Belfast Telegraph

No evidence to back DUP Poots' complaint of being harassed by BBC reporter

By Gillian Halliday

A police investigation has uncovered no evidence to support an allegation of harassment made by a DUP councillor against a BBC journalist.

Luke Poots, son of DUP MLA Edwin Poots, lodged an official complaint with the PSNI last month following a BBC report that raised questions over a planning application relating to land he owns on the Comber Road in Hillsborough.

The story by Kevin Magee reported the application was not made by Luke Poots, but by his mother Glynis Poots, under her maiden name of Rachel M Gracey.

If successful, it would have increased the value of the land as it would have replaced Luke Poots' home with three properties.

Mr Poots, a former chairman of Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council's planning committee, strongly refuted any alleged suggestion of wrongdoing in a statement issued in response to the report last month.

He stressed at the time that "all relevant declarations were made" regarding the planning application.

"The postal address given in the application is the planning agent's address," Mr Poots had explained.

"The reason my mother's maiden name was used was to ensure the application was dealt with fairly.

"The 'Poots' name is associated with unionist politics.

"This was an attempt to have the application considered on its merits rather than through a political prism."

Following a three-week investigation, the PSNI said yesterday that all enquiries had been concluded.

It added: "Police received a report on Thursday, July 5 relating to information that had been published online.

"No criminal offences have been identified."

It was also confirmed that Mr Magee was not interviewed as part of the police investigation.

A BBC spokesman said that it noted the statement from the police. "The story was a matter of public interest and was reported in accordance with our editorial guidelines," he said.

Mr Magee has not commented on the outcome of the police investigation.

However, he did tweet a link to a BBC NI story on the PSNI's statement on his Twitter page yesterday.

He also retweeted a comment posted by Adam Smyth, the head of BBC News NI, who said the original story was legitimate. "There was never any basis to Luke Poots' claim," Mr Smyth wrote.

"Our story was legitimate and in the public interest and our programmes remain open to Luke Poots to answer the reasonable questions raised by (Mr Magee) during his investigation."

The DUP was contacted for a response.

However, it declined to comment on the matter.

Belfast Telegraph

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