Tom Elliott ‘jumped gun’ in bid to succeed Sir Reg
A candidate for the leadership of the UUP has been reported to the party’s disciplinary committee.
It is understood the complaint relates to Tom Elliott announcing his decision to stand for UUP leadership “too early”.
Sources claim any party member interested in Sir Reg’s job was required to wait until the leader had officially resigned, which he only did last week.
Mr Elliott announced his decision to stand in June and is still the only UUP member to throw his hat into the ring.
It is understood two party members who aren’t backing Mr Elliott reported him along with Ken Maginnis and Mike Nesbitt following an interview the trio did with a local newspaper last month.
The Fermanagh MLA has angrily disputed the complaint, describing it as “incredibly petty”.
“I don’t see why I have been reported. I have no idea what rule I’ve broken. There’s no rule stopping me from announcing my intention to run for leadership. It sounds like sour grapes to me.
“Obviously somebody in somebody else’s camp is trying to cause problems. They are basically clutching at straws to try and do anything they can to damage me,” he said.
Lord Maginnis said there was “nothing” to the complaint: “It’s just mischievousness on the part of a group of people who want somebody else to win the leadership battle. It’s really no embarrassment to me of any sort. I’ve been knocking about for far too long to care about something as minuscule as this.
“There is no basis to the complaint whatsoever.”
Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea, who is widely expected to run for the UUP leadership said: “It was nothing to do with me, so I couldn’t comment.”
He did say, however, that he thinks the UUP has a “challenging time” ahead.
When asked when or if he will stand for leadership, Mr McCrea said: “I am going to have a long think about what I intend to do.”
Last week Sir Reg Empey announced his decision to step down as party chief next month.
The announcement means the race for his successor can begin in earnest. In accordance with the party rules, a Special General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council will take place for the purpose of electing a leader next month.
The deadline for nominations is August 31.