IAN PAISLEY FORMALLY SUSPENDED FOR 30 DAYS OVER ‘LAVISH HOLIDAY GIFTS’ FROM SRI LANKAN GOVERNMENT

Ian Paisley apologising to MPs in the House of Commons last week for failing to declare ‘lavish holidays’ from the Sri Lankan government

MPs have voted to suspend DUP MP Ian Paisley for 30 sitting days.

It follows his failure to declare two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

The scandal was revealed in The Daily Telegraph newspaper last year prompting an investigation at Westminster.

He will nowbe absent from Parliament for some key Brexit votes which will cause a political headache for Theresa May’s government

The North Antrim MP has also been suspended by the DUP “pending further investigation into his conduct”.

In a statement the DUP said: “The Officers of the Democratic Unionist Party have considered the report of the House of Commons Committee on Standards on Ian Paisley MP.

“The Party takes this report and the matters contained within it very seriously.

“The Party Officers have decided to suspend Mr Ian Paisley MP from membership of the Party pending further investigation into his conduct.

“The Party does not intend to make any further comment on these matters during the course of the above outlined process.”

Speaker of the House John Bercow called Paisley’s failure to register the £50,000 plus holidays from the human rights abusing Sri Lankan government as “a regrettable state of affairs”.

Mr Bercow will now formally inform the chief electoral officer of the decision.

She has ten working days to set up a petition which, if signed by 10% of North Antrim constituents, will lead to a by-election and Mr Paisley having to stand down.

Sir Kevin Barron, chair of the Standards Committee, said they had concluded Mr Paisley was guilty of “serious misconduct”.

Mr Paisley has insisted he will fight any by-election to save his Westminster seat if he is forced to stand down.

Mr Paisley’s party plays a pivotal role in supporting Theresa May’s minority government.

Paisley’s suspension is one of the longest bans ever to be handed down at Westminster.

He failed to declare two luxury family holidays in 2013 paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

He later lobbied the then prime minister David Cameron on the country’s behalf.

Last week, following publication of a report into his conduct, Mr Paisley made a personal statement in the Commons and apologised for his unparliamentary behaviour.

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