Jeffrey Donaldson Quits As DUP Leader After Sex Offence Charges

The shock announcement has rocked Northern Ireland politics.
Jeffrey Donaldson has been replaced by interim leader Gavin Robinson (right) with immediate effect.
Jeffrey Donaldson has been replaced by interim leader Gavin Robinson (right) with immediate effect.
PAUL FAITH via Getty Images

Jeffrey Donaldson has resigned as leader of the Democratic Unionist Party after being charged with rape and other historical sex offences.

A 57-year-old woman has also been charged aiding and abetting in connection with the allegations, and both of them are due to appear in court next month.

According to the BBC, they were arrested on Thursday morning before being interviewed and then charged that night.

Donaldson has said he strenuously denies the allegations.

The DUP announced Donaldson was quitting as leader in a statement this afternoon.

It 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.”

The party said Sir Jeffrey has also had his party membership suspended pending the outcome of the judicial process.

DUP MP Gavin Robinson has been appointed interim leader with immediate effect.

Donaldson has been the MP for Lagan Valley since 1997 and became DUP leader in 2021.

Earlier this year, the 61-year-old played a pivotal role in getting the Northern Ireland Assembly back up and running after nearly two years.

The DUP finally agreed to enter a power-sharing agreement with Sinn Fein after striking a deal with the UK government over post-Brexit checks on goods travelling between Britain and Northern Ireland.

At the time, Donaldson said legislation would be introduced at Westminster which would “remove checks on goods moving within the UK and remaining in NI, and end NI blindly following EU laws”.

He added: “There will be legislation protecting the Acts of Union, which guarantees unfettered access for Northern Ireland business to the rest of the UK.”


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