Counsel appointed in Robinson inquiry

 

A PROMINENT senior counsel has been appointed to offer a legal opinion on allegations that Peter Robinson broken Assembly ethics over his wife’s financial affairs.

Paul Maguire QC has been asked for an opinion from the Departmental Solicitors Office regarding the allegation levelled by the BBC Spotlightprogramme two weeks ago which reported on Iris Robinson’s business and sexual involvement with a teenage proprietor of a south Belfast coffee shop.

In particular Mr Maguire will offer advice on whether Mr Robinson’s actions were in breach of the ministerial code, the code of conduct and the pledge of office.

The BBC said Mrs Robinson obtained two loans of £25,000 each to assist her 19-year-old lover Kirk McCambley establish the Lock Keeper’s Inn near the Lagan towpath in the city and did not declare her interest in the scheme.

The BBC also claimed Mr Robinson, the DUP leader and First Minister, failed to inform the relevant authorities once he found out about his wife’s activities despite being bound to act in the public interest at all times.

Mr Robinson said last week, after he stood aside temporarily from office, that his conduct should be examined by a senior counsel as quickly as possible.

The Department of Finance and Personnel, which has called in Mr Maguire, said his role would not amount to a formal investigation of the First Minister.

A spokesman said there was no specific timeframe and that Mr Maguire would offer his advice “as soon as possible”.

An Alliance member of a previous Stormont assembly in the 1980s, Mr Maguire turned to a legal career after that devolution initiative collapsed. He has represented a number of government and statutory bodies and is seen as ideally placed to investigate the Robinson controversy.