Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley accusers told to 'put up or shut up' as DUP councillor backs 'excellent' MP

Ian Paisley with John Finlay who organised the meeting in Gracehill
Ian Paisley with John Finlay who organised the meeting in Gracehill

The chairman of the DUP's North Antrim DUP Association has some to the defence of Ian Paisley telling his accusers to "put up or shut up" over the latest claims surrounding luxury family holidays.

Causeway Coast and Glens Councillor John Finlay expressed his full confidence in the MP in a report in his local paper, the Ballycastle Chronicle.

He described Mr Paisley as an “excellent public representative” pointing out no public money was involved while asking how much the BBC spent on sending a reporter to the Maldives.

North Antrim MP Paisley is facing fresh questions over a number of trips he reportedly took to the Maldives, one of which its claimed was paid for by a former minister in Indian Ocean nation's government. Mr Paisley has not responded to the latest claims while his party said it will consider the "serious issues" raised.

Councillor Finlay said he wanted to place on record his "full confidence in the Member of Parliament for North Antrim, Ian Paisley" accusing the BBC of being "biased".

"Ian is an excellent public representative who works tirelessly both within the constituency and in Parliament," he said.

"Once again, he has come under the media and political spotlight as a result of the latest Spotlight documentary produced by the Biased Broadcasting Corporation, and the usual suspects are lining up to condemn him. Surely under basic rules of justice, a person is deemed to be innocent until proven guilty.

"If the BBC, or any of the others who are now criticising him, have any hard evidence, let them present it to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. It is time for them to put up or shut up."

He also criticised Sinn Fein for its attacks on Mr Paisley pointing to how its MPs suddenly registered foreign trips on their register of interests.

In the wake of Mr Paisley's sanctions from parliament for breaching rules over holidays to Sri Lanka and lobbying on behalf of its government, Mr Finlay organised a support meeting during the recall petition period last year.

He continued: “It is worth remembering that no tax payers' money is involved in anything that Ian Paisley is alleged to have done.

"However, as a BBC licence payer, I would be interested to know how much it has cost to send a journalist and her team to the Maldives to produce this latest documentary."

A BBC NI spokesperson said: "As an MP, Ian Paisley is bound by certain rules of conduct. BBC Spotlight’s investigation found evidence which suggests two further luxury holidays to the Maldives which Mr Paisley did not register, despite part of both holidays appearing to have been provided on a complimentary basis.

"According to the resort owner, one of these holidays was paid for by an individual, who at the time, was a Maldivian cabinet minister."

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