Cui bono?

Just a mental exercise to get my head around the figures (my head is spinning, I don’t know about yours)… Money wise there is 50k involved… Iris Robinson organises two cheques of 25k from the two developers, made out to McCambley for the business… She’s carrier of the cheques, but at this stage she does not touch the money… Then when the arrangement goes bad, McCambley pays back two cheques of £20k to Ken Campbell and “the estate of the late Fred Fraser”…

The issue of Robinson’s sister’s church appears to have been resolved by Peter… £5k in cash (ie no record) according to McCambley is paid back to Robinson (the ‘kick back’)… He’s the only source…

Peter Robinson’s alleged role is to tell his wife that her agency in this deal was wrong and that the money had to be paid back (even though Iris is not benefiting from any of the reverse transactions)… So the critical question of benefit boils down to one figure… the £5k that McCambley says Iris forced him to pay her (The BBC makes no mention of the other £5k)… which may otherwise be a matter of “he said, she said”…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty

  • Skintown Lad

    but didn’t the BBC say Iris texted to request that a 25K cheque was made out in her name? was this to pass on to the developer or to keep to pay off her own debts?

    i think it might be easier to present it on a time-line – your summary above jumps around a bit.

  • Miss Fitz

    If you are looking at the money, there is the issue of who she asked for it, why it was obtained so easily, why some of it was not expected back and whether there was the potential of misuse of high office in the obtaining of said funds.
    The landscape of financial transaction changes sinificantly for politicians, hence the code of conduct. If she had wanted to help in a legal and transparent fashion, she presumably could have lent him money from personal sources, guarantoured a loan or advised him to approach interested individuals.
    Coupled to the money is the fact that she was aware of the upcoming tender and had the right man in the right place at the right time, with the right resources. The tender for the cafe is inextricably linked to the money.

  • Miss Fitz

    And you know, with adages flying about, we mustn’t forget ‘Hell hath no fury as awoman scorned’

  • Mick Fealty

    SL, I’m trying to track the money, not what was said… Let me come back to it though…

  • Drumlins Rock

    Mick, we also need to be looking back, ie. following the money to its source, why would developers give 25K to a 19 yr old? course they didnt, so then why would they give it to Iris?

  • Pigeon Toes

    Nowhere, I have I heard the young boy admit to an affair.

    It is understood that he was at the High Court yesterday, along with his solicitor. Injunction?

    Iris Robinson “saw plots where none existed” as a result of a mental illness.

    Could it be that the “affair” was all one-sided?

  • Miss Fitz

    According to his tale last night, he sold 50% of his business to raise £40,000. It was noted that he was £5,000 short on the intial sum provided, and there appears to be a £5,000 sum that Iris appropriated at the beginning

  • Stunning_Steve

    so then why would they give it to Iris?

    how great thou art?

    I.e. you’ve looked after me in the past and no doubt will do in future and your husband too is in a good position of strong influence. Very helpful thank you.

    How great thou art?


  • Miss Fitz

    I didnt record the programme PT, but I thought it was more than clear from what he said that there had been a sexual relationship. It may have been couched, but I believe it was unmistakeable

  • Mick Fealty


    That’s Allister’s point, who suggests one and maybe two parliamentary inquiries, but with respect that is is not directly germane to the programme itself…

  • Stunning_Steve

    Yes the BBC are the investigators on this and they are directly reporting it as such and he – Kirk – even agreed to be part of the documentary so an injunction against what exactly?

    Perhaps he is possibly considering suing Iris over something – a gift that wasn’t a gift in the end but a poisonous bribe?

  • Pigeon Toes

    I was just hoping for the child’s sake that it was all in Iris’s head.

  • Skintown Lad

    It appeared to me that there are three elements to her allegedly dodgy dealings:

    1. She procured the 50k for her lover in return for helping the developers

    2. She received 5k for herself to keep

    3. Possibly jilted, she demanded that McCambley pay back the other 45K. Because one of the original donors had by then died, she planned to keep one half of it herself to pay off other debts.

    Then Robbo got to hear of it and insisted it was all paid back. I don’t know what the plan was with the church – possibly the one of the developers wanted to donate it to the church instead of taking it back.

