An unrepentant Sammy Wilson has dismissed a report which found he was wrong to describe TUV leader Jim Allister as a “thug” and described the commissioner who found against him as “a wee wimp”.
The former DUP finance minister stood his ground over an incident which dates back to a committee hearing last year in which he interjected as DUP special adviser Stephen Brimstone was facing rigorous questioning from Mr Allister.
Mr Wilson had also accused Mr Allister of “bullying” the witness and had claimed that the Sinn Fein chairman of the committee, Alex Maskey, had not done enough to rein in Mr Allister’s line of questioning.
Mr Wilson’s use of unparliamentary language and the spat which ensued led to the meeting of the Social Development Committee being halted.
The DUP’s rivals claimed at the time that Mr Wilson was attempting to ‘buy time’ for the witness, who was facing questions about his involvement in the Red Sky affair and allegations from a then DUP colleague, Jenny Palmer.
Following an SDLP complaint, the Assembly’s Standards Commissioner, Douglas Bain, investigated the issue.
A copy of his report which was leaked to the BBC found that Mr Wilson had broken the MLA code of conduct because the comment contravened the respect principle set out in the code.
He said that it had been an “unreasonable and excessive personal attack” on Mr Allister. But he failed to uphold three other complaints against him.
Mr Bain’s finding was largely supported by the cross-party Standards and Privileges Committee, which is chaired by Mr Wilson’s DUP colleague Jimmy Spratt, but the committee rejected Mr Bain’s finding that Mr Wilson’s behaviour brought the Assembly into disrepute.
Mr Wilson was resolutely unapologetic and went on the attack.
He told the BBC: “No I’m not going to apologise. It would be a hypocritical apology. I’m not sorry for what I said. I believe in the context in which I said it it was correct.”
Mr Wilson went on to say: “Given the kind of wee wimp that I found him to be when he interviewed me, I think the last person we want to have dictating the standards for what is a confrontational debating chamber ... is somebody like him.”
On Tuesday, the Assembly will debate a motion of censure against Mr Wilson.
• The comments expressed by Mr Wilson do not reflect the views of the News Letter.