27/09/2006

Former DUP mayor admits electoral fraud

Dessie Stewart, a former DUP mayor of Coleraine, has admitted six charges of electoral fraud.

The charges relate to the last general and local government elections in May 2005, when Mr Stewart was elected to the post.

The councillor initially denied the charges, but on Wednesday, he admitted to four counts of pretending to be someone else in order to cast postal votes, as well as two charges of fraudulently stopping free exercise of a proxy vote.

He will now face sentencing on October 24.

Both Sinn Fein and the SDLP have today called for Mr Stewart to resign from the council.

Sinn Fein councillor Billy Leonard today told BBC News that Mr Stewart should no longer operate as an elected representative, saying that he had “totally contradicted” the whole idea of people entrusting their democratic vote.

SDLP's John Dallat said that Councillor Stewart should be replaced by the candidate who was runner-up in the council elections and not by another member of the DUP.

(EF/KMcA)

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