Four DUP MLAs investigated by Electoral Commission over Israel trip donations

Four DUP MLAs investigated by Electoral Commission over Israel trip donations

FOUR DUP MLAs are being investigated by the Electoral Commission for failing to properly declare donations in relation to a trip to Israel.

BBC News NI reports that the four MLAs as well as six DUP MPs made the four-day visit to Israel in May.

The six MPs correctly reported receiving donations for the £2,700-a-head trip, which was funded by Northern Ireland Friends of Israel with extra costs met by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

But while the four MLAs reported donations to the Assembly, they did not report them to the Electoral Commission within the required 30 days.

MLAs must report any donations to the NI Assembly and donations of more than £1,500 to the Electoral Commission.

The four MLAs being investigated are Gary Middleton, William Humphrey, Michelle McIlveen and Jonathan Buckley.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson told BBC News NI: “We have already written to these MLAs to clarify why no return has been made.”

Describing the situation as an ‘administrative oversight’, a DUP spokesperson told BBC News NI: “Thought should be given to updating the Assembly procedures so they are aligned with the processes in Westminster.”

They added that the visit was aimed at “developing economic links in such sectors as cyber security, with Israeli and Northern Ireland companies at the cutting edge of new technology in this specialist field”.

The news come days after DUP MP Ian Paisley – one of the six MPs on the Israel trip – was suspended from the Commons for 30 days for failing to declare family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.