Political news

Sammy Wilson says Ian Paisley should not face any 'additional sanctions' from DUP

Ian Paisley spoke of his "profound regret and deep personal embarrassment" in a speech in the House of Commons on Thursday
John Monaghan

DUP MP Sammy Wilson has said his Ian Paisley should not face any "additional sanctions" from the party after a recommendation that he be suspended from Westminster for 30 days.

The standards committee last week said the North Antrim MP should face the unprecedented punishment after failing to declare two family holidays in 2013 paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

Mr Paisley later lobbied the prime minister in support of the Sri Lankan regime.

The DUP last week said the matter would be considered by its officers, with party leader Mrs Foster refusing to be drawn on whether Mr Paisley had her full support.

Asked yesterday what action the party should take, Mr Wilson said his party colleague has been "punished by the House of Commons".

"He has apologised to his constituents, to the party and to parliament. I don't think there should be any additional sanctions imposed on him. That should be the end of the matter," he told the BBC.

"The reason why he has got a massive majority is because people know he works hard for them."

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He also said Mr Paisley "deserves to be a candidate" should a by-election be called.

The East Antrim MP gave the response after initially demanding that Sunday Politics presenter Mark Carruthers comment on the "parallel" of the BBC's "stance on Cliff Richards", referring to the awarding of damages to the singer following coverage of a police raid on his home.

It was reported on Saturday that senior members of the DUP had held a private meeting to discuss Mr Paisley and a statement may be issued in coming days.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

DUP Lagan Valley MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson told the BBC's Today programme that it was not going to take "a lynch mob approach".

"Ian is entitled to have his case heard, he is entitled to fairness," he said.

"We are a democratic party - the clue is in our name - and this matter has been referred to our party officers.

"They will consider the report prepared by the standards committee, they will consider what has happened and they will come to a decision."

The Westminster standard committee's recommendation will formally be put before the House of Commons for approval tomorrow.

On Thursday, in a speech to fellow MPs, Mr Paisley apologised "with profound regret and deep personal embarrassment".

His suspension is due to begin on September 4 and is likely to impact on key Brexit votes, with the minority Conservative government relying on the support of the 10 DUP MPs for its legislative programme.

However, as the prospective suspension is longer than 10 days, if 10 per cent of the eligible electorate in North Antrim signs a petition within six weeks a by-election would also be triggered.

In June last year Mr Paisley won the seat with a majority of more than 20,000 and he would be free to stand again in any poll.

Ian Knox cartoon on July 20 2018

 

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