Trimbles gave £3,000 in failed bid to win back his old seat

Former First Minister and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble
Former First Minister and Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble

David Trimble and his wife donated £3,000 to the Ulster Unionist candidate who was attempting to win back his former Upper Bann seat from the DUP, electoral receipts reveal.

Lord Trimble, who is now a Conservative peer, donated £1,500 to UUP MLA Jo-Anne Dobson’s general election campaign – despite the fact that the former Ulster Unionist leader is now a Conservative peer and there was a Conservative candidate also in the race.

Daphne Trimble, who remains an Ulster Unionist, also donated £1,500 to Mrs Dobson’s campaign, according to papers lodged with the Electoral Office in Belfast. The documents also record that former UUP leader Lord Empey and Upper Bann MLA Sam Gardiner donated £100 each.

The spending returns show that Mr Simpson outspent Mrs Dobson in the campaign. In total, Mr Simpson spent £19,644 during the campaign period, while Mrs Dobson spent £15,941.

By contrast, Sinn Fein’s Catherine Seeley, who came third, spent just £7,134.

After a bitter campaign between the two main unionist parties, David Simpson retained his seat in May, polling 15,430 votes to Mrs Dobson’s 13,166 votes.

Conservative candidate Amandeep Singh Bhogal polled just 201 votes.

The returns for another fiercely contested seat, East Belfast, show that Tory candidate Neil Wilson spent over £9,000 on a campaign which saw him receive 1,121 votes. That works out at about £8 for each vote.

Alliance’s Naomi Long, who lost her seat, spent £17,676. Among the items which Mrs Long’s campaign bought was a map of East Belfast, which cost £14.40.

The DUP’s victorious candidate, Gavin Robinson, spent less than his opponent – £14,214.

In South Belfast, the DUP’s Jonathan Bell spent £14,433 on his unsuccessful campaign – more than double what SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell (£6,230) spent.

Sinn Fein also spent a significant sum – £6,137 – on 245,500 ‘Stormont cuts’ leaflets, which were delivered two months before the election.

The greatest number of leaflets were sent to Londonderry, West Belfast and Newry and Armagh, areas which each received 30,000 leaflets.