Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley lobbied Cameron on Sri Lanka without disclosing family holidays, says watchdog

North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley breached Commons rules on paid advocacy by writing to the PM to lobby against a UN resolution on Sri Lanka without disclosing family holidays paid for by their Government, a watchdog has ruled

The House of Commons Committee on Standards found that it amounted to Mr Paisley asking for an "exclusive benefit" for Sri Lanka after he received personal benefits and hospitality from the Sri Lankan Government within the previous 12 months.

Mr Paisley admitted to receiving over £50k and "maybe significantly more" in free hospitality during two family trips to Sri Lanka in 2013.

The North Antrim MP did not register the trips with Parliament, which requires MPs to register visits to any destination which may relate to political activities in their role as MP.

Mr Paisley did register a third solo visit to Sri Lanka to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) later that year, which was also paid for by the Sri Lankan Government.

The visits came to light following a Daily Telegraph report in 2017, following which Mr Paisley referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

Following the visits, Mr Paisley wrote to then Prime Minister David Cameron in March 2014 to lobby against supporting a UN resolution on Sri Lanka.

Submitting evidence on his own behalf Mr Paisley argued that he felt "sufficient time had elapsed" since the visits and pointed out that the Prime Minister was aware of his interest in Sri Lanka, having met him in the country at the CHOGM.

However that the Committee found that Mr Paisley had breached the House rules by failing to declare the personal benefits he had recieved.

Mr Paisley has apologised for failing to disclose the hospitality and is set to address the House of Commons on Thursday.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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