Northern Ireland

Jim Wells: Woman admits wasting police time over Downpatrick hustings event

DUP MLA Jim Wells
Image caption Jim Wells said he had been vindicated by the outcome of the case

A Dungannon woman has pleaded guilty to wasting police time by making false statements about DUP assembly member Jim Wells.

Dorothy Gardner, 48, of Killycanavan Road, had alleged Mr Wells made homophobic statements during an election hustings meeting in Downpatrick in April 2015.

Mr Wells resigned as health minister a short time afterwards.

Controversy surrounded remarks about same sex marriage attributed to him.

Ms Gardner made a formal complaint to police after the hustings which included a statement claiming she had been at the event and heard the remarks.

A police investigation later cleared Mr Wells and concluded Ms Gardner had not been present at the event.

The South Down MLA said he had been vindicated by the outcome of the case.

"My reputation and political career were destroyed by a series of totally false reports of what I said at that hustings meeting," he said.

"As a result of these I was for forced to resign as health minister and suffered months of online abuse.

"The full transcript and video of my speech and the notes of the five experienced reporters who covered the event clearly confirmed that I never made the alleged remarks."

Ms Gardner is to be sentenced on 25 August.