Donaldson allegations a 'devastating revelation' for DUP, says interim leader Gavin Robinson

The new leader of the DUP has described charges of historical sex offences against Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as a “devastating revelation” for the party.

Sir Jeffrey quit as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party after being charged with historical sex offences.

The 61-year-old politician will appear in court in Newry next month, having been arrested and charged in relation to non-recent sexual allegations.

A woman has been charged with aiding and abetting additional offences in relation to the same police investigation.

The Lagan Valley MP has been suspended from the DUP pending the outcome of the judicial process, and East Belfast MP and deputy leader Gavin Robinson has been appointed interim party leader.

The DUP said it had received a letter from Sir Jeffrey saying he had been charged with allegations of a historical nature and that he would be stepping down as leader.

In a statement, the DUP said: “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.”

Gavin Robinson became the DUP's deputy leader in 2023.

He was first elected MP for East Belfast in May 2015, and has since been re-elected in 2017 and 2019.

Before that he was a member of Belfast City Council from 2010 to 2015 and served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from June 2012 until June 2013.

“It has been a devastating revelation and has caused tremendous shock not just for myself personally or my colleagues within the DUP, but for the community right across Northern Ireland," said Mr Robinson.

“It came as a great shock. But we are a party and individuals that believe in justice, we have faith in our criminal justice system.”

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