A cafe owner who created the controversial LAD (Loyalists Against Democracy) satirical social media account is to appear in Belfast Magistrates’ Court tomorrow charged with beating his wife.
John Paul ‘JP’ Whearty is accused of assault occasioning bodily harm to Barbara Whearty, a political commentator who makes regular appearances on BBC Radio Ulster.
Security sources confirmed the bearded 40-year-old, who has an address on Joy Street in Belfast – which is currently listed for rental on the website www.booking.com – was arrested following a domestic incident on October 17.
He has previously been vocal in condemning male on female violence – describing Northern Ireland sporting hero George Best as a “wife-beating footballer”.
Father-of-one Whearty also used Twitter to describe as “disturbing” a viral video of an attack on a teenage girl at Bangor pier by a male and female gang.
Originally from Dundalk, he has in recent times lived in the Lower Ormeau area of the city, running the Cafe Cuan restaurant and event space on nearby Cromac Street with his wife.
However, he is better known as one of the brains behind the LAD @ladfleg Twitter and Facebook account set up in response to the 2012 loyalist flag protests.
It was also criticised for making highly personal comments about unionist politicians, with DUP leader Arlene Foster being a notable and regular target.
Whearty quit LAD, which has an impressive 45,000 Twitter followers, in 2016, one year after Sunday Life revealed another of its founders, Gary Kirby, was a convicted wife-beater.
While anonymously running its social media accounts, both men worked on the 2014 party political broadcast of the now defunct NI21 party. After leaving LAD, Whearty had a short career as a stand-up comic before reinventing himself as the joint-owner of Cafe Cuan along with his wife.
JP Whearty has been subjected to online threats. In a 2016 interview with the News Letter he denied democracy works, said he would be okay with the rule of a dictator, but expressed his support for the rule of law.
That will now be tested in front of a district judge at Belfast’s Laganside complex tomorrow when Whearty appears accused of beating his wife, the mother of his young son.