A former DUP special adviser has insisted he never understood the RHI scheme’s “burn-to-earn” flaw.
Andrew Crawford said he always assumed the tariffs were meant to incentivise firms to switch to more expensive biomass boilers.
But, he said, he never realised tariffs allowed people to profit by running boilers unnecessarily.
Dr Crawford was special adviser (spad) to former minister Arlene Foster during the scheme’s design and implementation.
He accepted that his witness statements were contradictory on his understanding of the tariff position and he apologised for the confusion.
He was offered the opportunity to clarify his position.
“I didn’t envisage that the scheme would be structured in such a way as to pay people to earn as you burn.
“I just assumed, wrongly now, that there would be checks in the system to stop that happening.
“I didn’t think the scheme would be set up to allow people to take advantage of it and effectively waste heat.”
Dr Crawford also said that he had never been told that an overspend in the scheme would have implications for his departmental budget.
Earlier, inquiry chairman Sir Patrick Coghlin cautioned the public that if they heard something “sensational” in media coverage they should seek out the evidence themselves.
He said the inquiry had gone to great lengths to ensure there was a live stream of it.
He said he was not criticising the media but it was difficult to assess a witness’ contribution until they had finished their testimony.
“That’s the only fair way to do it,” he said.
At that point, Andrew Crawford suggested that some elements of the media were being “selective” in their reporting.
Sir Patrick stopped him continuing and said: “Dr Crawford I’m not inviting a comment from you, thank you.”