Time to come clean who profited from Council contributions to the DUP – Paisley dinner ?

Ian Paisley: Second council accused over dinner

Ian Paisley said a complaint had been made by “political rivals”

A second council has been accused of using ratepayers money to sponsor a table at an MP’s constituency dinner.
Causeway Coast and Glens Council paid £1,500 for the table at last September’s event hosted by the DUP’s Ian Paisley.
It was previously revealed Mid and East Antrim Borough Council had sponsored another table for the same sum.
That is now is being treated as a “donation” to the North Antrim MP by the Electoral Commission.
Causeway Coast and Glens council said the payment was within its guidelines.

Investigation into Paisley event money
Audit Office examining DUP event money
Councils are not considered “permissible donors” and money from such bodies must be returned.

Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson said there are serious questions to be answered

In a letter to Alliance MLA Stewart Dickson, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council said the money was paid directly to the Tullyglass Hotel which hosted the dinner.

But Mr Dickson said the payment raises serious questions.
“This is public money and we are now talking about two councils spending over £3,000 of ratepayers’ money for something that was billed – and is all over the local newspapers – as a DUP fundraising event,” he said.
“A dinner which was held in Ballymena by Ian Paisley MP and indeed was bragged about as a fundraising event by some of his councillors.”

The Alliance MLA said he was also concerned about how the decision to sponsor a table was taken.
“This wasn’t a decision by local councillors, this appears to have been taken entirely by council officers on the basis of a letter they received from an organisation which according to Mid and East Antrim, doesn’t even exist, ” he said.

Wider audit

In the letter seen by the BBC, the council said the “spend level for attendance” at the dinner “did not require councillors’ agreement in accordance with council’s procurement policy and specifically the delegated responsibility to officers”.
It added “you will therefore not find a specific council minute which relates to this matter”.
In a further statement, it said the keynote speaker at the event was MP Michael Gove and that subjects discussed included Brexit, passenger air tariffs and their impact upon tourism and business travel and the effect of public sector cuts upon rural services.
“Council agreed to attend the event and invite guests who would benefit from both the subject matter and the potential networking opportunities,” it said.

“Those guests included representatives of our hospitality, food distribution and production, agriculture and leisure industries with an emphasis on the rural aspects of the borough.”

The Northern Ireland Auditor’s office has confirmed it looked into the payment as part of a wider audit of Causeway Coast and Glens Council and will be making recommendations in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, the Electoral Commission has said it is aware of the payment made by the council, but can’t comment any further as its investigation is ongoing.

In a statement, Mr Paisley said he was “content to wait for the outcome of the commission’s inquiry” which he added “commenced after political rivals made a complaint”.
He said his “annual community and business engagement dinner in Ballymena was very successful and enjoyed by all who attended”.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story

“The question crying out to be answered, arising from the revelation that a second council paid £1500 for a table at a DUP associated dinner, is where did the profits from this dinner go, profits to which ratepayers contributed by paying £3000 to the hotel for the cost of the event.

“Patently, the £1500 contributed by each council, for a table of 10 in each case, exceeded the actual cost of the 10 dinners provided in each case. So, who benefitted from the surplus of public money that went towards paying the total hotel bill? Did it mean the DUP/Ian Paisley had a resulting smaller balance bill? If so, then, the DUP/Ian Paisley were beneficiaries of the council contributions.

“It is time the DUP/Ian Paisley published an audit showing the actual cost of the event and what the effect of the £3000 payments from councils had on the final bill that the party had to pay.

“Coming on the back of the Sri Lankan scandal and the ongoing RHI fiasco, this escapade of ratepayers money going towards a party event adds to the disrepute into which some have brought politics.”

With many thanks to the: Traditional Unionist Voice, tub.org.uk and statement from Jim Allister

Aggregate IQ: DUP on whistleblower’s pro-Brexit list

Mr Wylie answered questions from MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sports committee

A former employee of the controversial political consultancy, Cambridge Analytica has named the DUP on a list of pro-Brexit groups.

Christopher Wylie claims those groups were working together according to a “common plan” at the time of the EU referendum in 2016.

He was addressing the Commons Media Committee on Tuesday.

Mr Wylie described a Canadian digital marketing firm Aggregate IQ as a “franchise” of Cambridge Analytica.

However, lawyers for Aggregate IQ have said the firm had “never entered into a contract with Cambridge Analytica”.

They added that it had “never knowingly been involved in any illegal activity”.

Mr Wylie claimed a number of groups had worked together in order to get round campaign spending controls.

‘Cheating may have swayed Brexit poll – Christopher Wylie
Zuckerberg will not appear before MPs
Vote Leave boss denies Analytica links
He rejected Cambridge Analytica’s assertion that it is not linked to Aggregate IQ.

Christopher Wylie giving evidence to MPs on Tuesday.

During the EU referendum in 2016, the DUP spent £32,750 on marketing with Aggregate IQ. They employed the firm again during the Assembly election campaign of 2017, declaring more than £8,000 in digital advertising.

The DUP said they declared all expenditure as required with the Electoral Commission, and chose Aggregate IQ because the firm is expert in its field.

It’s understood the Electoral Commission is investigating the Vote Leave campaign for alleged breaches of the EU referendum campaign spending rules. However the commission says the DUP is NOT under investigation.

A former Leave volunteer, Shahmir Sanni, has claimed that the Vote Leave campaign exceeded spending limits in the referendum by co-ordinating their activities with other like minded groups, including “BeLeave” a group targeting young voters.

Mr Sanni says Vote Leave gave BeLeave £625,000, but required it to spend the cash on Aggregate IQ. This kind of coordinated spending would have contravened the campaign spending rules.

Vote Leave have denied accusations that they broke the spending rules during the UK’s 2016 referendum on whether or not to stay in the European Union.

In the Commons, the Labour MP Ben Bradshaw accused the DUP, Vote Leave and other groups of “collusion”.

The DUP’s ad appeared in wraparound in London’s free Metro newspaper.

In contrast to BeLeave, there is no suggestion the DUP received any money from Vote Leave.

Last year, it was revealed that a Scottish-based group called the Constitutional Research Committee had donated more than £400,000 to the DUP during the EU campaign.

The money was used for a four-page wraparound advertisement in the “Metro” newspaper and other expenditure including Aggregate IQ’s online advertising.

With many thanks to: BBCNI for the origional story.