Wilson: DUP right on whistleblower

Nelson McCausland
Nelson McCausland

Sammy Wilson has insisted the DUP is right to discipline a whistleblower who had helped to spark an inquiry which has now found one of its ex-ministers behaved inappropriately.

Sammy Wilson has insisted the DUP is right to discipline a whistleblower who had helped to spark an inquiry which has now found one of its ex-ministers behaved inappropriately.

Jenny Palmer, a DUP councillor, had publicly claimed that she had been placed under pressure by party special advisor Stephen Brimstone to try to help extend a contract with housing contractor Red Sky, while she had sat on the board of the Housing Executive.

It had been claimed that the firm may have links to the DUP, although former social development minister Nelson McCausland denied that there was “any preferential treatment for anyone”.

MLAs have been holding an inquiry into the matter since the BBC aired a documentary on the subject in 2013.

Now a leaked copy of their report has found that the minister behaved “inappropriately”, and that his decision to try and extend the contract with Red Sky was “politically motivated”.

The report, a copy of which has been obtained by the BBC, was also critical of what it said was the lack of a proper way to hold ministers to account.

Councillor Palmer revealed in March that she is facing disciplinary action from the DUP for allegedly bringing the party into disrepute.

Yesterday, DUP MP and MLA Sammy Wilson told the BBC: “I believe that Jenny Palmer was wrong.

“The party is right to discipline her, and should discipline her.

“And that’s where it will rest.”

Mr Wilson also hit out at the findings of the report from the social development committee, saying: “They made their minds up before the enquiry ever started... This was all about doing electoral damage to somebody who had done nothing wrong.”

Mr Brimstone has also denied that he acted inappropriately.

The saga began back in 2011, when outgoing minister Alex Attwood opted to end an £8m contract with Red Sky amid allegations of overcharging.

The firm denied any wrongdoing.

It then entered administration in spring that year.