    Kirk had to sell half the business to pay back the money but only raised 40K. I don’t know to whom that was paid. That 40K was in effect only 5k short taking account of the 5K kick-back he had already given Iris.

    So she appears to have been dodgy in arranging the 50K in the first place and then later when she decided Kirk should pay it back.

  • Stealing a dead man’s bri…donation to a startup business and laundering it through a church. Stay classy Strangford!

  • Within Spotlight, there was a period when the demands of KMc seemed to change wiht frequency. Iris all over the place. There is little honesty in an adulterous affair (real or imagined) and who was told what/when is still to be explained in any detail, and seems to be becoming muddled by what people want to believe. It may be that the only person who knows all is Mrs R, and that is not too reliable based on state of mind. Earlier link to Splintered Sunrise was probably the most considered piece. Back though to the basis of the Spotlight programme which seemed to around the opinion of Selwyn Black (at what point did he think this too much for his job description) and KMc who was straightforward and matter of fact, and the texts of Mrs R. Given that Mr R loves his wife, why would he consider there was reason to suspect/doubt his wife, at the point Mr R is meant to have known about the money Mrs R was still covering the affair. So would she have provided enough for Mr R to put the entire picture together even in March?

    Who or what would Mr R have told at any particular time along this story line. If someone can state that with certainty it would be very welcome.

  • Stunning_Steve

    Iris was acting in loco parentis at one point can this relationship be viewed as initially a complete breach of trust into lust then revenge for the falling out?

    Oh hang on, Iris is depressed and was not of sane mind so let’s forget the whole thing.

    The end.

  • Cynic2

    At the moment these are simply allegations and need careful examination. The DUP seem to be spinning the line that this is just a breach of ethics, not a criminal matter but is that true? Section 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1916 is quite clear:

    “Where in any proceedings against a person for an offence under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1906, or the Public Bodies Corrupt Practices Act 1889, it is proved that any money, gift, or other consideration has been paid or given to or received by a person in the employment of His Majesty or any Government Department or a public body by or from a person, or agent of a person, holding or seeking to obtain a contract from His Majesty or any Government Department or public body, the money, gift, or consideration shall be deemed to have been paid or given and received corruptly as such inducement or reward as is mentioned in such Act unless the contrary is proved”

    Is this still the law?

    At the moment we only have one side of the story so calm heads are needed but this is such a serious sets of allegations it needs qa-proper enquiry – so where do the police stand on this?

  • Nordie Northsider

    In her text messages to Kirk, Iris mentioned a few times that she had run up massive expenses working on his behalf. What could they possibly be? I’m surprised that the Spotlight team didn’t query that one further.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Interesting that Iris’s statement claims that the financial ‘investment’ in McCambley occurred before the affair. Spotlight says it occurred after it started, IIRC.

  • Miss Fitz

    To Nordie: Daragh McIntyre has just been on Talkback and was clear that he had little interest in the details of the affair and did not deem it important to pursue.
    It’s difficult having an affair, and it can be costly. If nothing else, you need to eat out and sleep out, so you’re talking a couple of hundred a week for hotel bills. I can appreciate that money can slip quite quickly in that way.

    Back to Mick’s original point and some of the other points being made. Iris may not need have to have declared this on the register of interest as she did not receive the money herself. How she got it, why she got it and whether or not she got part of it back (£5k), as well as the tender issues are different.

    Peter is potentially implicated in only part of this, ie the failure to have the money registered. If, as I now see it, she did not receive money but simply was the conduit, I see that PR has no case to answer.
    Anyone agree?

  • bobballs

    So at one point, the main benefactor of the financial assistance Iris sought on McCambley’s behalf was… Iris Robinson!!

    Before PR stepped in, she had managed to transform £50k seed capital for a business into a £25k gift donation to Iris and her church, right? That’s just amazing.

    Yes Iris is in the wrong, but couldn’t Peter argue that his timely intervention actually prevented corruption? While he perhaps didn’t meet all his obligations, he could say he acted within the spirit of the law (& Nolan), acted in the public interest, demanded repayment of the cash and mitigated the improper behaviour of his wife. Isn’t that what he did?

