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The top civil servant at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has assured staff they should be able to raise concerns without fear of repercussions.

Sir Jonathan Stephens emailed staff after it was claimed £10,000 was paid in compensation to an employee who was offended by having to walk past portraits of the Queen.

Lord Maginnis made the remarks under parliamentary privilege on Wednesday.

The former Ulster Unionist MP went on to name the civil servant.

Speaking in the House of Lords, he said the employee claimed under human rights legislation that it was unfair for him to have to work where he was offended by portraits.

‘Matter settled secretly’

They were later removed, claimed the peer, and the man was consulted about

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