Belfast Telegraph

TUV councillor won't be prosecuted over Paisley recall petition

Timothy Gaston
Timothy Gaston
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

A TUV councillor will not be prosecuted over a social media post about the Ian Paisley recall petition, he has said.

Timothy Gaston, a Bannside representative on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council was investigated by police after admitting on social media he signed the petition to oust the North Antrim MP last year.

Mr Paisley was suspended from parliament for failing to declare lavish luxury holidays to Sri Lanka and lobbying on behalf of its government. His suspension - the longest any MP has served on record - brought about the petition which failed to gain the 10% required to force a by-election.

During the six-week petition period it was illegal to gave an indication of how many had signed.

Breaching those rules was punishable by a fine or up to six months in prison.

Mr Gaston revealed he had signed the petition.

North Antrim Sinn Fein MLA Philip McGuigan also published a video urging people to sign saying the result was "on a knife edge" and faced a police investigation.

Chief Electoral Officer Virginia McVea asked both to remove the posts and the matter was reported to police by Ian Paisley.

“I have had it confirmed that I will not be prosecuted after saying online that I signed the petition to recall Ian Paisley as MP for North Antrim," Timothy Gaston said.

"With police resources already well over stretched I wonder how much this farce has cost the public purse? I am sure many people across North Antrim would agree with me that the police time wasted on me would of been better spent investigating genuine crime in the area."

The Public Prosecution Service has been approached for comment as has Sinn Fein.

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