UUP councillor banned from post for 15 months for drink-driving

UUP councillor Derek Hussey
UUP councillor Derek Hussey
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Ulster Unionist councillor Derek Hussey has been suspended from Derry City and Strabane Council for 15 months following a drink-driving collision conviction.

The former deputy mayor appeared before a Local Government Commissioner for Standards hearing on Tuesday.

Following the hearing, the LGCS said: “Acting Commissioner Mr Ian Gordon found that Alderman Hussey had breached Paragraph 4.2 of the Local Government Code of Conduct for Councillors (the Code) for his conduct which led to a drink-driving conviction in March 2016.

The LGCS said their investigation was in response to complaints – understood to have been made by relatives of people bereaved by drink-drivers.

In a statement, the LGCS said: “At the hearing held today, the Acting Commissioner...noted a number of mitigating factors in the Alderman’s favour, including his previous good service and compliance with the Code, an apology, and his co-operation with the investigation from an early stage.

“This co-operation led to a reduction in the amount of time needed for the adjudication proceedings, resulting in a saving to the public purse. However, the Acting Commissioner stated that the mitigating factors were substantially outweighed by a number of aggravating factors.

“He noted that this was the Alderman’s third conviction for a drink driving offence. In this case the Alderman was aware that he was over the drink-driving limit but made a deliberate decision to drive, and caused physical harm to the other driver involved in the collision.

“The Acting Commissioner was also not persuaded the Alderman had demonstrated sufficient insight into the seriousness of his actions, and the potential consequences for the public and the council.

“He added that he could not be satisfied the behaviour would not be repeated.”

The statement goes on to say: “Given the seriousness of the Alderman’s conduct he therefore concluded that disqualification for a period of 15 months was appropriate. The disqualification will begin on 16 July 2019.”

A spokeswoman for the Ulster Unionist Party said: “We note the decision of the Local Government Commissioner for Standards in respect of Alderman Hussey. We have always been of the view that drink driving is unacceptable and the decision today reflects that view.

“We will be taking steps to ensure that the people of Derg are well represented in Alderman Hussey’s absence and will make no further comment at this time.”

Cllr Hussey is entitled to appeal the decision.

He declined to speak to the News Letter, other than say his solicitor would be handling all enquiries on his behalf.