DISGRACED DUP MP Ian Paisley has apologised in the House of Commons for failing to declare lavish holidays worth over £50,000 from the human rights abusing Sri Lankan government.
In his speech to MPs this morning, the North Antrim MP admitted “deep personal embarrassment” over the scandal.
He faces a 30 day suspension from the House of Commons after he failed to declare the details of two family holidays in 2013 paid for by the Sri Lankan government.
Any suspension would deprive Prime Minister Theresa May of a vote on key Brexit issues.
Paisley has faced a chorus of calls from political opponents to do the honourable thing and resign, but he is refusing to fall on his sword.
The story of free-loading family holidays first appeared in The Daily Telegraph newspaper in September 2017.
The recommendation to suspend Mr Paisley will now go before the House of Commons for approval, in the form of a motion, which could trigger a by-election.
The recommendation that Mr Paisley should be suspended for 30 sitting days still needs to go before the House of Commons for approval, in the form of a motion.
In the likely event that Mr Paisley’s suspension comes into effect, it will cause difficulties for the government in the autumn on crucial Brexit votes.
The government relies on the votes of the 10 DUP MPs to get legislation through the house. Numbers are already on a knife-edge and this will leave Mrs May with one less MP to rely on.
In his statement to MPs in the Commons, Mr Paisley said he accepted his “total failure”.
He also accepted the investigation’s findings but was disappointed he was not able to persuade members of the standards committee that there had been no ulterior motive to his actions.
“I accept the report, but I do so regret its sanctions,” he said.
Mr Paisley said he took his duties as an MP seriously and that he felt remorse about the nature of what had occurred.
He was seated among several of his DUP Westminster colleagues, including Sammy Wilson and Jim Shannon and Emma Pengelly.
He said he made the “profoundest of apologies” to his North Antrim constituents, whom he has represented since 2010.
“We all know that in public life, if you make mistakes they are amplified and rightly so – that’s the nature of the job,” he said.
“I believe in politics and politicians that can apologise, can mean it and move on – that’s what real life is all about.”
There was no sign of Paisley in the Commons on Wednesday when the report into the lavish undeclared holidays was published.
Instead, he issued a statement through his solicitors saying he was still considering taking a defamation action against The Daily Telegraph.
He now has two months to file his Writ for Defamation against the paper or his action will be out of time.
Under UK libel laws, a plaintiff has one year from date of publication to bring a libel action.