Full written response to PSNI request for journalistic NAMA material

 Dear Mr Geddes

 
I write in connection with your letter, received by me on 23 December 2016.

In the first paragraph you refer to your belief that I may hold material relevant to your investigation into evidence given by me to the Stormont DFP committee on 23 September 2015. 

I note that you do not expand on what alleged offences you are investigating. I would be somewhat surprised if you were investigating the nonsensical complaints submitted by the DUP, who are simply seeking to muddy the waters to deflect from the criminal actions of their associates, and alleged corruption by members of their party, in relation to Nama.

In this regard one would initially suspect that you are casting a wide net, with the purpose of engaging in a fishing expedition.  

It is my understanding that I am not a suspect in any investigation related to Nama or the hearing on 23 September 2015, if that is incorrect then I request you advise me of such.

The material I hold in relation to Nama has been published in my book and provided to the Stormont committee, and is therefore publicly available on the Assembly website, my blog and within my book ‘The Three Headed Dog’. I am of course happy to furnish you with a copy of same, should you so require.

In regards to the source of said material, or notes etc in relation to Nama or the hearing on 23 September 2015, this material is protected by journalistic privilege. The definition of journalism is a broad one, however I point out that I fall under the National Union of Journalists definition of journalistic work. In this regard the information to which you refer is excluded journalistic material.

The concept of confidentially for journalists protecting their sources, or more broadly the protection of journalistic material, is recognised in law, specifically within the Terrorism Act 2000 and Article 10 of the ECHR.

I suspect you already know that the material is excluded, or else you would not be sending me a letter asking for co-operation, but rather taking a more robust method to simply go ahead and seize such material.

I, at this point, wish to make clear that I am strongly asserting my right to protect the material to which you refer and therefore should you seek to try any back-door moves to seize it, then this will be strongly resisted legally. It would not, of course, be beyond the PSNI to fabricate a search warrant on the basis of some contrived unrelated ‘soft intelligence’ and use this as a method of seizing the material and subverting due process. I would respectfully advise you to resist any temptations to engage in such nefarious back-door tricks.

I note your implied threat within your letter that you reserve the right to go to the County Court. The PSNI can go to the County Court if they so wish, but such a fishing expedition will be strongly resisted.

In summary, I will not be co-operating with your investigation nor will I be making any material covered by journalistic privilege available to the PSNI.

Kind Regards
 

Jamie Bryson

 

   

 

 

 

 

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Bombshell claims- Does Jonathan Bell have tapes? 

 It has been sensationally claimed, from authorative sources, that former DUP Minister Jonathan Bell has tape recordings of meetings with DUP SpAds, senior party members and Civil Servants.

It is believed that Mr Bell began taping meetings following concerns arising over alleged undue influence being exerted by DUP SpAds. If, as is claimed, such tapes exist then they could fatally undermine the claims of the Joint First Minister Arlene Foster.

Today’s Assembly descended into a farce as DUP Speaker Robin Newton allowed a personal speech to be made by DUP leader Arlene Foster, without any lawful basis for doing so under the Assembly’s standing orders.

Robin Newton’s position is already on shaky ground following revelations over astonishing conflicts of interest in relation to the Social Investment Fund, and the Charter NI scandal. It now appears that the Speaker may have fallen on his sword at the behest of his DUP leader, Arlene Foster.

The DUP continue to try and stifle calls for a Judge-led public inquiry. There is, however, a way to circumvent the DUP’s attempts to block a full public inquiry. Jonathan Bell, as a former Minister involved in the administration of the RHI scheme, could apply to the Secretary of State under Section 1 of the Inquiries Act 2005 and request a full public inquiry. 

This would take the decision out of the hands of the Executive, and force the Secretary of State to take the decision on whether there should be a full public inquiry. Should the Secretary of State refuse, then this is then a decision that could be judicially reviewed and in this regard a number of documents could, at that stage, be compelled and entered into the public record.

  

It has further been exposed that Arlene Foster did receive a second email, 8 days after the email released by the DUP, which made very specific allegations about the RHI scheme. The existence of this email was reported by the Irish News last week, and the content of the email was reported on the BBC Nolan Show this morning.

The drip feed of allegations in relation to the RHI scheme are set to continue for quite some time. There are a number of DUP members who either personally, or via their families, have benefitted handsomely from the RHI scheme and specific DUP SpAds are also understood to have encouraged associates to get onboard the scheme . 

Mr Stephen Brimstone, former SpAd to the DUP Joint First Minister, is connected to a gross abuse of the scheme whereby a pipe was used to heat a private home, which was being run from a shed with ‘cash for ash’ boilers.

Today’s drama in the Assembly further undermines the DUP’s electoral slogan of ‘Arlene 4 FM’ and the DUP’s assertion that only a vote for Arlene Foster could keep Martin McGuiness out. It now has become clear, as many people pointed out during the election campaign, that electoral slogan was a lie. Arlene Foster cannot even make a speech without the approval of their partners in Government, Sinn Fein.

