Adviser’s ‘sex for favours’ scandal has left UUP reeling
The sacking of Stormont adviser Dr Brian Crowe over serious allegations of misconduct has left the Ulster Unionist Party "reeling and deeply shocked", according to party insiders.
The 40-year-old special adviser was sacked by Employment and Learning Minister Danny Kennedy last Thursday after the Belfast Telegraph revealed he had been boasting on the internet about influencing policy for sexual favours.
The married father-of-two and part-time Church of Ireland preacher told a whistleblowing lobbyist in an internet chatroom that he was "an intellectual slut" and bragged of sexual activities with political lobbyists.
Dr Crowe has strenuously denied all the allegations. But the party’s morale in the run-up to the Assembly elections was further dented with allegations in Sunday Life that Dr Crowe — the party’s former head of policy — had sexually harassed an office worker at UUP headquarters and boasted of extramarital affairs.
One party source said last night: "Dr Crowe was clearly leading a double life. The revelations have come as a great shock to the party.
"We had no idea what was going on. It would have been impossible to know what he was doing on the internet."
The source described the allegations as "coming as a bolt from the blue" to Mr Kennedy and his predecessor, Sir Reg Empey. One female Ulster Unionist said: "No matter how difficult this is for us, and even though I’d have preferred it wasn’t done so publicly, it is good that this has come to light.
"The party is reeling from this. We will need to look at structures within the party to ensure there are better reporting mechanisms."
However, in spite of the claims of sexual harassment by a former party member, the UUP said yesterday that there had been no formal record of any sexual harassment complaint about Dr Crowe.
Asked about the complaints process in the Ulster Unionist party, a spokesman said: |"Complaints can be made by any individual through their line |manager or at any level in the party.
"A complaint can be dealt with by a line manager, the chief whip or the party leader, depending on the nature of the complaint. Complaints of a more serious type can be referred to a disciplinary committee for investigation.
"Any complaint of a criminal nature would be brought to the immediate attention of the PSNI," the spokesman added.
The Department of Employment and Learning is understood to be continuing its inquiry, but made no further comment yesterday.