Belfast Telegraph

Tory MP unaware DUP event he is planning to attend is DUP fundraiser

Conservative MP Peter Bone (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)
Conservative MP Peter Bone (Chris McAndrew/UK Parliament)

A Conservative party MP has said he was unaware a DUP event he plans to attend next month was a fundraiser for the party.

Peter Bone is scheduled to appear at an event organised by DUP MP Jim Shannon in Strangford, Co Down next month.

He is the latest in a line of Conservative Party MPs to draw controversy over appearing at DUP party events.

The Irish News reports Mr Bone was unaware of the exact nature of the event or that it was a fundraiser.

"Jim asked me to speak and I'm happy to go," he said.

"I'm going because the DUP are our partners in government."

Jim Shannon told the News Letter proceeds from the fundraiser would be split between the DUP and Elim Missions.

Mr Bone was an outspoken advocate for Brexit during the 2016 referendum, and is part of the political advisory board of Leave Means Leave, a multi-party campaign group advocating for a "clean, swift exit from the European Union".

Since the establishment of the DUP's confidence and supply deal with the Conservative party, the rules around MPs appearing at fundraisers for other political parties has come into focus.

Earlier this week, former deputy chairman of the Northern Ireland Conservative party Frank Shivers questioned why leading Eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg was set to appear at a fundraiser organised by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley next month, but had declined an invitation to appear at an event held by the Northern Ireland branch of the Conservative party.

In September Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson appeared at a DUP gala dinner alongside Arlene Foster.

Details of his appearance at the event or his speech were not publicised until after the event, something which it was later claimed was due to security reasons.

A fundraising dinner held in September 2017 by Ian Paisley featuring an appearance by Cabinet Minister Michael Gove was investigated by the Electoral Commission.

It related to the circumstances around Mid and East Antrim council purchasing a £1,500 table at the event.

It emerged in September that Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council also paid £1,500 for a table at the event.

The Northern Ireland Audit Office has issued guidance to both councils on the matter.

The councils were given separate advice to ensure attendance at events was neither directly or indirectly political, and for up-to-date guidelines to be given to councillors.

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