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Upper Bann election dirty tricks row rumbles on

DUP MP David Simpson used his acceptance speech to hit out at dirty tricks from "unionist rivals"

The DUP's David Simpson hit back yesterday at the Ulster Unionists as a row over election 'dirty tricks' rumbled on.

The Upper Bann MP accused his rivals of producing misleading campaign leaflets - but failed to respond to questions asked by UUP leader Mike Nesbitt in an open letter.

In an angry acceptance speech on Friday morning, Mr Simpson hit out at "despicable attacks" on his family from unionist quarters and said the campaign had "stooped to the gutter".

It is understood he was referring to comments made on social media about his three adopted children, who are from India and Paraguay.

Mr Nesbitt challenged Mr Simpson on Sunday to produce evidence that members of his party were involved so that he could take action.

A spokesman for the MP said yesterday they were still awaiting a "paper copy of the letter" from the UUP leader.

Asked who he was referring to when he hit out at "unionist rivals" in his speech, the spokesman declined to comment.

A statement later issued by the MP also did not address Mr Nesbitt's questions.

"The UUP are sore because their candidate arrogantly boasted that the people of Upper Bann were saying it was a 'UUP seat on loan to the DUP' while in fact in all three centres of population (Banbridge, Portadown and Lurgan) the people decided otherwise," it said.

"The reality is unionists backed David Simpson as the experienced candidate at a time when the Sinn Féin vote was on the rise."

In a reference to a call by Mr Nesbitt to name the company behind a poll which suggested Sinn Fein was the DUP's closest challenger, Mr Simpson said he should instead look at UUP leaflets "attempting to make voters believe they were the biggest party" in the area.

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