Issued on behalf of Jim Wells by McConnell Kelly Solicitors on 16 OCTOBER 2015:
STATEMENT FROM JIM WELLS, MLA
16 October 2015
Mr Jim Wells, MLA for South Down, has welcomed a decision by the PPS not to initiate a prosecution in relation to comments made at a pre-election hustings event in Downpatrick.
Mr Wells had presented himself voluntarily to police for interview after complaints were made about remarks alleged to have been said at the meeting on 23 April this year.
Mr Wells resigned as Health Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive during the controversy, citing his desire to defend his reputation and because of pressures upon his wife, who was suffering from a serious illness at the time.
Today (Fri) the Public Prosecution Service informed Mr Wells that no further action would be taken following an investigation into the alleged remarks.
Last week the PSNI confirmed its officers have interviewed a 48-year-old woman in relation to suspicion of perverting the course of justice in relation to the matter. A file on this will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service, the PSNI said.
Mr Wells said today he has been “vindicated” by the PPS decision not to proceed with any further action.
“This matter has been hanging over me for some time and so I am obviously delighted to have the air cleared,” he said.
“It was seized upon by opponents of myself and my party and used against us in an entirely unreasonable manner.
“There are many aspects of this incident, and the subsequent campaign, that continue to raise significant cause for concern and which merit further investigation.
“I look forward to the full facts being established. In the meantime, I reserve my rights to defend my reputation, and indeed my career, as and when the need arises.”
Pat Kelly, Director at McConnell Kelly Solicitors, Mr Wells’ legal adviser, said:
“After a full investigation by the PSNI and the Public Prosecution Service we are delighted to see that a decision has been made not to prosecute our client.
“We believe this to be the correct decision and one which will enable our client to put this chapter of his life behind him and which will facilitate him to achieve closure in respect of this aspect of his affairs.”
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Jim Wells has been DUP MLA for South Down since 1998.
He currently holds a range of memberships of key committees at the Northern Ireland Assembly including the Public Accounts committee, the Finance and Personnel committee, the ad hoc committee on the Public Services Ombudsperson’s Bill. Mr Wells is also committee deputy chair of the Concurrent Committee of the Committee for Justice and the Committee for Health, Social Services and Public Safety.