Report due on Palmer allegations

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Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey was this week expected to submit a full report to the Social Development Committee at Stormont into the actions of his advisor Stephen Brimstone.

Mr Brimstone had been accused by Lisburn Councillor Jenny Palmer of putting undue pressure on her to change her vote at a Housing Executive Board meeting, allegedly saying that she should be putting her Party first.

The allegations appeared in a BBC Spotlight programme in 2013 and subsequently an investigation was launched within the Department into the circumstances surrounding the incident.

The vote related to the termination of a maintenance contract being operated by the firm Red Sky.

In the documentary Mrs Palmer told the BBC Mr Brinstone said: “the party comes first – you do what you’re told, otherwise there is no point in being on the board’, if I wasn’t prepared to do what they asked me to do.”

Mr Brimstone has denied the allegations, however it is understood that a redacted report, which was submitted by the Minister last week, has proposed that a disciplinary investigation should be carried out into Mr Brimstone’s actions.

The DSD Minister, Mr Storey, was given a deadline of 5pm last Wednesday (February 18) to submit the report, however, it is understood the report, which was submitted shortly after the deadline, had several paragraphs blanked out.

The committee then gave Mr Storey a further week, until Wednesday February 25 to submit a full unedited version of the report, which had been compiled by civil servants in 2013. Members of the committee have threatened legal action if the full report, much of which is understood to focus on a telephone conversation between Mr Brimstone and Mrs Palmer, was not submitted in a timely fashion.

However, at the time of going to print, the Star understands that the full report had not yet been submitted to the Social Development committee.