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Jim Wells attends police interview over gay abuse comments at election event

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 08/07/2015

DUP politician Jim Wells quit days after he sparked controversy with comments about gay marriage.
DUP politician Jim Wells quit days after he sparked controversy with comments about gay marriage.

Former Health Minister Jim Wells has been questioned by police over comments made about gay people at an election event.

The DUP MLA voluntarily attended Downpatrick PSNI station this morning by pre-arranged appointment.

It is understood he was questioned for around two hours.

It follows “numerous complaints” received by police over remarks made at a hustings event in Downpatrick in April.

Mr Wells sparked controversy after appearing to link child abuse with gay relationships.

He told the event on April 23: “You don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship. That a child is far more likely to be abused and neglected....”

He later apologised and subsequently resigned as Health Minister.

At the time police said they had received a complaint and officers were making enquiries.

Today it emerged he had been questioned after writing to police to arrange the interview.

A 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 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.”

It is understood Mr Wells was not interviewed with regard to a related incident which occurred in Rathfriland two days later as there was no matters that warranted a police investigation.

It was alleged that Mr Wells, who was doing door-to-door canvassing, called at a lesbian couple’s house, and during a conversation was critical of their lifestyle.

The daughter of one of the women said her mother was upset.

Mr Wells later went back to the house twice saying he wanted to apologise.

A report regarding this matter will be forwarded to the PPS in due course.

Mr Wells resigned as Health Minister following the controversies.

At the time he told the Belfast Telegraph he was no longer able to continue his ministerial duties and give his wife “the attention she deserves”.

Mr Wells had been a Westminster candidate for the DUP in the South Down constituency.

The DUP and Mr Wells have been contacted for comment on this matter.

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