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DUP man Ian Stevenson is struck off nursing register after groping work colleague

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Hearing: Ian Stevenson

Hearing: Ian Stevenson

Hearing: Ian Stevenson

A former DUP mayor convicted of groping a colleague has been struck off the nursing register.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) held its fitness to practise case in private after Ian Stevenson said his safety would be put at risk if the hearing was held in public.

However, the regulator has revealed that it found the case against convicted sex offender Stevenson proved and has issued a striking off order.

Stevenson, who was first citizen of the Ballymoney Borough Council in 2011, was found guilty of sexual assault after squeezing a colleague's breast at a care home where they were working.

Removal from the NMC register is the latest blow for Stevenson, who had consistently denied the sex assault.

He lost his appeal against the conviction at the end of last year and was given community service and ordered to sign the sex offenders' register for five years.

His trial in November 2018 was told that when the victim objected, he tried to laugh it off and joked that he would "grope anything".

The court heard that Stevenson asked the victim for a hug while talking to her in a corridor in April 2017.

She claimed that after raising her arms, Stevenson grabbed her breast.

During the hearing she described responding by pushing him away and telling him "no", adding that the encounter left her shocked and frightened.

"He just basically tried to laugh it off and made the joke 'You know me, I would grope anything... well, not anything'," she said.

When he was sentenced, the court was told Stevenson's employment was at risk as a result of his conviction. His defence barrister said he was likely to lose his home if he could not keep up his mortgage payments.

Making its decision on whether it should hold proceedings in private, the NMC heard that the "general rule is that hearings should be in public" and Stevenson's "criminal conviction is already in the public domain".

No details have been made public as to why Stevenson's safety would be put at risk if the hearing progressed in public.

However, counsel for the NMC acknowledged it was "a serious matter and submitted that the issue of whether the hearing should be held in private is a matter for the panel's discretion".

Explaining its decision in a redacted document, the panel said: "It was mindful that there is a public interest in these proceedings being held in public.

"The panel's role was to balance your interests against the public interest in an open and transparent hearings process.

"The panel took the view that, in these circumstances, it would be appropriate to hold the hearing in private.

"The facts which led to your conviction are already in the public domain and the outcome of this hearing will still be published on the NMC's website."

Finding him guilty of misconduct, the panel deemed his fitness to practise was impaired by reason of his conviction for sexual assault and issued a striking off order.

Stevenson had already been suspended by the DUP and from local government duties in the wake of his conviction.

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