31/03/2010

Land Deal Questions For Robinsons

Democratic Unionist spin doctors last night scrambled to quash questions raised by the BBC over a land deal involving First Minister Peter Robinson.

The report revealed Mr Robinson and his wife Iris (pictured) purchased a small parchment of land close to their home in 2006 from developer Fred Fraser, who is now deceased.

The sliver of land was sold for £5, however this did not represent its true value the BBC claimed and, according to the report, the land could have been worth anything up to £75,000, given it was positioned beside the Fort Road, Castlereagh.

The land would have provided access to further space behind the Robinsons' Gransha Road home, which was marked for development.

Mr and Mrs Robinson, along with several neighbours agreed to sell part of their gardens to house building firm Bloomfield Developments.

However, this developer would have required the small sliver of 'access' land, which was in the ownership of the Robinsons, for the scheme to go ahead.

In 2007 Mr and Mrs Robinson sold part of their garden for almost £460,000 to Bloomfield Developments in a deal which included the 'ransom' parchment. This sliver changed hands again for £5.
News Image
The BBC report alleged DUP leader Mr Robinson, the MP for East Belfast, did not declare his ownership of the parchment of land to the Commons.

According to one former Revenue and Customs worker, interviewed by the BBC, Mr and Mrs Robinson, who was the MP for Strangford at the time, could have been liable for paying tax on the actual value of the land.

Mr Robinson also sat on Castlereagh Council when the development plans for the housing scheme were passed.

According to minutes obtained by the BBC, Mr Robinson had not declared his interest in the motion.

Last night DUP officials blasted the news report as "yet another example of the ongoing BBC smear campaign against Peter Robinson".

A spokesman said: "Mr Robinson sold his land at the market-value, as admitted by the BBC. There are no tax implications. The sliver of land was bought for £5 and sold for £5, a fact that has never been hidden, and Mr Robinson derived no financial benefit whatsoever from the transaction.

"There were a number of other access possibilities and the sliver of land was not essential for access."

The spokesman added: "We are fed up with this ongoing BBC smear campaign and Mr Robinson has handed these issues over to his legal team to be dealt with."

(PR/GK)

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