Foster aide’s brother applied to RHI just weeks before cap

Posted By: March 18, 2017

Brendan Hughes. Irish News. Belfast. Saturday, March 18, 2017

THE brother of a senior adviser to Arlene Foster applied to the scandal-hit Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme just weeks before cost controls were introduced.

Andrew Crawford was Mrs. Foster’s special adviser (spad) when she was enterprise minister, and her department launched the RHI scheme.

He is one of two DUP spads embroiled in the RHI scandal whose relatives joined the scheme during a spike before payments were capped.

The Irish News can reveal that both he and John Robinson have close relatives whose poultry farm businesses have received almost £100,000 in RHI payments.

Both of their relations applied in September 2015 as plans were announced plans to cap subsidies from November onwards.

The short period before the change saw a huge spike in applications – making up almost half of all those who joined the scheme which launched in 2012.

The RHI scheme was set up by Stormont’s enterprise department where the minister in charge at the time was DUP leader Arlene Foster.

She has repeatedly insisted she did nothing wrong.

Her spad at the time was Mr. Crawford. His brother runs DJC Poultry in Co Tyrone, which has received more than £80,600 from two RHI boilers. The firm applied on September 16, 2015 – just over a week after cost-control plans were announced.

Mr. Crawford quit his role as a DUP adviser in January following claims he exerted influence over the RHI scheme.

He denied wrongdoing but said he did not want to be a “distraction” during the election campaign.

His resignation came shortly after Mr. Robinson stood aside from future involvement in RHI discussions, having failed to declare a family link.

His father-in-law Hugh Rutledge runs Highgate Poultry, which has received more than £18,000 in subsidies. It applied on September 2, 2015.

Mr. Robinson insisted he had no role in his father-in-law’s business.