Sunday Life

UUP man in fraud rap
Second high-profile Ulster Unionist up in court in space of a fortnight

By Stephen Breen
21 November 2004

THIS is the second top Ulster Unionist to appear in court on fraud charges - in just a week.

Alastair Patterson - the UUP's former chief executive - appeared at Omagh Magistrate's Court last Tuesday.

The Co Tyrone man - who previously worked for the Electoral Office - faces a total of 24 charges.

They include theft, forgery, false accounting and corruption.

He is charged with stealing cash from the Electoral Office in 1997 and 2000, and of attempting to cash a stolen cheque.

Patterson, who appeared on the world's TV screens in 1981 to declare the election to Westminster of IRA hunger-striker Bobby Sands, is also charged with "corruptly" accepting a bottle of vodka.

He appeared in court alongside a second defendant, who is charged with giving gifts to electoral officials in the hope he could receive a contract for the collection of ballot boxes, during the 1987 General Election. The pair were bailed for £500 and are due to appear again at Enniskillen Magistrate's Court, on December 17.

Sunday Life contacted Mr Patterson yesterday, 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 Patterson's charges, as it is a matter for the courts."

Patterson's court appearance comes after we revealed last week that Raymond Ferguson - a solicitor, and chairman of the UUP's disciplinary committee - was due to appear at Enniskillen Magistrates' Court last Monday.

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

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