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General Election 2019

General Election: UUP dismiss claim ex-PSNI chief George Hamilton asked to run in North Down

Sir George Hamilton
Sir George Hamilton

By Eimear McGovern

The UUP has dismissed a claim former PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton was approached to run in North Down.

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Journalist Brian Rowan, speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme on Monday, claimed Sir George rejected the party's advances.

It was also claimed he was approached by others to run as an independent in the seat held by Lady Sylvia Hermon. She has announced her retirement from politics.

However, Mr Rowan said, as he understood it, the former police chief is not a member of any party and has no intention of running as a candidates.

Independent unionist, Lady Sylvia held the seat since 2001 and is the widow of Sir Jack Hermon, former Chief Constable of the RUC.

Sir George (52) who received his title in the Queen's Birthday Honours, spent five years as the Chief Constable of the PSNI before stepping down in June.

Meanwhile, the former leader of the Ulster Unionist Party Mike Nesbitt called on his party to run a "progressive" remain candidate in North Down to prevent the DUP claiming Lady Sylvia's seat.

The MLA for Strangford said his party could take the seat by offering pro-remain voters an alternative to the pro-Brexit Alex Easton of the DUP.

North Down voted 52% in favour of remain in the 2016 referendum, after which Mr Easton came within 1,200 votes of outgoing MP Lady Sylvia in the 2017 general election.

Party sources have suggested MLA Alan Chambers could emerge as a candidate, while Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie has also come under pressure from party colleagues to put his name forward.

"North Down has a reputation of being a constituency apart, where the votes don't follow the traditional orange and green trend," Mr Nesbitt told the Sunday Times.

He ruled himself out of the contest as a candidate because of a heart issue.

He continued: "With the right candidate we would be contenders to win North Down, absolutely. He or she would have to be known to have strong remain credentials and be a progressive politician overall.

Sir George Hamilton at Buckingham Palace to receive his honour.
Sir George Hamilton at Buckingham Palace to receive his honour.

"This election has come at the wrong time for me because a few weeks ago my consultant discovered some issues. I had a couple of stents put in four years ago but this is an unrelated heart issue that just needs to be dealt with and that has to be the priority."

Sir George Hamilton has been contacted for a comment.

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