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Source: Traditional Unionist Voice – Northern Ireland

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“Confirmation that inappropriate behaviour in disclosing official information during RHI is not to result in any action against then minister, Simon Hamilton, and Spad, John Robinson, is precisely the reason why Clause 11 of my Private Member’s Bill is required.

“I am proposing a relevant criminal offence in the following terms:-

‘Offence of unauthorised disclosure

11.—(1) Without prejudice to the operation of the Official Secrets Acts 1911-1989 and save in the discharge of a statutory obligation or in the lawful pursuit of official duties, it shall be an offence for any minister, civil servant or special adviser to communicate, directly or indirectly, official information to another for the financial or other improper benefit of any person or third party.

(2) In proceedings in respect of a charge against a person (“A”) of the offence under subsection (1), it is a defence for A to show that the course of behaviour was reasonable in the particular circumstances or was in the public interest.

(3) A person is taken to have shown the fact mentioned in subsection (2) if—

(a) evidence adduced is enough to raise an issue as to whether the course of behaviour is as described in subsection (2), and

(b) the prosecution does not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the course of behaviour is not as described in subsection (2).

(4) A person guilty of an offence under this section is liable on conviction

(a) on indictment, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years;

(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or a fine not exceeding the statutory maximum or both.’

“It is quite appalling that the range of improper behaviour exposed in the RHI Inquiry will result in not a single prosecution. Hence, the need to fill this legislative void.

“I trust all parties committed to probity in public life will lend there support when my Bill returns to the Assembly in a few weeks for its Consideration stage.”

MIL OSI United Kingdom