    Given the myriad of conflicting loyalties he faced, could peter not say that he successfully navigated the moral maze of public duty and family loyalty – the result being that a greater disaster / affront to democracy was averted.

    While IMHO Iris has no defence, I think Peter might. Whether a defence like that will ingratiate him to the DUP Executive is another matter though…

  • Miss Fitz

    Well, it depends on what wording you use. In her statement she says she procured the money during the relationship ‘which regrettably…..later developed into a brief affair’.

    Do you think it matters Gonzo. Or should I say, all seeing, all knowing, powerfully perceptive Gonzo

  • Stunning_Steve

    Perhaps Miss Fitz, or the complete lack of candour and full-length admission rather than part fire-fighting exercise on TV at the start of the week ny Peter Robinson might just make him well culpable in terms of propping up this wholly inappropriate and secretive financial dealings.

    Not to mention all this moral clarity that was once bandied about by the DUP clerics.

    The real problem is hypocrisy – family values which are now cutting across to the person i.e. Peter Robinson. Woods from the trees and all that.

    And now the stigma, whether he can fight it off all well and good but people are tired of the Robinsons generally and they seem like chancers – bad tempered ones at that.

    Poor taste.

  • Miss Fitz

    I know Steve, but I guess I am looking very clinically at what culpability he has in legal, parliamentary terms.
    Being married to someone does not confer joint liability on actions performed by an individual, and this is underscored by the fact that the individual was engaged in an adulterous affair.

    If Iris had personally received £50k and then given it to her lover, then she would have been in receipt of a personal donation from interested parties. As she only acted as a channel, Peter Robinson very possibly did not have to report her actions

  • Mick Fealty


    Just for clarity and the sake of my spinning head, she tried to make that payment, because Fraser apparently said he did not want it back. Doesn’t say much for Iris then that she demanded it back anyway (see MissFitz’s remarks on scorn etc), but the money did not actually go to the church… if I understand matters correctly…

  • Stunning_Steve

    It’s really about electoral absorption point – and obviously speaking personally I can’t take any more nonsense from them as they have gone in hard on others in the past, quite persistently so that my harden stance towards them both because of that makes it almost impossible to want to pick up the nuances.

    The nuances of the grey that may come from further detailed examinations of the situtation showing Peter Robinson to not be so bad a spud as Iris are to me really quite hard to see and accept, as the basic black and white will do nicely this time, i.e:

    Hypocrisy and corruption = clear off thanks no time for you.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “As she only acted as a channel” miss fritz, that dosnt stand, the developers did not give 50K to a 19 yr old they never met, they gave it to Iris, dosnt matter where she “spent it” unless proven otherwise so far as the rules state she recieved the money, and Peter has been aware of this for sometime, finally returning the money does not canel it out either.

  • brendan

    Surely the most pertinent questino is, against what backdrop does a developer hand over £25k at the drop of a hat? What was the nature of the relationship between benefactor and seeker of the funds?

  • Jaggers

    It seems accepted by all that £50,000 made its way from two developers to the lover. What was the nature of the payment? Was it

    1. A loan – I have heard it referred to as a loan. The characteristics of a loan involve an agreement and terms and they’re usually written down. Where’s the loan agreement? What were the terms? Who were the parties to the loan?
    2. A purchase – if so, of what? A share in the “company”?
    3. A donation – to whom? If to the lover, why? If to the wife, why?

    The worst possibility is that it was a donation by the developers to the lover in return for the adultress providing planning favours, then not “declaring an interest” might be the least of the adultress’ concerns.

  • Jaggers

    I agree that a timeline would be helpful. The husband says he first became aware of the affair on 1st March 2009 and says that the affair ended “four months” beforehand which would bring it back to November 2008. The adultress says the affair started in summer 2008. “summer” is a very loose term and could conceivably mean any time between May and September 2008.

    Is there any better intelligence on when the affair started and ended?

  • Jaggers

    Is it known when the husband became aware of the financial transaction – was that in March 2009 or before?

