Sinn Fein has denied DUP claims that it is behind a last-minute “black propaganda” campaign against Nigel Dodds in North Belfast
Mr Dodds claimed that the “scurrilous” letter had been posted to “hundreds of homes” in “mainly unionist areas” of the constituency.
The highly unusual intervention in an election campaign is essentially anonymous, with no signature, but the words “Mrs Anne B” printed at the end of the letter.
It purports to be someone “writing out of desperation” because Mr Dodds and his MEP wife Diane refused to meet the alleged author of the letter who claims to be the mother of a boy with cerebal palsy “who needs extra help”.
But despite the fact that the alleged author claims to be in poverty, someone has paid for the letter to be delivered by first class post to several hundred homes.
The News Letter asked Sinn Fein whether any of its members had been involved in producing or distributing the letter. A party spokesman said: “No.”
The letter then goes on to refer to “the millions of pounds which go into the pockets of the Dodds family”.
Mr Dodds said: “From first thing this morning our offices in North Belfast have been contacted by dozens of residents in mainly unionist areas wishing to alert us to an anonymous letter they received today, by first class post, containing a false story.
“It is firmly our belief that this is an entirely fake letter originating from Sinn Fein as a desperate dirty trick in the mouth of the election.
“We have informed the public through social media that this is a false letter and we have received many messages of support in response.
“I am glad to say that many have responded by confirming that this attempted deception has reinforced their intention to vote for myself on Thursday.”
The controversy follows a sectarian leaflet from North Belfast Sinn Fein candidate Gerry Kelly in which he counted every individual in the constituency who has been born into a Catholic background as a nationalist and claimed that there was now “a nationalist majority”.
The leaflet — which has been defended by Martin McGuinness — attracted a wave of condemnation, including from Sinn Fein members.
However, a public Facebook post by the former chairman of Sinn Fein’s Queen’s University branch in which he branded the leaflet a “disgrace” has since been removed.
A Sinn Féin spokesman said: “Sinn Féin are not responsible for this letter. We do not believe in negative campaigning.
“What is clearly apparent though is that Sinn Féin are not the only people opposed to the DUPs support for austerity or further savage Tory cuts.”