Northern Ireland

DUP Afghanistan visit claim was 'printing error'

David Simpson's election leaflet, which contains the false claim Image copyright DUP
Image caption David Simpson's election leaflet claims he visited soldiers on the frontline in Afghanistan

A DUP election candidate's false claim in promotional literature that he visited soldiers in Afghanistan has been blamed on a printing error.

An election leaflet for David Simpson said he had "visited British troops on the frontline of Afghanistan".

The former Upper Bann MP was due to visit in 2010 but was prevented from going to the war-torn country because he was too big to fit in a flak jacket.

As a result, the Army prevented him from travelling.

A DUP spokesman said Mr Simpson had "witnessed the bravery of our soldiers in Iraq", rather than Afghanistan, and that the claim on the election leaflet was due to a "printing error".

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption The Army could not find a flak jacket big enough for David Simpson and his trip was cancelled

Mr Simpson was due to be accompanied on the 2010 Afghanistan trip to visit soldiers of the Royal Irish Regiment and Irish Guards by the former Ulster Unionist peer Lord Maginnis.

He, too, was unable to fit into an armoured jacket, however.

At the time, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: "Nobody is allowed to board an aircraft to Afghanistan without correctly fitting body armour.

"The MoD provides a whole range of sizes, but regrettably none was suitable on this occasion.

"We recognise the importance of MPs visiting Afghanistan, but this trip has been postponed while we try to source sufficiently-sized body armour."

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