Northern Ireland

RHI scandal: BBC fell for Jonathan Bell spin says DUP

Jonathan Bell
Image caption Jonathan Bell made a number of allegations during his interview with the BBC's Stephen Nolan

The Democratic Unionist Party has accused the BBC of falling for "spin" over a flawed green energy scheme.

Ex-enterprise minister Jonathan Bell told the BBC that top advisers from his DUP party stopped him from restricting the Renewable Heat Initiative.

The BBC said an interview with First Minister Arlene Foster, who is facing calls to step aside while claims are probed, was a "contrasting account".

"This is a matter of high public interest," the corporation added.

The interviews, conducted by the BBC's Stephen Nolan and broadcast on Thursday, contained a series of claims and counter claims.

Mrs Foster has apologised for not putting a cap on the costs of the lucrative scheme but denies any intervention that may have prolonged it. It is estimated the way the scheme was set-up will cost taxpayers £400m over its 20-year lifetime.

Image caption Arlene Foster said Mr Bell "took all the decisions" about the scheme during his time as minister

In a statement on Friday morning, the DUP said Mr Bell's allegations were a "tactic to distract from fact he as minister made the crucial and catastrophic decision to delay RHI cost savings in autumn/winter of 2015."

"It is a matter of regret that BBC has fallen for his spin," the party added.

"The BBC broadcast claims from a former minister about documents in relation to the RHI controversy as well as a contrasting account from the first minister," a spokesman said.

"All those referred to in the broadcast were afforded rights of reply, which were aired. This is a matter of high public interest and the BBC believes it was entirely proper to bring this to our audience."

More on this story