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Executive Office fail to respond to request on severance pay for former DUP special adviser Stephen Brimstone

The Executive Office has not responded to a request for information on whether former DUP special adviser Stephen Brimstone received a severance payment
John Monaghan

THE Executive Office has failed to respond to a request for information about whether former DUP special adviser Stephen Brimstone received a pay-off when he left his post last year.

The Irish News submitted a Freedom of Information request in November to the Executive Office, asking for details of whether Mr Brimstone was due to receive a severance payment.

Under Freedom of Information legislation, a response should be issued within 20 working days, or the public authority has to provide a reason as to why the information is being withheld or delayed.

The first Spad to emerge as a beneficiary of the RHI scheme, Mr Brimstone resigned in November, leaving his £91,809-a-year post to "pursue opportunities in the private sector".

Neither the DUP nor Mr Brimstone have to date explained when or on what basis he applied to the scheme, or how much he has received in payments.

In 2013, Mr Brimstone became embroiled in controversy when he was accused of telling Jenny Palmer, then the DUP's representative on the Housing Executive board, to change her vote in relation to a contract involving maintenance firm Red Sky, which later went bankrupt.

He denied any wrongdoing and the incident resulted in Ms Palmer defecting to the UUP.

Mr Brimstone was then promoted to the office of the first and deputy first minister, and served under both Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster.

Mr Brimstone's brother, Aaron, who runs a go-karting business in Kesh, Co Fermanagh, is also an RHI claimant.

It comes after The Irish News revealed that Andrew Crawford, who resigned on Wednesday, is in line to receive a 'golden handshake' worth up to £45,000.

Mr Crawford quit his role at Stormont following claims he exerted influence over the botched RHI scheme, accusations he denies.

A Spad in the office of the agriculture minister, Michelle McIlveen, he had previously worked as an former adviser to Arlene Foster in her roles as both enterprise and finance minister.

Mr Crawford's brother, a poultry farmer, is a recipient under the RHI scheme.

According to the special advisers' code, Spads are entitled to a severance package worth up to six months of their annual salary if they quit to stand for election or take part in a party's election campaign.

In his statement, Mr Crawford said he intends to "campaign for the election of the strongest DUP representation in the next assembly".

DUP South Belfast MLA Emma Little Pengelly was entitled to the pay-out when she quit her role as a Spad to be co-opted into the assembly ahead of standing for election last year.

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