Foster admits making ‘wrong’ statements under oath

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DUP leader Arlene Foster is under renewed pressure to quit politics after acknowledging that some of her sworn evidence to a public corruption inquiry is likely false.

The statements in question relate to when she was first told about a move to delay cost controls on a ‘green energy’ scheme popular for its free money handouts.

The Renewable Heat Initiative handsomely rewarded participants for burning solid fuel, earning them sixteen pounds for every ten pounds spent.

The DUP leader’s admission comes in one of new witness statements to the inquiry into the scandal.

In a BBC interview which first exposed financial concerns, Ms Foster had originally claimed that she had ‘no idea’ why cost controls were delayed, contradicting senior Stormont civil servant Andrew McCormick, who said she had been informed.

In a statement to the public inquiry, Foster said that she had only been told of the delay by Dr McCormick after the BBC interview with host Stephen Nolan.

However, Dr McCormick said that he did not speak to Mrs Foster for several days following the interview, and that it is impossible that Ms Foster did not know in advance.

Now Mrs Foster has gone back on what she told the inquiry, saying in a fresh written statement that “it is possible that I am wrong”.

However, she stands over her claim at the time that she had “no idea” why cost controls were delayed, insisting she had taken the view that there was insufficient evidence at that time to draw any conclusions about the reasons for delay in the scheme.

“I would not have voiced publicly an unsubstantiated comment of that nature. Indeed, I remain of the view that to repeat this unsubstantiated allegation to Mr Nolan, particularly in the circumstances that prevailed at the time, would have been inappropriate.

“I did have no idea as to the facts of what took place and therefore I do not believe that my reply to Mr Nolan was contrary to the principle of openness within the seven principles of public life.”

The ‘seven principles of public life’, which Ms Foster claims to adhere are: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty, and leadership.

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