John McCallister: For the sake of NI21 and, indeed, for his own sake, [Basil] must now step aside for the duration of the investigation

John McCallister issued a statement tonight calling on Basil McCrea to step aside as NI21 leader while allegations are investigated.

While many NI21 candidates seem keen to keep going in politics, what shape the party will be in this time next week is hard to predict, never mind next year. Tina McKenzie told the BBC that she was “seriously burned from politics and very hurt and shocked and devastated”. She’s been eliminated from the Balmoral count, polling only 256 first preference votes. Some other candidates are coming close to attracting half a quota. [Ed – not bad for first timers who weren’t at all prepared for the campaign trail] While NI21 didn’t do any tallying in Lisburn Leisureplex, other parties suggest that their tallies say NI21’s David Cairns is one to watch when Lisburn South is counted tomorrow.

In light of the fact that a young woman has now publicly come forward regarding the allegations against Basil McCrea, I am now compelled to ask him to immediately step aside from the leadership of NI21 for the duration of the investigation.

It would be impossible for the leader of any political party to remain in post when confronted with an investigation into such serious allegations.

For the sake of NI21 and, indeed, for his own sake, he must now step aside for the duration of the investigation. For NI21 staff and former staff, NI21 members and the general public to have confidence in a fair and transparent process and in any response to the investigation, Basil McCrea cannot remain in post as Leader while the investigation is underway.

I view these allegations with the utmost seriousness and will do all in my power to ensure that investigating bodies have all the information and access they require to complete their work.

I would urge Basil McCrea to give public undertakings to fully co-operate with the independent investigation currently underway.

I want to assure NI21 staff and former staff that I will do all that I can to ensure that they have access to appropriate counselling and support services during and after this investigation.

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