Wed. Apr 17th, 2024
alert-–-jeffrey-donaldson-steps-down-as-dup-leader-after-being-charged-with-historic-sex-offences:-mp-faces-court-next-month-alongside-woman,-57,-who-is-accused-of-‘aiding-and-abetting-additional-offences’Alert – Jeffrey Donaldson steps down as DUP leader after being charged with historic sex offences: MP faces court next month alongside woman, 57, who is accused of ‘aiding and abetting additional offences’

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has quit as DUP leader after being charged with historic sexual offences.

The 61-year-old was arrested and quizzed by PSNI officers at 6am yesterday over the alleged ‘non recent sexual offences.’

A 57-year-old woman has also been charged with aiding and abetting the alleged offences after being arrested at the same time.

The DUP said Sir Jeffrey, who had led the Northern Ireland party since 2021, has been suspended as a party member and immediately replaced as leader by fellow MP Gavin Robinson.

A party statement said: ‘The party chairman has received a letter from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP confirming that he has been charged with allegations of an historical nature and indicating that he is stepping down as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party with immediate effect.

‘In accordance with the party rules, the party officers have suspended Mr Donaldson from membership, pending the outcome of a judicial process.

‘The party officers have this morning unanimously appointed Mr Gavin Robinson MP as the interim party leader.’

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has quit as DUP leader and been suspended from the party after being charged with 'allegations of an historical nature'

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has quit as DUP leader and been suspended from the party after being charged with ‘allegations of an historical nature’

A DUP statement revealed Sir Jeffrey has been immediately replaced as leader by fellow MP Gavin Robinson

A DUP statement revealed Sir Jeffrey has been immediately replaced as leader by fellow MP Gavin Robinson

Mr Robinson pictured with Sir Jeffrey in January this year after the DUP agreed to return to power-sharing at Stormont

Mr Robinson pictured with Sir Jeffrey in January this year after the DUP agreed to return to power-sharing at Stormont

Sir Jeffrey, who has had an almost 40-year career in politics, became DUP leader in June 2021 when he succeeded Edwin Poots (right)

Sir Jeffrey, who has had an almost 40-year career in politics, became DUP leader in June 2021 when he succeeded Edwin Poots (right)

It is understood senior DUP officials met early this morning after the charges against the party leader were announced.

Sir Jeffrey has deleted all of his social media accounts.

A PSNI spokesman said: ‘Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland arrested and charged a 61-year-old man for non-recent sexual offences.

‘A 57-year-old woman was also arrested and charged at the time for aiding and abetting additional offences.

‘Both are due to appear before Newry Magistrates’ Court on April 24.

‘As is usual procedure, all charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.’

Sir Jeffrey has been MP for Lagan Valley since 1997 and has previously been a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

In January this year, Sir Jeffrey agreed to lead his party back into power-sharing at Stormont following the DUP’s two-year boycott of Northern Ireland’s political institutions.

The party had staged the protest due to their anger with the post-Brexit arrangements for Nothern Ireland agreed by the UK Government.

But Sir Jeffrey and his party ended the long dispute after agreeing a package of measures with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to pave the way for the return of devolved government.

Sir Jeffrey, who has had an almost 40-year career in politics, became DUP leader in June 2021 when he succeeded Edwin Poots.

His career started with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and in 1985, aged 22, he was the youngest person to be elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Sir Jeffrey’s relationship with former UUP leader David Trimble deteriorated when he led a walkout of the 1998 peace talks after opposing the early release of republican and loyalist prisoners.

He left the party and joined the DUP in January 2004.

He was recognised by the late Queen Elizabeth II in her 2016 Birthday Honours and was given a knighthood.