I'm baffled by Belfast Giants furore, says UUP peer Lord Laird
Published 22/03/2013 | 04:20
A UUP peer who had business dealings with a registered sex offender as the American tried to take over the Belfast Giants ice hockey team has said he doesn't understand what the problem is.
Lord Laird hosted meetings for Christopher Knight – who is registered as a sex offender in Florida – and was paid by him for advice.
In October, the 39-year-old American bought the controlling shares from Belfast Giants' former owner in a deal said to be worth £145,000. However, players and staff at Belfast Giants walked away to form a new club without him, after Knight's past emerged.
Lord Laird told the BBC he had received a "small monetary reward" from Knight.
"It's not for me to do due diligence into someone with a lot of money. That's not my issue, OK? He is very up front into what happened to him in Florida and that seemed perfectly reasonable to me that he should go around telling people," he said.
"Society requires me to work with people who have terrorist convictions and who are now in government. So we're worried about some minor misdemeanour in Florida? I just can't get around in my mind what the problem is."
A Florida Department of Law Enforcement spokesman told the Belfast Telegraph last month there was no error in the placing of Mr Knight on the list, who he said would remain on it indefinitely. Mr Knight had previously said he was in the process of getting his name taken off the register.