JEFFREY Donaldson has been charged with historical sexual offences and has stepped down as DUP leader.

In a statement the DUP said: "The Party Chairman has received a letter from Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP confirming that he has been charged with allegations of an historical nature and indicating that he is stepping down as Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party with immediate effect.

"In accordance with the Party Rules, the Party Officers have suspended Mr Donaldson from membership, pending the outcome of a judicial process.

"The Party Officers have this morning unanimously appointed Mr Gavin Robinson MP as the Interim Party Leader."

On Friday morning police issued a statement saying that a 61-year-old man had been charged with "non-recent sexual offences". It added that a 57-year-old woman was charged with "aiding and abetting additional offences".

The pair are to appear before Newry Magistrates' Court on 24 April.

Mr Donaldson's social media accounts, including Twitter, were deleted overnight.