Timothy Johnston: DUP Spad appointed as party's chief executive

DUP special adviser Timothy Johnston. Picture by Mal McCann

THE DUP has appointed a special adviser linked to the botched RHI scheme as its Chief Executive.

Timothy Johnston, a long serving adviser, is to take up the new post on September 25.

DUP leader Arlene Foster said the appointment came after the party agreed to "substantial reorganisation" of its structures and management.

"As a first step in that process we decided to appoint a Chief Executive to assist in driving the organisation forward in areas of strategy, policy development, communications and administration to achieve continued and sustained expansion of the party," she said.

Mr Johnston said he was "delighted" by the appointment.

"I have been associated with the party in various roles for the last sixteen years and I look forward to the new opportunities and challenges that lie ahead," he said.

A former auditor, Mr Johnston was previously a member of the Ulster Unionists.

A father-of-three, from Portadown, Co Armagh, he joined the DUP as its director of policy in 2002.

Involved in the negotiations that led to the restoration of powersharing in 2007, he is said to have had a particularly close relationship with Peter Robinson.

He has worked as a special adviser to Ian Paisley, Peter Robinson and Arlene Foster during their tenures as First Minister.

Earlier this year, then DUP MLA Jonathan Bell used parliamentary privilege to accuse him of being one of the two special advisers who moved to block the closure of the disastrous renewable heat incentive scheme - a claim denied by Mr Johnston.

He is married to a sister of John Robinson, another DUP special adviser who has also been the subject of similar accusations by Mr Bell.

A DUP statement branded Mr Bell's allegations as "outrageous, untrue and unfounded mud-slinging".

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