Sunday 16 December 2018

Ian Paisley Jr facing 30 days House of Commons ban after failing to register €112K hospitality from Sri Lankan holiday

DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr Picture: Liam McBurney
DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr Picture: Liam McBurney

DUP MP Ian Paisley is set to be suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days for his failure to register the hospitality he received on a trip to Sri Lanka.

It comes after a report from the House's Committee on Standards which found that Mr Paisley's actions "brought the house into disrepute" and that he had committed "serious misconduct".

The Committee has recommended that the North Antrim MP be "suspended from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days starting on 4 September 2018."

It had been alleged that Mr Paisley did not declare £100k (€112k) in hospitality from the Sri Lankan government.

A 2017 report in the Daily Telegraph claimed he took his family on two all-expenses-paid holidays to the island in 2013.

The paper said that he had met Sri Lanka officials to discuss possible post-Brexit trade deals.

Mr Paisley reported himself to Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Hudson over the claims.

Speaking at the time the North Antrim MP totally denied the allegations, which he said were "devoid of fact or logic" and was "defamatory".

However in a statement released on Wednesday through his solicitor Paul Tweed, Mr Paisley apologised "unreservedly" for failing to disclose the hospitality he recieved.

"While accepting the decision of the House Standards Committee, he nonetheless continues to take issue with the sensationalised report in the Daily Telegraph. Legal proceedings are being considered," the statement read.

"No further comment will be made until Mr Paisley has addressed the House on Thursday."

The House of Commons code of conduct states that MPs must declare any visit to a destination outside the UK which "relates in any way to their membership of the house or to their parliamentary or political activities" and which costs more than £300, unless they have paid for it themselves or out of parliamentary or party funds.

The rules state that MPs do not have to register family holidays, so long as they are "wholly unconnected with membership of the house or with the member's parliamentary or political activities".

Entries in the register of members' interests should cover the cost of travel, hotels, meals, hospitality and car hire, and repeat visits should be registered if their combined value comes to more than £300.

Mr Paisley's register entries include a trade mission to Sri Lanka in 2012, as well as a second trip to the island that year as part of a cross-party parliamentary delegation examining post-war reconstruction, funded to the tune of £3,200 (€3,600) by the Colombo government. There is no mention of the alleged trips in 2013.

Belfast Telegraph

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