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Standards chief is criticised by DUP over Wilson 'snub'

By Noel McAdam

A highly charged public fallout between a senior Stormont official and a DUP MP has taken a new twist.

It comes after the Assembly approved the appointment of an external expert to investigate a complaint brought by Sammy Wilson, which Standards Commissioner Douglas Bain refused to take up.

But now Mr Bain has come in for criticism from the DUP chair of Stormont's standards committee, Paul Givan.

Speaking on behalf of the party, Mr Givan said there was no reason Mr Bain could not investigate Mr Wilson's complaint over Sinn Fein conduct in a Stormont committee while the MP was still an MLA.

He said: "We are putting on the record that we are not satisfied with the reasons that have been given by Mr Bain.

"That having been said, there is a recognition that the power rests with him to recuse himself."

Asked by the Belfast Telegraph for a response, Mr Bain said he had no further comment to make "at this time".

Earlier this month MLAs appointed veteran Welsh barrister Gerard Elias, a leading criminal QC with more than 40 years' legal experience, as the external investigator.

Mr Wilson's complaint centres on finance committee chair Daithi McKay and his Sinn Fein colleague Mairtin O Muilleoir in relation to its investigation into the Nama scandal.

He challenged the way the meeting was conducted, but Mr Bain said he could not take any investigation forward after Mr Wilson referred to him as a "wee wimp" and "faceless".

Mr Wilson's attack came after the Commissioner found him guilty of breaching the Assembly code of conduct by calling TUV leader Jim Allister "a thug".

Mr Bain asked for assurances that Mr Wilson had confidence in him, but the MP instead asked whether there was a "ham-fisted vendetta" against him.

Mr Bain, who sent Mr Wilson a solicitor's letter following his "wee wimp" remarks, declined to comment on any legal action he has pursued since.

Mr Bain said: "In view of what had passed between myself and Mr Wilson, I considered that there was a significant risk that any action I took in relation to his complaint might be perceived, either by him or by the Member complained about, as being biased."

However, Mr Wilson replied: "I would point out you are a public servant whose job is to investigation without conditions."

Belfast Telegraph


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