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Names of those who sign Paisley recall petition will not be revealed, says elections chief

The Electoral Office has confirmed that the names of anyone who signs the petition to recall North Antrim MP Ian Paisley will not be revealed.

Following elections in Northern Ireland the names of those who voted are normally released as part of a marked register by the electoral office. Only that they voted is recorded and not how they cast their ballot.

However, it has been confirmed that this will not be the case with the marked register for the recall petition.

"Maintaining the secrecy of the ballot and ensuring public confidence in that secrecy is of paramount importance to this office and if anyone has any concerns they should contact our offices on 02890 446600," an Electoral Office spokesperson said.

The petition of recall has been set up after Mr Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days after failing to declare two luxury family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

He was also found to have breached rules on paid advocacy after lobbying then Prime Minister David Cameron on a UN resolution concerning human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

Mr Paisley has also been suspended by the DUP pending an internal investigation.

If 7,543 people sign the recall petition, 10% of the electorate, then a by-election will be held.

The petition, which is due to run until September 19, is the first of its kind in UK parliamentary history.

Mr Paisley's suspension from the House of Commons begins on September 4, when MPs return to Westminster.

There has been speculation that Mr Paisley could resign from his seat to force an early by-election which would allow him to present for key Brexit votes, but this has been denied by sources close to the Paisley camp.

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