Page last updated at 12:43 GMT, Saturday, 3 April 2010 13:43 UK

Sir Reg Empey mulls Peter Robinson 'liar' accusation

Peter Robinson

Peter Robinson denied any wrongdoing over the land deal

Unionist politicians dubbed "liars" by First Minister Peter Robinson have been giving their response.

Mr Robinson denied doing anything wrong when he bought a piece of land next to his home from a developer for £5.

The DUP leader said the BBC was "smearing him" and branded politicians who commented on the issue as "liars".

UUP leader Sir Reg Empey said he was considering Mr Robinson's remarks, while TUV leader Jim Allister said his solicitor will be seeking a retraction.

BBC Newsline first reported on Tuesday that the strip of land unlocked access to a development site which included his back garden.

In his first interview to address the issues raised in the report, Mr Robinson said on Friday the sum paid to "personal friend" Fred Fraser was "nominal" because the land was "useless" to the developer.

It was an absolutely astonishing performance which raised more questions than it answered
Sir Reg Empey
Ulster Unionist leader

Sir Reg and his party colleague Michael McGimpsey had called on Mr Robinson to step aside until he had sought legal advice about his position.

Mr Robinson said: "There is no question of me having any advantage whatsoever as a result of that piece of ground.

"Therefore, Reg Empey, Michael McGimpsey, Trevor Ringland, Jim Allister and the BBC are all liars."

Sir Reg said the interview was "an absolutely astonishing performance which raised more questions than it answered".

He added: "I repeat my call for an inquiry into these matters to ensure that there is confidence in the integrity of public life."

Trevor Ringland, who is the Conservative and Unionist election candidate challenging for Mr Robinson's East Belfast Westminster seat, called for him to retract and apologise for his remarks.

TUV leader Jim Allister said people "will have been astounded by the manner in which the first minister conducted himself".

"As for his defamatory reference to myself, he can either withdraw it forthwith or face the consequences in another forum," he said.

Mr Robinson said he had no case to answer in relation to the BBC investigation and described the whole affair as "much ado about nothing".



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