Northern Ireland

NI21 row: Basil McCrea denies allegations

NI21 party leader Basil McCrea and deputy leader John McCallister
Image caption NI21 party leader Basil McCrea and deputy leader John McCallister

The leader of NI21, Basil McCrea, has confirmed that he is facing claims of inappropriate sexual activity.

Disagreement arose after the party re-designated as 'other' rather than 'unionist'.

Party deputy leader John McCallister alleged that decision was an attempt to derail an investigation into the claims which he had instigated.

Mr McCrea told BBC Radio's Good Morning Ulster on Friday that he had done nothing wrong.

He said the allegations were only brought to his attention on Thursday.

Public rift

"At first reading of them, I can say that I deny them, so on that basis I'm not going any further on the description," he said.

"That's obviously an issue that I'm going to have to deal with and one of the things I'm looking at is how best to deal with the issues."

Mr McCallister said a public rift within the party emerged because he instigated an external investigation into rumours relating to Mr McCrea.

He apologised to NI21's supporters for the current turmoil.

Meanwhile, NI21's European candidate Tina McKenzie has resigned from the party's executive with immediate effect.

She said on twitter: "So sad that fresh politics has been let down by old politicians. I have resigned from the executive but still fully support NI21.

Image caption Tina McKenzie said she would "not work for people who play dirty tricks and dirty politics"

"If elected I will stand but will not work for people who play dirty tricks and dirty politics."

NI21 was set up by MLAs Basil McCrea and John McCallister, after they quit the Ulster Unionist Party in 2013.

On Wednesday, Mr McCallister described the party's decision to drop its unionist designation as "crazy" and "dysfunctional".

He alleged the move two days before the election was aimed at trying to force him to quit his post so that he could no longer deal with the external investigation.

Mr McCrea has said he would respond if anyone brought any complaints to his attention.

NI21 candidate for Lisburn and Castlereagh Adam Murray said the past 48 hours had been "heart wrenching".

"This was about a real passion for Northern Ireland for change and reform," he said.

"We poured our heart and soul into this. We knew there would be problems, but to think it would come from the top levels of our own party - we never thought this."

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