Page last updated at 09:25 GMT, Friday, 22 January 2010

Application backed by Iris Robinson was approved

Iris Robinson
Iris Robinson has resigned as an MP, assembly member and councillor

Environment minister Edwin Poots has said a planning application Iris Robinson was involved with was approved despite considerable local objection.

The social housing development was in Newtownards.

Mr Poots said residents' objections are not the only consideration planners take into account.

Mrs Robinson lobbied for three planning applications on behalf of two developers who each provided £25,000 to help set up her ex-lover in business.

Mr Poots told the Assembly on Thursday that in the past six years, she spoke on behalf of two applications from Ken Campbell and one from Fred Fraser.

The planning applications listed by Mr Poots were for sites in Comber and Newtownards, both in former DUP MP Mrs Robinson's Strangford constituency.

Speaking to BBC Radio Ulster on Friday, Mr Poots said:"I know that one of them in Newtownards transpired to go to social housing.

"But there was considerable local objection to that particular objection and that was quite controversial in that respect.

"I understand it was subsequently approved for social housing despite local objection.

"Again that isn't necessarily unusual. I have seen planning applications approved where there are over 1,000 planning objections from locals."

Investigation

The DUP minister had said on Thursday his list on planning applications Mrs Robinson had lobbied for was not definitive, as a company search and manual trawl of the records would cost a "disproportionate" amount.

He told the BBC on Friday any member of the public had the opportunity to access planning files.

Police in Northern Ireland have launched a criminal investigation into the financial dealings of Mrs Robinson.

Mr Poots said that in the "interests of transparency" his department would co-operate with any investigation and any file the police wanted would "be given to them".

Ken Campbell
Ken Campbell loaned Kirk McCambley 25,000

Mrs Robinson has resigned her three political positions as an MP, MLA and councillor.

Earlier this month, the BBC's Spotlight programme revealed details of Mrs Robinson's financial and personal relationship with Kirk McCambley.

The programme reported that Mrs Robinson sought to provide Mr McCambley with capital to open his business, the Lock Keeper's Inn cafe in south Belfast.

Mrs Robinson obtained a total of £50,000 from two developers, Fred Fraser, now deceased, and Ken Campbell to fund the project.

She kept £5,000 for her herself and then, when their relationship ended, she demanded Mr McCambley pay the money back.

Mr Campbell has said he contributed between £4,000 and £5,000 to the DUP several years ago.

He said he had never personally donated any money to Mrs Robinson or her DUP leader husband Peter Robinson.



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