Ex-DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson facing seven more sex offence charges

Former DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson is facing further sex offence charges, bringing the total to 18.

The Northern Ireland politician has been charged with seven more offences after the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) reviewed the police evidence, as is the normal practice.

When he appeared in court in April, the ex-MP was accused of 11 sex offences.

His wife, Lady Eleanor Donaldson, 58, was facing four charges including aiding and abetting him and will now face five.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1985 and 2006 and involve two alleged victims.

The couple were released on bail after appearing at Newry Magistrates Court in Co Down on 24 April.

They will appear in court for a preliminary enquiry on Wednesday when they are expected to plead not guilty.

Donaldson, who was Northern Ireland's longest-serving MP, resigned as DUP leader after he was charged on 28 March following a day of questioning.

He was suspended by his party and remained as an independent MP until the election was called in May. He is not standing to be re-elected as the Lagan Valley MP, where he served for 27 years.

In a letter to the party, the 61-year-old said he would be strenuously contesting the charges.

Donaldson was knighted for his services to politics in 2016.

He helped broker the DUP's £1bn confidence and supply deal with Theresa May's minority Tory government, when the party held the balance of power at Westminster between 2017 and 2019.

More recently, he had compromised and led his party back into the power-sharing government at Stormont, which it had boycotted for two years over post-Brexit trading arrangements.