Northern Ireland

'Humiliated' MLA Hussey steps down for health reasons

Ross Hussey
Image caption Ross Hussey has been in politics for 12 years and said he was 'looking forward to the future'

An Ulster Unionist Party MLA has said he was humiliated, embarrassed and ashamed over a naked photos scandal as he steps down from politics.

But Ross Hussey said he was quitting for health reasons rather than the controversy caused by sending naked photos to an undercover reporter.

He was upset to be leaving politics after 12 years, he said, but added he was "looking forward to the future".

He is due to have operations on his knees and will "be off for a year".

It emerged last July that Mr Hussey sent naked photos to an undercover newspaper reporter from the Sunday Life.

The 57-year-old said the publicity over the photos left him in the "depths of despair".

At the time, he apologised "unreservedly" and said he had "made a terrible error of judgement".

'Embarrassed'

"I was humiliated, I was embarrassed, I was ashamed," the Ulster Unionist MLA told BBC NI's Stephen Nolan.

It was my own fault, I was stupid, I was naïve. I was an idiot and I paid for that. I went through hell.

"It's difficult when you're my size and wanting to meet people and if you're a public person, it's not that easy.

"I thought I was talking to someone I could trust. I thought that we had created a bond. There had been a period of discussion. I shouldn't have done what I did and I have apologised for it."

He said the journalist was "only doing their job".

Mr Hussey said this would be the "first and last time" he spoke about what had happened.

"Let me say it was my own making but it hurt, it really did hurt," he said.

"I have never felt despair like it."

Mr Hussey offered to resign from the Ulster Unionist Party but his offer was rejected by the party leader.

'Support'

He said he had "nothing but the highest regard for Mike Nesbitt".

"I went into him the Monday afterwards and said I would resign, he hugged me and told me I wouldn't. He helped me through everything," he said.

"My constituency association, I offered them my resignation, they supported me.

"My colleagues in the assembly and my political adversaries came in and shook my hand and were with me. I got a lot of support from people I wouldn't have expected it from."

He said his family rallied round after the story broke in the papers but he found it hard when he was on his own.

"I came to work on the Monday, I had to face my demons but when I was on my own in my bed at night....I would wake up and I couldn't breathe," he said.

"If I was sitting in the room on my own I would start to cry."

The West Tyrone MLA said he was "going to take a few weeks to myself".

"I got into education in my 40s," he said.

"I got my degree from the Open University and I will probably consider doing a Masters or something but I'll keep my brain active."

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