Alliance calls for new Spratt investigation

Jimmy Spratt MLA
Jimmy Spratt MLA

A third Stormont party has called for Standards Commissioner Douglas Bain to reinvestigate Jimmy Spratt after News Letter evidence proved that he inaccurately told Mr Bain that he never denied saying “except the nutters”.

Mr Spratt, who last year made the comment in relation to opponents of the Maze peace centre, repeatedly told Mr Bain that he never denied using the phrase, and the commissioner accepted that version of events.

However, a News Letter recording of an interview with the DUP MLA last year proves that he explicitly denied using the term and threatened legal action if we reported it. Mr Bain never heard that recording as this newspaper was not told that Mr Spratt was alleging that we misquoted him.

As pressure mounts for a fresh investigation of the DUP MLA, Alliance chief whip Stewart Dickson said that he had written to Stormont’s Standards and Privileges Committee, which instructs Mr Bain, asking that it re-open the investigation. The UUP and TUV have already called for a fresh investigation.

In an email to the committee clerk, Mr Dickson said: “In light of the publication of a News Letter article...I write to enquire if the Standards and Privileges Committee will request the Standards Commissioner, Mr Douglas Bain, to re-investigate the complaint given it has been revealed that there is evidence of a recording of the conversation between Mr Spratt and the journalist Sam McBride in which Mr Spratt denied using the words ‘except the nutters’.”

The committee, which is chaired by DUP MLA Alastair Ross, meets next week and the clerk said that the issue would be considered then.