Northern Ireland news

Edwin Poots says 'deplorable' that Irish News could query son's driving charge before court case

The DUP's Edwin Poots with his son, ex-party councillor Luke Poots, and inset, how The Irish News revealed the MLA wrote to the Attorney General about Luke's driving case
Brendan Hughes

EDWIN Poots has described as "deplorable" the media asking questions about his son facing a driving charge before appearing in court.

The MLA defended writing a letter to the Attorney General over the case, saying he was warning of alleged press leaks which could "damage the independence of due process".

The Irish News yesterday revealed the contents of the letter relating to ex-DUP councillor Luke Poots.

It was released by the Attorney General's office following calls for full disclosure after its existence was revealed earlier this month.

MLAs had described it as "highly irregular" writing to Stormont's chief legal adviser about a driving charge.

In his letter, Mr Poots disclosed that he was a passenger in the vehicle, and accused police or prosecutors of leaking the incident to the media to cause "maximum embarrassment".

He also appeared to suggest that he and his son may have feared a security threat at the time.

Mr Poots said he and his son wanted to be treated the same as anyone else, and asked the Attorney General to ensure "fairness is applied".

Luke Poots, who works in his father's Lagan Valley constituency office, was accused of driving a vehicle dangerously on Grosvenor Road in Belfast in December 2017.

The 31-year-old denied the charge but was convicted of a lesser offence of driving without due care and attention and fined £500 and given five penalty points last month.

Edwin Poots wrote in October 2018 to then Attorney General John Larkin, who forwarded the correspondence to the Director of Public Prosecutions and asked him to examine the matter.

The Irish News had revealed Luke Poots's driving charge the day before he was due in court. At the time, court lists were available to the media seven days in advance.

However, Mr Poots yesterday repeated his allegation that the driving charge was "leaked" to the press.

"It is deplorable that The Irish News contacted the DUP office with a query about the case in advance of papers being served on the individual," he said.

"...Every member of society should be treated the same before the law which was evidently not the case as a result of entirely inappropriate leaking."

A PPS spokeswoman said the Director of Public Prosecutions reviewed the evidence against Luke Poots and concluded the decision to prosecute "was correct and that the test for prosecution had been properly applied".

"Furthermore, no concerns around the conduct of the investigation or prosecution were identified, and this was communicated to the Attorney General.

"As occurred in this case, all PPS decisions are taken impartially, independently and fully in line with the Code for Prosecutors."

The PSNI said anyone with a complaint can contact the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe now to get full access

Northern Ireland news