Former fire chief says whistleblower was "quite right"

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A former chief fire officer told MLAs that a member of staff he suspended after she made allegations of financial irregularities was "quite right to whistle blow", on 13 February 2013.

Peter Craig told members of the Health Committee, Linda Ford was suspended for a breach of data protection policy.

Ms Ford subsequently won £20,000 compensation after she took a case against the Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS).

Three investigations were carried out into NIFRS.

They followed allegations about fraud, unapproved bonuses and failures to deal with staff grievances.

Mr Craig also faced questioning about a Land Rover that had been supplied to NIFRS by a car dealership, Charles Hurst, on a sponsorship basis.

Jim Wells of the DUP wanted to know why Mr Craig had not returned the vehicle to the suppliers when asked to do so by his superior, Colin Lammey, who had expressed concerns about a possible breach of procurement rules.

Mr Craig said he had returned it to the public relations company that had received it from Charles Hurst.

He told the committee that after the chief fire officer, Colin Lammey, retired, he was content to have the vehicle returned to the service as it was useful in promoting safety issues.

The former chairman of the board of NIFRS, William Gillespie, challenged an official report that the board had approved excessive bonuses to senior officers.

He said the bonus awarded was not in breach of the rules set by the Department as the amount paid out was was in separate payments below the £5,000 cap set by the department.

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