Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has repeated his accusation that former Minister Nelson McCausland and his colleagues in the DUP wrongly put party political considerations ahead of the public interest.
Roy Beggs said:
“After the Committee previously found Nelson McCausland had misled it, this latest report raises further serious issues. I have little doubt that had this occurred at Westminster or any of the other devolved institutions the Minister and his Adviser would have been swiftly sacked, not least because of public opinion.
“Throughout the investigation Sammy Wilson acted in the narrow interest of the DUP rather than the public’s interest in terms of his actions related to the investigation into the BBC Spotlight Red Sky programme.
“Scrutiny of Sammy Wilson MLA’s attempt to defend his Party’s former Minister and his special advisor inappropriate actions would conclude that they have not been in the public interest. I could only describe his actions as being despicable.
“Firstly he disrupted the Social Development Committee with his intervention and ‘thug’ remark just as the DUP Special Advisor was coming under pressure from questioning at the committee. Indeed there were a number of other occasions when the DUP Members disrupted the Committee. Secondly the whistle blower, Cllr Jenny Palmer who was questioned by Mr Wilson for some 35 minutes, claimed his action were ‘tantamount to bullying’.
“I believe that Mr Wilson selfishly put Party interests before all others.
“The DUP placed two of their double jobbing MPs and MLAs Sammy Wilson and Gregory Campbell on the Social Development Committee. Some believe this to be an attempt protect their party members Stephen Brimstone and Nelson McCausland who were under the spotlight.
“Anyone who listens to and examines Jenny Palmer’s evidence will conclude that as a whistle blower on inappropriate internal DUP actions, she has been consistent and credible in her evidence to the committee and the media. The question then falls to Sammy Wilson, why has he given the whistleblower such a hard time? His party is in the process of disciplining her after collecting her vote at the Super Council AGM. Whistle blowers should be supported, not abused.
“Unfortunately however, as the Committee also found, there is a totally inadequate mechanism in place to investigate allegations of misconduct against Ministers. That means at present Ministers and Special Advisers can and will act with apparent impunity. The Assembly and the Executive must as a matter of absolute priority address that glaring omission.”