Confusion on McCrea probe

Basil McCrea of NI21. Press Eye.
Basil McCrea of NI21. Press Eye.

The firm probing alleged sexual misconduct by NI21 leader Basil McCrea has refused to confirm where the investigation now stands.

It follows conflicting reports from top party figures about what is going on with the inquiry, after deputy leader John McCallister told the News Letter that it has been “stopped in its tracks”.

He said that Carecall, the independent firm carrying out the investigation, had needed permission from the party chairwoman to continue, and this had not been forthcoming.

However, party chairwoman Jayne Howson said the party executive “have no say in the process”.

She said Mr McCallister was ultimately responsible for the investigation.

When the matter was put to Carecall, it said in a statement yesterday: “Carecall’s position has always been that our workplace investigation services are confidential and independent.

“We do not release any sensitive information into the public domain nor do we comment on any investigations at any stage.”

Basil McCrea has denied any wrongdoing.

He could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Ms Howson acknowledged that there is a lot of confusion about the situation and when asked how the public will perceive this, given the turmoil which has already hit the party, she said: “I’m hoping that they will see this is not a reflection on NI21.”

She was asked how it could be seen otherwise, since the matter involved the party’s only two MLAs.

“They’re only two members of the party,” she replied.

NI21 has around 180 members on its books, she said, adding: “I think partly what has happened is people have seen it as the ‘Basil and John party’, rather than seeing it as NI21.

“With or without Basil and John we are still NI21.”