An email purporting to be from the Northern Ireland Office – distributed a large and wide media database – announced the resignation of NI Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris this evening (Wednesday).
Taking to Twitter shortly after being made aware of the ruse, Mr Heaton-Harris wrote: “Hello Twitter! Someone has sent a fake e-mail to press outlets saying I’ve resigned. This is totally untrue. I hope one of @ first moves is to eliminate fake news on Twitter… Very exciting I know, but complete and utter tosh.”
Someone has sent a fake e-mail to press outlets saying I’ve resigned.
This is totally untrue. I hope one of @elonmusk first moves is to eliminate fake news on Twitter…
Very exciting I know, but complete and utter tosh.
— Chris Heaton-Harris MP (@chhcalling) November 9, 2022
The email stated: “I have had the honour of serving as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland however due to personal reasons I am stepping down from my role,” he said.
“I am grateful to the Prime Minister for allowing me to serve – and I am saddened to have to leave HM Government at this important time.”
Media outlets across Northern Ireland have reported receiving the email – the origins remain unclear at this stage.
Earlier today, the government announced plans to extend the deadline for a Northern Ireland executive to be formed and outlined plans to cut assembly members’ pay by £14,000.
In a brief statement to the Commons, NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris said: “The vast majority of those I have spoken to think that an election at this time would be unwelcome.”
MLAs currently receive an annual salary of £51,500 a year.
Mr Heaton-Harris said the public were frustrated to see politicians receive their full salaries without an executive and said he would cut wages “appropriately”.