Revealed: DUP donor one of the largest beneficiaries of RHI scheme 

A large DUP donor from Clogher Valley is one of the largest beneficiaries of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, it can be revealed. 

Fred Maxwell owns a farm with up to 270,000 chickens. Mr Maxwell is a well known farmer and is also a DUP donor. 

Mr Maxwell spent around £1m to build a factory to convert timber into shavings for wood fire boilers. 

Mr Maxwell’s farm has at least one boiler and is one of those that stands to benefit from an enormous amounts of public money from the ‘cash for ash’ scheme. 

The well known farmer is known to have close relationships with senior DUP SpAds and it is believed he was advised to invest in building a factory in order to maximise his profits. This advice is believed to have come from DUP SpAds, who also have deep connections to the farming community. 

Mr Maxwell approached a number of other farmers and encouraged them to ‘get onboard’ the scheme and boasted of the huge profits he would make as a result of the scheme. 

This raises further questions for the DUP, as sources have questioned whether party donors were rewarded via the RHI scheme, for their financial donations. It has even been sensationally suggested that there was an agreement that some of the profits creamed from the RHI scheme would be funnelled back into the party as ‘donations’.  

In a separate development it has been revealed that the old Ulster Weavers bleachworks in Bandbridge has 12 boilers in operation and is believed to have been leaving doors open to allow heat out, and maximise profits from the scheme. The building was not heated for 8 years prior to the beginning of the RHI scheme. 

Cui Bono- 13 questions for the DUP 

1. Timothy Johnston told Nolan show that he did not seek to influence, but rather to ‘advise’. Was, therefore, his advice sought on the RHI, or did he provide unsolicited advice? 

2. Arlene Foster told BBC Spotlight that she passed on allegations from the whistleblower. The DUP later said there were no allegations. Was it the case that Arlene Foster believed- wrongly- that Spotlights source was a second whistleblower that she met in Enniskillen? 

3. Arlene Foster later told the Nolan show that she knew she had contact with the whistleblower and that she knew the lady had emailed her. How would Arlene Foster have known the identity of the lady who was Spotlights source? Did Spotlight tell Arlene Foster? 

4. Did any DUP SpAds- specifically John Robinson, Stephen Brimstone, Andrew Crawford and Timothy Johnston- or their families (including extended family) benefit from the RHI scheme? 

5. The DUP demanded that the names of those who received OTR letters should be published. The DUP haven’t made such strong demands in relation to the RHI scheme, why not? 

6. Did Arlene Foster ever previously report or deal with any complaints of intimidation, bullying or harassment against Jonathon Bell? 

7. If Jonathon Bell was making females feel intimidated and bullied, then why did Arlene Foster not immediately remove Mr Bell from post once she became First Minister? 

8. Did Dr Andrew Crawford, John Robinson, Timothy Johnston or Stephen Brimstone circulate an email memo advising DUP associates to get onboard the scheme, prior to the pending closure of the scheme? 

9. Will Arlene Foster authorise the release of all documentation, as Jonathon Bell has done? 

10. Will the DUP support a Judge-led public inquiry into the RHI scheme, proposed by Mr Bell? 

11. Can the DUP confirm that Mr Stephen Brimstone was running a pipe from an empty shed to heat a family home? 

12. How much did F&EM Ltd, specifically Mr David Brown, make in 2016 in consultancy fees for advising recipients of the RHI scheme? 

13. Can the DUP confirm that 12 boilers were in the former Ulster Weavers bleachworks in Banbridge , and that building wasn’t heated at all for 8 years prior to the RHI scheme? 

Appeals tribunal confirms NUJ membership! 

The NEC Appeals Tribunal in London have overturned the decision of the Belfast and District Branch of the NUJ to reject my membership. 

I represented myself at the hearing in London yesterday and today’s decision has vindicated my earlier assertions that I did meet the criteria for membership, despite the Belfast & District branch asserting otherwise. 

The public intervention of the Belfast and District NUJ into this matter was, in my opinion, foolish. I never sought conflict in relation to this matter, however I had no option but to defend myself when others sought to aggressively oppose my application, for what I felt were entirely illegitimate reasons. 

However, the appeal tribunal has ruled definitively in my favour, so that is where the matter ends. 

There cannot be a glass ceiling for people of the Unionist community, or those whose views are seen as unpopular. We must challenge inequalities, or attempts to tell us that certain professions- such as law and journalism- aren’t for us. 

I look forward to the support of the Branch, and the wider NUJ, when the inevitable legal onslaught- designed to get to my sources in relation to Nama- comes. 

Moves are already afoot in this regard, and such attempts to use legal mechanisms, in order to expose sources of whistleblower and journalistic material, should be resisted by all that cherish freedom of expression and the freedom of the press. 

I want to place on record my thanks for the NUJ lifetime member of 61 years standing, that very kindly wrote in support of me. I have never met this individual, yet he took the time to offer his support. (I have not sought this individuals permission to name him publicly, so therefore I won’t do so at this stage). 

