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DUP spad mocked Jonathan Bell after he 'cried on Peter Robinson's shoulder'

Timothy Johnston, DUP chief executive and former special adviser to Arlene Foster. Picture by Mal McCann.

THE DUP's most senior special adviser accused Jonathan Bell of "crying on the shoulder" of Peter Robinson after he sought the former first minister's advice.

Timothy Johnston, now DUP chief executive, is alleged to have made the remark in front of Arlene Foster, who was seeking to keep the RHI scheme open for two weeks beyond Mr Bell's desired closure date.

Mr Bell, a friend and one-time ally of the former DUP leader, said he sought Mr Robinson's advice because Mrs Foster was "ordering for it (RHI) to be kept open" despite pressure from civil servants to close it down.

"Peter Robinson advised me to proceed with the utmost caution as it appeared Arlene Foster was issuing verbal orders to reopen a scheme at the same time as an email record was being made showing a contradictory instruction that Arlene Foster's department wished the issue to be closed," Mr Bell's witness statement to the RHI inquiry states.

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Mr Bell says he did not discuss the meeting with Mr Robinson, which took place in the Stormont canteen, with anybody.

In a later meeting where Mrs Foster was present, however, he claims Mr Johnston made reference to the meeting.

"I was surprised given that I hadn't spoken to anyone that Timmy Johnston interjected during the conversation with Arlene Foster to state that he noted that I was crying on the shoulder of former First Minister Peter Robinson earlier," Mr Bell's statement says.

Mr Bell held a further meeting with his former party leader at Mr Robinson's office in Saintfield Co Down, which was also attended by the latter's daughter, Rebekah.

Of that meeting, the former economy minister states: "All the information that was put into a subsequent letter to Arlene Foster, Nigel Dodds and Maurice Morrow (DUP chairman) regarding RHI was discussed.

"I did not discuss the matter with anyone I put the information and concerns in a letter to be addressed by the leadership of the party informing it was for them to take forward [sic]."

The content of the letter is not in the public domain.

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