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Former DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson Appears In Court On Historical Sex Offence Charges

EDITORS NOTE IMAGE PIXELLATED BY THE PA PICTURE DESK FOR THE PROTECTION OF OFFICERS OF THE PSNI Former DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson with his solicitor John McBurney arrives at Newry Magistrates’ Court, where he is charged with several historical sexual offences. Sir Jeffrey resigned as DUP leader and was suspended from the party following the charges. Picture date: Wednesday April 24, 2024. 75974225 (Press Association via AP Images)

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson appeared in court on Wednesday on charges of historical sexual offences. Donaldson arrived at Newry Magistrates’ Court in Northern Ireland followed by his wife, Lady Eleanor Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, just after 9:30am.

Donaldson

Former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, accompanied by his lawyer John McBurney, showed up at Newry Magistrates’ Court where he faced accusations of past sexual misconduct. Sir Jeffrey stepped down as DUP leader and was suspended from the party due to the allegations. The photo was taken on Wednesday, April 24, 2024. 75974225 (Press Association via AP Images)

Former Democratic Unionist Party leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson appeared in court on Wednesday on charges of historical sexual offences.

Donaldson arrived at Newry Magistrates’ Court in Northern Ireland accompanied by his wife, Lady Eleanor Mary Elizabeth Donaldson, just after 9:30am.

The charges against Donaldson, a 61-year-old Lagan Valley MP, include one count of rape and nine other counts of gross indecency and indecent assault, dating back several years. The allegations came to light publicly when the couple was charged on March 28, following an investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s Public Protection Branch.

Lady Donaldson, 58, is similarly involved in the case, facing three charges of aiding and abetting her husband in these alleged crimes. The couple were processed at the Antrim Custody suite last month, setting the stage for what promises to be a closely watched legal battle.

It is believed that Donaldson will strongly deny the charges against him.

Shortly after being charged, Donaldson resigned from his position in the DUP and was replaced by MP Gavin Robinson as interim leader. A prominent figure in Northern Irish politics, Donaldson entered the scene in 1997 as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) before switching to the DUP in 2003. He received a knighthood in 2016.

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