Northern Ireland news

Former minister Simon Hamilton and ex-spad John Robinson won't face charges over RHI leaks

The RHI Inquiry said the leaking of emails by Simon Hamilton was as an 'unacceptable step for an executive minister'

FORMER Stormont minister Simon Hamilton and the DUP's head of communications John Robinson have escaped prosecution for leaking emails to the media at the height of public outcry over RHI.

In January 2017, the then economy minister and his special adviser decided to post printed copies of emails to journalists and the permanent secretary at his own department, Andrew McCormick.

Leaking the emails was designed to take the heat off Arlene Foster's then spad Andrew Crawford, who over previous weeks had been the focus of intense media attention after The Irish News revealed his relatives’ interest in the poultry industry.

Mr Hamilton gave details of the episode while giving evidence to the RHI inquiry.

He has since left the DUP and is now chief executive of Belfast Chamber, while Mr Robinson has resumed his role as his party's head of communications.

The inquiry's report later described the former minister's behaviour as "quite extraordinary and unacceptable step for an executive minister".

However, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has concluded that there was insufficient evidence of an offence being committed.

"The ICO investigation found that there was insufficient evidence to substantiate allegations that offences contrary to section 55 of the DPA 1998 had been committed

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