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Case adjourned again for woman accused of wasting PSNI time over Jim Wells claim

By Noel McAdam

Published 06/05/2016

Former Health Minister Jim Wells
Former Health Minister Jim Wells
Tyrone woman Dorothy Gardner

DUP candidate Jim Wells spent part of polling day yesterday in court in relation to the case against a woman charged over the row that led to his resignation as Health Minister.

But once again the proceedings did not take place. For the third occasion the hearing at Downpatrick Court was adjourned, this time for two weeks.

The accused, Dorothy Elaine Dawn Gardner (48), of Killycanavan Road, Dungannon, is charged with causing "wasteful employment of the police by knowingly making a false report or statement tending to show that an offence had been committed by Mr James Wells MLA".

The case is not connected to a separate police enquiry into the taping of allegedly anti-gay remarks by Mr Wells at a public event in the run-up to last year's general election.

Instead, the charges are believed to relate to a complaint made to the PSNI following the hustings meeting in Downpatrick last April.

Mrs Gardner was not present in court yesterday when an adjournment until May 19 was agreed.

Mr Wells, who said he had wanted the case to be dealt with before the Assembly election, has long claimed the recording of the allegedly anti-gay comments at the hustings event was "doctored" and gave a misleading impression.

A few days after the meeting he was involved in an altercation with a lesbian couple while canvassing in Rathfriland. Police investigated both incidents and concluded there was no basis for a prosecution.

At the hustings event he had said: "All evidence throughout the world says the best way to raise children is in a loving, stable, married relationship; the facts show that, the facts show that certainly you don't bring a child up in a homosexual relationship."

Then, despite uproar from the audience, he went on: "I say again, I say again, a child is far more likely to be abused or neglected in a non-stable marriage situation, gay or straight."

Mr Wells argued that in the full context his remarks overall made clear he was talking about unstable relationships, whether heterosexual or homosexual.

After a full transcript emerged he told the Belfast Telegraph last year: "Essentially, I resigned over remarks which it now turns out I did not say. I feel a huge sense of injustice. My whole career in politics over 33 years came crashing down in 17 seconds.

"As Health Minister, I thought I might achieve something. I thought, well finally I have something to put on my tombstone.

"And I felt I was beginning to come to terms with the job, which I enjoyed. But it all came tumbling down."

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