PSNI polls claim UDA threatened DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson’s team during leadership campaign
Police are investigating allegations that DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson’s leadership campaign team have been threatened by the UDA.
Sir Jeffrey made the allegation during a DUP meeting on Thursday evening to ratify the election of Edwin Poots as the new party leader.
He claimed the loyalist paramilitary group threatened part of his team while campaigning for the party leadership, the Irish Independent reported.
A PSNI spokeswoman said: “Police have received a complaint that a number of members of a political party have been threatened during a recent leadership campaign.
“The full circumstances of the incident are still being established and investigations are ongoing.”
The chairman of the Council of Loyalist Communities, an umbrella group that represents the UVF, Red Hand Commando and UDA factions, said he was not aware of any such claims.
David Campbell told Belfast Live: “I didn’t hear this and I wouldn’t understand why this would happen.”
Mr Poots narrowly won the DUP leadership race against his Lagan Valley constituency colleague Sir Jeffrey earlier this month.
Speaking to reporters in Belfast on Friday, the new DUP leader said any allegations of threats against anyone should be reported to police.
Stormont’s agriculture minister said none of his team had engaged in intimidation, insisting they had run a fair and clean campaign.
“If this is the case, Jeffrey should report it to the police. If anyone was intimidated, it should be reported to the police,” he said.
“I can unequivocally assure you that no member of my team has engaged in any intimidating or intimidating activity.
“We ran a fair campaign, we ran a clean campaign, it was a close competition, I accepted the result and I would have accepted the result if I had lost it.
“I would encourage everyone else, if there was something that was unfortunate by an individual then it should be reported to the police, and it certainly wasn’t from my team.
Party tensions erupted on Thursday evening as the DUP executive met at a hotel in south Belfast to approve Mr Poots’ election as leader.
Outgoing DUP leader Arlene Foster and figures including Sir Jeffrey, Gavin Robinson and Lord Nigel Dodds left the building before Mr Poots rose to deliver his speech.
And a 20-year-old DUP member from Ms Foster’s Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency resigned from the party for dealing with her.
When asked if he felt snubbed by Sir Jeffrey and others who left the meeting prior to his speech, Mr Poots replied: ‘It’s up to Nigel and Jeffrey and others to answer. ‘themselves.
“I have conducted myself properly and properly and with honor throughout this process and will continue to do so in my role as leader of this party.”