A SECOND MLA has been forced to admit that he also employs his wife for research work.
Alliance Party’s Trevor Lunn finally came clean yesterday after refusing days earlier to name the family member.
The admission came just 24 hours after potential SDLP leader Conall McDevitt MLA dramatically quit politics.
He fell on his sword after failing to disclose a £6,750 payment to him from a PR firm.
Mr Lunn yesterday defended his decision to employ his wife to do research work for him while a member of the Policing Board.
However, the Lagan Valley MLA refused to say how much he was paying his wife.
Under Policing Board rules, each political party receives an annual £16,000 a year allowance.
In a statement yesterday, Mr Lunn said: “Following my appointment to the Policing Board on May 2011, I took the decision to engage my wife in undertaking research support services in support of my role.
“In line with the requirements of the scheme I made the appropriate declarations to the Policing Board.
“The fact that I had done so is reflected in the Policing Board’s annual report.
“At all times I have acted within the Policing Board guidelines. As this was a matter for Policing Board there was no requirement for me to declare this in the Assembly register of interest.”
As Mr Lunn ponders whether to retain his wife, a three-way tie has emerged inside the SDLP to replace Conall McDevitt in south Belfast.
Councillors Claire Hanna and Bernie Kelly and former Ulster Television political reporter Fearghal McKinney are expected to throw their hats into the ring.
Senior party colleagues and unionist opponents have applauded Mr McDevitt for his decision to quit saying he “did the right thing”.
He had become engulfed in a payments scandal for a number of weeks.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that he had paid £30,000 of public money to a company called JM Consulting for research work over the past two years for him in his role as a Policing Board member.
And last month it was revealed that more than £14,000 from his assembly office cost was also paid to JM Consulting.
However, Dublin-born McDevitt failed to declare on the register of Members’ Interests that the company belonged to his wife Joanne Murphy.
He says none of the £14,000 went to his wife.