Ian Paisley fined over driving offence
Ian Paisley has been handed a £250 fine and six penalty points for driving without insurance.
The 49-year-old DUP MP for North Antrim did not attend Lisburn Magistrates' Court on Thursday where he was formally accused of driving a Saab car on 18 February last year on the Laganbank Road in the city "without there being in force in relation to the user of the said motor vehicle by you such a Policy of Insurance or such a Security in respect of third-party risks as complied with the requirements of Part V111 of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981, contrary to Article 90(4) of the Road Traffic (Northern Ireland) Order 1981".
Defence barrister Steven Molloy told the court he had been instructed "to enter a plea" to the offence.
Mr Paisley has been the MP for North Antrim office since 2010 and previously, he was a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly for the same constituency from 1998 to 2010. Mr Paisley, who is a member of the DUP, is the son of the DUP's founder, the late Lord Bannside.
In court on Thursday, a prosecuting lawyer described how Mr Paisley was stopped by police as he drove along the Governor's Road in the city at 8.15pm on 18 February when a "check on the insurance database revealed there was no insurance policy" on the car.
The politician attended for police interview six days later and the lawyer said Mr Paisley has no previous criminal convictions.
Making his plea in mitigation, Mr Molloy said his client had been "oblivious that he had no insurance" as he believed the policy would have been automatically renewed when it expired a few weeks beforehand and the fact that it had lapsed was "an oversight on his part."
"He insured the car the very next day," said the lawyer adding that Mr Paisley should be given "maximum credit" for his early plea and previous "very good character."
Although he said he was not formally applying for reporting restrictions on Mr Paisley's Co Down address, he asked the media not to report it "for security reasons".
As well as the fine and penalty points, District Judge Rosie Watters ordered the MP to pay a £15 "offenders' levy".
A spokesman for Mr Paisley said in a statement: "Ian has been driving since he was 17 and has always had car insurance until a completely accidental oversight on his part at the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015.
"He was changing cars and hadn't realised his insurance had expired. Some may appreciate that his mind was elsewhere at the time given family circumstances.
"Ian never disputed this was a mistake on his part and accepted without question the points on his licence."