The DUP has said that individuals should “make their own decisions” about which newspapers they purchase after a party aide called for a boycott of the News Letter due to its coverage of the RHI scandal.
Writing on the web service Twitter on New Year’s Eve, Brian Haslett praised the Belfast Telegraph’s front page that day, about a Northern Irishman who had suffered a stroke whilst visiting Guatemala.
The News Letter’s front page, meanwhile, had been about the RHI controversy (written by our political editor Sam McBride).
Mr Haslett wrote of the former: “A front page with REAL issues.. Rather than the bias tripe from Newsletter’s [sic] @SJAMcBride”.
He then added: “#Boycott”.
Mr Haslett’s message was then “liked” by ex-DUP MLA Ian McCrea, current DUP MLAs Phillip Logan (North Antrim) and Gary Middleton (Foyle), and DUP Mid and East Antrim councillor Paul Reid (among others).
Although he is listed as a parliamentary aide to David Simpson on the LinkedIn website, which carries details of people’s job titles and career history, Mr Haslett is understood to now work in Arlene Foster’s Enniskillen constituency office.
Two weeks ago, he posted on Twitter: “In Arlene’s Enniskillen office we have literally been flooded with calls from people giving their full support. Many ringing in tears!”
When the party’s press office was asked if it endorsed the message from Mr Haslett, a spokesman responded: “The views posted on Twitter by one individual do not represent the party’s position.
“People should make their own decisions about how they receive their news.”
On Sunday night, an attempt to view Mr Haslett’s latest Twitter messages returned the following message: “You are blocked from following @brianhaslett93 and viewing @brianhaslett93’s Tweets.”