Police investigating claims of intimidation during DUP leadership contest

Police in Northern Ireland are investigating a claim of intimidation during the recent DUP leadership contest.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who narrowly lost to Edwin Poots in the contest, reportedly claimed loyalist group the UDA had threatened members of his team.

The Irish Independent has reported that Sir Jeffrey made the claim during the meeting of the DUP on Thursday night to ratify Mr Poots’ election as leader.

Sir Jeffrey has not made any official comment on the matter.

Democratic Unionist Party meet to ratify new leader
Edwin Poots said any threats should be reported to police (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Poots responded on Friday, saying if anyone was intimidated, that should be reported to police.

In a statement, the PSNI confirmed they are examining a report of intimidation.

“Police have received a complaint that a number of members of a political party had been threatened during a recent leadership campaign,” a spokesperson said.

“The full circumstances of the incident are still being established and enquiries are continuing at this time.”

Earlier, Mr Poots told media that no members of his team engaged in acts of intimidation, insisting they fought a fair and clean campaign.

“If anyone was intimidated, that should be reported to police,” he said.

“I can assure you categorically that no member of my team engaged in any activities of intimidation or bullying. We fought a fair campaign, we fought a clean campaign, it was a close contest, I accepted the outcome and I would have accepted the outcome if I had lost it.

“I would encourage all others, if there was anything that was done untoward by any individual, then that should be reported to police, and it certainly didn’t come from my team.”

Asked if he felt snubbed by Sir Jeffrey, Lord Dodds and Gregory Campbell, who were among those who left the meeting before his speech following his ratification as leader, Mr Poots responded: “It’s for Nigel and Jeffrey and others to answer for themselves, I have conducted myself correctly and appropriately and with honour throughout all of this process, and I will continue to do that in my role as leader of this party.”