Northern Ireland news


Suspended DUP councillor who moved to Scotland after being arrested on suspicion of child sexual grooming is still claiming expenses

Suspended DUP councillor William Walker
John Manley

A SUSPENDED DUP councillor who moved to Scotland earlier this year after being arrested on suspicion of child sexual grooming is continuing to claim expenses from the public purse.

William Walker (59) is logging on remotely to Newry, Mourne and Down Council meetings, which entitles him to claim his councillor's allowance and additional expenses.

The council says it has no policy relating to its elected representatives living outside Northern Ireland, although Mr Walker's circumstances appear to hinder his ability to fully represent his constituents.

The former chair of the now-defunct Down District Council was arrested in February on suspicion of attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

He was later released on bail pending further inquiries.

The allegations stem from claims made to the PSNI by so-called paedophile hunters based in England.

The self-styled group uses what they call ‘decoys' to pose as under-age children and wait to be contacted by adults.

Mr Walker, who is suspended from the DUP pending the outcome of the police investigation, left his home in Killyleagh soon after his arrest and moved to Scotland.

He did not resign his council seat but continued as an independent representative, joining council monthly meetings remotely via Microsoft Teams, which was put in place at the beginning of the pandemic.

Newry, Mourne and Down Council has confirmed to The Irish News that Mr Walker has claimed £70 in expenses since the start of the financial year.

“Councillor Walker has been paid a total of £70 in expenses since April 1 2022 attributable to broadband,” a statement said.

“Councillor Walker has not attended any council meetings in person, he has attended one meeting remotely.”

In May, the Rowallane representative was pictured in Glasgow watching Rangers FC play in the Europa League final.

Wearing a sombrero and draped in a union flag, Mr Walker posted a photograph of himself on social media ahead of the match against Eintracht Frankfurt with the caption "just loving it".

For the 12 months up to the end of March this year, Mr Walker received nearly £3,000 in expenses on top of his council allowances of £19,406.

The Irish News sought to contact Mr Walker but he did not respond.

Northern Ireland news