Ian Paisley faces 30 day suspension from House of Commons over Sri Lanka holidays

DUP MP Ian Paisley
DUP MP Ian Paisley

The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards has recommended that DUP MP Ian Paisley be suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days because of his failure to register two family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

Mr Paisley had already apologised for what he said was his "unintentional failure" to register the hospitality, which he estimated was worth £50,000.

The commissioner, which said the cost may have been "significantly more" than Mr Paisley's estimate, said the Sri Lankan holidays in 2013 included business-class air travel, accommodation at first-class hotels, helicopter trips and visits to tourist attractions for the North Antrim MP and his wider family.

The watchdog's finding read: "In view of the seriousness of this matter, we recommend that Mr Paisley be suspended from the service of the House for a period of 30 sitting days starting on 4 September 2018."

The commissioner also said Mr Paisley should now register the holidays with the parliamentary authorities.

The recommendations will need to be approved by the House of Commons before being confirmed. Mr Paisley is due to address the House on Thursday.

Ian Paisley could face a by-election

The sanction recommended by the parliamentary watchdog could see Mr Paisley face a by-election.

Members who are suspended from the Commons for more than 10 days are open to a recall petition. A by-election would be triggered if 10% of the electorate in Mr Paisley's North Antrim constituency sign that petition.

If rubber stamped by parliament, the suspension will also mean British Prime Minister Theresa May will be shorn of one of the 10 DUP MPs propping up her minority government during a period that could see a number of crucial Brexit votes in the House of Commons.

The story was first reported by the Daily Telegraph in September 2017.

In last year's General Election Mr Paisley polled more than 28,000 votes, nearly 20,000 more than his nearest rival, Sinn Féin's Cara McShane.

Ian Paisley releases statement through his lawyer

A statement issued by Mr Paisley's lawyer on Thursday said: "My client has apologised unreservedly at the outset for his unintentional failure to register the hospitality he received.

"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.

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

Read the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards' report in fullhere