Ex-mayor moots judicial review of PPS decision on McMullan case

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FORMER Ulster Unionist mayor of Larne Andy Wilson has said he may seek a judicial review of a decision to drop a case of alleged electoral fraud against Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan.

Mr Wilson was one of three unionists who objected to the Cushendall man’s nomination as a candidate in last May’s council elections, maintaining that Mr McMullan had failed to fulfil electoral criteria.

The Chief Electoral Officer stated at the time that, by law, officials can only check that nomination papers are complete and they are not required to verify details. Mr Wilson, TUV alderman Jack McKee and DUP councillor Gregg McKeen had their complaints referred to the police for investigation.

Mr McMullan, a former chairman of Moyle District Council, topped the poll in the Coast Road area and was also successful in gaining an Assembly seat at Stormont in a separate poll.

Last week, the Larne Times reported the MLA’s claim that the Public Prosecution Service had informed him that he would not face any charges. Mr McMullan declared that he had “clearly” met all the qualifying criteria, branded the probe “a waste of time and resources” and stated that the complainants would not have proceeded “if they had done their homework”.

This week Mr Wilson, who lost his seat on the council after a switch from Larne Lough to the Coast Road DEA, said he would be seeking an explanation from the PPS.

The UUP constituency office worker said: “I want to make it clear that my official complaint went in before a vote was cast. I cannot speak for the other complainants, but I most certainly did do my homework and the complaint I made was thoroughly researched and genuine.”

Mr Wilson explained: “Candidates, when submitting their nomination papers, have the right to examine the nomination papers of others. Of course there had been speculation about Mr McMullan’s eligibility for standing for Larne council for months, in that he does not live in the borough. Everyone assumed that he would have some vague property claim to get around that issue. Therefore I was amazed to see that his only claim to be eligible to stand for Council was that Larne had been his main place of work. Maybe the ratepayers of Moyle should be asking for their money back for the allowances he received as a councillor there, whilst being elsewhere - allegedly.”

Mr Wilson added: “The only feedback I have had since making the complaint before the election was a phone call from a police constable advising me that a file had been sent to the Public Prosecution Service. That was last summer and I have had no contact whatsoever from the PPS.”

He said he had now written to the PPS asking for a detailed explanation of their decision not to pursue a prosecution.

“I reserve the right to ask for a judicial review of their decision,” said Mr Wilson, who added: “This was a crucial test of the rules and regulations surrounding our electoral system.”