Belfast Telegraph

DUP's Ian Paisley 'won't go quietly into the night' following £50,000 holiday freebie and lobbying revelations

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said he will be seeking re-election if a petition passes to call a by-election for his North Antrim seat.

It comes after it was revealed that Mr Paisley took his family on two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.

The House of Commons Commitee on Standards found Mr Paisley to have "brought the house into disrepute".

The North Antrim MP admitted that he received over £50k worth of hospitality on the trips.

Mr Paisley was also found to have breached rules on paid advocacy when he lobbied then Prime Minister David Cameron on a UN resolution concerning Sri Lanka.

The Committee has recommended that Mr Paisley serve a 30 day suspension from the House of Commons as punishment for the offence.

Mr Paisley be further punished through a petition to recall him which would force a by-election in North Antrim.

The rules state that a recall petition can be called after the Speaker of the House of Commons notifies them that an MP has been barred from the House of Commons for 10 sitting days or 14 calendar days.

Once a Petition Officer has opened a recall petition, it will be open for signing for six weeks. If at least 10% of the electorate in the constituency signs the petition, the MP will lose their seat and a by-election will be triggered. The recalled MP can stand as a candidate at the by-election.

Writing in The Ballymena Guardian Mr Paisley accepted that "there are some who would have me booted out of Parliament".

"They are opportunists, some with questionable motives, and I can tell them that I have no intention of going quietly into the night," Mr Paisley wrote.

The North Antrim MP vowed that he would fight any by-election in the event of a successful petition to recall him.

"Make no mistake about it, I will seek re-election as I have never run away from an election in my life and I don't intend to do so now," he wrote.

Responding to the committee's report Mr Paisley argued that the ruling that he was guilty of paid advocacy on behalf of the Sri Lankan government was "harsh" and that the "rules were confusing".

However Mr Paisley rejected the claim in the report that he did not disclose the visits to the country as he was "too embarrassed to be associated with the Sri Lankan Government".

He wrote that the idea "never crossed my mind".

"Given our own country has a government made up of terrorists, it always amazes me just how arrogant some commentators here can be about other world regimes," Mr Paisley wrote.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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