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DUP's Jim Wells to sue media outlets as 'six-month nightmare' comes to end

By Lisa Smyth

Former Health Minister Jim Wells has launched legal proceedings against a number of media outlets, including the BBC, after the PPS decided not to prosecute him over remarks he made about gay marriage.

Prosecutors said there was not enough evidence to charge Mr Wells over comments he was alleged to have made during a hustings event in Downpatrick in April.

"Forty years of hard work crashed around my head as a result of that 17-second tape which appeared on Twitter at 1am on the morning of April," Mr Wells told the Belfast Telegraph.

The South Down MLA was investigated by the police after being accused of inciting hatred. It was claimed he said children of gay couples were more likely to be abused than children of heterosexual couples.

However, the PPS said on Friday that no further action will be taken over the matter.

It signalled the end of a six-month nightmare for Mr Wells, who has said he is now planning to sue organisations for defamation.

He has already instructed his solicitor, Pat Kelly, from McConnell Kelly, to initiate proceedings against one media outlet.

He said last night: "This is not about money, this is about clearing my name."

Mr Wells also revealed the organiser of the hustings event contacted a media outlet the following day to tell them a tape recording in which Mr Wells appeared to make homophobic comments was not an accurate reflection of what happened.

"She actually told them she was happy to go on record about this but they said she had nothing to add to the story," he said.

"Perhaps if she had been given that opportunity, it would have become clear at that stage that I was not guilty of what I was being accused and I wouldn't have had to resign as Health Minister.

"There are so many what-ifs that keep running through my mind."

He continued: "My eight months in post were the happiest and most fulfilling of my 40 year career.

"I inherited a wonderful team of staff in the private office and an excellent Press office.

"The Department of Health is a huge department with a budget which is larger than the total expenditure of many countries but by the spring of 2015 I felt that I was getting to grips with the enormous complexities of a body which spent £5bn a year and employed 70,000 people.

"Forty years of hard work crashed around my head as a result of that 17-second tape which appeared on Twitter at 1am on the morning of April."

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