A DIRECTOR of elections involved in the controversial selection process for the Ulster Unionists in West Tyrone was ‘compromised’, according to an internal disciplinary report into the issues.
Last year, senior officers of the UUP’s West Tyrone Constituency Association were highly critical after Ian Marshall was parachuted in to be on the ballot paper for next week’s poll instead of a local candidate.
Senior West Tyrone UUP members, Andy McKane, Derek Hussey, and veteran Fermanagh and Omagh councillor, Allan Rainey, were subsequently called to a disciplinary hearing following the publication of comments criticising the selection process.
Now the party’s disciplinary committee, which included Daphne Trimble, the wife of former First Minister, David Trimble, has found that the apppointment of the selection panel was ‘at best, irregular’.
It has also concluded that the party’s director of elections, Cllr Philip Smith, should have withdrawn himself from the process.
But it refrained from issuing any sanctions, instead describing the party’s selection process as ‘unworkable’, and ‘requiring considerable review’.
The disciplinary committee also decided against imposing any sanctions on Derek Hussey, Allan Rainey and Andy McKane.
The seven-page document – seen by the UH – has also found that the party’s selection was ‘too centralised’, and ‘failed to give adequate representation or involvement’ to the West Tyrone Constitutency Association.
“This resulted in considerable tensions between the parties to this complaint which deterioriated as the process advanced,” the report stated.
“The DC (Disciplinary Committeee) noted critically the conduct of the process by the director of elections, and, in particular, his contact with Mr Andy McKane, the alleged offer of inducements to Mr McKane to stand aside and the position of conflict of interest that developed.”
After Mr McKane initially withdrew his candidature, the party leader, Doug Beattie, offered Ian Marshall the chance to nominate for selection.
Then, when Mr McKane re-entered his name, he was offered a place on the Education Authority, and the possibility of a council seat in Derg as other options.
Mr McKane was not attracted by these offers, and did not withdraw his name.
According to the report, Cllr Philip Smith should then have withdrawn from the selection committee as he was ‘compromised’ and had demonstrated a clear preference for Ian Marshall.
The report also concluded that the actions of the party leader, Doug Beattie, did not lead to a breach of integrity on his part.
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