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DUP to block censure motion against Sammy Wilson

DUP MLA Sammy Wilson. Picture by Paul Faith, Press Association

THE DUP looks set to block a motion to censure DUP MLA Sammy Wilson for describing TUV leader Jim Allister as a "thug" during a heated Stormont committee hearing.

The party is to lodge a petition of concern which will effectively block the censure motion against the East Antrim MLA. The motion is to be debated in the assembly today.

Mr Wilson also labelled the assembly's commissioner for standards and privileges Douglas Bain a "wee wimp" in a subsequent BBC interview - a remark that may land him in further trouble.

Mr Allister criticised the DUP last night for using the petition of concern mechanism.

"Yet another abuse of petition of concern as DUP uses it as a human shield against censure of S Wilson for his thug outburst," he tweeted last night.

A report by Mr Bain into Mr Wilson's remarks during October's social development committee hearing found him guilty of breaking Stormont's code of conduct.

Mr Wilson called Mr Allister a "thug" as the committee heard evidence from Stephen Brimstone, who worked as a special adviser to former social development minister Nelson McCausland, during an inquiry into claims of political interference in the Housing Executive.

In his report, Mr Bain concluded that "untruthfully describing someone as a thug was an abusive and gratuitous personal comment".

The commissioner said it was an "unreasonable and excessive personal attack" which "contravened the respect principle" of the assembly code.

However, the DUP MLA said he would not say sorry as it would be a "hypocritical apology".

"I'm not sorry for what I said, as I believe that in the context in which I said it, it was correct," he told the BBC.

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