Belfast Telegraph

If I'd done anything that deserved resigning, I would have done so already, says Ian Paisley

By Jonathan Bell

Ian Paisley has said if he had done anything that deserved resigning as North Antrim MP, he would have done so already.

The suspended DUP member was reacting to speculation he was considering quitting his seat, which would force a by-election possibly allowing him to return to the Commons early.

A petition of recall has been set up after Mr Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days after failing to declare two luxury family holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government. He was also found to have breached rules on paid advocacy after lobbying then Prime Minister David Cameron on a UN resolution concerning human rights abuses in Sri Lanka.

Speaking to the BBC's Talkback, presenter William Crawley asked if he was considering resigning his position.

He responded: "I have been very quiet about this since my apology in the House of Commons  - I have let that stand.

"The electors in North Antrim are now being petitioned.

"If I believed I had done anything that deserved me to resign my job I would not be there today - I think that answers the question."

Mr Paisley contacted the programme to talk about the benefits of road racing. It sparked a discussion after a lifelong bike fan, writing in Friday's Belfast Telegraph voiced his second thoughts on the sport given the recent tragedies.

Mr Paisley said he did not want to mix the worlds or sport and politics and said he would be prepared to do a full interview once the petition had closed.

He was asked if accepted he brought the House of Commons into disrepute - as the report authors stated.

He added: "I have accepted the report from the House of Commons and apologised for it... and accepted the punishment and I think everyone knows that."

When it was put to him it was not like him to run away from a question he said he did not want to say anything that would "influence" what was going on with the petition.

Mr Paisley has also been suspended by the DUP pending an internal investigation.

If 7,543 people sign the recall petition, 10% of the electorate, then a by-election will be held.

The petition, which is due to run until September 19, is the first of its kind in UK parliamentary history.

Mr Paisley's 30-sitting day suspension from the House of Commons begins on September 4, when MPs return to Westminster.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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