Jim Wells complainant charged with wasting police time

Jim Wells resigned after last April's hustings event. Picture by Hugh Russell
Jim Wells resigned after last April's hustings event. Picture by Hugh Russell Jim Wells resigned after last April's hustings event. Picture by Hugh Russell

A 48-YEAR-OLD woman who complained about remarks made by former health minister Jim Wells has been charged with wasting police time.

The charge relates to a complaint made to the PSNI in the wake of a hustings event in Downpatrick last April.

The South Down MLA was forced to step down as health minister in the aftermath of the pre-election event when his comments about same sex relationships sparked controversy.

Mr Wells has always insisted that a video which apparently showed him making homophobic remarks had been edited. Days later while canvassing in Rathfriland he was involved in an altercation with a lesbian couple. Both incidents were investigated by police but they concluded that there was no basis to prosecute the DUP MLA.

The charge against the 48-year-old woman does not relate to the video or the incident in Rathfriland. She is due to appear at Downpatrick Magistrates’ Court at the end of next month.

Weeks after his resignation Mr Wells took a fortnight off from the assembly. There had been speculation that the 58-year-old former health minister would retire from politics due to personal circumstances and the recent controversies.

The DUP veteran's wife Grace suffered two strokes last year and currently lives in a nursing home.

However, Mr Wells has stated publicly that he wants to continue as an MLA and has put his name forward for selection to run in May's election. DUP headquarters has so far declined to say when its South Down candidate will be selected.

Mr Wells was plunged into a fresh row last week when two fellow MLAs complained to the assembly's standards commissioner about his behaviour.

In an initial incident, the South Down MLA is alleged to have made sexist comments while in conversation with Ulster Unionist Ross Hussey. Mr Wells has insisted the remarks were a joke.

Sinn Féin assembly whip Caitrí­ona Ruane later lodged a complaint against the former health minister after he approached her party colleague Megan Fearon as she left the assembly chamber and challenged the Newry and Armagh MLA over her response to his comments to Mr Hussey.