member of Ian Paisley's ultraconservative Democratic
Unionist Party in Northern Ireland resigned Friday
over allegations that he hired a male prostitute
for sex in a Belfast hotel. Paul Berry, 29, has
denied the allegations, which were front-page news in
Northern Ireland tabloid newspapers in July 2005. But
in Northern Ireland High Court, he announced his
resignation from the nation's largest political party
in a statement issued through his lawyers.
"The past number of months has been a
particularly stressful time for my wife, family, and
myself, and we want closure on this matter. We have
come to the conclusion that there is no future for me within
the DUP, and on that basis we have decided that is
best for me to resign," Berry said.
His lawyers also dropped efforts to prevent the
Democratic Unionist leadership from suspending his
membership. The court ordered him to pay $5,250 in the
Democratic Unionists' legal costs. "This is an action
which the party considers should never have been brought,"
said the Democratic Unionists' lawyer, John McBurney.
"The party regrets that the action was commenced, but
is content that it has ended in the way it has this morning."
Paisley, 79, runs his own fundamentalist
Protestant denomination, the Free Presbyterian Church
of Ulster, which has actively campaigned against gay
rights under the slogan "Save Ulster from sodomy."
Berry, who in
1998 became the youngest elected member of Northern
Ireland's legislature, had a popular base built on his
reputation as a gospel singer. After the Sunday
World newspaper reported that he had met a male
prostitute for sex, Berry said he had paid the man to
massage his back for medical purposes. (AP)