NI21 mulls disciplinary action for McCallister

NI21 deputy leader John McCallister
NI21 deputy leader John McCallister

The discord within NI21 took a fresh direction yesterday when the party revealed that it was considering disciplinary action against its deputy leader.

A statement from chairwoman Jayne Howson in the name of the party executive said it was “unprofessional” for details of the probe into alleged sexual misconduct by leader Basil McCrea to have been passed to media in recent weeks, and it has no confidence in the investigation.

It comes after party deputy Mr McCallister told the News Letter and other media he understands the investigation is now halted.

The NI21 executive’s statement said it is “currently considering what disciplinary action may need to be instigated against Mr McCallister”.

When this was put to Mr McCallister yesterday afternoon, he replied: “That’s fine.”

Mr McCrea himself denies any wrongdoing.

The current investigation into Mr McCrea’s conduct is being run by an independent firm (see left), and had been started by Mr McCallister.

Responding to the party executive’s declaration that it has no confidence in that process, Mr McCallister defended the investigation as “independent, confidential and professional”, and questioned the idea that significant details had been passed to the media.

He added he is a member of the NI21 executive, but had “no part” in yesterday’s statement.

Asked about the idea of being disciplined, Mr McCallister – who is also the party whip, responsible for discipline – said: “Look, if they want a disciplinary I’m pleased the party is actually at long last setting up some sort of process.

“If I’m the first person to be put through that process, that’s absolutely fine – I’ll defend myself robustly.”