PSNI Chief Constable defends decision to attend DUP gala

The PSNI insisted chief constable George Hamilton was an invited guest and made no financial contribution at the North Antrim event hosted by MP Ian Paisley on Thursday night.

PSNI Chief Constable defends decision to attend DUP gala

Northern Ireland's police chief has defended his decision to attend a DUP gala dinner.

The PSNI insisted chief constable George Hamilton was an invited guest and made no financial contribution at the North Antrim event hosted by MP Ian Paisley on Thursday night.

UK Environment and Rural Affairs Secretary Michael Gove also attended the function in Ballymena.

Sinn Fein had raised concerns at Mr Hamilton's attendance at the dinner at the Tullyglass Hotel, claiming it constituted a "conflict of interest".

Assembly member Gerry Kelly said there was no issue about police commanders attending political events such as conferences, but he said attending a "fund-raiser is entirely different".

"While the Chief Constable does have to engage with people right across the community attendance at a DUP fund-raiser would be a clear conflict of interest," he said.

"The Chief Constable needs to provide an explanation to the public about the reports he attended a party political fund-raiser.

"There is an onus on the Chief Constable and his office to act, and to be seen to act, with rigorous impartiality on behalf of all in the community."

A PSNI spokeswoman said: "The Chief Constable was invited to last night's Annual North Antrim Constituency Dinner by the MP Ian Paisley and accepted the invitation as his guest.

"The Chief Constable made no financial contribution to or at the event and did not purchase a ticket as he was there as an invited guest of the MP.

"The Chief Constable and senior team are invited to attend a range of events hosted by elected representatives and are happy to consider opportunities for engagement at that level from any and all political parties."

Mr Hamilton sat at a table with Mr Gove and a number of senior business figures from across a range of organisations in Northern Ireland.

A PSNI source said at no time was the Chief Constable made aware that the event was a fundraiser.

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