Northern Ireland

Stephen Brimstone: Minister Mervyn Storey has a week to hand in 'full report'

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Media captionParts of the document given to the committee were blanked out, as Stephen Walker reports

A Stormont committee has given Social Development Minister Mervyn Storey another week to hand over in full a report into the conduct of DUP ministerial adviser Stephen Brimstone.

A copy, with parts blanked out, was sent to the social development committee on Wednesday night.

MLAs on the committee have been investigating allegations of political interference in the Housing Executive.

They were raised in a BBC Spotlight programme in 2013.

The programme claimed that Mr Brimstone pressured DUP councillor Jenny Palmer to change her vote in a Housing Executive board meeting.

In 2013, civil servants compiled a report into Mr Brimstone's conduct.

Image caption Mr Storey was asked for the report by the social development committee

Mr Storey, DUP, released the report to the committee on Wednesday night, shortly after the 17:00 GMT deadline that the committee had given him.

A copy of the report has been obtained by the BBC.

Much of it centres on a phone call between Ms Palmer and Mr Brimstone before a key meeting of the board of the Housing Executive. Both have different recollections of the conversation.

The fact finding investigation compiled by civil servants has recommended that a disciplinary investigation should be commenced against Mr Brimstone. This report has been secret for a year and a half.

For months, MLAs investigating allegations raised by the Spotlight programme have been seeking it. They had to threaten court action to get hold of it.

The document given to them contains 13 conclusions and two recommendations that have been blanked out. However, one recommendation was not edited out.

It refers to Mr Brimstone as "SB" and states that: "It is recommended that a formal disciplinary investigation into the behaviour of SB be commenced."

MLAs on the social development committee spent more than an hour in closed session at their meeting on Thursday morning, at which the report was discussed.

They have given the minister another week to produce the full report.

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