Belfast Telegraph

Health boss husband of DUP candidate Pengelly Little in social media 'censorship' row

By Jonny Bell

The Department of Health's permanent secretary should stick to his day job rather than trawl through social media accounts of health workers, the UUP has said.

Richard Pengelly wrote to health trust chief executives saying he was increasingly concerned at "overtly political" tweets from health staff.

Mr Pengelly is the most senior health official in Northern Ireland after the minister, and the husband of Emma Pengelly Little, a DUP Assembly candidate.

In an email obtained by the News Letter, he highlighted two tweets critical of the DUP and Sinn Fein by two doctors on their personal accounts as being "not appropriate".

One of the tweets cited said that if people spoilt their ballots then the DUP and Sinn Fein would "get to feck it all up again".

In the email Mr Pengelly said: "Whilst clinically independent, front line colleagues must remember that they are employees of the service, and thus such public statements are not appropriate." Ulster Unionist health spokeswoman Jo-Anne Dobson said health workers "are exasperated that of all the issues in the health service he should be focusing on at the moment, he decided this was one of the most important".

She said she would be writing to the head of the Civil Service to ask whether "Mr Pengelly's actions were appropriate, especially in light of his relationship as the husband of a DUP candidate running in the current election".

The Department of Health said staff have the right to express their personal opinions on social media, but "this should be in line with the HSC code of conduct".

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