N. Ireland Politics

Audit Office set for NI Water probe

The BBC has learned that the NI Audit Office is set to begin an investigation into the troubled government-owned company, Northern Ireland Water.

The probe has been requested by Stormont's Public Accounts Committee which is scrutinising the sackings of four non-executive directors.

The directors were fired after an independent report revealed contracts were handed out without being tendered.

Questions have subsequently been raised over the independence of the report.

A UTV programme uncovered documents purporting to show that the permanent secretary at the Department of Regional Development (DRD), Paul Priestly, who commissioned the review, was given an early draft of its report and asked for changes to be made to it.

Timeline of events at NI Water

Mr Priestly is currently suspended by the DRD while an investigation into his conduct is carried out.

The civil service said his suspension was to facilitate the investigation and was not a disciplinary penalty.

The auditor-general Kieran Donnelly is meeting the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) at Stormont on Tuesday to determine the scope of his probe.

One source from the PAC told the BBC that the discussions will involve written submissions from two of the sacked directors, Chris Mellor and Declan Gormley.

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