Anti-gay DUP politician suing BBC over homophobe claims

Northern Ireland’s former Health Minister Jim Wells says he has launched legal action against BBC host Stephen Nolan.

The DUP politician was formerly the country’s Health Minister, and was one of the most hardline anti-LGBT rights politicians to serve on the Executive.

Mr Wells branded Pride parades ‘repugnant’, refused to take part in LGBT rights debates, and ignored scientific advice to keep a permanent ‘gay blood’ ban in place.

But he resigned in 2015 after outrage over alleged anti-gay comments during a hustings in South Downs.

Mr Wells had said during the hustings: “All evidence throughout the world says the best way to raise children is in a loving, stable, married relationship; the facts show that, the facts show that certainly you don’t bring a child up in a homosexual relationship.

“I say again, I say again, a child is far more likely to be abused or neglected in a non-stable marriage situation, gay or straight.”

Mr Wells denied that he was suggesting children of gay parents are more likely to be abused, and insisted his remarks were taken out of context.

He claimed this month that he had been “vindicated” after a woman who pursued a complaint against him admitted wasting police time.

Mr Wells now says he has launched legal action against the BBC’s Stephen Nolan, who reported on the clip at the time.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am pursuing civil action against others who perpetuated the lie.

“The full transcript and recording of my speech and the notes of the five experienced and respected reporters who covered the event, proved that I never made the alleged remarks.

“I cannot just sit back and hear there was no case to answer. I need to prove for my own sake and peace of mind, that I did no wrong and indeed I had wrong done against me.

“There was a tape that was edited and fortunately I was given a full version of the recording. The conclusion was damning and proved my innocence.

“I’m relieved by Monday’s guilty plea by Dorothy Gardner because it represents the first step towards my total vindication.

“But now it’s time for the other people who tried to destroy my reputation to publicly admit what they did and apologise for the damage and injury they have caused me for more than a year.”

Two of those named are the BBC and Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show host Stephen Nolan.

The BBC is yet to issue a formal reply.

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