William Hay: Former NI Assembly speaker denies expenses allegations

William Hay Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption William Hay retired from his post as Speaker for the Northern Ireland Assembly after 8 years

The former Northern Ireland Assembly speaker, William Hay, has said he did not quit Stormont over allegations about his expenses.

Mr Hay answered the allegations in his first media interview since stepping down as an MLA for health reasons.

The longstanding DUP member has been receiving medical treatment since suffering heart problems last year.

Mr Hay suspended a member of his staff after the discovery of an irregularity in his office allowances.

'No regrets'

The former speaker's departure from office coincided with allegations made in a BBC Spotlight programme about his expenses and an oil bill.

Speaking to BBC Radio Foyle, Mr Hay said he contacted the police to report the discovery of possible fraud in his Foyle constituency office.

"There's an ongoing police investigation but I made the first move here and I have no regrets on that whatsoever, absolutely none."

Asked if his conscience was clear Mr Hay said it was.

"I stepped down because of health reasons and only health reasons."

Image copyright bbc
Image caption William Hay as Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly

'Chest pains'

Mr Hay also talked about his health, which he said he had neglected.

"You get a scare and you learn from that scare, I don't jump about and do 12 or 13 hours a day like I did when I was Speaker. The chest pains just wouldn't go away and my doctors have now put it down to angina.

"I'm on a couple of tablets a day, some further tests ahead but now it's just a case of looking after myself," he said.

"It's a warning for everybody, especially in public life, if the pressure gets so great, you get so much involved in the job that you think you can't be done without."

'No regrets'

Looking back over his seven years as speaker, Mr Hay said he was happy with the job he had done.

"For me when I look back I don't have any regrets and I don't think any political party could point the finger at me and say I wasn't totally and absolutely independent.

"I enjoyed the role, it was a huge honour."

Mr Hay took up his seat in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

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