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Ex-minister attends police station

Published 08/07/2015

Jim Wells made remarks at a pre-election hustings event in Co Down
Jim Wells made remarks at a pre-election hustings event in Co Down

A former Northern Ireland minister who quit after an outcry over alleged homophobic remarks has voluntarily attended a police station.

The DUP's Jim Wells made remarks at a pre-election hustings event in Co Down linking homosexual parents with child abuse. He apologised and resigned from the power-sharing executive at Stormont.

Police are investigating after the assembly member told a public meeting in Downpatrick that a child reared in a homosexual relationship was far more likely to be abused and neglected.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) spokesman said: " A male has voluntarily attended Downpatrick PSNI station this morning by pre-arranged appointment in relation to numerous complaints received from members of the public regarding an incident on April 23 earlier this year in Downpatrick.

"The male contacted local police to make arrangements to voluntarily attend and will continue to assist us with our inquiries in relation to his matter. At this time we are still examining the comments to establish if they constitute a criminal offence."

Prime Minister David Cameron has distanced himself from some of Northern Ireland's largest party's views on gay rights.

Mr Wells is a long-standing public representative in South Down.

He stepped down following a second incident while canvassing in Rathfriland, Co Down, in which a lesbian couple complained to police about his conduct in relation to their sexuality.

He was not interviewed about that incident as it is understood police believe there were no matters warranting investigation. A report will be forwarded to prosecutors.

Mr Wells has said he was under pressure caring for his seriously-ill wife.

He had been campaigning for election to Westminster but was defeated by the SDLP's Margaret Ritchie.

DUP leader Peter Robinson has said the comments did not represent the party's view.

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