DUP special advisor ‘deliberately evasive’: report

Stephen Brimstone
Stephen Brimstone

A Stormont committee which was investigating allegations of irregularities in a housing contract has found that the evidence given by a DUP advisor had been “deliberately evasive”.

As reported on Saturday, an investigation by the social development committee had concluded that a decision by ex-minister Nelson McCausland to try and extend a contract with Red Sky, a firm which was working on Housing Executive homes, was “politically motivated”.

Delving into the details of the committee’s report, a copy of which has been seen by the News Letter, the committee noted what it calls Stephen Brimstone’s “proclaimed inability to recollect certain details” when he came before MLAs to give evidence.

It was claimed by DUP councillor Jenny Palmer that Mr Brimstone – a special advisor to the party – had telephoned her to try and get her to back an extension of the Red Sky deal when she was a member of the Housing Executive board.

It had been claimed that contractor Red Sky – which had faced claims of overcharging – was linked to the DUP.

The firm denied any wrongdoing. It entered administration in 2011.

The committee report states: “In contrast to Mr Brimstone’s evidence, the committee found Councillor Palmer’s evidence on this matter to be consistent, convincing and compelling.”

The committee said it “believes that Mr Brimstone was deliberately evasive in his answers to the point of obstructing the committee in carrying out its statutory function.”

The DUP has denied any wrongdoing on behalf of its former minister, and Mr Brimstone had also denied acting inappropriately.

MLAs are expected to discuss the report next week.