Ulster Unionist staff in Portadown and Banbridge have been reduced to tears over abusive phone calls linked to the row between the Ulster Unionists and Upper Bann MP David Simpson.
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt made the revelation after he renewed his call on Tuesday for Mr Simpson to produce evidence of UUP involvement in the “despicable abuse” of his family members.
Mr Nesbitt has now made two calls for Mr Simpson to clarify the allegations he made after his victory was confirmed at the election count in Banbridge.
“I have made it clear beyond any fraction of doubt that if there is any evidence that a member of the Ulster Unionist Party engaged in verbal abuse of that nature that I would personally drive to their home to refund their annual membership and dismiss them from the party,” said Mr Nesbitt.
“Mr Simpson has failed to contact me with a scrap of evidence. I am disappointed, but also angry because some Ulster Unionist staff members have been badly verbally abused in our constituency offices by members of the public who have been pumped up by the allegation.
“I again challenge Mr Simpson to give substance to his allegations.”
Mr Nesbitt wrote an open letter to Mr Simpson on Sunday, saying that he will not be “found wanting” if any UUP member was found guilty of abuse.
The UUP leader also called on Mr Simpson and the Portadown Times to publish the name of the company responsible for the opinion poll that appeared in this newspaper on May 1.
He continued, “This poll was published without reference to who carried it out, when it was conducted, the methodology used, or crucially, who paid for it. It was for exactly this reason that the British Polling Council was set up, and their members commit to providing this information when publishing polls. I can only conclude that whoever conducted this poll is not an accredited pollster and the poll therefore should not have been published so close to the end of a very close-fought election for a Westminster seat.
“If I am wrong, the remedy is in the hands of others. They need only provide the information they have thus far refused to share with the public.
“I have no difficulty with Mr Simpson winning the seat on merit, so it would be helpful if he would clear the air and offer the explanations I requested in my open letter on Sunday.”