DUP says failure by four MLAs to declare Israel trip donation to Electoral Commission was "administrative oversight"

DUP MLAs Michelle McIlveen, Jonathan Buckley, William Humphrey and Gary Middleton all failed to register the donation with the Electoral Commission. Picture from DUP/BBC
John Monaghan

THE DUP has said the failure of four of its MLAs to complete donation reports to the Electoral Commission about a trip to Israel was an "administrative oversight".

The NI Friends of Israel group made donations of £2,700 each to six DUP MPs and four of the party's MLAs for the four-day visit in May.

The Electoral Commission has written to the MLAs to "clarify why no return has been made", according to BBC NI.

Although the four MLAs - Gary Middleton, William Humphrey, Michelle McIlveen, Jonathan Buckley - registered the donations with the Assembly, they did not do so with the Electoral Commission.

Under Commission rules, MLAs are required to disclose any donations of more than £1,500 within 30 days.

MPs must report any donations to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, the details of which are passed to the Electoral Commission.

The information is then published on the Electoral Commission website. The six MPs who travelled all declared their donations.

Any additional costs above the £2,700 payment was met by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Amongst the visiting MPs was Ian Paisley, who has been suspended by the House of Commons for 30 days for failing to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

He has also been suspended by the DUP.

The DUP said the visit to Israel was "aimed at developing economic links in such sectors as cyber security" and said steps had been taken to correct an "administrative oversight".

"The trip was declared on the Assembly register of interests. Thought should be given to updating the Assembly procedures so they are aligned with the processes in Westminster."

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said: "We have already written to these MLAs to clarify why no return has been made."

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