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Beragh man involved in RHI felt he was ‘expendable’

A FORMER DUP advisor from Beragh who resigned at the height of the controversy surrounding the RHI scheme has claimed he may have been “expendable” compared to others in the party.

Dr Andrew Crawford, an advisor to Arlene Foster when she was enterprise minister during the time the RHI scheme was created, stepped down in January 2017 after he was named as attempting to delay the introduction of cost controls to the RHI scheme.

Dr Crawford strongly denies this allegation.

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The Tyrone native returned at the end of last week to give evidence to the public inquiry set up to examine the botched energy scheme, which is being chaired by retired Court of Appeal judge Sir Patrick Coghlin.

The RHI scheme, which was designed to encourage people to use more eco-friendly technology, effectively paid users for burning fuel.

It closed to new applicants in late February 2016.

Dr Crawford told the inquiry that he may have been viewed as “expendable”, whereas Timothy Johnston was not.

Mr Johnston is the DUP’s chief executive and was also a DUP special advisor.

The Beragh man alleged that senior DUP figures were “quick to defend” Mr Johnston, in a way they did not defend him.

But he stressed that he did not know what involvement, “if any”, Mr Johnston had in the situation.

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When asked by the inquiry chairman if he was “hung out to dry” by the DUP, Dr Crawford replied, “I’m still involved with the DUP, so it’s not a matter that I blame everyone in the DUP for what happened. I was not happy with how events were handled in December 2016 and January 2017… in my mind I was blamed unfairly and in my mind a course of action was taken to put my name out there.”

The inquiry, which was set up after public concern over the scheme’s huge projected overspend, also heard that three of Dr Crawford’s close relatives – his brother and two cousins – have 11 biomass boilers between them.

But the former special advisor – or Spad – insisted he had never discussed the RHI scheme with his brother.

Dr Crawford currently advises another DUP minister, Michelle McIlveen, in the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs.

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