As we progress the story of Peter Robinson and his property development scandals it is important to understand where he came from and who worked hand in glove with him via give and take arrangements.
Fred Fraser (deceased) was a key player in the rise of Peter Robinson. A shrewd man, Fraser saw the potential in a relationship with Robinson who was a ruthless political operator, destined for a future of influence.
When Robinson first entered politics he was a clerk in an estate agents (McConnell-Martin) and was earning in the region of £40 per week.
Following his first successful election Robinson bought a dilapidated 1200 sq. ft. bungalow behind where the Ice Bowl is now located. Robinson and the Ice Bowls fate would cross in future years, but more of that in the coming days.
David Harper was an architect who worked for Fred and Bill Fraser. On the instructions of Fred, David Harper designed a 2500 sq. ft. extension for Robinson’s bungalow. There was never an invoice passed between Peter Robinson and Fred Fraser and thus a long working relationship began.
Many years later Brian Patterson, an estate agent in Hollywood and once of McKibben and Co., heard in advance- but at very short notice- about plans to build in the Glenmachin area of the Green belt. Patterson understandably tried to capitalise on this ‘insider’ intelligence and thus he travelled widely over a number of days trying to quickly purchase any land within the green belt area.
Brian Patterson discovered that no land was available and that coincidently Peter Robinson’s friend Fred Fraser had bought up all the land and options six to eight months earlier.
Housing development in the Castlereagh green belt area quadrupled during Robinson’s era of planning influence and the benefactor quite often was none other than Mr Fred Fraser, the man who designed that extension away back at the start ‘in kind’.
A noticeable trend, if one checks back through records, is that during this era of development Peter Robinson would regularly complain to the DoE about sewers and water supplies saying that the service in this particular area was inadequate and that he has had complains.
Such complaints brought around £1m expenditure on a new sewer that ran along the dual carriageway from Cherry Hill to Quarry Corner in Dundonald.
All of the above just scratches the surface of Robinson’s activities during one era of his political career- as we will see in coming days and weeks- the corruption became worse and the greed became greater as Robinson’s influence grew.
When one thinks of cash or gifts for influence there stands out one particular incident.
Gilbert Graham had been involved in organising the Sainsbury development of the Supermac site and wanted the influence of the then MP and Councillor, Peter Robinson. He had heard that Robinson found a certain amount of bribery ‘useful’ but Mr Graham was unsure how to approach this with the MP.
A meeting was arranged in Gilbert’s boardroom and after the meeting Robinson admired the boardroom table saying that he and Iris had always wanted such a table for their home.
Within 48/72 hours the said table was packed and delivered to the Robinson home. It then took pride of place in the Robinson household.
Today’s revelations are minor compared to what is coming. I revived a call for a DUP old timer at the weekend who said he knew “many incidents from way back” and he wanted to chat to me about them in return for his name being left out of the increasing wave of revelations that have- in the words of one high level DUP insider- left the Robinson camp “pulling their hair out” trying to identify the leaks.
It has also lead to Alan Mains, one of the key hidden hands in the NAMA scandal, to seek out the assistance of private investigators.
And of course yesterday we discussed Witness A- who of course was linked to Fred Fraser as part of a major political cash and sex scandal – and who was involved in a bizarre Court case whereby he was blackmailed himself by PSNI special branch to give evidence against CIRA members blackmailing him. A convenient way to permanently get rid of this man, who was a political embarrassment, and ensure he would languish forever in witness protection. Out of sight out of mind.
Oh what a tangled web we weave….