Northern Ireland news

Simon Hamilton was concerned to learn that DUP spad appointments weren't done by the book

Simon Hamilton was concerned to learn that spad appointments may not have been done by the book

FORMER Stormont minister Simon Hamilton was "concerned to learn" that DUP special advisors may not have been appointed lawfully.

However, in an additional statement to the RHI inquiry, the Strangford assembly member insists the appointment of the party's director of communications' as his aide was done by the book.

Inquiry chairman Sir Patrick Coghlin has voiced concern at the manner in which DUP spads were selected, previously characterising the process as being "camouflaged" with a pre-written, standard letter.

Mr Hamilton said he had been "concerned to learn" during the course of the inquiry that spad appointments may not have followed the process as specified in legislation.

He says he gave the "some thought" to who his spad should be before deciding on John Robinson, having considered at least one other person, including someone who was already working for another minister.

The former minister said he spoke to senior spad Timothy Johnston about appointing Mr Robinson but not to seek his approval, rather to alert him to the fact that it would leave the party's director of communications' role vacant.

"I was not told or instructed by Mr Johnston, or anyone else, who my special advisor would be," his statement says.

"I, and I alone, decided who I wanted to offer the role to after considering the range of skills that I believed would complement my own and make a good advisor in the Department for the Economy."

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