    Somewhere in my gut I have a feeling that there is an orchestrated attempt at a cover-up afoot, be that for personal, financial, political or other reasons.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Apparently the “affair” lasted five months.

  • D.A.

    As everyone has already stated above, the real dirt may start to come when someone starts investigating the links with the property developers.

    The question is though – is our local media actually capable of this kind of investigation any longer?

    UTV is apparently more interested is showing photos of snowmen on their news bulletins (unless of course they actually free up enough money to allow a proper journalist like Chris Moore to investigate).

    The BBC, as stated elsewhere, had a pretty easy ride with this one as it basically fell into their lap. Do they have the willingness to push this even further?

    The Belfast Telegraph is rubbish, and the only person who may do any investigation is David Gordon.

    The Irish News could maybe do it, but nobody in the DUP would read it. 😉

    So, it’s down to either the BBC or bloggers then. Unless of course certain journalists decide to give up their first-name terms relationship with the First Minister…

  • Sam Semple

    Got a new joke for you…

    What do you have to do to get £50k start up capital from a property developer?

    (wait for it, wait for it)

    Be a Castlereagh Councillor.

    (Sorry – that’s not a joke is it?)

  • Jaggers

    So the affair commenced at the start of July 2008 and ended at the end of November 2008 (based on the husband saying it ended 4 months before 1st March 2009 and Pigeon Toes saying it lasted five months) and the husband first became aware of the affair on 1st March 2009.

    Is it known when the lover received the two cheques totalling 50k and is it known when the husban claimed he found out about the payment to the lover?

  • Jaggers


    Given the amount of blogs, tweets, facebook entries, youtube messages including entries from people who claim to know the lover, the adultress and the husband and acknowledging the fact that this is Ireland where the 7 degrees of separation are probably reduced to 3, it can only be a matter of time before the truth is uncovered – of course a barrage of rumour, misinformation and cr*p is likely also and given the adultress is not available for comment for medical reasons, it will be a challenge but welcome to the 2010s, we’re all Woodwards and Bernsteins now.

  • Pigeon Toes

    “Spotlight reported that in July 2008, six weeks after Castlereagh Borough Council advertised for expressions of interest in the cafe project, only one applicant met the criteria – Mr McCambley.
    The deal was sealed on 28 August and Iris Robinson was in attendance as the council authorised the signing of the lease.”

  • Mick Fealty


    I’m on first name terms with the FM and, although I have met him much less often, with the dFM.

    That does not mean you have to take your brain out and offer it to them on plate.

    My feeling is that if you do your job honestly and to the best of your ability respect can emerge.

    The trouble is all of that can go for a burton when the media suddenly change the rules and start taking an active interest in the actual business of government.

    Let’s hope this is not a flash in the pan…

  • whodathunkit

    Haven’t yet seen any decent names for this scandal. I’m pushing for ‘Cash for Croissants’ – any thoughts?

  • villager

    I notice everybody seems to be talking about simply paying back the £50k. In the real world there is something called interest, on this kind of venture it would be quite high if he could have gotten the loan at all.

  • Jaggers

    Pigeon Toes, your post refers to the award of the lease in the premises. This is separate to the “transfer” of €50k from the developers to the lover. Do we know when that took place?

    Also, do we know when the husband became aware of the payment from the developers to the lover AND the nature of the payment. Quote the BBC article, the husband only became aware last night of SOME (my emphasis) aspects of the financial transaction last night.

  • seosamh

    It appears to me that many people are missing the point on the bidding process. What I would like to know is; were there other bidders, who signed off on the final acceptance of the bid, and what criteria was used to determine that McCambley’s bid was the only one that met the criteria?

    Did members of the Castlereagh Council, in Council meeting, arrive at this decision, or were there civil servants involved in making recommendations? It would appear to me that Castlereagh Council needs to clarify some of these issues.

  • Pigeon Toes

    I should imagine that particular audit trail has already been shredded, if indeed it ever existed.

    Jeez it’s only the lease of a cafe…

  • Stunning_Steve

    Or for Kirk ‘oh get her bucked’ McCambley, he might ask when a gift is not a gift?

    Answer, when you stop loving Iris Robinson (it then becomes a loan based on “for all I have done for you”).

