The RHI ‘whistleblower’ had already been identified

Letters to Editor
Letters to Editor

As Sam McBride reports (November 10), the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Inquiry has officially revealed Janette O’Hagan as the member of the public who sent emails to DETI and the then minister Arlene Foster.

But when I first head that the RHI Inquiry intended to reveal Ms O’Hagan, I thought, ‘hasn’t Nigel Dodds done that already?’

As you reported yesterday, the DUP MP had circulated her email (with or without the sender’s permission on December 14 2016). I remember being surprised it was so poorly redacted.

We already knew that the sender of the email was female.

Before release, the DUP redacted part of her email address, her name, her company name, the name of the heating system, and the name of an award “of the year” that the company had won the previous year.

The email, sent to Arlene Foster, revealed the sender had a ‘co.uk’ email address (or domain suffix), that she was a co-founder in the local heating control company, and that “current customers are saving on average 30% from their heating bill”.

I googled the following words – heating control Northern Ireland 30% - and the first result was for heatboss.co.uk.

I then googled – heatboss won “of the year” – and the second result was for an Invest NI news story on the winners of the 2012 ‘Propel Company of the Year’.

The Heatboss website confirmed the domain suffix, that there had been two ‘co-founders’ and cited the 30% saving from heating bills.

The Invest NI story revealed the company ‘Okotech’ had developed ‘Heatboss’, that they had won an “of the year” award in the previous year to the 2013 email, and thus, that the so-called whistleblower was likely to be Janette O’Hagan.

With this information, much like in the headlines round of ‘Have I Got News For You’, I was able to spatially fill in all of the redacted words on the email.

I then contacted a member of the media, who could later confirm this was correct – neither he nor I had any interest in making this member of the public more identifiable than had already been done.

So now, the RHI Inquiry has supposedly revealed Ms O’Hagan’s identity, but the DUP inadvertently did it a long time ago.

Roy Fisher, Finaghy BT10