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politician quits over male-prostitute scandal

Northern Ireland
politician quits over male-prostitute scandal

A prominent 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)

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