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Spratt won't be disciplined for his 'nutters' comment

Published 29/06/2013




THE DUP assembly member who was forced to apologise for calling opponents "nutters" despite previously denying he used the word will not face any internal discipline from his party.

South Belfast MLA Jimmy Spratt apologised this week after the assembly's official record showed he made the comment during an Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister committee meeting on Wednesday.

He was referring to opponents of the Maze peace centre scheme, which includes the Orange Order and RUC widows.

During the meeting UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, who was chairing the committee, accused Mr Spratt of making the remark.

In an astonishing outburst, Mr Spratt denying making the remark and demanded an apology from Mr Nesbitt for accusing him of doing so.

Despite Mr Spratt's protests, the assembly's official record of the meeting, Hansard, confirms the DUP man did use the word "nutter".

It has also emerged that Mr Spratt threatened to take legal action against a News Letter journalist who challenged him with the Hansard version of events.

"You print that if you want, I'll be seeing you in court as well," the News Letter reported him as saying in response to a question about the "nutters" comment.

A spokesman for the DUP said Mr Spratt, who is close to party leader Peter Robinson, will face no further disciplinary action.

"Jimmy has explained and apologised for what happened and the party's view is to accept Jimmy's view and we don't intend to take it any further," the spokesman said.

Mr Spratt has apologised to the "genuine people who have expressed concerns about the Maze project."

However, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said it wasn't for him to decide if Mr Spratt's "apology is sufficient".

"The focus should be on those in the RUC Widows, the RUC George Cross Association, the UDR Regimental Association, the Prison Officers Association, the Orange Order, the Victims Groups and all the others brave enough to take a stand against the plans to locate a peace centre at the Maze and the retention of the prison buildings," he said.

UUP sources say it is unlikely that assembly disciplinary authorities will be asked to investigate the matter.

■ APOLOGISED: DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt