Disgraced political adviser Dr Brian Crowe has apologised for his sleazy online behaviour and announced he is undergoing psychiatric treatment.
Crowe, a former Ulster Unionist special adviser and a part-time Church of Ireland preacher, issued a statement yesterday apologising for his “habitual use of online pornography and chatrooms” — more than a week after he was sacked by his boss, Employment and Learning Minister Danny Kennedy.
The minister also announced a review to investigate whether Dr Crowe’s “influence was inappropriate at any time during his employment in the department”.
A Belfast Telegraph investigation discovered the married father-of-two had boasted in an internet chatroom over a period of months of his sexual conquests, and that he had done political favours for lobbyists in return for sexual acts.
But the 40-year-old, who initially lied when the allegations were put to him by this newspaper last week, continued to deny yesterday that he had offered political favours for sex, insisting this was just “fantasy chat”.
The Ulster Unionist politico, who was right at the heart of Government in Northern Ireland, described himself online as “an intellectual slut” and boasted of being “more attentive to those (lobbyists) who sleep with me”.
In a series of chatroom conversations with a female lobbyist, he described how he “groomed” lobbyists before suggesting to them that he could carry out their wishes in exchange for sexual favours.
Dr Crowe also made specific reference to an incident that took place in the office of a charity in Belfast where, he claimed, a lobbyist performed a sex act on him for a political favour.
However, yesterday he said: “Last year I formed an online relationship with a person, exchanged inappropriate photographs and engaged in a series of online chats which I viewed as fantasy chat. I told this individual that I delivered political favours for sex. This statement is untrue. I was indulging in a disordered online fantasy.
“I apologise unreservedly for the embarrassment, hurt and upset these false claims have caused.”
Dr Crowe bombarded the lobbyist he met on the UK Chatterbox chatroom with 18 obscene photos of himself, including some sent while on a taxpayer-funded trip to the USA in February with the Employment Minister. The former UUP head of policy was also registered on several other chatroom and dating websites.
But the father-of-two, whose wife is standing by him despite his actions, has now apologised to his loved-ones and former colleagues for any hurt caused.
“I would like to make a full, public apology for actions which have been the subject of newspaper stories,” he said.
“My habitual use of online pornography and chatrooms has impacted upon my home life and caused immense hurt to those I love the most.
“In particular, I would like to apologise directly and wholeheartedly to my wife and thank her for her support at this time.
“I have also betrayed the trust placed in me by the Minister for Employment and Learning, the Ulster Unionist Party and the Bishop and Diocese of Connor.
“I apologise to everyone who has been affected by my misconduct.”
His party was left stunned by the revelations which come just weeks before the May 5 Assembly elections.