Belfast Telegraph

DUP won't take 'lynch mob' approach to Paisley: Party officers meet to decide MP's fate

Behaviour 'unacceptable' says Donaldson

By Jonathan Bell

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said the DUP will not take a "lynch mob" approach to disciplinary proceedings against Ian Paisley after the MP was found to have broken parliamentary standards.

The Lagan Valley MP did say he would support Mr Paisley in any by-election, if he was selected as the DUP candidate.

It comes as party officers met on Saturday to discuss the matter on what sanctions it will hand down to the politician. A decision is not expected for some time.

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said it was only right Mr Paisley be given a fair hearing.

"We are a democratic party," he told the BBC, "the clue is in the name."

The North Antrim MP faces a suspension from the House of Commons for 30 sitting days for accepting lavish family holidays from the Sri Lankan government. The Parliamentary Standards Commissioner found he had breached rules on paid advocacy on behalf of the government, declaring the holidays and on registering his interests in the affairs of the South Asian state.

In an at-times emotional address in parliament, Mr Paisley apologised for his "total failure" to properly declare the holidays which he estimated to cost around £50,000.

In the past week, Mr Paisley has faced growing calls to quit as well as the possibility of a by-election. DUP party officers are meeting on Saturday to consider the matter.

DUP chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the case demonstrated how effectively standards arrangements in the Commons worked.

He was asked if the party "should just kick him out".

"We are a democratic party, the clue is in our name," he responded.

"This matter has been referred to our party officers. They will consider the report prepared by the standards committee and they will consider what has happened and they will come to a decision.

"We are not going to get into some kind of lynch mob approach to this. Ian is entitled to have his case heard, he is entitled to fairness in that respect.

"We have our internal procedures... you wouldn't expect me to pre-empt those."

Sir Jeffrey said the behaviour of Mr Paisley was not acceptable.

"Of course it isn't and Ian has accepted that in the apology he gave in the Commons, of course it is unacceptable.

"I think what this case demonstrates is that the standards arrangements we have in place in the house of commons do actually work."

On the possibility of a by-election, Sir Jeffrey was asked if he would campaign for Mr Paisley if he decided to run to retain his seat.

"We are getting way ahead of us at this stage," he added.

"If Ian is selected by the party, of course I will support the DUP candidate."

DUP's Arlene Foster dodges question of support for Ian Paisley after getting apology from him

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