Britain's Parliamentary Standards Commissioner to decide on investigation of MP Paisley for undeclared trips paid for by Lankan govt

11 September 2017 - 132   - 0

THE parliamentary standards commissioner will decide within days whether she will investigate claims that the DUP's Ian Paisley jnr did not declare trips paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

According to the irish News, a lawyer for the North Antrim MP said yesterday he "totally denies the defamatory inferences" arising from an article in the Daily Telegraph.

It was reported that Mr Paisley accepted two holidays to Sri Lanka for him and his family in 2013, worth around £100,000 in total.

The former Stormont minister said the report was "devoid of logic or fact" and he would refer himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Commissioner Kathryn Hudson confirmed that Mr Paisley had been in contact, adding she will now decide whether an investigation is necessary.

His lawyer Paul Tweed said he had given the commissioner "a full explanation", but no further details were revealed.

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 cost more than £300, unless they have paid for it themselves or out of parliamentary or party funds.

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

Mr Paisley's register of entries includes 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 by £3,200 from the Colombo government.

There are no entries for trips to the country in 2013.

Mr Paisley posted a picture this week on Twitter of him meeting Sri Lankan High Commissioner Amari Wijewardene "to discuss NI-Sri Lanka trade deal after Brexit".

Two days later he tweeted a picture of himself with British international trade secretary Liam Fox "discussing our trade agreements post Brexit".

Yesterday he tweeted an image of a letter from solicitor Paul Tweed which said: "My client totally denies the defamatory inferences arising from the article in today's Daily Telegraph, including those relating to his registration obligations as an MP.

"He has now referred this matter, and a full explanation, to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards."

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