Former Simpson aide is arrested in device probe

David McConaghie.
David McConaghie.

A FORMER adviser and press officer to MP David Simpson has been arrested after a camera was found in the toilet of the Upper Bann politician’s constituency office.

Lurgan man David McConaghie, 47, was an integral part of the Simpson team. He was a driving force behind a succession of DUP election victories - from Simpson’s Westminster victory over David Trimble in 2005 to last year’s record nine councillors being elected to Craigavon Borough Council.

He is also a former minister in the Elim Pentecostal Church, has trained for the Free Presbyterian ministry, is a member of the Independent Orange Order, and a prominent lobbyist in the evangelical Caleb Foundation. Several of his sermons have been featured on-line.

Police have confirmed his arrest as the result of the discovery of the camera in the unisex toilet at Mr Simpson’s office in Thomas Street, Portadown on September 25, when the MP reported the matter to the PSNI. Mr Simpson issued a statement after the arrest saying: “The police are currently investigating issues pertaining to an individual brought to their attention by myself. I no longer employ this individual and he does not hold any office in the party. No further comment will be made on the matter.”

No charges have been made against Mr McConaghie, who has been released on police bail pending further inquiries. His solicitor, Neil Logan, said, “He has not been charged with any criminal offence.”

The former adviser, a married man with no children, originally comes from the Ballymena area and had been working in the Simpson office for a number of years. He left the employ of the MP in September, and his role has been passed on to another member of staff.

It has been confirmed that he is a trained Free Presbyterian Minister, but he has not been ordained and does not have a church. And he is prominent in the Caleb Foundation, which articulates the views of a significant number of evangelicals who are members of, or involved in, a range of churches outside the main Protestant denominations. These include the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Independent Methodist, Elim Pentecostal, Congregational, Free Presbyterian, Baptist, Evangelical Presbyterian, Church of the Nazarene and Congregational Reformed.

The Caleb website stated Mr McConaghie had voluntarily stepped down from the Foundation “and, in light of the ongoing police investigation, we do not intend to make any further comment at this time.

“Nor do we intend to provide a platform for others to make their comments. The Forum has therefore been closed until further notice. On the same basis, the Guest Book has also been closed.”

A spokesman for the PSNI said, “On September 25, police received a report of an incident at premises in the Thomas Street area of Portadown. A 47-year-old man was later arrested and has since been released on bail, pending further inquiries.”