Basil McCrea: Key complaints and findings of Assembly’s report

Many of the complaints came from Basil McCreas former friend, John McCallister (right)
Many of the complaints came from Basil McCreas former friend, John McCallister (right)

Here are some of the main allegations against Basil McCrea, and the verdict of the Assembly report.

Allegation: Mr McCrea made a series of sexual advances towards his then travelling PA, Ashleigh Murray.

Verdict: Mr Bain said he had been unable to interview Ms Murray about the allegations but said that on the day she left Mr McCrea’s employment she sent him a text making no mention of any alleged misconduct towards her and thanking him for everything he had done for her. He was “not satisfied that any breach of the code occurred in respect of any aspect of this complaint”. The committee agreed, but added that it “did not agree with some of the language used by the commissioner in relation to his assessment of the credibility of witnesses. In his report the commissioner has outlined his suspicions in relation to Ashleigh Murray’s ‘unwillingness’ to attend further interview. The committee does not consider it necessary to question these reasons.”

Allegation: During a visit to Canada in 2013 Mr McCrea took voyeuristic photos of future NI21 employee Jacquelyn Neglia and stored them on his office computer.

Verdict: Mr Bain said that Mr McCrea was not acting as an MLA at the time (so outside the scope of the code of conduct), none of these photos were voyeuristic and the three photos submitted by John McCallister were “heavily ‘doctored’ by a person unknown in a vain attempt to make them appear in some way improper”. The committee agreed with Mr Bain’s view but said it understood why Miss Neglia would be “upset at finding that pictures taken of her, some ... without her knowledge, had been stored on a work computer that a number of people had access to” and was “concerned about Mr McCrea’s failure to notify Miss Neglia about these pictures”.

Allegation: During the Sinn Féin Summer School 2013 Mr McCrea ‘groped’ Miss Neglia by grabbing her bottom.

Verdict: Mr Bain said that Mr McCrea was not acting as an MLA at the time so not covered by the code. He said that Miss Neglia and Mr McCrea “both appear ... to be giving what they believed was a truthful account of events” but that “he cannot be satisfied on the balance of probabilities, that Mr McCrea behaved in the manner alleged”. The committee agreed with Mr Bain that “nothing done by Mr McCrea during the trip to Cork was within the scope of the code [as he wasn’t acting as an MLA]”.

Allegation: Mr McCrea bullied Ms Neglia and threw a baseball at her while he was on the phone giving a live radio interview.

Verdict: Mr Bain said that the evidence of Miss Neglia and former NI21 worker Connor Clements “lends some support to the generalised allegation of mistreatment of staff”. But he found that Mr McCrea “did not at any time throw the baseball” and in fact threw a ball of paper at Miss Neglia.

Allegation: Mr McCrea had set up an arrangement with his then employee Jamie Mackrell to increase his salary – which was paid via Assembly expenses – but Mr Mackrell would have to pay some of it to Mr McCrea.

Verdict: The committee agreed with the commissioner’s conclusion that no misuse or attempted misuse of Office Costs Allowance [Assembly expenses] had been established.

Allegation: Then NI21 employee Ashleigh Murray alleged that she had been instructed by Mr McCrea to print out invites on 300 or more Assembly headed paper and envelopes paid for out of his Stormont expenses but used for party purposes.

Verdict: The committee agreed with the commissioner’s conclusion that no misuse or attempted misuse of expenses had been established.

Allegation: Mr McCrea repeatedly making false allegations about and using threatening behaviour towards former NI21 worker Alan Patterson and giving the News Letter false information about him.

Verdict: Mr Bain said that the complaint fell outside of the code as Mr Patterson was working almost exclusively on party matters. The committee said it was “concerned in relation to the allegations of mistreatment of staff” and said it believed that Mr McCrea “could have handled issues of conflict and differences within the office in a more moderate manner”.

Allegation: Mr McCrea bullied and harassed his secretary, Karen Tabahe.

Verdict: Mr McCrea admitted to shouting at Mrs Tabahe, but she is still employed by him and did not support the complaint against him. Mr Bain accepted her view that “no real harm was taken” by the shouting. The committee agreed he did not breach the rules but said it “believes that Mr McCrea’s treatment of Ms Tabahe has on occasions been inappropriate”.