The Department of Social Development are considering launching an investigation after Special Advisor to Nelson McCausland, Stephen Brimstone, was accused of putting pressure on Lisburn Councillor Jenny Palmer to change her vote during a Housing Board meeting.
Mrs Palmer made the accusation during a BBC Spotlight programme and has since met with the First Minister to discuss the situation.
It is believed an apology to Mrs Palmer is being drafted by the DUP, however, it has not yet been released and the party has not revealed when the apology will be issued.
It has now been revealed that the Department is to look into whether it would be appropriate to investigate the circumstances which led to Mrs Palmer speaking out on television.
Following the Spotlight programme, TUV leader Jim Allister called on the Civil Service to investigate Mr Brimstone’s actions in light of Mrs Palmer’s complaint.
“Immediately after the Spotlight investigation into the DUP’s dealings with Red Sky and Turkington’s I wrote to the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, Dr Malcolm McKibbin,” said Mr Allister.
“I requested that he investigate if Nelson McCausland’s Special Adviser, Stephen Brimstone, had breached sections 5 and 6 of the Code of Conduct for Special Advisers.
“The relevant sections read:
“5. Special Advisers should conduct themselves with integrity and honesty. …
“6. Special Advisers should not use official resources for party political activity.
“They are employed to serve the objectives of the Administration and the Department in which they work.
“It is this which justifies their being paid from public funds and being able to use public resources, and explains why their participation in party politics is clearly limited.
“They should act in a way which upholds the political impartiality of civil servants.
“They should avoid anything which might reasonable lead to the criticism that people paid from public funds are being used for party political purposes.
“I have received a reply from Dr McKibbin informing me that the Department of Social Development will be taking the matter forward,” he continued.
“I am advised that the Department is to carry out a fact-finding exercise to establish if there is any basis for proceeding with a formal disciplinary investigation,” concluded Mr Allister.