Northern Ireland news

RHI inquiry drama to continue as Timothy Cairns to give evidence

Ex-DUP special adviser Timothy Cairns
Brendan Hughes

THE RHI inquiry looks set to deliver more political drama next week as it hears for the first time from Jonathan Bell's former special adviser.

Timothy Cairns already made headlines earlier this week after references to some of his explosive claims emerged in Mr Bell's oral evidence and witness statements.

Among the claims, the former Spad is said to have accused ex-DUP enterprise minister Mr Bell of swinging a punch at him and trying to break his finger, which Mr Bell denies.

The tense relationship between the pair during their time in Stormont's enterprise department was also exposed.

Mr Bell claimed that one particularly heated exchange in London in 2015 ended with Mr Cairns telling him: "Now you're going to listen to me big b***s."

The former Strangford MLA also told the RHI inquiry that Mr Cairns said to him other Spads were opposed to plans to shut the green energy scheme in early 2016.

Mr Cairns is listed to appear at the inquiry on Tuesday and Wednesday. His written statements are expected to be published on Monday.

DUP leader Arlene Foster's former Spad, Andrew Crawford is also due to make a further appearance before the inquiry on Thursday and Friday.

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