Northern Ireland

Duncan McCausland withdraws from NI Tourism Board chair job

Duncan McCausland
Image caption Duncan McCausland said he was determined to prove his innocence

Former Assistant Chief Constable Duncan McCausland was expected to be appointed chairman of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the BBC has learned.

Mr McCausland is currently under police investigation about the awarding of PSNI vehicle contracts.

He strenuously denies the allegations.

The former police officer has also decided to temporarily step aside from a series of other public bodies, including his current role in the Tourist Board.

'Prove my innocence'

Since retiring three years ago from the police after a career as one of its highest profile officers, Mr McCausland has served on a series of public bodies, including the Strategic Investment Board and the Maze/Long Kesh Development Corporation.

Last week, he was arrested by detectives investigating allegations connected to contracts for the PSNI's fleet of vehicles.

He said he "strenuously denies" the allegations, adding: "I am going to go out of my way to ensure I can prove my innocence."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Arlene Foster had said she was minded to appoint Mr McCausland to the top tourism role

Mr McCausland has been a member of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board (NITB) since 2012.

He recently applied for the post of chairman and after a rigorous selection process was successful.

Stormont Enterprise Minster Arlene Foster wrote to him saying she was minded to appoint him.

His appointment was going to made public very soon, but these plans are now on hold.

In a letter to NITB, he said: "I wish to protect the integrity of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and accordingly would request a period of absence until this matter is concluded."

He added: "Although I know I will be fully exonerated I do not wish to place the Northern Ireland Tourist Board in any way in an uncertain position. Thus my request for the leave of absence."

Mr McCausland has sent a similar letter to other bodies on which he sits.

A spokesperson for the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment said: "Duncan McCausland has voluntarily stepped down form his role as a member of the Tourist Board, pending the outcome of the ongoing PSNI investigation."

She made no further comment.

The current chairman Howard Hastings is to stand down in December.

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