The News Letter’s revelation that DUP MLA Jimmy Spratt inaccurately told Stormont’s standards commissioner that he never denied saying “except the nutters” was raised on the floor of the Assembly yesterday.
On Saturday, it was revealed that Mr Spratt – who made the comments about opponents of the Maze peace centre – had repeatedly told Mr Bain that he never denied using the phrase in question, something disproved by a News Letter recording of him being interviewed about the issue.
However, standards commissioner Douglas Bain – who never heard that recording because this newspaper was never told that our report was being challenged by Mr Spratt – said in his report that he believed Mr Spratt’s version of events.
Yesterday the TUV leader raised the issue in the Assembly.
Mr Allister asked Deputy Principal Speaker Mitchel McLaughlin: “Will the standards commissioner’s report into Mr Jimmy Spratt’s comments about ‘nutters’ now be reopened, given the revelation that the News Letter has a recording that indicates that Mr Spratt denied ever having made the comment, particularly since a cornerstone of Mr Bain’s report is that there was no such denial?
“Will the matter be reopened or will that fatally flawed report now stand? What of Mr Bain, who made such a basic error?”
Mr McLaughlin replied that it was a matter for the Standards and Privileges Committee, which endorsed Mr Bain’s report, a document which completely exonerated Mr Spratt.
UUP MLA Robin Swann, who initiated the investigation, has also called for Mr Bain to re-examine the issue.
Yesterday Mr Spratt appeared relaxed in the Assembly, sitting behind Peter Robinson during First Minister’s Questions and laughing and joking with fellow DUP MLAs as Mr Robinson spoke.