Third extension to produce Brimstone report

Stephen Brimstone (NI Assembly Broadcasting)
Stephen Brimstone (NI Assembly Broadcasting)

The Assembly’s Social Development Committee has for the third time extended its deadline to Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey to produce in full a ‘fact-finding’ report into his publicly-funded adviser, Stephen Brimstone.

On Wednesday evening Mr Storey missed a supposedly final deadline for him to produce the report, before later sending a partial copy of the document to the committee.

Sources said that the report made clear that there should be a disciplinary process initiated to look at Mr Brimstone’s conduct.

DUP councillor Jenny Palmer has claimed that Mr Brimstone attempted to pressure her to change her vote at a Housing Executive board meeting over a contract for the firm Red Sky, an allegation which Mr Brimstone denies.

Yesterday morning the committee met for more than an hour in closed session before it opened to the public.

Chairman Alex Maskey said that it had agreed to give Mr Storey one more week to produce the document in full. Mr Maskey has previously said that the committee will seek to take Mr Storey to court over the matter if he refuses to cooperate.

The News Letter asked the Department of Social Development (DSD) if a disciplinary process had examined Mr Brimstone’s conduct. Initially, a spokeswoman replied: “The department has no comment to make.”

But later the DSD said: “In September 2014 the previous Social Development Minister, Nelson McCausland, wrote to the chairman of the Social Development Committee, Alex Maskey. Mr McCausland said that he had very carefully considered the fact-finding report and every aspect of this matter and had concluded there was no further action needed.

“Mr Brimstone was reappointed as special advisor to the now Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey MLA in October 2014.”