12 Jan 2010

NI leader stands down temporarily over wife's affair

9:57 pm on 12 January 2010

Northern Ireland's First Minister is standing down for six weeks amid controversy over his wife's affair with a teenager.

Peter Robinson is facing a claim that he knew his wife obtained Stg 50,000 from two developers for her 19-year-old lover's business venture but did not tell authorities.

Mr Robinson has denied any knowledge of the business deal, which should have been declared to parliamentary authorities.

His decision to step aside temporarily followed a vote of wholehearted support by Northern Ireland Assembly members of his Democratic Unionist Party.

It has also been announced that Iris Robinson will step down as an assembly member and MP this week due to ill-health, the BBC reports. She is undergoing psychiatric treatment.

Mr Robinson's temporary replacement as first minister, Arlene Foster, said he rejected the allegations and will be seeking to clear his name.

Sinn Fein, which governs jointly with the Democratic Unionist Party, says Mr Robinson deserves time to sort out his personal relationships.