Serious questions raised over PwC 

 The business advisors, that were brought in to carry out a report into the shambolic Renewable Heat Incentive scheme which will cost the tax payer over £400 million, are involved in numerous scandals, it can be revealed.

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PwC) is also regularly used by the PSNI to carry out forensic accounting in relation to economic crime.

It can be revealed that, according to well-placed legal sources, PwC are now facing becoming embroiled in an ongoing legal action by a high profile Northern Ireland businessman.

 It is alleged that PwC were appointed by a local company’s directors, on the instruction of a prominent bank. It was not, however, revealed to the company that PwC and the bank were actually working together to strip company of their assets. They then disposed of the assets, at a knock down price, to their chosen circle of business associates.

It isn’t the first time that Pwc have been involved in scandals. Below is a sample list of some of the recent issues to arise in relation to PwC:

• PwC were sued for $5.5bn for negligence in a mortgage case

• PwC were sued by Bill Gates over a corruption scandal

• Prosecutors investigated PwC for their role in the Tyco scandal

• Former PwC employers faced trial over their role in LuxLeaks scandal

• Temporary worker was sent home from PwC, for not wearing high enough heels

• Tesco dumped PwC after a £263 million accounting fiasco

• PwC were implicated in the Barclay’s libor scandal

• PwC have been accused of selling mass marketed tax avoidance schemes

• PwC partners faced trial for tax fraud

• John Lewis dumped PwC over concerns arising from an increasing number of scandals

• PwC employee had to publicly admit that he took confidential files

• PwC forced to investigate a sexist email scandal involving staff in their Dublin office

PwC have previously been alleged to have been involved in a pattern of collusion with corrupt banks. 

The pattern referred to is that a bank advises their customer to appoint PWC, however, behind the customer’s back PwC reports all confidential matters to the bank. These confidential reports include tax returns and audit files, unlawfully passed to the bank without the client’s knowledge or approval. PwC then advise their ‘client’, at a time of the banks choosing, that they should go into administration. 

More often than not it is PwC themselves that are appointed as administrators, and accordingly they strip the client’s assets and sell them to pre-selected parties, generally picked from the favoured golden circle.

The above pattern of behaviour is at odds with the words of Paul Terrington, the Chairman of the Institute of Directors and PwC (NI). Writing in the March/April edition of Business First, Mr Terrington, in an article carrying the headline ‘Trust’, said;

“Across the nation we are experiencing a growth in cynicism and a decline in trust.”

He further said “what underpins trust are transparency, honesty and a tone from the top that defines the purpose of an organisation, its value and place within wider society.”

There is much more to come in relation to ongoing scandals involving PwC, however at this point in time it is important that PwC’s role in the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme is fully explored. 

It is further important that the PSNI explain why PwC, who are embroiled in a litany of fraud and corruption scandals, are chosen to carrying out forensic accounting for their economic crime department.

If trust and transparency are key, then those who sought PwC’s assistance on the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme, and the PSNI that continue to use PWC’s services, must inform the public whether they feel that this firm can be trusted.

Kearney & Tweed- Why don’t you sue me? 

I was today named in the Belfast Telegraph, in relation to litigation being pursued by Mr Paul Tweed on behalf of Paddy Kearney, one of Peter Robinson’s golden circle of property developers. 

Mr Kearney, of course, benefitted from a sweetheart deal from Cerberus, not only having over £224m written off- but further picking up the assets of his competitors at knock down prices. 

Key to Mr Kearney’s involvement is Alan Mains, his close associate. Mr Mains was named in my Nama book for his involvement in the Smithwick tribunal, and was later exposed as having been involved in handling Mr Kevin Fulton. 

Mr Mains was involved in a fraud case, of Mr Luigi Marotta, which was later thrown out when it became apparent that the PSNI may have had to explain who Kevin Fulton’s handlers in the case were. This, of course, would have raised all sorts of uncomfortable questions about Main’s evidence to Smithwick. 

The legal strategy of Paul Tweed is to sue Daithi McKay as a conduit to get to me, and then have the real battle over the revealing of sources. This entire process of ‘litigation’ is about finding a way of compelling me to reveal my sources- something I will never do! 

If Mr Kearney sued me, then I couldn’t be compelled to give evidence, but by suing Mr McKay they can then seek to compel me to give evidence. At this point they will then seek the court to compel me to reveal my sources, and I will refuse. It is then that the real battle will be fought. 

This isn’t about money, this isn’t about reputation, this is a game of chess that Mr Tweed has plotted out. The problem for them is that they aren’t the only ones to have war gamed it out long ago. 

So Mr Kearney and Mr Tweed (and Mr Robinson in the background)- let’s get all the pawns off the table and go right at it! 

I have republished today- in full- my allegations about Mr Kearney before the committee. They aren’t covered by privilege, and I stand over each and every allegation fully. Go ahead and serve your writ! 

Paul Tweed knows the battle is going to be over trying to get me to reveal my sources, I know that’s where the battle is going to be- so why waste time with satellite litigation around it?