Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Affair claims leave DUP MP's children 'gutted' - Simpson's alleged lover refuses to talk

By Christopher Woodhouse

The family of DUP MP David Simpson say he has “betrayed and deceived” them by having an affair with a party activist almost half his age.

Mr Simpson’s son-in-law Aaron Gray revealed the woman linked to the 59-year-old MP is a close friend of the family.

“The family feel totally betrayed and deceived by both David and her,” said Aaron who is married to the MP’s daughter, Kristy.

“She was looked upon as a close personal friend to all the family.”

The alleged affair between the politician and the local party activist has rocked the DUP in Upper Bann where the MP’s wife Elaine Simpson is a hugely popular figure. One senior DUP figure said: “I don’t believe David Simpson will ever stand for the party again.”

Mr Gray also insisted that the as nothing “alleged” about the affair, stressing it was “100pc true”.

Sunday Life revealed last week how Elaine Simpson had asked her 59-year-old husband of 37 years to leave the family home after accusing him of an affair.

Mr Simpson has been a cheerleader for Christian values and an ardent opponent of gay marriage.

Aaron Gray named the woman concerned and revealed she had attended a number of special family events. The woman is in her 30s, she’s married and an active DUP member in Upper Bann.

“It’s devastating,” said Aaron.

“As I’m sure you are aware, it is a very hard time for the family.”

Members of Simpson’s family got in touch with this newspaper after we revealed last week how the Upper Bann MP had been kicked out of the family home. When contacted by this newspaper, the woman said she had “absolutely no comment to make”.

Nor would she say anything when it was put to her that Simpson’s own family were naming her as their father’s lover.

Mr Gray told Sunday Life he was upset the woman could not be named by the press.

“I want this down as confirmation that the affair 100pc happened and that it was 100pc (name of woman). I felt it was very unfair that she has not been named,” he said.

Elaine Simpson (57) is herself well respected within the DUP and had been married to the devout Free Presbyterian for nearly 40 years. But she gave her Orangeman hubby his marching orders after discovering he was cheating on her. The breakdown of their marriage was confirmed to Sunday Life by their daughter Leah who said they wanted “just to get on with our lives”.

According to DUP insiders Simpson is planning to do the same with little prospect of the couple reuniting.

But they said they couldn’t see him standing for election again nor did they believe there was any future for his alleged lover within the DUP.

“David has said ‘things have changed’ and he is determined to make a success of his relationship with (the woman),” said a well-placed source.

“Some people in the party were surprised by it as he presents such a clean-living, Christian image to the public but many aren’t as the rumours have been going about.

“They have been spending a lot of time together, probably too much time for people not to start whispering about them.

“It’s incredibly embarrassing for the party so I can’t see Simpson surviving this and her future within the DUP is over.”

They added: “Elaine must be devastated, they have been married for 37 years and she runs the family business.”

Party insiders also said the alledegd affair and breakdown of the Simpsons’ marriage is incredibly awkward for loyal members as Elaine has many close and influential friends within the DUP.

“Elaine is well loved in the party and David is an MP so when it comes to a meeting or a dinner, who do you say hello to first?” said a source.

“A lot of people would know them as a couple, so when you meet David or Elaine what do you say?”

A weary looking Simpson returned to the green benches of the House of Commons last week but didn’t speak during any of the sittings.

Simpson sat on the DUP benches alongside colleagues Gavin Robinson, Jim Shannon, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and Nigel Dodds.

However, he did submit eight written questions to various government departments on topics including police station closures, problem gambling and male mental health.

Simpson has been MP for Upper Bann since unseating then UUP leader David Trimble in 2005.

His exile from the family home in Co Armagh is doubly difficult for him as it sits just yards from the factory door of his multi-million pound Universal Meat Company.

The senior Orangeman, who is head of the House of Commons lodge, is also believed to be under pressure within his local district in the Portadown area.

Orange Order Grand Chaplain Mervyn Gibson told Sunday Life he had no comment to make on Simpson’s affair as it was “a family matter”.

Simpson is a one-time gospel singer and an ardent opponent of equal marriage for same sex couples and has spoken of how he “seeks guidance” from God every day.

But the God-fearing politician is now living in a luxury bachelor pad well away from his family.

Sunday Life has approached Simpson for comment about the collapse of his marriage but he declined to speak about the matter. When our reporter put to Simpson, who was still wearing his wedding ring, that people were saying unpleasant things about his marital break-up he said: “That’s life.”

It’s a bitter self-inflicted blow for the previously proud family man who has spoken at length about their importance to him.

“We’re still a very close family and often have Sunday lunch together,” he told the Belfast Telegraph in 2015. “Sometimes, if I’m home on a Friday and don’t have any meetings, then I’ll say to one of them that we should go out for a meal.

“You can’t ask one without asking them all and that includes their other halves too, so there could be seven or eight of us at a restaurant at any given time. Those are the nights I enjoy. It’s a wee get-together and a bit of craic around the table.”

But the likelihood of such a reunion is now as remote as it could possibly be with his children standing behind their mother.

Simpson’s daughter Leah, who he and his wife adopted from Paraguay, spoke frankly to our reporter about her father’s cheating.

“It’s true and my mum’s priority and our priority at the moment is just to get on with our lives. She did ask him to leave when she found out but as I said our foremost priority is to get through the next weeks and months ahead.

“There are children, grandchildren and mum is just trying to keep focused.”

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