Page last updated at 17:14 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

Criticism over Nesbitt selection move

Mike Nesbitt
Mike Nesbitt is standing as a candidate for the UUP

An Ulster Unionist who lost out in the nomination for the Strangford constituency has criticised the way the party carried out the process.

Former TV presenter Mike Nesbitt has been selected as a general election candidate for the party.

Mr Nesbitt resigned as one of Northern Ireland's Victims' Commissioners on Wednesday.

Colin Heron said Mr Nesbitt should have entered the selection at an earlier stage.

Mr Heron said his late arrival into the selection battle meant other candidates were not operating on "a level playing field".

He said his criticism of the selection process "is not sour grapes" and he simply believed the party hierarchy "should examine how this selection has been carried out".

Mr Heron was one of three candidates who were interviewed on Tuesday at party headquarters.

The former Army officer was also interviewed with Mr Nesbitt and Phillip Smith, a former councillor.

It is understood the final decision to select Mr Nesbitt was endorsed by party leader Sir Reg Empey.

The selection will have to be ratified by the party's executive which is expected to meet next Wednesday.

Strangford was held at the last General Election by Iris Robinson of the DUP.

She resigned last December and was the subject of a BBC Spotlight programme last month.

The UUP has linked up with the Conservatives to contest elections as Ulster Conservatives and Unionists.

Both parties will select candidates and the final decision will then be taken by a joint selection committee.



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