NI21’s Annette Holden quit over ‘bid to frustrate probe’

Ex UUP Party members Basil McCrea and John McAllister pictured in Belfast the day after they left their party last year.

Ex UUP Party members Basil McCrea and John McAllister pictured in Belfast the day after they left their party last year.

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Almost a week ago, a member of the NI21 executive resigned in protest at what she believed was an attempt to frustrate the investigation of the allegations being made against Basil McCrea, it can now be revealed.

Annette Holden, who was elected to the executive by the party membership at its first party conference last year, left the party on Saturday.

Ms Holden, who is a long-time employee of John McCallister, was a candidate in the Mourne area in yesterday’s council election.

In an email to the then party treasurer Tony McMahon, and copied to the entire party executive except Mr McCrea, Ms Holden said: “Thank you for your email and attached legal advice.

“For the record, I want to make it quite clear that in my capacity as an elected executive member, I am categorically and unequivocally distancing myself from your attitude, actions and approach in dealing with the very serious issues raised with you by John.

“I am appalled by the distinct lack of concern and compassion being demonstrated in this email for the young women who have willingly come forward to make the allegations; in fact I could go further to say that I am totally disgusted by my fellow executives’ behaviour and insistence on quite clearly doing everything possible to frustrate a legitimate investigation into the alleged misconduct of our party leader, Basil McCrea.

“Given the nature of the allegations and in the interests of natural justice we have a duty to ensure the investigators have full and unfettered access to the people that can either exonerate Basil or corroborate the allegations and I find your handling of the situation completely unacceptable.

“Knowing what I do, I cannot and will not be party to a cover-up.

“I am therefore resigning from the executive with immediate effect.”

Last night there was believed to be just one member of the party executive, with the exception of Mr McCrea and Mr McCallister, still in place.

Olive Buckley was the one executive member who at the time of going to press was believed to still be in place on the party’s ruling body.

It is unclear whether the party now has a quorum to hold executive meetings.