Northern Ireland

Details emerge of RHI whistleblower second email

Arlene Foster
Image caption Arlene Foster faces a vote of no confidence at Stormont over her handling of the botched heating scheme

The detail of a second email from a whistleblower to Arlene Foster warning her about abuse of a heating scheme has been revealed.

The whistleblower emailed Mrs Foster's DUP office account with concerns about the heating scheme.

The email warned the scheme was leading to misuse.

The DUP said the First Minister's office had no record of the email, but no reason to believe that it was not sent or received.

On 3 September 2013, a whistleblower wrote to Mrs Foster - who was then enterprise minister - outlining their concerns.

The existence of this email was reported by the Irish News last Thursday. This email has now been seen by the BBC's Nolan Show.

The email said: "Given the benefits of RHI we find that many of our potential customers are no longer worried about becoming more efficient.

"In fact it pays them to use as much as they can. The incentive to use more is leading to misuse in some cases.

"I firmly believe that energy efficiency and sustainability should go hand (in hand) and I'd really appreciate 20-30 minutes if your time to see what you think."

The DUP responded by saying: "As has been apparent over recent days there is clearly some confusion over the precise details in relation to the emails.

"The First Minister has no formal record of any emails from this period as her records do not go back this far.

"Before the email of the 26th August was published the person who had sent the email was contacted by an official in the Department of the Economy who confirmed that the 26th August email had been the only direct contact with Arlene Foster, and the official's understanding was that she was content to release that email subject to redactions.

"We apologise if there was any misunderstanding, as we certainly would not have released the email had we thought that would be against her wishes.

"However, we understand that another email has come to light dated September 3 which makes a reference to concerns about the RHI.

"The First Minister's office has no record of this email, but equally no reason to believe that it was not sent or received.

"In any event the person in question contacted officials two days later on 5 September 2013 (in immediate response to the letter from the Minister) in order to set up a meeting at which her plans and concerns were discussed.

"We understand that at this meeting she also raised concerns about the RHI but, very unfortunately, these concerns were not taken sufficiently seriously. At all times Mrs Foster sought to follow the appropriate processes in relation to this issue."

First Minister Arlene Foster faces a vote of no confidence at the Assembly later over her involvement in the botched heating scheme.

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