My old colleague the excellent award-winning David Gordon has run into a DUP brick wall over who donated the money to buy Peter Robinson an armour plated limo once owned by the deposed Shah of Iran. Was it the late Fred Fraser who you’ll recall coughed up 25k start-up funding for Iriss young lovers now famous cafe ? The DUP declines to say who was responsible for this piece of south American-style grandiose Robinsoniana. Are the DUP hiding behind the exemption granted to NI parties for security reasons not to make public the names of political donors? At the time, the limit of a donation from a single person was 5k. Im not clear if clubbing up to buy a car is covered. If it is the DUP will have declared it at the time. Voluntary disclosure of the donors identity alive or dead would clear it up. Like the NI public, the Electoral Commission hold donor names in confidence and are keen to end this uneasy arrangement which will be reviewed later this year. If however they suspect a donation breaks the rules, they will challenge the party. Will they do so? Theyre already looking into a donation Peter made from his salary to the party.
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London