Northern Ireland

Assembly probe into Peter and Iris Robinson resumes

Iris and Peter Robinson
Image caption The Standards and Privileges Committee's investigation was suspended pending the outcome of a PSNI investigation

A NI assembly investigation into the conduct of Peter and Iris Robinson has resumed.

The Standards and Privileges Committee began its inquiry on 11 January, days after a BBC documentary about the couple was broadcast.

Mr Robinson denied any wrongdoing after the programme revealed details of his wife's financial and business affairs.

The assembly probe was suspended pending a police investigation, which later cleared Mrs Robinson.

The PSNI's organised crime branch, which specialises in financial investigations, launched an investigation in January 2010.

In March the Public Prosecution Service said the former DUP MP would not face charges over her role in helping her ex-lover Kirk McCambley, set up a business.

Cleared

The DPP said it would not be bringing a case against the wife of NI's first minister.

The BBC's Spotlight programme alleged that Mrs Robinson obtained £50,000 from two property developers to help her teenage lover to run a cafe in south Belfast, and asked him for £5,000 for herself.

She failed to register the money with the authorities at Stormont and also failed to tell the Westminster authorities, as required by the law.

Spotlight also reported that Mr Robinson became aware of his wife's involvement in the business deal but failed to tell the proper authorities, despite being obliged to act in the public interest by the ministerial code.

Mr Robinson stepped aside as first minister of Northern Ireland temporarily to clear his name.

After the broadcast, Mrs Robinson resigned as an MP, MLA and Castlereagh councillor.

A few days later it was revealed that she was receiving "acute psychiatric treatment" at a clinic in London.

She returned to Northern Ireland in September 2010 where she continues to receive medical treatment.

She made her first public appearance in May of this year, attending a state banquet for the Queen at Dublin Castle.

An assembly spokesperson said, "After briefing the Assembly Committee on Standards & Privileges, it has been confirmed that the Interim Commissioner will now conclude his suspended investigation into the issues arising from the BBC Spotlight programme.

"The Interim Commissioner's investigation had been suspended while a PSNI investigation was being carried out.

"Now that the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) has decided not to prosecute in this case, the Interim Commissioner's investigation can resume.

"A report from the Interim Commissioner will follow in due course and will be considered by the committee.

"The committee will then decide whether a breach of the code has occurred."

Last month the DUP said an independent investigation has cleared Iris Robinson and Castlereagh council of any wrongdoing in the awarding of a contract to her former teenage lover.

The Robinsons were married in 1970 and have three grown-up children.

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