Disclosing information on complaint against Trevor Clarke MLA

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

 Our Ref: FoI 29-21

20 September 2021


Freedom of Information Act 2000

I am writing to confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission (Assembly Commission) holds the information, which you requested under the legislation.  In your request, you asked for the following information:

I would like to request details in relation to a self-referral by MLA Trevor Clarke to the office of the Northern Ireland Assembly Commissioner for Standards.

The commissioner told the Standards and Privileges Committee that Mr Clarke sent correspondence dated 2 August 2019 self-referring for complaint and/or investigation (see NI Assembly FOI response reference 26-21, attached).

Please disclose the following:

1. A copy of this correspondence from Mr Clarke to the commissioner's office.

2. A copy of any other correspondence sent to the commissioner's office making complaint against Mr Clarke in relation to Versatile Consultancy or otherwise not declaring his interests.

I have sent this request to both the commissioner's office and NI Assembly, as the Assembly provides secretarial functions for the commissioner's office.

The information you have requested is attached at:

  • Appendix A – Correspondence from Mr Clarke to the Commissioner’s Office dated 02/08/2019.
  • Appendix B – Correspondence received regarding complaint against Mr Clarke dated 04/08/2019

Please note that some personal information has been redacted from the release as per Section 40(2) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  Disclosure of this personal data would breach the first data protection principle.  The first data protection principle requires that personal data is processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to the data subject (Article 5 UK General Data Protection Regulations).  This information is therefore exempt from disclosure under section 40(2).  No other information has been redacted.

You have the right to request a formal review by the Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address.  If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.

The Assembly Commission may publish details of your FOI request and our official response within the organisational disclosure log. The request will be completely anonymised and you will not be identified in any way. This is to meet the requirements as laid out by in the agreed publication scheme with the Information Commissioners’ Office.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me.  Please remember to quote the reference number above.


Yours sincerely




Appendix A

Standards Commissioner
Room 283 Parliament Buildings Stormont
Belfast BT4 3XX

Trevor Clarke
[Information redacted]

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am writing to draw your attention to certain media reports which have been questioning my business interests outside the Northern Ireland Assembly.

As you will already be aware, I have already properly declared my interest in a company, Versatile. I have never sought to conceal involvement in that company which was formed in the penod when I was not a Member of the Legislative Assembly. The company provides a planning service to a small number of clients on a professional basis and my limited role in that business in no way conflicts with my duties as an MLA.

I am conscious that it has been suggested that my role with this company somehow offends against the Code of Conduct which I entirely refute. However, through an abundance of caution, I am notifying your office that these allegations are in circulation so that you may consider the position. I would repeat that I strongly contend that no breach has occurred and am happy to discuss the matter with you further, should that be required.

Yours sincerely,

[Signature redacted]

Trevor Clarke MLA


Appendix B

[Information redacted]

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am contacting your office regarding recent contact with Mr Trevor Clarke MLA in Antrim. I had approached Mr Clarke in person in his constituency  office in Antrim in March 2019. The purpose of my visit was in relation to seeking advice regarding a Retrospective Planning Application [information redacted]

Initially Mr Clarke listened to  my points of concern re: this application. Later during the same discussion, Mr Clarke added that "he the applicant had been with him earlier". At no point throughout this interaction did Mr Clarke disclose or express his involvement with this application. However, within 48 hours, of my office visit matters raised by myself where attempted to being addressed by the applicant.

When the  application  went  live on the Antrim and Newtownabbey planning website, Versatile Consultancy was the named agent in June 2019. On the 31ˢᵗ of  July 2019, an article appeared  in the press which named Mr Clarke as a partner in Versatile Consultancy. In light of my interaction with Mr Clarke and subsequent events, I wish to highlight that I felt a lack of honesty, candour and transparency was demonstrated by Mr Clarke during our meeting in March 2019, as no declaration of his involvement or conflict of interest was expressed. I therefore, wish to refer this matter to your office for further investigation.

Yours sincerely,
[Information redacted]