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Mike Nesbitt all smiles at UUP stand but no comment about picture of him face down on hotel floor

By Rebecca Black

Three days after photographs showed him face down on a hotel floor, Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt appeared unfazed as he greeted visitors at the Balmoral Show.

The former UUP leader manned his shift at the party's stand at the show. But the cow and pig-themed stress balls being given away appeared to be more of a talking point among those who stopped to talk, rather than the newspaper photographs of him lying flat out on the carpet of the Stormont Hotel.

Read More: What do people in Mike Nesbitt's constituency think of bizarre picture?

UUP's Mike Nesbitt lying face down on Belfast hotel floor 

Mr Nesbitt has stuck to his a policy of 'business as usual' for dealing with the fall-out of the incident.

And it was no different as he turned up at the UUP stall as planned yesterday morning.

When asked by the Belfast Telegraph to explain the bizarre images taken a month ago, he responded with a simple "no" through a tight smile.

Questioned about whether the photographs had been mentioned by the many visitors who sought out the well-known former TV news anchor turned politician at the show, he responded again with "no".

Mr Nesbitt was the chief draw at the UUP stand, with scores of show visitors stopping when they saw him and making a beeline for a chat.

But the topics raised were, for the most part, not the photographs but unionist voting pacts, Brexit and the forthcoming election.

No matter what the topic was, Mr Nesbitt took the time to listen to each person, young or old, and have a discussion, despite a queue for his attention at times.

If he was feeling embarrassed by the photographs splashed on the front page of newspapers, it wasn't apparent.

He appeared to be in good form, if a little weary, saying he enjoyed the show each year, and was particularly looking forward to viewing some of the hens on display, as he himself keeps hens.

However, he would have been left disappointed after a decision by the show this year to scrap this year's poultry section competitions over bird flu fears.

The only apparent reference to the photographs came from one passer-by who shouted over to Mr Nesbitt: "Keep your head up," with a reassuring nod of the head.

His party colleagues displayed no sign of reluctance in standing alongside him, with two party staffers and East Antrim MLA John Stewart cheerfully manning the stall with him.

It is understood that the party's press office has not issued its representatives with an agreed line to respond with if asked about the photographs.

They show Mr Nesbitt lying face down on the floor in the lobby of the Stormont Hotel with one woman apparently sitting on his legs and a second pulling at his collar.

One MLA told the Belfast Telegraph that it has not been an issue for them, and they would stand by him.

Earlier this week Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie said: "Mike is an incredibly honourable and a really decent man. He is a very genuine man," he said.

Mr Nesbitt reportedly told The Sun that "things happen".

"When you have a profile you can't expect people to respect your privacy," he added.

An anonymous source who contacted the Belfast Telegraph claimed that the incident had been "all in good humour", describing it as simply "banter".

However, Mr Nesbitt has steadfastly refused to offer any explanation for the photographs despite repeated requests.

The Strangford candidate in the upcoming Westminster election resigned as UUP leader following a poor show in the Assembly election in March.

The Ulster Unionist Party has not issued any comment on the photographs.

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