more protracted in January to March 2016.
“Mr Bell had lost the protection of [Peter] Robinson and he became paranoid about the DUP in general and senior members of the party in particular.
“On a daily basis he would recount stories about party members and their indiscretions. It was clear to me that someone was feeding Jonathan gossip.
“In February 2016 Jonathan refused to go to any more party meetings. He sat with Alliance ministers before executive meetings, refusing to sit with DUP colleagues in the pre-meeting.
“On one occasion Mr Bell was asked to come to Stormont Castle for a meeting with Mrs Foster. Mr Bell refused and spent the evening with Peter Robinson, refusing to attend.”
He added that towards the end of January 2016 – just weeks after Mrs Foster succeeded Mr Robinson as First Minister – Mr Bell “told me that he was speaking to someone who was telling him exactly what DUP members had been getting up to in their private lives.
“Mr Bell told me that he was compiling the information and would be presenting a dossier to the party officers. He did not tell me who the person(s) were that were making the allegations.
“On a few occasions he told me that he had sent a dossier to the party officers that would end several people’s careers.
“He told me it was also ‘under lock and key at his solicitors’. I have not seen the dossier nor do I know its contents other than the snippets of unsubstantiated salacious gossip Mr Bell shared with me.”