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PSNI chief under fire for attending DUP 'fundraising' event

Chief Constable George Hamilton faced criticism after attending a DUP dinner. Picture Brian Lawless/PA Wire

CHIEF Constable George Hamilton has defended his decision to attend a DUP "fundraiser" dinner.

The PSNI insisted the chief constable was an invited guest and made no financial contribution at the event hosted by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley on Thursday night.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove also attended the function in Ballymena.

The Environment Secretary addressed an audience of more than 200 people at the event.

Sinn Féin had raised concerns at Mr Hamilton's attendance at the dinner at the Tullyglass Hotel, claiming it constituted a "conflict of interest".

Gerry Kelly said there was no issue about police commanders attending political events such as conferences, but he said attending a "fundraiser is entirely different".

"While the Chief Constable does have to engage with people right across the community attendance at a DUP fund-raiser would be a clear conflict of interest," he said.

"The Chief Constable needs to provide an explanation to the public about the reports he attended a party political fund-raiser.

"There is an onus on the Chief Constable and his office to act, and to be seen to act, with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all in the community."

A PSNI spokesman said the chief constable had been invited to the annual North Antrim constituency dinner by Mr Paisley.

"The chief constable made no financial contribution to or at the event and did not purchase a ticket as he was there as an invited guest of the MP," the spokesman said.

"The chief constable and senior team are invited to attend a range of events hosted by elected representatives and are happy to consider opportunities for engagement at that level from any and all political parties."

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