The former Northern Ireland Health Minister who lost his post following false allegations from a Cookstown woman has said he forgives her.
Speaking after Dorothy Gardner’s three month prison sentence was reduced to 100 hours community service, Jim Wells said he believes the apology he received from Gardner was “sincere and fullsome”.
But he did point out that “ a career that had taken 35 years to build crashed in 17 seconds for something I never said”.
“During her appearance (at Downpatrick Court) on Friday, Ms Gardner apologised to me in open court and made it clear that there was no truth whatsoever in the allegations she had made against me,” Mr Wells told the Mail.
“I believe that apology was sincere and fullsome.
“I was also very pleased that in his remarks the Judge stated that he had read the speech I made at the Downpatrick hustings event and that there was nothing in this which could justify or support Ms Gardner’s allegations.”
Following Gardener’s conviction, Wells said all he ever wanted was an apology, but that he now hopes the outcome will deter others.
“Throughout the last 18 months I have always made it clear that all I wanted from those who made allegations against me following the Downpatrick hustings event was an apology,” he added.
“I am not interested in financial compensation or prison sentences.
“I have to accept that the allegations by four people after the Downpatrick event have caused irreparable damage to my political career. A career that had taken 35 years to build crashed in 17 seconds for something I never said.
“I don’t see how I can come back from what happened, but I remain determined that if others fail to follow Ms Gardner’s example they too will face the courts.
“My decision to forgive Ms Gardner should not in any way be interpreted as a sign of weakness when it comes to others who have not as yet faced up to the huge damage they caused me.”