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DUP nominee for a peerage rejected by watchdog

Former Secretary of State Peter Hain, who has been named as a peer. Picture by John Stillwell, Press Association
Claire Simpson and Joe Churcher

A DUP nominee for a peerage has been rejected by a parliamentary watchdog.

The House of Lords Appointments Commission decided that the DUP nominee, as well as five Conservatives and one Liberal Democrat were unsuitable to take a seat in the upper chamber.

The names of six of the nominees, including the one proposed by the DUP, remain confidential.

There was speculation that former DUP MP William McCrea - one of the party's most-high-profile members - would be nominated for a peerage after he lost his South Antrim seat at this year's general election.

The veteran politician last night said he was not aware of any nomination.

"I haven't heard of it," he told The Irish News. "I really haven't a clue."

Mr McCrea, who was among DUP delegates who met Secretary of State Theresa Villiers yesterday, added that he had recently returned from the US.

Parties have the chance to replace rejected candidates with substitutes - but the DUP did not seek a replacement.

The DUP did not respond to a question about the rejected nominee last night.

Liberal Democrat David Laws, who quit as Treasury Chief Secretary and was suspended from the Commons for seven days in 2010 over breaches of expenses rules, was among the seven who failed the vetting process.

Although the appointments commission does not have a veto, none of its assessments has yet been overruled.

Candidates for a peerage have to supply guarantees that they are resident in the UK for tax purposes, have no conflicting roles and give information about their donations and financial links to the party.

Meanwhile, former secretaries of state Peter Hain and Paul Murphy were among 45 new peers announced yesterday.

The Labour politicians both stood down before this year's general election.

Mr Murphy was secretary of state between 2002 and 2005. He was succeeded by South African-born Mr Hain, who held the post until 2007.

The pair were among eight Labour politicians named as peers.

British Prime Minister David Cameron faced accusations of cronyism after unveiling dozens of new Tory peers, including former ministers and advisers, in the dissolution honours list.

Downing Street announced 26 names proposed by the Prime Minister, with 11 for the Liberal Democrats and eight for Labour - a total of 45.

They included former foreign secretary William Hague and Mr Cameron's long-standing gatekeeper Kate Fall, as well as ex-Liberal Democrat leader Ming Campbell and Labour former chancellor Alistair Darling.

The appointments take the active membership of the Upper House to more than 800.

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