    Oh and by the way Iris was depressed when it all happened and not of sane mind so this whole thing should be scrapped and written off.

    The end.

  • Pigeon Toes
  • fin

    wasn’t it only 1 property developer, Fraser Estates having been sold to the (now busted) Taggart Homes for a mere 100,000,000. £25k from a guy with that amount of cash is nothing. A large chunk of Fraser Estates was around 90 acres of development land, I believe Fraser was focused on Castlereagh, so I guess so was much of the property,

  • I have no experience in providing finance for lovers; and therefore no clue about how to get the goodies back when it all goes sour.

    Even so, it comes back to the Robinson menage. The boy needed £50K, which is about one month’s take for Robinson Incorporated. All the evidence is that one Robinson (he, and conveniently so) hasn’t a clue about the other’s (her, seemingly now deniable on grounds of mental stability) financial doings. One or two of the straws in the wind might suggest she is cashwise over-her-head: that seems the only obvious reason why she simply didn’t guarantee a business loan with a reputable bank. If I’ve grasped the chronology, at that point in recent history, banks were happily offering 125% mortgages. If she didn’t have that degree of financial independence, that leads us back to …

    Instead on the scene wander two benevolent business men with deep pockets and an attachment to Iris as entrepreneur. Do such decent big-hearted souls really exist? Are the outliers of Belfast stuffed with altruistic philanthropists desperate to open their cheque-books to the community, with no thought of reward or favour? Why did I never encounter them?

    Follow the money? That way madness lies.

  • Jaggers

    Thanks Pigeon Toes,

    The timeline states the affair ended in autumn 2008 – what’s the definition of autumn – is that 1st Sept to 30th November (the “meteorological” definition). Well that would be consistent with the affair ending four months before 1st March, 2009 which is the husband’s claim. However I’ve just seen the Spotlight on BBC News and as I understand it the affair ended in December 2008 (the 12th is when there was an exchange of texts and then I think the 13th there was a meeting to discuss the payment by the lover of the 45k).

    When did the affair start? Feb 2008, June 2008 or mid July 2008?

    The timeline says the 50k was paid in June 2008 – when in June 2008?. Why on earth did the BBC interviewer not ask the lover the basis under which HE thought he was receiving the money (loan/gift/purchase?) – surely he would have asked? And if we knew the basis of the payment then we might be able to consider better the nature of the 5k kick-back.

    Also the timeline omits the date of the representation that the adultress made on behalf of one of the developers.

    The adultress is claiming one of the 25k payments was a loan – is there an agreement with terms or do people just hand over 25k willy-nilly (“I’m so mad that I can’t be contacted to explain myself”, “I’m so rich that I wasn’t concerned about the money” – sounds less convincing than Clinton’s “I was so busy that I couldn’t remember where I was on that day that Monica was doing the dirty”)

    If the other 25k was a gift from the deceased developer to the adultress, what was the nature of the payment from the adultress to the lover? Loan, gift, purchase?

    If the £25k from the extant developer was a loan then why did the lover offer to share it 50:50 with the adultress?

  • Alias

    [i]Then when the arrangement goes bad, McCambley pays back two cheques of £20k to Ken Campbell and “the estate of the late Fred Fraser”… – Mick Fealty[/i]

    Err, no. She demanded that a cheque for 20k be made out by Kirk McCambley to the name of Iris Robinson, and another cheque for 25k made out in the name of a church that was run by her sister-in-law.

    The estate of the late property developer declined to accept the return of the money, insisting that he gave it as a gift to Mrs Robinson (hence she wanted to send that 25k to her sister-in-law).

    While Mrs Robinson solicited the two cheques for 25k each from the two property developers for her lover in his name, she demanded that the money be given to her. This irrefutably proves that she regarded herself as the beneficial owner of the money and not Kirk McCambley.

  • Alias

    “While Mrs Robinson solicited the two cheques for 25k each from the two property developers for her lover in his name, she [b]later[/b] demanded that the money be [b]returned[/b] to her. This irrefutably proves that she regarded herself as the beneficial owner of the money and not Kirk McCambley.”