Northern Ireland news

DUP councillor Linda Clarke faces another watchdog complaint

DUP councillor Linda Clarke, right, with party leader Arlene Foster, and inset, how The Irish News revealed the controversy
Brendan Hughes

A STANDARDS watchdog is examining a further complaint against under-fire DUP councillor Linda Clarke.

It comes after The Irish News revealed Mrs Clarke was involved in awarding more than £4,500 in council contracts to her son's printing firm.

An investigation by the Local Government Commissioner for Standards is already under way against Mrs Clarke over alleged conflicts of interest in the planning process.

It was launched after it emerged she did not declare an interest and took part in votes for planning applications lobbied on by her husband, DUP MLA Trevor Clarke.

The couple have come under weeks of pressure since an Irish News investigation exposed his sideline planning consultancy business.

Both have insisted they "made all the relevant declarations and adhered to all rules".

Mrs Clarke referred herself to the standards commissioner over the alleged planning conflicts, while a separate complaint was also submitted on the same issue.

It is understood a further complaint has now been submitted against the Antrim and Newtownabbey councillor relating to funding for the printing firm, AC Print, which is run from the family home.

DUP MLA Trevor Clarke and his wife, DUP councillor Linda Clarke

Mrs Clarke lists AC Print among her 'financial and other personal interests' registered with the council, but she did not declare an interest or absent herself from meetings when funding was awarded.

Under the code of conduct, councillors must withdraw from discussions where they have a "pecuniary interest, direct or indirect".

Earlier this week it also emerged AC Print is embroiled in a police probe into claims of "dirty tricks" during May's council elections.

A TUV man complained that a DUP mock ballot paper described him as an Alliance candidate. The DUP has said it was a "printing error".

An enforcement probe is also being conducted by Mid and East Antrim council officials over a triple garage built without planning permission at the Clarkes' home near Randalstown. The DUP said Mr Clarke believes planning permission is not required.

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