NI Assembly Election: Incensed Danny Kennedy slams fake electoral letter in his name as 'politics of the sewer'
A bogus letter in which an Ulster Unionist candidate appears to warn voters against supporting the DUP has been condemned as the "politics of the sewer".
Danny Kennedy has referred the fake correspondence - which has been distributed in the Newry and Armagh constituency - to the Electoral Office and Royal Mail.
The former UUP deputy leader said it could also turn into a police probe.
In the typed letter fraudulently headed with the UUP logo, the author, pretending to be Mr Kennedy, suggests that in recent times unionism had been "dragged through the mud" by the actions of the DUP "and its leadership".
It also refers to "ongoing political and financial scandals".
The bogus letter goes on: "After witnessing the appalling behaviour of the DUP leader Arlene Foster and other high profile DUP members ... and how the DUP have quite clearly been involved in political scandal after political scandal, in a manner that appears to be neverending, I am appealing for you not to use your vote in any way for a party that is destroying unionism."
The fake letter also criticised DUP candidate William Irwin - even though Mr Kennedy has made clear he would be transferring his vote to Mr Irwin and other unionists.
Mr Kennedy's stance stands in contrast to UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, who revealed he will give a second preference vote to the SDLP in East Belfast.
A genuine letter from Mr Kennedy appeals to voters going to the polls to make him their number one choice and adds: "You should then vote for the other unionist candidate.
"Sinn Fein is determined to hold onto its three seats at the expense of the second unionist one, which I hold." Mr Kennedy said he had seen a lot of dirty tricks in various election campaigns.
But he was "shocked" that someone would stoop so low, including falsifying his signature.
"I have always fought campaigns based on my record of delivery for Newry and Armagh and I want to make clear how disgusted I am that someone should try and impersonate me in election communications to the public," he said.
"It is absolutely disgraceful. This is a very serious issue and is an attempt to subvert the democratic process.
"Politics is low enough in the eyes of the public and this will do nothing to allay that perception.
"The actions of those responsible are entirely contemptible - they belong not just to the gutter, but the political sewer. I have been in contact with the Chief Electoral Officer and the Royal Mail as this needs to be treated with the utmost seriousness."
He added: "It is an attempt to sabotage my campaign and damage my political reputation, and I will do all in my power to identify the culprits responsible."