DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson 'charged with historic sex offences' as he steps down as party leader

29 March 2024, 12:59 | Updated: 29 March 2024, 14:25

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

The DUP has said that Jeffrey Donaldson has stepped down as party leader after being charged with historic sex offences.

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Donaldson has also been suspended from the Northern Irish party with immediate effect.

A spokesperson for the DUP said: "The Party Chairman has received a letter from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP confirming that he has been charged with allegations of an historical nature and indicating that he is stepping down as Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party with immediate effect.

"In accordance with the Party Rules, the Party Officers have suspended Mr Donaldson from membership, pending the outcome of a judicial process.

"The Party Officers have this morning unanimously appointed Mr Gavin Robinson MP as the Interim Party Leader."

Donaldson, 61, has led the Northern Irish party since 2021, and has been an MP since 1997. He was knighted in 2016.

Read more: DUP endorses deal to restore Northern Ireland's devolved Parliament after crunch talks

Read more: David Davis marks Brexit 8/10 four years on - as Northern Ireland deadlock on the brink of breaking

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture: Getty

Police said earlier that a 61-year-old man had been charged with non-recent sexual offences in Northern Ireland.

Officers also arrested and charged a 57-year-old woman with aiding abetting additional offences. Officers did not name either the man or the woman.

Police said: "Detectives from the Police Service of Northern Ireland arrested and charged a 61-year-old man for non-recent sexual offences.

"A 57-year-old woman was also arrested and charged at the time for aiding and abetting additional offences.

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson. Picture: Getty

"Both are due to appear before Newry Magistrates Court on 24 April.

"As is usual procedure, all charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service."

Donaldson remains an MP. A spokesperson for the House of Commons said: "We are aware of the announcement by the police, but will not be commenting on individual cases."

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