Electoral Commission accused of “deliberate plan to damage Ulster Unionism”

In the Sunday Times, Liam Clark adds some of the missing detail on the secret UUP account which, as noted here on Friday, led the Electoral Commission to ask the police to investigate the UUP’s finances [actually he adds it twice – Ed]. The account seems to have been in the United States and contained $21,000 (£11,362) from a New York fundraising dinner in December 2004. Also noted in the report is the current suspension, on full pay for undisclosed reasons, of the UUP Chief Executive, Will Corry, and that there is an executive meeting scheduled for Friday. Meanwhile the UUP’s treasurer, Ken Maginnis, has reacted angrily to the decision to ask police to investigate, accusing the Commission of “bully-boy tactics”.From the Sunday Times report:

In a letter to Hillary Mundella, the commission’s director of operations, he[Maginnis] expresses outrage at “the grossly unfair and profoundly vindictive approach of the Electoral Commission on this matter”.

A party spokesman said last night that Corry was in Spain attending his daughter’s wedding, and that no further comment would be made on the subject of his suspension.

Corry’s predecessor, Lyle Rea, had left his post after complaining on two occasions about the party’s financial records and accountability. Some party sources say that Corry had also expressed similar reservations.

The Ulster Unionist leadership points out that the sum of money involved in the second account is small and that it was not used for electoral purposes. It believes that the commission’s action is excessive. Maginnis has accused the body of a “deliberate plan to damage Ulster Unionism”.

Maginnis has also asked for a meeting with Peter Wardle, the commission’s chief executive, and Sam Younger, its executive chairman.

Maginnis’s letter, which was posted yesterday, warns Mundella: “I will not stop short of referring to the matter on the floor of the House unless I get a full explanation as to why the UUP has been singled out, its financial prospects undermined and its decent members humiliated.”