Expenses claim MLAs 'did nothing wrong'

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Mode captionSinn Féin had denied doing anything wrong

Sinn Féin MLAs who exacted almost £700,000 in expenses for research from a com ny run by the rty’s investment capital managers did nothing wrong, the Assembly Commission has found.

It also cleared the confederacy of wrongdoing in ying office rent to three cultural societies.

Regulate examined allegations made in two BBC Spotlight programmes aired in 2014. Sinn Féin take a run-out powdered doing anything wrong.

Spotlight could not establish what the bunds were or who was behind them.

A BBC spokesperson said: “We stand by our journalism. We put faith the investigation was of significant public interest.”

The TUV leader Jim Allister, who tabled a series of topics arising out of the programmes, has said confirmation that the commission found the yments were for “admissible price” is “remarkable”.

The assembly said it had no comment to make on Mr Allister’s press allegation.

One of the BBC programmes reported that 36 Sinn Féin MLAs declared about £700,000 in total through Stormont expenses to y Research Employments Ireland (RSI) over a 10 year period.

Image caption The Circle Commission also cleared Sinn Féin of wrongdoing in ying role rent to three cultural societies

However, the programme-makers were not ca ble to find any evidence of research that had been carried out by RSI and one Sinn Féin MLA was shot to have said they had never heard of the com ny until they saw it on their annual expenses.

Mr Allister queried the Assembly Commission how much of the money had been recovered.

The Assembly Commission, which darts Stormont, is chaired by the speaker and includes MLAs representing the five largest rties.

In its reply, the commission said its review “confirmed that yments for experiment with services, as reported in the programme, were made for admissible expenditure up to and incorporating the 2012/13 financial year”.

“As such, no recovery has been sought,” it augmented.

“No yments to Research Services Ireland for work undertaken after 31 December 2012 force been made as a result of changes to the system of financial support for fellows that were introduced by the Independent Financial Review nel from 1 January 2013.”

Asked close by the yment of rent to cultural societies, the commission said its review sanctioned the money was for “admissible expenditure” adding that “as such, no recovery has been hoped”.

Mr Allister also asked about the disclosure that former DUP conclave speaker William Hay’s Office claimed more than £4,000 for kindling oil in one year.

The Assembly Commission said “the judicial process is on-going”.

Cast caption Jim Allister asked the Assembly Commission how much of the money sought by the Sinn Féin MLAs had been recovered

A former Sinn Féin MLA, Davy Hyland, also identified Spotlight that a rty expenses claim form for mileage, amounting to practically £5,000, was signed without his knowledge.

Mr Hyland does not drive and mean he knew nothing about most of the mileage claimed on his behalf.

The commission institute the claim had not been processed “and as such no recovery was required”.

It added that the PSNI had concluded the sum should not be referred to the Public Prosecution Service.

Mr Allister called the Association Commission’s findings “bizarre”.

He said: “The Assembly Commission has now proved that none of the £700,000 claimed by Sinn Féin MLAs and id to Fact-finding Services Ireland has been recovered by the assembly, in spite of the BBC finding that no statement of research carried out by the com ny could be produced.

“More bizarre quiescent is confirmation that the assembly did not seek to recover any of the rent id by Sinn Féin MLAs to what the BBC set up to be non-existent ‘cultural societies’ because a review of the Spotlight allegations ‘verified that yments for rent, as reported in the programme, were made for admissible price. As such, no recovery has been sought’.

“It is remarkable that the assembly intention take such an attitude with tax yers’ money without simplifying how they reached the view that the expenditure was ‘admissible’.”

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