TUV Lagan Valley candidate Dr William Kitchen considering legal action over Twitter post

A TUV candidate due to stand in the Lagan Valley constituency for the party is considering a legal challenge against “defamatory” comments made against him on social media.

r William Kitchen was announced as a candidate for the next Assembly election last month.

The academic expert and author posted a video on Twitter on November 29 in which he expressed “delight” at having been selected by the TUV.

Dr Kitchen said he was considering legal action after a “deplorable, abhorrent, and disgusting” comment was made on social media below the video, alleging he advocated “physically assaulting children”.

He also claimed the comment was liked on the social media platform by a number of councillors from other political parties.

The 33-year-old is set to battle for the seat against the likes of Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who confirmed he hopes to run in the constituency and the UUP’s new challenger Laura Turner.

The seat is already held by some significant unionist challengers including the DUP’s First Minister Paul Givan and his former party leader Edwin Poots, alongside the UUP’s Robbie Butler.

In his candidate announcement video on Twitter, Dr Kitchen argued the TUV are “best placed” to tackle issues around the NI Protocol.

Responding to the comment posted under the video, Dr Kitchen said: “Political disagreement is healthy. Ideological differences show political maturity and keep us all honest in our work. These things ought to be encouraged.

“However, one comment – which attained quite some traction on twitter – alleged that I had previously (as a PGCE student) articulated an advocacy for the reintroduction of corporal punishment in schools.”

He added: “Under this comment, further unsubstantiated allegations were made suggesting that I advocated physically assaulting children.

“These comments are deplorable, abhorrent, and disgusting. They are also untrue and defamatory.

“I’ve dedicated my professional life to education. I believe I’ve done so with professionalism and kindness towards all my pupils and students. These suggestions that I advocate the abuse of children are inherently wrong, and a devoid of moral content.”

He added that he was considering “legal options” to challenge the comment and expressed “confusion and distain” the comment was allegedly liked by some other politicians.

“In an arena where we should be able to see past our political differences to call out shameful defamation and hurt,” he added.

“I would have expected my political counterparts to exercise wiser judgement, before giving their support to hurtful lies and defamation of a political opponent.”

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