DUP election hopeful Jonathan Bell denies 'pulling fast one' over nomination papers
A DUP election candidate has denied there was any malice involved after a senior Ulster Unionist claimed he was misled over signing nomination papers.
Veteran former MP Rev Martin Smyth accused DUP standard-bearer Jonathan Bell of "pulling a fast one" on him - and confirmed he will be voting for his former party's candidate Rodney McCune in South Belfast.
Mr Smyth agreed to sign nomination papers for Mr Bell, a Junior Minister in the Stormont Executive, having signed papers for Mr McCune a few weeks ago.
The former South Belfast MP said he was told it was permissible to sign papers for more than one candidate.
Mr McCune accused the DUP of being "opportunistic" - while Mr Bell insisted it had been an "honest mistake".
Mr Smyth, who was MP for the constituency for more than 22 years, claimed that Mr Bell told him he could sign a number of nomination forms.
His backing for Mr Bell gave the impression he was snubbing his former party. He said he felt the DUP had misled him and wanted them to withdraw his name.
"I think that Jonathan Bell was trying a fast one - they would be wise withdrawing my name," he said.
But Mr Bell said: "There has been an inadvertent mistake and there has been no malice involved.
"Because of my respect for the Rev Smyth, I will withdraw his name from my papers and submit another name in his place."