Ex-DUP leader to face trial over 18 sex offence allegations

Politics

Ex-DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson will face a trial over allegations of historical sex offences.

Donaldson, 61, was charged with seven more offences on Tuesday, bringing the total to 18, after the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) reviewed the police evidence, as is the normal practice.

He was originally charged with 11 sex offences in April.

Donaldson was met by his lawyer, John McBurney, as he arrived at Newry Magistrates’ Court today for a hearing to establish whether there was sufficient evidence against him to proceed with a trial. There was a significant police presence outside the court.

A judge ruled the case could proceed to trial.

His wife, Lady Eleanor Donaldson, 58, was facing four charges including aiding and abetting him but after Tuesday is facing five.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1985 and 2006 and involve two alleged victims.

Eleanor Donaldson leaves Newry Magistrates Court.
Pic: PA,
Image:
Eleanor Donaldson leaves Newry Magistrates Court in April. Pic: PA

Donaldson, who was Northern Ireland’s longest-serving MP, resigned as DUP leader after he was charged on 28 March following a day of questioning.

He was suspended by his party and remained as an independent MP until the election was called in May. He is not standing to be re-elected as the Lagan Valley MP, where he served for 27 years.

In a letter to the party, he said he would be strenuously contesting the charges.

Donaldson was knighted for his services to politics in 2016.

He helped broker the DUP’s £1bn confidence and supply deal with Theresa May’s minority Tory government, when the party held the balance of power at Westminster between 2017 and 2019.

More recently, he had compromised and led his party back into the power-sharing government at Stormont, which it had boycotted for two years over post-Brexit trading arrangements.


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