NI21 leader McCrea denies sex allegations

Published Friday, 23 May 2014
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NI21 leader Basil McCrea has strenuously denied allegations of "inappropriate sexual activity" amid an ongoing crisis within the party.

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The Lagan Valley MLA confirmed on Friday morning that he has emailed his colleagues to acknowledge that claims have been levelled against him.

Mr McCrea told the BBC he has done nothing wrong and said the allegations were only brought to his attention on Thursday.

"There obviously are social media rumours and such like, there is a specific allegation coming forward now, and now there is such a thing, then I can go and respond to it," the NI21 leader said.

"In these issues it's important you respond in the appropriate way and I will be looking to see how we can do that."

It comes after a disagreement emerged between Basil McCrea and party deputy leader John McCallister this week when NI21 changed its designation from 'unionist' to 'other'.

Mr McCallister has described the change as "crazy" and said that it showed how "dysfunctional" the party had become.

No matter what happens, Basil McCrea and John McCallister are damaged politically

UTV’s Political Editor Ken Reid

The South Down MLA has claimed it was orchestrated to force him out because he had raised allegations about Mr McCrea's behaviour.

Mr McCallister said it was an attempt to thwart an external report into his conduct, adding: "The report comes to me, so if I was not in position, therefore, the process could be easily stopped."

The developments come after NI21's European candidate Tina McKenzie dramatically resigned from the party executive on Thursday night a short time after polls closed in Northern Ireland.

Speaking to UTV at the count in Belfast on Friday, she said: "I'm absolutely devastated.

"I've worked for the last year on this campaign and done everything I could do personally to bring the party to where we brought it to as a team.

"You've heard from Basil and you've heard from John and I categorically, alongside the Executive, have said that we will not be discussing the details with any media until we discuss it with those 46 candidates. The candidates at this stage need be given the absolute facts."

She failed to be elected in Belfast's Balmoral District Electoral Area, where she competed in the local Government poll.

Earlier Ms McKenzie tweeted: "So sad that freshpolitics has been let down by old politicians. I have resigned from the Executive but still fully support NI21.

"If elected I will stand but will not work for people who play dirty tricks and dirty politics."

She later deactivated her Twitter account.

UTV's Political Editor Ken Reid said NI21 may now be finished. He continued: "Almost by the hour the situation for the party seems to be worsening.

"Basil McCrea this morning has confirmed what the allegations against him actually are - and he vehemently denies them - but they are in a pretty difficult, indeed hopeless, situation.

"It is unusual in Northern Ireland to have a new party, two very high-profile media performers, then the whole thing is fought out in the media.

"The party as such, in my opinion, is finished. I just don't see a way back."

© UTV News
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8 Comments
Patrick in Lisburn wrote (69 days ago):
I am not a supporter of NI21 but I feel sorry for the way in which McCrea and McCallister badly let their candidates down after such hard work and effort prior to the election. A new party needs new faces and given the problems neither men are suitable and should be voted out by party members.
Niall in Tyrone wrote (69 days ago):
A so called new group led by old dinosaurs. If the group said it was just a political group I.e. it doesn't matter if we are part of Ireland or the UK but our aim is to act in the best interests of the general public in terms of job creation, economic development and the increase of disposable income so we can enjoy our lives with a bit of comfort, then they would have been on to something. But no, first thing they said was they are a unionist group, whatever way you look at it this alienates people straight away, it was not new politics it was old politics trying to hide behind a clever mask. Secondly it was another group that tried to classify people with the term "Northern Irish", I for one have chosen and embrace the nationality I have chosen but I do not openly 'shout' it out knowing people don't want to hear it, and it is easier to just embrace people on equal terms knowing that if we have a good economic environment, plenty of job opportunities and money in our bank accounts then we are all fine no matter what nationality we have decided on. I will not be classified because some political group says I have to be put in a group, I want to be an enigma I do not want to be part of old politics in N.Ireland, and until the people who realise this stand up there will be no change, the dinosaurs will continue to rule even when people choose not to vote they will still be in power. I encourage anyone reading this, be an enigma, work for change the past is the past, but if it continues to influence the future then our lives will remain the same, ruled but outdated parties who in the end up only care about their own financial gain
Dessie in Belfast wrote (69 days ago):
Basel need rid of the old unionest heads its never going to work.im a nationalist and i would have voted you as your types of party is what we need
Stevie in Belfast wrote (69 days ago):
No idea what the issues are but i do think it is a bit of a shame really. The issues that have dogged our country for so long are geniunely important to a lot of people and that is totally legitimate however i do think we could all do with a new suite of politicians where the challenges of the past can be left behind and the institutions can focus on normal everyday problems rather than being domintated by the old unionist/nationalist debates.
Dee in Belfast wrote (70 days ago):
If the party did not have such a unionist connection with its leaders and did not have a connection to the past I would have voted for you. Get rid of voices from the past. That cloak together with the recent scandle makes it untenable. Old politicians never work for a new party. Great idea. Just loose the associated lables. You will be judged by performance. Forget the corrupt and set in old ways policitions. Be youselves and dont rely on so called clean big names.
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BRIAN ROWAN
The pictures from Stormont this week showed us how politics here still walks in and out of step.
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