Sunday Life

Unionist chief in the dock
Solicitor set to face fraud and theft charges

By Stephen Breen
14 November 2004

Top Ulster Unionist due in court on fraud charges.

Raymond Ferguson - a solicitor and chairman of the Ulster Unionist Party's disciplinary committee - is set to appear at Enniskillen Magistrate's Court tomorrow.

The Fermanagh District Councillor faces two fraud charges, and a theft charge.

It is understood the charges relate to the development of a golf course, in Fermanagh.

Ferguson, of Lakeside Avenue in Enniskillen, has been a councillor for more than 20 years, and sits on various council sub-committees.

He is also a member of the Fermanagh University Partnership Board, and the Enniskillen Cultural Expression Group.

Widely recognised as a senior member of the UUP, Mr Ferguson acted as chairman of his party's disciplinary committee when North Down MLA, Peter Weir, was disciplined for his decision to oppose the Good Friday Agreement.

He was also chairman of the committee when then UUP Lagan Valley MP, Jeffrey Donaldson, South Belfast MP, Martin Smyth, and South Antrim MP, David Burnside, appeared before the committee, for their opposition to the agreement.

Sunday Life contacted Mr Ferguson this weekend, but he refused to comment on the charges.

A UUP spokesman also refused to discuss the case, saying: "We are not in a position to comment on Mr Ferguson's charges as it is a matter for the courts."

We also contacted the party's chairman, but he also refused to make any comment.

Said one senior Ulster Unionist: "Everyone in Enniskillen is talking about the Ferguson case, because he is such a well-known figure across Fermanagh.

"The Ulster Unionist leadership is obviously worried because, if he is found guilty, many believe it could cause more damage to the party in the county.

"This is a case which will be closely watched by everyone in the county."

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